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 »
Posted on October 11, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Nemat Shafik
Europe faces a stark choice: risk stagnation or pursue integration. It can continue to muddle through, and hope that growth in the world economy will eventually pick up enough steam to pull its economy out of the doldrums. Or it can make a decisive push to revitalize its economy and complete the reforms needed to achieve a fully integrated economic and monetary union
Five years into the crisis, recovery in the euro area remains fragile. Important actions at both the national and euro-wide levels have tackled the immediate threats to the single currency. These include the European Central Bank’s announcement in 2012 that it stands ready to undertake outright monetary transactions in secondary sovereign bond markets, the completion of the European Stability Mechanism, which created a financial firewall around the euro area, and efforts to restore the health of public finances and implement structural reforms.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Employment, Europe, Finance, Fiscal policy, growth, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: banking union, euro area, Europe, iMFdirect, Nemat Shafik, public finances, structural reforms | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 9, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Martine Guerguil
(Versions in 中文, Français, 日本語, Русский, and Español)
Five years into the crisis, the fiscal landscape remains challenging. On the positive side, deficit-cutting efforts and the first signs of recovery reduced the fiscal stress felt in many advanced economies; but debt ratios often remain at historical peaks. At the same time, slowing growth and rising borrowing costs, combined with unabated demands for improved public services, puts pressure on government budgets in emerging market economies.
So we created an index of ‘fiscal difficulty’ that shows the biggest challenge ahead for advanced economies is to maintain budget surpluses until debt ratios return to lower levels. We expect this will take several years.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, Finance, growth, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries, Public debt | Tagged: Asia, budget, debt, deficit, emerging market, Fiscal Monitor, Middle East and North Africa, tax | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 8, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Olivier Blanchard
(Versions in عربي, 中文, Français, 日本語, Русский, and Español)
The issue probably foremost on everyone’s mind, is the fiscal situation in the United States, and its potential implications.
While the focus is on the shutdown and the debt ceiling, we should not forget the sequester, which is leading to a fiscal consolidation this year which is both too large and too arbitrary. The shutdown is yet another bad outcome, although one which, if it does not last very long, has limited economic consequences.
Failure to lift the debt ceiling would, however, be a game changer. Prolonged failure would lead to an extreme fiscal consolidation, and surely derail the U.S. recovery. But the effects of any failure to repay the debt would be felt right away, leading to potentially major disruptions in financial markets, both in the U.S. and abroad. We see this as a tail risk, with low probability, but, were it to happen, it would have major consequences.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Annual Meetings, Economic outlook, Emerging Markets, Employment, Europe, Finance, Financial Crisis, growth, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries, recession | Tagged: debt ceiling, economic forecasts, economic growth, Europe, forecast, government shutdown, Japan, Olivier Blanchard, sequestration, United States, WEO, World Economic Outlook | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 2, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Erik Oppers
What’s up with weak credit? Five years into the economic crisis credit is still barely growing, and even declining in many advanced economies. Weak credit growth is a major factor holding back the economic recovery and governments have tried every policy they can come up with to jumpstart credit. Still, banks don’t seem to want to lend. Or is it the corporate sector and households that can’t afford to borrow? Many feel these policies are not working. What are policymakers to do?
Our analysis in the most recent Global Financial Stability Report tries to shed light on all this darkness to help countries figure out how to make these policies work. It turns out there is no cookie-cutter solution: the problem differs from country to country and changes over time. For example, in a number of euro area countries, a lackluster demand for loans limited credit growth early in the crisis, but then banks became reluctant to supply more loans as the crisis in Europe intensified in 2012.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Finance, Financial sector supervision, Fiscal policy, growth, International Monetary Fund, Politics | Tagged: balance sheets, banks, credit, euro area, financial stability, GFSR, Global Financial Stability Report, lending | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 30, 2013 by iMFdirect
By: John Simon
The winds may fell the massive oak, but bamboo, bent even to the ground, will spring upright after the passage of the storm.
- Japanese Proverb
Capital flows to emerging market economies are a source of particular and enduring concern to many policymakers. As seen in the 1997-98 Asian crisis, surging inflows can fuel excessive credit growth, expanded current account deficits, appreciated exchange rates and a loss of competitiveness—followed by painful adjustment when the inflows reverse. Countries often fight these buffeting winds with tight controls on exchange rates, capital flow management and aggressive interest rate movements. While these sometimes work, and are sometimes the best response to a crisis, all too often countries can find themselves felled by the wind like the massive oak.
In the most recent World Economic Outlook we discuss an approach to dealing with volatile international capital flows that emphasizes the soft and flexible response to capital flows rather than the hard and oak-like. Instead of trying to resist foreign inflows, countries can bend. We find that the countries that proved to be more resilient to the turbulent gusts of international capital flows were not necessarily those that controlled the inflows, but those where foreign inflows were balanced by offsetting resident outflows.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Finance, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Public debt | Tagged: capital flows, foreign exchange, WEO, World Economic Outlook | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 25, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Helge Berger and Justin Tyson
Sooner or later, and one way or the other, government debt in advanced economies will have to come down from the record levels reached in the wake of the global economic and euro area crises. There is no magic number for how much sovereign debt an economy can shoulder. And, as bringing down debt by cutting government spending or raising taxes comes at the risk of reducing growth and employment in the short term, there are arguments to not proceed too hastily. But eventually debt will have to be put back on a downward path in many countries. This will help rebuild fiscal buffers and cope with the costs of aging. So, what should governments do?
Our new analysis takes a closer look at the historical record and key trade-offs. The bottom line: it is possible to reduce debt when growth is low. Ultimately perseverance should pay off.
Filed under: Economic research, Employment, Finance, Financial Crisis, Financial regulation, Financial sector supervision, Fiscal policy, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Public debt | Tagged: debt, euro, Europe, fiscal consolidation, GDP, government budgets, government debt | Leave a comment »