Global Growth Hits a Soft Patch


By Olivier Blanchard

(Versions in
عربي,  中文EspañolFrançaisPortuguêsРусский)

Today we’re in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to release our update to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook.

Despite a mild slowdown, the global economic recovery continues but the road to health will be a long one.  Downside risks, both old and new, are increasing.

Our world forecast is 4.3% growth for 2011, and 4.5% for 2012, so down by 0.1% for 2011, and unchanged for 2012, relative to April.  This figure hides very different performances for advanced economies on the one hand, and for emerging and developing economies on the other.  Continue reading

Keeping Asia from Overheating


By Anoop Singh

Asia’s vigorous pace of growth has seen the region play a leading role in the global recovery. But, there are also now growing signs of price pressure across the region’s goods and asset markets.

Headline inflation in Asia has accelerated since October 2010, mainly owing to higher commodity prices. There are, of course, variations in how much this has affected inflation across Asia, partly reflecting differences in the shares of food and energy items in expenditures.

But there are signs that higher commodity prices are spilling over to a more generalized increase in inflation. Continue reading

Seven Pillars of Prosperity—Diversifying Economic Growth in the Caucasus and Central Asia


By David Owen

(Version in Русский)

Medium-term economic growth prospects in the Caucasus and Central Asia region are strong. But, to secure ongoing prosperity, the eight countries of the region—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—will need to look beyond traditional sources of growth.

The challenge for policymakers will be to foster new and more diverse growth drivers, outside mining, oil, and gas.

There are seven policy pillars that can help them do that: Continue reading

The Next Phase of Asia’s Economic Growth


By Anoop Singh

(Version in 中文,  日本語 and 한국어)

As the economic recovery has matured across much of Asia, the region has continued to be a driving force in the strengthening global recovery. Yet, recent tragic events—around the globe, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan—are an all too poignant reminder of the fragility of our economic circumstances and, indeed, life.

Much of this weighs on my mind as I am here in Hong Kong to launch our April 2011 Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific. While the outlook is by no means gloomy, it is an opportune time to consider how Asia should manage the next phase of growth. 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

Weekend in Washington: Cooperating Our Way Out of Crisis


By Dominique Strauss-Kahn

(Version in عربي 中文 Español Français 日本語 Русский )

This past weekend in Washington DC, as the economic leaders of 187 countries gathered for the Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank, the mood was tense. The world’s finance ministers and central bank governors were concerned because the global recovery is fragile. And uneven. And it is fragile because it is so uneven.

In the emerging markets of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, things are going pretty well. Even in Africa, many countries have returned to growth much faster than in previous recessions. In Europe, however, the recovery is sluggish. And in the United States, it remains subdued. The IMF’s latest economic outlook, released during the meetings, does not anticipate a “double dip.” But there are risks. Continue reading

Watch This (Fiscal) Space: Assessing Room for Fiscal Maneuver in Advanced Countries


By Jonathan D. Ostry

Public debt sustainability in most advanced economies used to be a non-issue, or at most a back-burner one. A couple years back, if the topic came up, most people associated it with developing or emerging market countries. Defaults, rising sovereign risk premia, getting shut out from capital markets were, let’s face it, not really imagined to be possibilities for advanced economies. Of course there were fiscal challenges, demographic pressures being the obvious one, but these were issues for the long term, not the here and now.

But today, fiscal problems are a key concern of policy makers in many industrial countries, and a reassessment of sovereign risk is a palpable threat to global recovery. While the financial crisis may be a convenient scapegoat for the debt blowout in the advanced countries, blame lies elsewhere, in how fiscal policy was managed before the great recession, not during it. And, more sobering still, taming public debt will require steadfast policy efforts over the medium term: quick fixes will not do the trick.

What is the worry? At the heart of the issue is the extent to which governments have room for fiscal maneuver—“fiscal space”—before markets force them to tighten policies sharply and, relatedly, the size of adjustments needed to restore or maintain public debt sustainability.

Yet, surprisingly, much of the talk about fiscal space—how to measure it and the policy implications—has so far been rather fuzzy. A new staff position note, which I co-authored with several IMF colleagues, aims to remedy this, providing an operational definition of the fiscal space concept as well as empirical estimates of available fiscal space for 23 advanced economies.

Continue reading

A Problem Shared Is a Problem Halved: The G-20’s “Mutual Assessment Process”


By Olivier Blanchard 1

The Group of Twenty industrialized and emerging market economies (G-20) has broken new ground over the past year or two. It has embraced the type of collaborative approach to policy design and review that is well suited to today’s interdependent world, where policies in one country can often have far-reaching effects on others.

Collective action by the G-20 in response to the recent crisis was critical in avoiding a catastrophic financial meltdown and a potential second Great Depression. Exceptional policy responses around the globe—including macroeconomic stimulus and financial sector intervention—indeed helped avoid the worst. These actions were notable, both for their scale and force, but also for their consistency and coherence.

Keen to build on this success, G-20 Leaders pledged at their 2009 Pittsburgh Summit to adopt policies that would ensure a lasting recovery and a brighter economic future. To meet this goal, they launched the “Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth.” The backbone of this framework is a multilateral process, where G-20 countries together set out objectives and the policies needed to get there. And, most importantly, they undertake a “mutual assessment” of their progress toward meeting those shared objectives. With this, the G-20 Mutual Assessment Process or the “MAP” was born.

Continue reading

More to Do on Financial Sector Tax, Says IMF’s Lipsky


In an interview from Davos, Switzerland, the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky said that although the mood among delegates is more upbeat than it was one year ago during the crisis, people still have concerns about the resilience of the economic recovery.

In its latest world economic outlook, released just ahead of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, the IMF is forecasting that world growth will bounce back from negative territory in 2009 to 3.9 percent this year and 4.3 percent in 2011.

Lipsky also said it was clear that decision makers feel under intense political pressure to act on financial sector regulation. A consensus on how to move ahead on a financial sector tax hasn’t emerged yet, but Lipsky said that a process initiated by the G-20 industrialized and emerging market countries will play a key role in making decisions about the issue.

Continue reading

IMF Revises Up Its Global Economic Forecast


The IMF has revised upwards its forecast for growth in the global economy saying it is recovering faster than previously expected. It  sees world growth bouncing back from negative territory in 2009 to a forecast 3.9 percent this year and 4.3 percent in 2011.

But the recovery is proceeding at different speeds around the world, with emerging markets, led by Asia relatively vigorous, but advanced economies remaining sluggish and still dependent on government stimulus measures, the IMF said in an update to its World Economic Outlook, published on January 26.

IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard says the recovery right now is still very much based on stimulative policies by government, while  IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn has warned that countries risk a return to recession if anti-crisis measures are withdrawn too soon.

The IMF said it had revised upwards its earlier forecast for global growth by ¾ percentage point from the October 2009 forecast.  Along with the update to its forecast, the IMF also released a new assessment of global financial conditions in its Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR). It said that financial markets have rebounded since the lows of last March, the result of improving economic conditions and wide-ranging policy actions by governments.

“Notwithstanding the recent sell-off, risk appetite has returned, equity markets have improved, and capital markets have reopened,” Jose Viñals, Director of the IMF’s Monetary and Capital Markets Department, said.

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