The More the Merrier? What Happens When More People Use Financial Services

By Ratna Sahay, Martin Cihak, Papa N’Diaye, Adolfo Barajas, and Srobona Mitra

(Version in FrançaisEspañolعربي)

A growing number of policymakers see financial inclusion—greater access to financial services throughout a country’s population—as a way to promote and make economic development work for society. More than 60 countries have adopted national financial inclusion targets and strategies. Opening bank accounts for all in India and encouraging mobile payments platforms in Peru are just two examples. Evidence for individuals and firms suggests that greater access to financial services indeed makes a difference in investment, food security, health outcomes, and other aspects of daily life. Our study looks at the benefits to the economy as a whole.

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Financial Support for Arab Countries in Transition

By Masood Ahmed

(Version in عربي)

The Arab Spring has injected new optimism into the Middle East and North Africa and, if managed well, the historic transitions that are under way will lead to a more prosperous future for the people of the region.

At the same time, the past year and a half has been difficult for the Arab countries in transition. They are facing economic strains as they manage political change and urgent social demands. It is a period when hard choices must be made, and it does not help that this is happening at a time of great turmoil in the global economy.

Close engagement

Throughout this difficult period, the IMF has remained closely engaged. We are advising countries on how to manage shocks to maintain economic stability, ensure that vulnerable households are protected during the transition, and lay the basis for job-creating growth.

We are also providing technical assistance to help build capacity and stronger institutions. In Egypt, for example, on tax reform to improve tax equity; in Libya to better manage its wealth through improved public financial management; and in Tunisia on measures to strengthen the financial sector.

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New links for economics and finance

Some interesting new links for those tracking economics and finance

  • Track global economic news on IMF Survey magazine’s new Google+ channel
  • Get the new Finance & Development magazine on youth demanding change
  • Try our new Back to Basics compilation explaining key economic concepts
  • Update your understanding of macroprudential policies–a primer explaining things relatively simply
  • New ideas –the case for a managed float under inflation targeting–blog
  • How to exit the Danger Zone: IMF update on global financial stability
  • Europe updates–a new IMF and Europe page
  • Want global financial analysis at your fingertips– try our new eLibrary or app
  • Free! Get our new ipad app for IMF news and data–it lets you chart and view global economic indicators and forecasts
  • Listen to podcasts about the global economy

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