Posted on July 22, 2014 by iMFdirect
By John Bluedorn and Shengzu Wang
Since the financial crisis, the euro area current account, made up mostly of the trade balances of the individual countries, has moved from rough balance into a clear surplus. But the underlying rebalancing across economies within the euro area has been highly asymmetric, with some debtors, like Greece, Ireland, and Spain, seeing large current account improvements (sometimes into surplus), while creditors, like Germany and the Netherlands, have basically maintained their surpluses (Chart 1). A set of new staff papers look at the drivers of the improvements in debtor current accounts and the persistence of creditor current accounts, and whether these developments are a cause for concern.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Employment, Europe, Financial Crisis, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Reform | Tagged: competitiveness, economic rebalancing, employment, euro area, Germany, Greece, inflation, Ireland, labor cost, lowflation, Netherlands, Spain, trade | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 14, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Reza Moghadam and Ranjit Teja
As inflation has sunk in the euro area, talk of quantitative easing (QE)—and misgivings about it—have soared. Some think QE is not needed; others that it would not work; and yet others that it only creates asset bubbles and may even be “illegal.” In its latest report on the euro area, the IMF assesses recent policy action positively but adds that “… if inflation remains too low, the ECB should consider a substantial balance sheet expansion, including through asset purchases.” Given all the reservations, would the juice be worth the squeeze?
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Economic research, Employment, Europe, Finance, growth, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: balance sheets, Bank of Japan, banks, bond markets, euro area, European Central Bank, Germany, inflation, quantitative easing, stock market | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 26, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Evridiki Tsounta and Kalpana Kochhar
(Versions in Español)
Emerging market economies have been experiencing strong growth, with annual growth for the period 2000-12 averaging 4¾ percent per year—a full percentage point higher than in the previous two decades. In the last two to three years, however, growth in most emerging markets has been cooling off, in some cases quite rapidly.
Is the recent slowdown just a hiccup or a sign of a more chronic condition? To answer this question, we first looked at the factors behind this strong growth performance.
Our new study finds that increases in employment and the accumulation of capital, such as buildings and machinery, continue to be the main drivers of growth in emerging markets. Together they explain 3 percentage points of annual GDP growth in 2000–12, while improvements in the efficiency of the inputs of production—which economists call “total factor productivity”—explain 1 ¾ percentage points (Figure 1).
Filed under: Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, growth, International Monetary Fund, Latin America, Middle East | Tagged: balance sheets, commodiity prices, emerging market, employment, investment, structural reforms, trade | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 25, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Michael Keen
It’s hard to pick up a newspaper these days (or, more likely for readers of blogs, to skim one online) without finding another story about some multinational corporation managing, as if by magic, to pay little corporate tax. What lets them do this, of course, are the tax rules that countries themselves set. A new paper takes a closer look at this issue, which is at the heart of the IMF’s mandate: the way tax rules spill over national boundaries, and what this means for macroeconomic performance and economic development. These effects, the paper argues, are pretty powerful and need to be discussed on a global level.
Follow the money
Take, for instance, international capital movements. Though tax is not the only explanation, the foreign direct investment (FDI) positions shown in Table 1 are hard to understand without also knowing that tax arrangements in several of these countries make them attractive conduits through which to route investments. In its share of the world’s FDI, for example, the Netherlands leads the world; and tiny Mauritius is home to FDI 25 times the size of its economy.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Finance, Financial regulation, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Reform | Tagged: corporate income tax, Cyprus, foreign direct investment, Hong Kong SAR, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Netherlands, spillover, tax, Tax Treaties | Leave a comment »
Posted on June 11, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Min Zhu
(Versions in عربي, Español, 日本語, 中文, Français, and Русский)
House prices are inching up. But is this a cause for much cheer? Or are we watching the same movie again? Recall how after a decade-long boom, house prices started to fall in 2006, first in the United States and then elsewhere, contributing to the 2008-9 global financial crisis. In fact, our research indicates that boom-bust patterns in house prices preceded more than two-thirds of the recent 50 systemic banking crises.
While a recovery in the housing market (Figure 1) is surely a welcome development, we need to guard against another unsustainable boom. Housing is an essential sector of every country’s economy and has systemic implications, which is why we at the IMF are focusing on it not only in individual countries but on a cross-country basis.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Emerging Markets, Financial Crisis, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment | Tagged: Article IV, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Global House Price Index, Hong Kong, house prices, housing market, income, Ireland, Korea, macroprudential policies, Min Zhu, Norway, Peru, Spain, Sweden, Thailand | Leave a comment »
Posted on May 5, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Romain Duval
(Version in 中文, and 日本語)
In recent decades, trade integration within Asia has increased more than in other regions. In valued-added terms, intraregional trade grew on average by over 10 percent a year from 1990 to 2012, twice the pace seen outside of Asia. Likewise, financial integration within the region has started to catch up, although it still lags behind trade integration. Concomitantly, business cycles in Asia have become steadily more synchronized over the past two decades, with the correlation between ASEAN economies’ growth rates almost reaching the very high levels seen within the Euro Area.
As outlined in the IMF Asia and Pacific Department’s latest Regional Economic Outlook, these facts are related. Namely, increases in trade and financial integration have strengthened the propagation of growth shocks between regional partners, leading Asian economies to move more in lockstep. One driver of this synchronization of business cycles has been the increase in size and connectedness of China’s economy. Looking ahead, we expect regional integration agenda and a bigger China to further increase spillovers and growth co-movement across the region. Greater international cooperation, particularly regional and global financial safety nets, can help countries respond to the associated risk of more synchronized, sharper downturns, and thereby help Asia make the most of greater regional integration.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Asia, Economic Crisis, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Fiscal policy, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries | Tagged: ASEAN, China, euro area, global trade, Korea, Malaysia, Regional Economic Outlook: Asia, spillovers, Taiwan, Thailand | Leave a comment »