Debt is central to the functioning of a modern economy. Firms can use it to finance investments in future productivity. Households can use it to finance lumpy purchases, such as big consumer durables, or a home. Sometimes, however, firms’ investments do not pan out or a household’s main earner loses his or her job. Countries’ legal systems generally recognize that in these cases, debtors and creditors alike—along with society at large—may be better off if there is an orderly procedure for reorganizing debts. (more…)
The global landscape has changed since our last update in October 2016. These changes have been mainly shaped by:
- An anticipated shift in the U.S. policy mix, higher growth and inflation, and a stronger dollar. In the United States—while potential policy changes remain uncertain—fiscal policy is likely to become expansionary, while monetary policy is expected to tighten faster than previously expected because of stronger demand and inflation pressures. As a result, growth is projected to rise to 2.3 percent in 2017 and 2.5 percent in 2018—a cumulative increase in GDP of ½ percentage point relative to the October forecast. The expected change in the policy mix and growth has led to an increase in global long-term interest rates, a stronger dollar in real effective terms, and a moderation of capital flows to Latin America.
- Improved outlook for other advanced economies and China for 2017–18, reflecting somewhat stronger activity in the second half of 2016 as well as projected policy stimulus.
- Some recovery in commodity prices, especially metal and oil prices, on the back of strong infrastructure and real estate investment in China, expectations of fiscal easing in the United States, and agreement among major petroleum producers to cut supply.
Version in 中文 (Chinese)
China’s high and rising corporate debt problem and how best to address it has received much attention recently. Indeed, corporate debt in China has risen to about 160 percent of GDP, which is very high compared to other, especially developing, countries.
The IMF’s April 2016 Global Financial Stability Report looked at the issue from the viewpoint of commercial banks and resulting vulnerabilities. Its analysis suggests that the share of commercial banks’ loans to corporates that could potentially be at risk has been rising fast and, although currently at a manageable level, needs to be addressed with urgency in order to avoid serious problems down the road. Indeed the success in addressing this issue is important for China’s economic transition and, given its size and growing global integration, the world’s economy at large.
(version in 日本語)
Japanese-brand cars have become everyday, household items in the United States, and it’s hard to drive in the country without seeing one on the roads. These cars may be manufactured by Japanese firms, but about 70 percent of these vehicles are actually produced in North America. Globally, in 2014, about two-thirds of Japanese cars were produced on assembly lines outside of that country. Despite the increase in overseas demand for Japanese vehicles, this hasn’t been mirrored by an expansion in investment, and the building of factories in Japan to meet that demand.
Against this background, our IMF Working Paper looks at possible reasons for this sluggish recovery of corporate investment in Japan, focusing on the role of Japanese firms overseas.
(Versions in 日本語)
Abenomics can succeed, despite recent setbacks to growth and inflation, in revitalizing Japan by making steadfast progress on all three of its arrows equally and simultaneously, as we show in our new book. This is also essential to avoid an undue weakening of the yen and ensure positive spillovers to Japan’s neighbors, its region, and the global economy.
The Legacy: Structural Changes During the Lost Decades
Most Japan followers will be familiar with the following striking statistic: in 2013, Japan’s level of nominal GDP was about 6 percent below its mid 1990s level. During this period, three important structural changes have been a brake on growth and efforts to get out of deflation: (more…)
By Vitor Gaspar
One of the big questions to emerge from the global financial crisis, especially in the euro area, is how to raise a country’s potential growth while restoring healthy public finances. For example, the euro area— despite some favorable news recently — faces marked-down growth prospects alongside high levels of public debt. The combination of high debt and tepid potential growth underscores the importance of improving prospects for sustained growth and safe and resilient public finances. A fundamental question then arises: what is the relation between fiscal consolidation and structural reform?
Investment in the euro area, and particularly private investment, has not recovered since the onset of the global financial crisis.
In fact, the decline in investment has been much more drastic than in other financial crises; and is more in line with the most severe of these crises (see Chart 1). The October 2014 World Economic Outlook showed that many governments cut investment because their finances became strained during the crisis. In addition, housing investment collapsed in some countries, reflecting a natural scaling back after an unsustainable boom. But what is holding back private non-residential investment?
(Version in عربي)
Egypt currently faces what may seem to be conflicting objectives. On the one hand, there’s an urgent need to restore economic stability—by achieving lower budget deficits, public debt and inflation, and adequate foreign exchange reserves. At the same time, there’s a long-standing need to achieve better standards of living—with more jobs, less poverty, and better health and education systems—one of the key reasons why people took to the streets in 2011.
Some might think that those two goals don’t go together—that the actions needed to reduce the budget and external deficits will necessarily take away from jobs and growth. But that’s not true. Some of the same policies that will improve Egypt’s financial situation can also help improve living standards.
By Sweta Saxena
1. Are emerging markets slowing down? Yes. They have been slowing down for some time now. GDP growth has declined from 7 percent during the pre-crisis period (2003-8) to 6 percent over the post-crisis period (2010-13) to 5 percent, in our projections, over the next 5 years (2014-18). This path is illustrated below in Chart 1. This last point stands out. Despite an uneven recovery, growth in advanced economies is projected to eventually recover. Not so for emerging markets.
(Versions in 日本語)
Japan’s GDP declined by almost 7 percent in the second quarter, more than many had forecast including us here at the IMF. Many cite the increase in the sales tax this April for this decline. But that is not the full story.
Yes, it is true that consumer responses to major tax increases are difficult to predict, and large spending swings are not unusual. We see this pattern in many countries (see chart) including Germany’s 2007 VAT increase, which had a short-lived impact.