Posted on December 2, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Steven Barnett
(Version in 中文)
It’s the season for shopping. We have Cyber Monday in the United States and Singles Day in China (November 11 or 11/11). So, while we are pondering shopping, try to guess which consumer market is growing the fastest. The answer is…China!
China had the largest consumption increase in the world. This was true in 2011, true in 2012, and likely to be true again this year (see chart). Consumption in China is also generally thought to be weak. Indeed, the government and the IMF are calling for more consumer-based growth. How could consumption, in effect, be both weak and strong at the same time?
Filed under: Asia, Economic Crisis, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Fiscal policy, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: China, consumer spending, consumption | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 27, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Martin Kaufman and Mercedes García-Escribano
(Version in Español and Português)
Since the early 2000s, Brazil’s economy has grown at a robust clip, with growth in 2010 reaching 7.5 percent—its strongest in a quarter of a century. A key pillar of its hard-won economic success has been sound economic policies and the adoption of far-reaching social programs, which resulted in a substantial decline in poverty.
In the last couple of years Brazil’s growth slowed down. Although other emerging market economies experienced a similar slowdown, the growth outturns in Brazil were particularly disappointing. And the measures taken to stimulate the economy did not produce a sustained recovery. This is because unleashing sustained growth in Brazil requires measures geared not at stimulating domestic demand but at changing the composition of demand towards investment and at increasing productivity.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Español, Finance, Fiscal policy, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Latin America, Português, Public debt | Tagged: Article IV, Brazil, BRICs, fiscal consolidation, infrastructure, macroeconomic policy, recovery, unemployment | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 19, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Olivier Blanchard
(Version in Español)
Two weeks ago, the IMF organized a major research conference, in honor of Stanley Fischer, on lessons from the crisis. Here is my take. I shall focus on what I see as the lessons for monetary policy, but before I do this, let me mention two other important conclusions.
One, having your macro house in order pays off when there is an (external) crisis. In contrast to previous episodes, wise fiscal policy before this crisis gave emerging market countries the room to pursue countercyclical fiscal policies during the crisis, and this made a substantial difference.
Second, after a financial crisis, it is essential to rapidly clean up and recapitalize the banks. This did not happen in Japan in the 1990s, and was costly. But it did happen in the US in this crisis, and it helped the recovery.
Now let me now turn to monetary policy, and touch on three issues: the implications of the liquidity trap, the provision of liquidity, and the management of capital flows.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Financial Crisis, Fiscal policy, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Multilateral Cooperation | Tagged: capital flows, exchange rate, financial crisis, fiscal policy, IMF Annual Research Conference, IMF Jacques Polak Research Conference, inflation, monetary policy, Olivier Blanchard, Paul Krugman, stanley Fischer | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 6, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Michael Keen
(Version in Español, Français and 中文)
Last night, when you went to bed, you left $40 on the kitchen table. When you woke up this morning, you found only $30—and a note from the government saying, “Thank you very much, we took $10 as a tax payment.” This is, of course, extremely irritating. To an economist, however, it’s close to an ideal form of taxation, since there is nothing you can now do to reduce, avoid, or evade it—the holy grail of what economists call a non-distorting tax.
(This doesn’t mean that you won’t react in some way. Being worse off, you may now work a bit more, or save a bit less. But any other tax raising $1 would make you even worse off, because it would change relative prices (a tax on your earnings would make working less attractive, for instance), and so take your choices even further from those you would make in the absence of taxation.)
Filed under: Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Finance, Financial sector supervision, Fiscal policy, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Politics, Public debt | Tagged: capital levy, debt, Fiscal Monitor, tax cuts, tax policy, taxation | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 1, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Olivier Blanchard
Several years out from the global financial crisis, the world economy is still confronting its painful legacies. Many countries are suffering from lackluster recoveries coupled with high and persistent unemployment. Policymakers are tackling the costs stemming from the crisis, managing the transition from crisis-era policies, and trying to adapt to the associated cross-border spillovers.
Against this background, the IMF’s 14th Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference, entitled “Crises: Yesterday and Today,” to take place on November 7-8, will take stock of our understanding of past and present crises.
This year’s conference will be a special one as we shall honor Stanley Fischer’s many contributions to economic research and policy. Stan has extensively studied economic and financial crises, first as a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then as a policymaker with many hats over the years―the Chief Economist of the World Bank, the First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, and the Governor of the Bank of Israel.
