Asia: Leading the Global Recovery


By Anoop Singh

(Version in 中文,  日本語 and 한국어)

I am in China this week to present our new Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Outlook in Shanghai. I remain as impressed as ever by China’s energy and vibrant growth, an impression that is reinforced every time I return to this country.

China is of course an important part of Asia. And Asia is now a key driver of the global recovery. Indeed, as the world climbs out of its deepest recession in over half a century, it is Asia that is leading the recovery. While growth in the advanced world is being held back for now by unemployment and weak household and bank balance sheets, in the emerging world – and particularly Asia – it is rebounding strongly.

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Fair and Substantial—Taxing the Financial Sector


By Carlo Cottarelli

(Version in 日本語  )

We knew we were in for a tough time when the leaders of the Group of Twenty (G-20) asked the IMF to give them our views, at their summit coming up in June 2010, on  “… the range of options countries have adopted or are considering as to how the financial sector could make a fair and substantial contribution toward paying for any burden associated with government interventions to repair the banking system.”

Everyone has strong feelings these days on the taxation of the financial sector. Taxpayers who financed the rescue of the financial sector during the recent crisis want their money back—or at least not to get caught again. Some want to see more of the money coursing through the financial system turned to public use.

The industry worries about new taxes coming on top of the swathe of regulatory reforms that likely lies ahead for them. And some governments in countries whose financial sector weathered the storm pretty well wonder why they should now ask it for cash. Responding to the request from the G-20 leaders puts us in the middle of all these concerns.

Last week the IMF gave an interim report to the G-20 finance ministers focused on the specific question we were asked: what are the options in raising money from the financial sector to pay for the costs of government intervention from which it benefits. That report is confidential, but—you may have noticed—has still managed to attract a lot of attention.  So let me set out how our thinking on this stands.

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Learning from the Crisis: Future IMF Lending Role


By Reza Moghadam

Let’s rewind the tape to October 2008. Barely a couple of weeks have passed since Lehman filed for bankruptcy, and emerging markets are selling off like crazy. The vaunted “decoupling” theories—hailed as visionary only a few months before—lie in tatters as investors flee in droves. With its mandate to foster global economic stability, the IMF comes under the spotlight: many observers question whether the institution has what it takes to stop contagion and help emerging markets cope with global deleveraging.

With strong support from its membership, the IMF did not hesitate to come to the rescue. It provided large and upfront financial assistance to help countries weather the crisis. It overhauled its lending toolkit, notably by establishing the Flexible Credit Line (an instrument allowing countries with very strong policies to tap IMF resources unconditionally). And, importantly, its membership, building on the political momentum of the G-20, committed to tripling its resource base. These actions helped put out the fire, setting emerging market spreads on a downward trajectory.

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World Faces Serious New Economic Challenges


By Olivier J. Blanchard 

Let me begin with some good news. The global recovery has evolved better than expected.  We at the IMF now forecast global growth to reach 4.2% in 2010, an upward revision of 0.3% from our  January forecast, and 4.3% in 2011. Alongside growth, global trade has also shown a strong rebound, and so have capital flows.  And, as discussed in the newly released Global Financial Stability Report, financial market conditions and stability have improved.

These good global numbers hide however a more complex reality, namely a tepid recovery in many advanced economies, and a much stronger one in most emerging and developing economies.

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IMF Sees Financial Risks Still Elevated


By José Viñals

Let me begin  with our overall assessment of global financial stability. The IMF has just released its new Global Financial Stability Report. We find that risks to stability have eased somewhat. The policy stimulus enacted at the height of the crisis has provided substantial support to financial institutions and markets, and has underpinned the global recovery. This has helped to improve a broad range of risk indicators and financial conditions.

And yet risks remain elevated: global financial stability has not been secured, as the recovery is still fragile, and the  repair of consumer and financial balance sheets is still ongoing. Furthermore, there are concerns over rising sovereign risks related to the buildup of public debt that need to be carefully monitored and addressed.

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Emerging Market Countries and the Crisis: How Have They Coped?


By Reza Moghadam

How time flies: only a year ago, we were in the throes of the biggest global crisis since the Great Depression. As the extent of the damage to institutions in financial centers became evident—starkly highlighted by the Lehman bankruptcy—and the crisis started to affect emerging market economies (EMs), a timely and coordinated countercyclical response was launched.

This helped stave off the worst of the crisis. The IMF supported the global response by increasing its resources and overhauling its lending framework to help those facing financing pressures. A recovery is now taking hold in many parts of the world.

Six months ago, we took a preliminary look at the design and performance of IMF-supported programs in emerging markets. In a forthcoming paper, we are casting a wider net—examining factors that determined the extent to which a broader group of EMs were affected by the crisis, the policy measures they have taken, factors shaping the ongoing recovery, and sustainability considerations over the medium term.

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Reforming the Financial Landscape After the Crisis


Today we have released the three analytical chapters in our upcoming Global Financial Stability Report. These chapters cover some of the most relevant areas facing policymakers as they devise financial reforms that address the systemic risks that arose during the crisis and deal with potential forthcoming vulnerabilities.

Chapter 1 comes out next week. Chapter 2, published today,  focuses on two questions facing policymakers attempting to reform the financial landscape. One, whether systemic risk would be reduced by placing all regulatory functions under the purview of one entity—be that a single agency or an overseeing council? And two, if we were to use capital surcharges on financial institutions to try to limit the systemic risk associated with domino-like failures, how would we construct such surcharges?

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