Posted on May 30, 2012 by iMFdirect
By Anoop Singh
The sharp reduction in China’s current account surplus over recent years has ignited a flurry of speculation about whether the world’s second largest economy has achieved the fundamental, economic rebalancing which many have been pressing for. That is, rebalancing in terms of reduced dependence on exports, and increasing reliance on the domestic market by boosting consumer demand.
My own opinion is that it is too early to say. True, China’s current account surplus fell to around 2.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2011, from a pre-crisis peak of more than 10 percent in 2007. And while the reduction in China’s current account surplus is welcome news, we remain concerned that these changes may not represent a sustained, downward trend.
One possible sign of a durable turnaround in China’s current account surplus would be a pickup in consumption growth but there is little evidence that consumption is rising as a share of GDP.
Filed under: Asia, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, Financial Crisis, Fiscal policy, growth, Inequality, Investment, Politics, Public debt | Tagged: 12th Five Year Plan, Anoop Singh, Asia, China, consumption, current account, d, domestic demand, energy, exports, GDP. World Economic Outlook, iMFdirect, imports, infrastructure, Japan, Korea, machinery, minerals, surplus | 2 Comments »
Posted on June 6, 2011 by iMFdirect
By Masood Ahmed
Across the world, surging international food prices have become a major cause for concern and topic of debate. This is especially so in the Arab world, which is home to some of the largest food importers and where rising food prices have been one of the factors in recent political unrest.
In the context of ongoing political developments, governments across the region are responding to the rise in commodity prices with hikes in fuel and food subsidies, civil service wage and pension increases, additional cash transfers, tax reductions, and other spending increases. These measures will help poor households maintain their purchasing power and limit further increases in domestic food prices.
How should central banks—whose task is to prevent general price increases that would further cut into peoples’ incomes—react? What inflation metric should they target? (more…)
Filed under: Economic Crisis, IMF, Inequality, Middle East | Tagged: central banks, consumption, economic policy, food, fuel, inflation, Middle East, monetary policy, North Africa, oil, poor | 6 Comments »
Posted on May 18, 2011 by iMFdirect
By Antonio Borges
(Versions in Español, Français, Português, Русский)
With all the anxiety generated by the troubles of Portugal, Greece, and Ireland, it is easy to forget that a different part of Europe was in the spotlight two years ago, facing equally dire predictions of bank runs, fiscal ruin, and devaluation.
Today, many economies in emerging Europe are quietly staging a strong comeback. Most impressive is the turnaround in the three Baltic countries, which suffered record deep recessions in the wake of the 2008/09 financial crisis. Take Lithuania, which grew an eye-catching 14.7 percent in the first quarter of 2011. But many other countries in the region are seeing strong growth as well. (more…)
Filed under: Economic outlook, Emerging Markets, Europe, IMF, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: asset price bubbles, boom-bust cycle, capital inflows, consumption, credit default swaps, current account deficits, domestic demand, economic growth, economic output, exports, growth potential, investment, Macroeconomic policies, markets, structural policies | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 25, 2010 by iMFdirect
By Anoop Singh
Continuing my travels through Asia for the launch of our October 2010 Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific, I am writing to you today from Singapore. In my last post, I focused on the near-term outlook and challenges for Asia. Today, I turn to the key medium-term challenge—the need to rebalance economies in the region away from heavy reliance on exports by strengthening domestic sources of growth. This is against a backdrop of the need to rebalance global growth that was emphasized over the weekend by the ministers of the Group of Twenty industrialized and emerging market countries.
Heavy reliance, arguably over-reliance, on exports is a common challenge across Asia. Yet, the policies to address it will differ among the countries in the region. Much of the public discussion focuses on ways to increase consumption, and this is something the IMF has written about extensively in the past. But the role of investment in rebalancing growth is equally important and something that should not be overlooked. (more…)
Filed under: Asia, Economic outlook, IMF, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: ASEAN, Asian financial crisis, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, business environment, consumption, economic rebalancing, financial infrastructure, foreign investment, G-20, investment, investment climate, medium-term challenge, newly industrialized economies, private domestic demand, public-private partnerships, rebalance global economy, Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 8, 2009 by iMFdirect
By Anoop Singh
As Asia starts down the path to recovery, it is going to have to tackle two issues which are constraining its long-term growth potential: firms that save but do not invest and wealthy households that are reluctant to consume.
At first glance, such behavior seems inexplicable and counter-intuitive. Let’s imagine for a moment you are an investor—you may well be— you put quite a bit of money into a company to back its expansion plans. Initially, these plans prove successful, and the company makes quite a bit of money. But then the firm ran out of investment ideas. What would you expect them to do?
Surely, you would expect them to return the money you provided, for example by paying it out as dividends. But in the past, prosperous decade before the current downturn this hasn’t been happening in emerging Asia. Firms have been sitting on their profits, not investing them, but not paying them out in dividends, either. That is a puzzle, and a problem.
Filed under: Asia, Economic research, Emerging Markets, growth, recession | Tagged: Asian crisis, Asian firms, China, consumption, household saving | 9 Comments »