Getting the Diagnosis Right: Avoiding a Housing Price Bubble in Hong Kong SAR


By Nigel Chalk

(Version in 中文)

In the past couple of years, Hong Kong has witnessed a sharp increase in property prices. This has led some to claim that the time has come to change Hong Kong’s “Linked Exchange Rate System”.

This represents a misdiagnosis of the current situation and the wrong prescription for Hong Kong.

It is true that the average cost of an apartment in Hong Kong has risen by almost 20 percent in the past year alone. This stands in stark contrast to what our latest World Economic Outlook described as the dismal outlook for real estate markets in the industrial countries.

And, like many countries in the region, Hong Kong has been the destination for an extraordinary amount of global capital over the past two years.

But how much of these trends have been a product of the exchange rate regime? Continue reading

What Drives Inflation in Asia and Why it Matters


By Anoop Singh

(Version in 日本語)

Of all the things policymakers have had to worry about in the past couple of years, inflation wasn’t one of them. Some even heralded the end of inflation.

Today, inflation still isn’t a ‘problem’ in Asia. For the most part, it remains relatively modest, but it is on the rise in some countries in the region. And understanding what is driving that inflation matters. Policymakers need to consider the sources of inflation in making the right policy choices. What policy tools to choose. Continue reading

Sustaining Asia’s Recovery


By Anoop Singh

I am in Asia this week to launch our October 2010 Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific (REO) in Jakarta and Singapore. As I have inevitably found during visits to Asia over so many years, the mood here is confident about future economic prospects. Yet it is also watchful for risks that may be lurking over the horizon. This mood matches closely the main messages of our current assessment of the outlook for the region. Continue reading

Emerging Europe—Lessons from the Boom-Bust Cycle


By Ajai Chopra

Almost unnoticed, amid the difficulties in western Europe, the other half of the continent has begun to recover from the deepest slump in its post-transition period. The emerging economies in central and eastern Europe will grow by 3¾ percent this year and next—a relief after the 6 percent decline in 2009.

Why was the crisis so severe—and how do we avoid a repeat? We consider just that question in our fall 2010 Regional Economic Outlook: Europe. While the crisis was triggered by external shocks, it is clear that domestic imbalances and policies also played a key role. Continue reading

The Two Rebalancing Acts


By Olivier Blanchard

Achieving a “strong, balanced, and sustained world recovery”—to quote from the goal set in Pittsburgh by the G-20—was never going to be easy. It requires much more than just going back to business as usual. It requires two fundamental and complex economic rebalancing acts.

First, internal rebalancing. When private demand collapsed, fiscal stimulus helped reduce the fall in output. This helped avoid the worst. But private demand must now become strong enough to take the lead and sustain growth, while fiscal stimulus gives way to fiscal consolidation.

The second is external rebalancing. Many advanced countries, most notably the United States, relied excessively on domestic demand before the crisis, and they must now rely more on net exports. Many emerging market countries, most notably China, had relied excessively on net exports, but must now look to domestic demand. Continue reading

Financial System Fragilities – Achilles’ Heel of Economic Recovery


By José Viñals

It would be unfair for any assessment of global economic and financial stability not to acknowledge that tremendous progress has been made in repairing and strengthening the financial system since the onset of the global crisis.

Still, the key message from the IMF’s October 2010 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) is clear. Progress toward global financial stability has suffered a setback over the past six months—the financial system remains the Achilles’ heel of the economic recovery. Continue reading

Asia: The Challenge of Capital Inflows


By Anoop Singh

As I have highlighted in previous posts, Asia has been leading the global recovery and it is expected to continue doing so in the near term.

Not only has Asia’s rapid growth helped output return to pre-crisis levels relatively quickly, it has attracted large capital inflows into the region. Foreign capital has poured in, attracted by Asia’s strong fundamentals and bright growth prospects. Portfolio and cross border banking flows have rebounded sharply as financial conditions normalized.

Looking ahead, our growth projections suggest that Asia is expected to outperform advanced countries. As a result, the region is likely to continue to attract significant capital inflows, assuming that fallout from the euro zone sovereign debt crisis is contained and that the recent spike in global risk aversion abates.

Continue reading

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