How to Exit the Danger Zone: IMF Update on Global Financial Stability


By José Viñals

(Versions in  عربي, 中文, EspañolFrançaisРусский日本語)

Since September of last year, risks to global financial stability have deepened, notably in the euro area.

However, over the past few weeks, markets have been encouraged by measures to provide liquidity to banks and sovereigns in the euro area. This recent improvement should not be taken for granted, as some sovereign debt markets remain under stress, and as bank funding markets are on life support from the European Central Bank (ECB).

Main sources of risk

Many of the root causes of the euro area crisis still need to be addressed before the system is stabilized and returns to health. Until this is done, global financial stability is likely to remain well within the “danger zone,” where a misstep or failure to address underlying tensions could precipitate a global crisis with grave economic and financial consequences.

Despite the recent improvements, sovereign financing stress has increased for many countries—with almost two-thirds of outstanding euro area bonds at spreads in excess of 150 basis points—and financing prospects are challenging. Markets remain very volatile and long-term foreign investors have sharply reduced their exposure to a number of euro area debt markets, including some in the core. Keeping these investors involved is essential to stabilizing markets.

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Driving the Global Economy with the Brakes On


By Olivier Blanchard

(Versions in  عربي中文EspañolFrançaisРусский日本語)

After the speech by the IMF’s Managing Director in Berlin yesterday, my main messages on the global outlook will not surprise you.

Starting with the bad news–the world recovery, which was weak in the first place, is in danger of stalling. The epicenter of the danger is Europe, but the rest of the world is increasingly affected.

There is an even greater danger, namely that the European crisis intensifies. In this case, the world could be plunged into another recession.

Turning to the good news–with the right set of measures, the worst can definitely be avoided, and the recovery can be put back on track. These measures can be taken, need to be taken, and need to be taken urgently.

And now the numbers, starting at the epicenter:

The IMF’s forecast for growth in Euro Area for 2012 is ‑0.5 percent—this marks a decrease of 1.6 percentage points relative to our September 2011 projection. In particular, we predict negative growth in Italy (‑2.2 percent) and Spain (‑1.7 percent).

We have also revised downwards our forecasts for other advanced countries, although by less. Only for the United States, is our forecast unchanged at 1.8 percent.

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Strong Leadership, Collective Action Key to Economic Recovery


By iMFdirect

The 2011 IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings are taking place in Washington DC as the global economy enters a dangerous new phase — financial markets jitters and risks to the recovery are giving everyone plenty to talk about.  Here are our ‘must reads’ for the meetings. Continue reading

Fiscal Glass is Half Full: Some Reasons for Optimism


By Carlo Cottarelli

(Versions in عربيFrançais中文 and  Русский)

In the midst of jittery financial markets, and global economic doom and gloom, it’s easy to become pessimistic. Perhaps too much so; amid what seems like a steady drum beat of bad news, one can lose sight of what has been  achieved over the last couple of years.

Public debt and fiscal deficits in many advanced economies remain very high. Nevertheless, important progress has been made in fiscal adjustment in many advanced economies. For most countries, government deficits have fallen substantially—by 2¼ percentage points of GDP on average compared to two years ago.


The fiscal outlook in most countries is stronger than we expected two years ago. Continue reading

Global Challenges, Global Solutions


By iMFdirect

The IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings are upon us here in Washington DC.

With global challenges that require global solutions—the theme of the meetings—IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn reminds us that this is “not the time for complacency.”

Government ministers and officials, members of civil society organizations, journalists, and others are flocking to Washington DC this week to discuss and decide on key issues facing the global economy. Continue reading

Shifting Gears: Where the Rubber Meets the Fiscal Road


By Carlo Cottarelli

Undertaking a sizable fiscal adjustment is a lot like driving up a tall mountain: it’s hard work, it can take a long time, and you don’t want to run out of fuel partway up the incline. Countries are starting the climb, cutting back government deficits and debt levels, but according to our analysis often current plans aren’t enough to get countries where they need and want to go.

The plans in place are large by historical standards, which brings with it difficult choices, and particular risks and uncertainties. Let me fill you in on what these are. Continue reading

The Long and the Short of It—Government Debt Plans in 2011 and Beyond


By Carlo Cottarelli

(Version in Español)

As we said in the just-published Fiscal Monitor update, fiscal policy this year in some leading advanced economies is shaping up to be quite different from what was expected just last November.

The United States and Japan are delaying their earlier plans to reduce their public deficits, choosing instead to provide further support to their economies. The change in plans is even more remarkable if you look at the cyclically adjusted balance. You can see this in the charts. Some of the change in the fiscal stance with respect to our earlier projections is attributable to the somewhat better than projected fiscal results in 2010, a point to which I will return in a moment. Most of it, however, is due to additional stimulus measures introduced during the last two months. These two countries need to strengthen their fiscal adjustment credentials by detailing the measures they will adopt to lower deficits and debt over the medium term. Continue reading

“Combination of Worries” Gets Attention in Davos


By iMFdirect

Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, fiscal challenges in advanced economies, concerns about overheating in emerging market countries, and the impact of rising food prices. These are the hot topics at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and a clear sign of the tensions and risks as the global economy recovers.

In a video interview from Davos, IMF First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky tells us that, with the return of global growth, the mood is certainly more optimistic than it was a year or two ago. But there is also a clear sense among delegates that this has not solved some of the world’s important economic problems. Continue reading

How to Bake a (Cr)edible Medium-term Fiscal Pie


By Olivier Blanchard and Carlo Cottarelli

(Version in عربي | 中文 | Español | Français | Русский )

How can governments have their cake and eat it too? How can fiscal policy provide sufficient support to economic activity, and reassure markets that fiscal solvency is not at risk? The poor state of fiscal accounts of most advanced countries calls for austere fiscal policies, before the confidence crisis that is now hitting a few small advanced economies spreads to the larger ones. But not right now: a frontloaded adjustment—that is a tightening that is not gradual but falls disproportionately early in the adjustment phase—could destabilize the recovery.

But can countries limit frontloading and still achieve credibility? Yes, but baking the right fiscal pie is likely to require a number of ingredients. While the exact recipe depends on country circumstances, here are our suggested ingredients. Continue reading

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