More to Do on Financial Sector Tax, Says IMF’s Lipsky


In an interview from Davos, Switzerland, the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky said that although the mood among delegates is more upbeat than it was one year ago during the crisis, people still have concerns about the resilience of the economic recovery.

In its latest world economic outlook, released just ahead of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, the IMF is forecasting that world growth will bounce back from negative territory in 2009 to 3.9 percent this year and 4.3 percent in 2011.

Lipsky also said it was clear that decision makers feel under intense political pressure to act on financial sector regulation. A consensus on how to move ahead on a financial sector tax hasn’t emerged yet, but Lipsky said that a process initiated by the G-20 industrialized and emerging market countries will play a key role in making decisions about the issue.

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IMF Revises Up Its Global Economic Forecast


The IMF has revised upwards its forecast for growth in the global economy saying it is recovering faster than previously expected. It  sees world growth bouncing back from negative territory in 2009 to a forecast 3.9 percent this year and 4.3 percent in 2011.

But the recovery is proceeding at different speeds around the world, with emerging markets, led by Asia relatively vigorous, but advanced economies remaining sluggish and still dependent on government stimulus measures, the IMF said in an update to its World Economic Outlook, published on January 26.

IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard says the recovery right now is still very much based on stimulative policies by government, while  IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has warned that countries risk a return to recession if anti-crisis measures are withdrawn too soon.

The IMF said it had revised upwards its earlier forecast for global growth by ¾ percentage point from the October 2009 forecast.  Along with the update to its forecast, the IMF also released a new assessment of global financial conditions in its Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR). It said that financial markets have rebounded since the lows of last March, the result of improving economic conditions and wide-ranging policy actions by governments.

“Notwithstanding the recent sell-off, risk appetite has returned, equity markets have improved, and capital markets have reopened,” Jose Viñals, Director of the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department, said.

Why We Need a “Marshall Plan” for Haiti


By Dominique Strauss-Kahn,

Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund

The saddening and horrific pictures from Haiti after its devastating earthquake brought back vivid memories for me. I lived through an earthquake when I was a young boy in Morocco, and I know how harrowing it is. At that time, there were forty thousand casualties—nothing close to what has happened in Haiti—but I still recall the traumatic scenes of collapsed buildings and mourning families.

Haiti has now been devastated on a far larger scale. The earthquake—the worst in the region in more than 200 years—is the latest in a series of natural and manmade disasters that have, over the years, turned the Caribbean country into the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Some 80 percent of its nine million people live below the poverty line.

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After the Crisis, Much Still at Stake for Eurozone


By Marek Belka

(Version in ελληνικά)

What a difference a year makes. January 2009 marked 10 years since the introduction of the euro. That anniversary fell in the midst of the worst global financial crisis in the past half century.

The euro—and the European Central Bank—proved important safeguards against the spread of the crisis. Countries whose currencies would likely have been subject to severe market gyrations had they not been part of the eurozone held their ground. And the ECB used innovative approaches, along with central banks around the world, to help provide liquidity and calm markets.

But as the crisis progressed, it became clear that the eurozone countries were affected in very different ways.

Markets took notice and the premia charged on sovereign bonds diverged. This month, as the euro turns 11 and even as the crisis is receding and an economic recovery is underway, prominent commentators—including Martin Wolf and Paul Krugman—are concerned that the strains within the eurozone are serious, and will need serious attention.

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Unwinding Crisis Policies in Europe: Are We There Yet?


By Marek Belka

Much is riding on getting the timing of the exit right from the stimulative policies used to combat the global economic and financial crisis. This is something that IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has repeatedly emphasized. Exiting too early may jeopardize the recovery. But exiting too late may sow the seeds for the next crisis, as Wolfgang Munchau and others have argued recently. I also agree with Jean Pisani-Ferry and his colleagues that exiting in an uncoordinated fashion will lead to a renewed build up of financial instability.

To successfully unwind the extraordinary policy measures taken in response to the crisis, we need more than just a good sense of the state of the economic recovery and the degree of financial stability. We also need to know to what extent the global economy currently is influenced by those supportive policy measures. Is it safe yet to change course?

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Changing Times: Global Governance Reform and the IMF


By John Lipsky

The economic and financial crisis of the past two years has placed in high relief profound changes in global economic and financial realities. Most notably, the crisis has underscored the shift in relative economic weight in favor of dynamic emerging market economies. In response, the G-20— a grouping that includes both advanced and large emerging economies—has stepped forward as the premier political venue for addressing economic and financial policy challenges.

These changes are exerting significant influence on the evolution of global governance, and they directly involve the IMF in two concrete ways. First, new advances are taking place in multilateral economic policy cooperation, with Fund participation. Second, realignment of Fund governance has been put on a fast track, with delivery scheduled for January 2011.

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Don’t Forget Financial Sector Reform


By John Lipsky

There is a broad consensus on at least one conclusion from the turmoil of the past few years: Fundamental changes are needed in the global financial sector.

Some of these changes seem relatively clear:

  • Risk management of many financial firms needs strengthening
  • Compensation schemes need to be re-evaluated
  • Capital standards need to be bolstered
  • Regulation needs fundamental reform
  • Supervision needs to be improved
  • And financial institutions’ balance sheets need to be freed of the burden of impaired assets.

Nonetheless, important tradeoffs will have to be addressed—and political hurdles surmounted—before significant progress can be achieved.

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2010 Outlook: New Year, New Decade, New Challenges


By John Lipsky

The year 2010 has opened amid generalized—–but tempered—optimism about the global economic and financial outlook.

 The unprecedented scale and scope of the anti-crisis measures taken during the past year—and the unprecedented degree of multilateral policy coordination involved in their design and implementation—appear to have succeeded in averting a downturn of historic proportions.

 The improved prospects are evident in economic data, in financial market performance, and in the marking up of economic forecasts. In fact, somewhat more upbeat expectations no doubt will be reflected in the regular January update of the IMF’s World Economic Outloook forecast.

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