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

Continuing the Momentum—Asia’s Updated Economic Outlook


By Anoop Singh

Asia’s leadership of the global economic recovery is continuing unabated. And, even though heightened risks mean there may be tough times ahead again, the region is well equipped to handle them.

Asia’s remarkably fast recovery from the global financial crisis continued in the first half of 2010, despite the recent tensions in global financial markets. In fact, GDP growth in the first quarter was generally stronger than we anticipated in our Regional Economic Outlook in April. And high-frequency indicators suggest that Asian economic activity remained brisk in the second quarter. Even more notable, this is true both for economies that escaped a recession in 2009, thanks to their relatively larger domestic demand bases (China, Indonesia, and India), and for the more export-oriented economies such as Japan, the Newly Industrialized Economies (NIEs), and the rest of the ASEAN.

Two growth engines

What explains the strong economic momentum across the region? It is simple. The two “engines of growth” that spurred Asia’s recovery in 2009— exports and private domestic demand—have remained robust in 2010.

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Emerging Market Countries and the Crisis: How Have They Coped?


By Reza Moghadam

How time flies: only a year ago, we were in the throes of the biggest global crisis since the Great Depression. As the extent of the damage to institutions in financial centers became evident—starkly highlighted by the Lehman bankruptcy—and the crisis started to affect emerging market economies (EMs), a timely and coordinated countercyclical response was launched.

This helped stave off the worst of the crisis. The IMF supported the global response by increasing its resources and overhauling its lending framework to help those facing financing pressures. A recovery is now taking hold in many parts of the world.

Six months ago, we took a preliminary look at the design and performance of IMF-supported programs in emerging markets. In a forthcoming paper, we are casting a wider net—examining factors that determined the extent to which a broader group of EMs were affected by the crisis, the policy measures they have taken, factors shaping the ongoing recovery, and sustainability considerations over the medium term.

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Unwinding Crisis Policies in Europe: Are We There Yet?


By Marek Belka

Much is riding on getting the timing of the exit right from the stimulative policies used to combat the global economic and financial crisis. This is something that IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has repeatedly emphasized. Exiting too early may jeopardize the recovery. But exiting too late may sow the seeds for the next crisis, as Wolfgang Munchau and others have argued recently. I also agree with Jean Pisani-Ferry and his colleagues that exiting in an uncoordinated fashion will lead to a renewed build up of financial instability.

To successfully unwind the extraordinary policy measures taken in response to the crisis, we need more than just a good sense of the state of the economic recovery and the degree of financial stability. We also need to know to what extent the global economy currently is influenced by those supportive policy measures. Is it safe yet to change course?

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2010 Outlook: New Year, New Decade, New Challenges


By John Lipsky

The year 2010 has opened amid generalized—–but tempered—optimism about the global economic and financial outlook.

 The unprecedented scale and scope of the anti-crisis measures taken during the past year—and the unprecedented degree of multilateral policy coordination involved in their design and implementation—appear to have succeeded in averting a downturn of historic proportions.

 The improved prospects are evident in economic data, in financial market performance, and in the marking up of economic forecasts. In fact, somewhat more upbeat expectations no doubt will be reflected in the regular January update of the IMF’s World Economic Outloook forecast.

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This Time Is Different—Fiscal Policy in Low-income Countries


By Carlo Cottarelli

When it comes to the crisis, most of the media attention is focused on advanced and emerging market countries. But low-income countries have been badly hit too, reflecting their growing integration in the world economy. We can see sharp declines in exports, FDI, tourism, and remittances. Output growth in 2009 will be less than half of the pre-crisis rate of over 5 percent. Sub-Saharan Africa is the worst affected, with a contraction of real per capita GDP of almost 1 percent.

This is the bad news. But there is some good news in all of this. Low-income countries have been able to use fiscal policy as a countercyclical tool this time around, far more than in the past. Fiscal deficits are expected to increase in three-quarters of low-income countries in 2009, with an average expansion of 3 percent of GDP. Revenues have grown slower than GDP, reflecting the disproportionate impact of the crisis on trade and commodity revenues, as well as weakening tax compliance. Expenditures are expected to increase by about 2 percentage points of GDP.

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Post-Crisis: What Should Be the Goal of a Fiscal Exit Strategy?


By Carlo Cottarelli

One obvious fallout of the global financial crisis is a huge deterioration in fiscal conditions, particularly in advanced countries. The numbers are nothing short of staggering. Gross general government debt in the G-20 advanced economies is projected to approach 120 percent of GDP by 2014, up from about 80 percent in 2007, and this is even assuming no renewal of fiscal stimulus beyond 2010.

Some might think that this comes from an “exotic” form of fiscal policy whereby governments opened their coffers to prop up financial institutions. But only a small part of this debt spike is matched by a rise in financial assets. It really boils down to “plain vanilla” deficits—revenue losses from the recession, fiscal stimulus, and some underlying spending increases that would have occurred even without a recession.

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