Filed under: Asia, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Europe, Finance, Fiscal policy, Global Governance, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Latin America, Multilateral Cooperation | Tagged: central banks, East Asia, financial stability, fiscal policy, IMF Annual Research Conference, IMF Jacques Polak Research Conference, interest rates, Japan, Latin America, macroeconomics, Olivier Blanchard, Paul Krugman, stanley Fischer, United States | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 31, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Antoinette M. Sayeh
When meeting with people outside Africa, I’m often asked whether Africa’s growth takeoff since the mid-1990s has been simply a “commodity story”—a ride fueled by windfall gains from high commodity prices. But finance ministers and other policymakers in the region, and I was one of them, know that the story is richer than that.
In this spirit, in our latest Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa a team of economists from the IMF’s African Department show that Africa’s continued success is more than a commodity story. In fact, quite a few economies in the region have become high performers without basing their success on natural resources—thanks in no small part to sound policymaking.
Filed under: Africa, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, Financial Crisis, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries | Tagged: agriculture, commodity prices, emerging market, Ethiopia, fiscal space, Mozambique, natural resources, regional economic outlook, Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, ugan, Uganda | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 29, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Steven Barnett
(Version in 中文)
Less growth in China today will mean higher income in the future. So rather than worry, we should welcome the slowdown in China’s economy. Why? Because by favoring structural reforms over short-term stimulus, China’s leadership is illustrating their commitment to move to a more balanced and sustainable growth model.
Filed under: Asia, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Finance, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Public debt | Tagged: China, consumption, government finances, IMF, iMFdirect, investment, reform, sustainable growth, United States | 3 Comments »
Posted on October 22, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Anoop Singh
(Versions in 中文 and Español)
Hard landing, soft landing, no landing, overheating. Pundits’ views on China’s economy bounce around—often rapidly—between these descriptions.
Just two short months ago, the dominant concern was about a sharp slowdown, below this year’s official growth target of 7½ percent. Now, these fears have retreated, pushed aside by talk of renewed momentum.
Our sense, here at the International Monetary Fund, has always been that economic growth will slightly surpass this year’s official target. But we have also cautioned that China’s economic challenges are growing, and that accelerating reform is critical for containing risks and achieving a smooth transition to sustainable growth.
The upcoming Third Plenum provides an opportunity for the new leadership to provide guidance on how they plan to meet these challenges.
Filed under: Asia, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Finance, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: China, credit, financial reform, government finances, Labor, Regional Economic Outlook: Asia | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 21, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Anoop Singh
Almost one year ago, the term Abenomics first surfaced in Japan. The idea of a coordinated policy effort to revive Japan’s economy and end deflation seemed a bold idea, but also a long-shot. Back in February, several young investment bankers told me that ending deflation within the next few years stood at most, a 20 percent chance. They noted that they had never experienced rising prices in their lifetimes. By June they had upped the chances of success to 40 percent. With Abenomics approaching the one-year mark, is the new strategy working?
Lot of policy action
The year started with a flurry of new policy initiatives: in January, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) adopted a 2 percent inflation target, followed by new fiscal stimulus, and a decision to join negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposal for a free trade agreement spanning countries from Australia, Brunei, to Chile, Canada, and the U.S. Shortly after, Haruhiko Kuroda took the helm at the Bank of Japan and introduced Quantitative and Qualitative Monetary Easing—an aggressive plan to reach 2 percent inflation in about 2 years mainly through large-scale bond purchases. Just, a few days ago, the government agreed to go ahead with the consumption tax increase in 2014 and announced further fiscal stimulus to soften the growth impact. Discussions on growth reforms are next on the agenda, with a special Diet session starting this month. Plenty of action, but has this whirlwind of activity paid off?
Filed under: Asia, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, Finance, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: Abenomics, Bank of Japan, interest rates, Japan, Regional Economic Outlook: Asia | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 16, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Alejandro Werner
(Version in Español & Português)
For many Latin American and Caribbean economies, clouds have appeared on the economic horizon. As the global growth momentum shifts from the emerging to the advanced economies, the strength of domestic economic policies will be crucial for how countries can cope with the combination of lower commodity prices and tighter external financing conditions.
Lower commodity prices have already started to affect the region’s commodity exporters. Even though prices remain high by historical standards, countries can no longer count on the tailwind from ever-improving terms of trade, which had propelled economic activity over the past decade.
Meanwhile, longer-term U.S. interest rates have started to rise, with knock-on effects for emerging markets. Across all of the financially integrated economies of Latin America, bond yields have increased, equity prices have fallen, and currencies have depreciated since May, when the U.S. Fed first mentioned the possibility of tapering its bond purchases later this year. Financial conditions remain fairly benign for now, but the strong tailwind from ultra-low external financing costs may also be gone for good.
Filed under: Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Español, Finance, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Languages, Latin America, Public debt | Tagged: fiscal balances, infrastructure, lending, Regional Economic Outlook: Western Hemisphere | Leave a Comment »