The Wealth of Nations: Governments Can Better Manage What They Own and Owe

2019-03-13T12:34:49-04:00October 9, 2018|

By Vitor Gaspar, Jason Harris, and Alexander Tieman

October 10, 2018

عربي,中文, Español, FrançaisBaˈhasa indoneˈsia, 日本語PortuguêsРусский

A firefighter in Auckland, New Zealand: when governments know what they own they can put their assets to better use and can earn about 3 percent of GDP more in revenues to spend on citizens’ well being (Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/Newscom)

What is the state of your personal finances? You probably think first about your debts: your mortgage, your credit card balance, and your student loans. But you probably also think about how much cash is sitting in the bank, the value of your house, and the rest of your nest egg.

Surprisingly, most governments do not approach their finances this way. […]

Chart of the Week: China’s Thrift, and What to Do About It

2019-03-15T10:18:30-04:00February 26, 2018|

February 26, 2018

By IMFBlog

A pedestrian walks in front of a branch of the Postal Savings Bank of China in Nanjing. China’s saving rate is one of the world’s highest (photo: Imagine China/Newscom).

What makes China’s citizens so thrifty, and why does that matter for China and the rest of the world? The country’s saving rate, at 46 percent of GDP, is among the world’s highest. Households account for about half of savings, with corporations and the government making up the rest.

Saving is good, right? Up to a point. But too much saving by individuals can be bad for society. That’s because the flip side of high savings is low consumption and low household welfare. High savings can also fuel excessive investment, resulting in a buildup of debt in China. And because people in China save so much, they buy fewer imported goods than they sell abroad. That contributes to global imbalances, according to a recent IMF paper, China’s High Savings: Drivers, Prospects, and Policies. The country’s authorities are aware of the […]

Propping Up the Chinese Economy: Credit versus Fiscal Stimulus

2019-03-14T16:17:51-04:00December 12, 2017|

By Sophia Chen and Lev Ratnovski

December 13, 2017

Version in 中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish), 日本語  (Japanese)

Construction work Qingyuan , Guangdong, China : Fiscal stimulus is a powerful tool for growth (photo: Imagine China/Newscom).

Credit booms are addictive. Credit supports growth and the perception of wealth. Yet credit booms are risky, and are often followed by financial busts and economic slowdowns. The challenge is taming credit without hurting growth. […]

Chart of the Week: The Walking Debt: Resolving China’s Zombies

2019-03-14T16:19:20-04:00December 11, 2017|

By IMFBlog

December 11, 2017

Version in 中文 (Chinese), 日本語 (Japanese)

IMF research shows that resolving China’s zombie firms can boost productivity and long-term growth prospects (photo: DNY59/iStock by Getty Images).

China’s “zombies” are non-viable firms that are adding to the country’s rising corporate debt problem, and are bad business. Zombie firms are highly indebted and incur persistent losses, but continue to operate with the support of local governments or soft loans by banks—adding very little value to economic prospects. China has already made a lot of progress in resolving these firms, and should continue its efforts to send the zombies packing. […]

Chart of the Week: Oil Prices & Energy Subsidies

2019-03-15T13:24:03-04:00November 27, 2017|

By IMFBlog

November 27, 2017

Versions in  中文(Chinese); Español (Spanish), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese)

Universal fuel and energy subsidies have been prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, but they have substantial drawbacks (photo: Reuters/Newscom).

Reforms in some mostly oil-exporting countries, along with lower international fuel prices since 2014, have reduced the size of fuel subsidies in sub-Saharan Africa, and they need to do more  given the recent rise in international fuel prices.

Universal fuel and energy subsidies have been prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, but they have substantial drawbacks. They tend to benefit the rich rather than the poor, foster fuel overconsumption, and crowd out more productive government spending. […]

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