Posted on October 29, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Bertrand Gruss
(version in Español and Português)
It looks as if labor markets in Latin America have not been following the economic news—literally! Economic activity has slowed markedly in the last three years, with some South American countries slipping into outright recession more recently. Yet, labor markets still appear remarkably strong, with unemployment rates, in particular, hovering at record-low levels in most countries (Figure 1). So, what is going on? Has the region discovered how to defy the law of gravity?
Filed under: Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Latin America, Reform, unemployment | Tagged: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, education, infrastructure, labor market, Latin America, Mexico, Peru, Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere, South America, unemployment rate, Uruguay | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 28, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Antoinette M. Sayeh
Tremendous efforts are under way to upgrade sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructure. But the needs on the ground are still immense as evidenced by the frequent electricity blackouts, poor roads, and insufficient access to clean water in many countries.
Infrastructure is one of the key challenges facing policymakers in the region—I experienced it first hand when I was finance minister of Liberia before coming to the IMF. The benefits are fairly clear: with improved infrastructure, new growth opportunities in the manufacturing and services sector can be generated, barriers to intraregional trade can be reduced, and economies will be better positioned to transition from low to higher productivity activities. Without improved infrastructure, I fear the increase in productivity and greater economic diversification necessary to sustain Africa’s current growth momentum will not materialize.
In this spirit, in the latest Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa economists from the IMF’s African Department looked at progress so far in addressing the infrastructure deficit and discussed policies needed going forward.
Filed under: Economic outlook, Economic research, Financial Crisis, Globalization, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries, Reform | Tagged: Africa, China, domestic tax revenues, infrastructure, investors, manufacturing, public debt, Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, telecommunication | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 23, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Prakash Loungani
(version in 中文)
Raising the minimum wage is a polarizing issue. One side worries that raising it will lower employment. The other side downplays the impact on employment and plays up the positive impact on the living standards of the poor. Both sides are able to cling to their beliefs as the evidence, much of which comes from high-income (“advanced”) economies, is mixed.
The majority of the global labor force, however, is in the emerging markets. Moreover, for a number of these countries, instituting a minimum wage or raising it is squarely on the policy agenda. But little is known about the impacts of minimum wages on employment and living standards in emerging markets.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Asia, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, Fiscal policy, Global Governance, growth, IMF, Inequality, International Monetary Fund, unemployment | Tagged: China, employment, income, labor force, labor market, manufacturing, minimum wage | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 22, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Rabah Arezki
Natural gas is creating a new reality for economies around the world. Three major developments of the past few years have thrust natural gas into the spotlight: the shale gas revolution in the United States, the reduction in nuclear power supply following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, and geopolitical tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Over the last decade, the discovery of massive quantities of unconventional gas resources around the world has transformed global energy markets, and reshaped the geography of global energy trade (see map). Consumption of natural gas now accounts for nearly 25 percent of global primary energy consumption. Meanwhile, the share of oil has declined from 50 percent in 1970 to about 30 percent today.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Asia, Economic outlook, Economic research, Europe, Globalization, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Politics | Tagged: energy prices, Fukushima disaster, gas supply, Japan, natural gas, Russia, shale gas, Ukraine, United States, World Economic Outlook | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 20, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Will Kerry and Andrea Maechler
Banks are struggling to overhaul the way they do business given new realities and new regulations adopted in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. While banks are generally stronger—they have more capital—they are less profitable, as measured by the return on equity. There are a number of reasons behind this, including: anemic net income at banks, particularly in the euro area; higher levels of equity; and banks taking fewer risks.
If they cannot change their business models, there is a risk that banks will not be able to provide enough credit to help the economy grow and recover.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic research, Europe, Finance, Financial Crisis, Financial regulation, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Reform | Tagged: banking sector, business model, ECB, economic recovery, equity, euro area, financial markets, Global Financial Stability Report | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 16, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Luis Brandão-Marques, Gaston Gelos, and Erik Oppers
The global financial crisis reminded us that banks often take risks that are excessive from society’s point of view and can damage the economy. In part, this is the result of the incentives embedded in compensation practices and of inadequate monitoring by stakeholders. Our analysis found the right policies could reduce banks risky behavior.
In our latest Global Financial Stability Report we take stock of recent developments in executive pay, corporate governance, and bank risk taking, and conduct a novel empirical analysis.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Annual Meetings, Economic outlook, Economic research, Finance, Financial regulation, Fiscal policy, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Reform | Tagged: bank capital, banking sector, banks, financial system, Global Financial Stability Report, investment, policymakers, risk management, shareholders, United States | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 15, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Fabio Cortes, David Jones and Evan Papageorgiou
Low interest rates and other central bank policies in the United States have sent investors looking for higher returns on their investments. Money is pouring into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, which is fueling a mispricing of credit and a build-up of risks to liquidity in the markets—the ability to trade in assets of any size, at any time, and to find a ready buyer.
Mutual funds and exchange-trade funds are the largest owners of U.S. corporate and foreign bonds (Chart 1). This means they provide a lot of credit to grease the wheels of the financial system because they have taken investors’ money and lent it to corporates.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Reform | Tagged: central bank, exchange-traded funds, Global Financial Stability Report, liquidity, liquidity mismatch, monetary policy, money market mutual funds, United States | Leave a comment »