Haves and Have Less—Why Inequality Throws Us Off Balance


Jeremy CliftBy Jeremy Clift

We used to think that overall economic growth would pull everyone up. While the rich might be getting richer, everyone would benefit and would see higher living standards. That was the unspoken bargain of the market system.

But now research is showing that, in many countries, inequality is on the rise and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, particularly over the past quarter-century.

With taxpayers footing the bill for troubles in the financial industry in advanced economies during the global economic crisis, this discrepancy seems particularly galling to wage-earners who have seen their pay stagnate or worse. Inequality has started to attract more research by economists.

The September 2011 issue of Finance & Development (F&D) looks at income inequality around the world and how it matters. Continue reading

iMFdirect—Our Top 10 Posts


As iMFdirect looks back at two years since our blog on global economics was launched in August 2009, we’ve compiled a list of  the posts that have drawn the most attention.

Collectively, the posts give a snapshot of some of the biggest challenges in the world economy—which because of this summer’s developments remain, in some ways, much the same today as two years ago. It’s worth noting that John Lipsky’s outlook for 2011 listed as the No. 1 downside risk to the global economy: “Renewed turbulence in sovereign debt markets could spill over to the real economy and across regions.”

From the start our aim has been to stimulate debate about global economic issues and to open up discussion, through the blog, to a broader audience. During the past two years we’ve had more than 200 posts from leading economists, including several Nobel Prize winners. Many have been reproduced by other blogs around the world and hundreds of people have provided comment and feedback, and participated in constructive debate.

Here are the iMFdirect posts that have drawn the highest number of views:

1. Ten Commandments for Fiscal Adjustment in Advanced Economies

2. Rewriting the Macroeconomists’ Playbook in the Wake of the Crisis

3. Fair and Substantial—Taxing the Financial Sector

4. 2010 Outlook: New Year, New Decade, New Challenges

5. The Future of Macroeconomic Policy: Nine Tentative Conclusions

6. Nanjing and the New International Monetary System

7. Global Safety Nets: Crisis Prevention in an Age of Uncertainty

8. 2011—A Pivotal Year for Global Cooperation

9. Warning! Inequality May Be Hazardous to Your Growth

10. Thinking Beyond the Crisis: Themes from the IMF’s 10th Annual Research Conference

Let us know what you think and subjects you would like to discuss. What would you like to see more of and what less of? We welcome your views and comments.

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

Tipping the Scales—Rebalancing Growth in Asia


By Anoop Singh

(Version in 中文 and 日本語)

The center of global economic growth is moving from the West to Asia, in particular emerging Asia and China.

But, left unattended, the economic imbalances that have emerged with this shift in power could test the sustainability of global growth.

How to achieve this rebalancing is a key theme of a new book from the IMF, launched in Hong Kong, on Rebalancing Growth in Asia—Economic Dimensions for China.

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

Warning! Inequality May Be Hazardous to Your Growth


By Andrew G. Berg and Jonathan D. Ostry

Many of us have been struck by the huge increase in income inequality in the United States in the past thirty years. The rich have gotten much richer, while just about everyone else has had very modest income growth.

Some dismiss inequality and focus instead on overall growth—arguing, in effect, that a rising tide lifts all boats. But assume we have a thousand boats representing all the households in the United States, with boat length proportional to family income. In the late 1970s, the average boat was a 12 foot canoe and the biggest yacht was 250 feet long. Thirty years later, the average boat is a slightly roomier 15 footer, while the biggest yacht, at over 1100 feet, would dwarf the Titanic! When a handful of yachts become ocean liners while the rest remain lowly canoes, something is seriously amiss.  

In fact, inequality matters. And it matters in all corners of the globe. Continue reading

Latin America’s Twin Challenges—Increasing Rate of Growth and Managing Volatility


By Dominique Strauss-Kahn

(Version in Español)

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to discuss Latin America’s regional outlook with government leaders, parliamentarians, and university students in Brazil, Panama, and Uruguay.

The key conclusion that I took away from these meetings is that Latin America faces two principal economic challenges: to increase the sustainable rate of economic growth and to reduce the volatility of growth.

In my meeting in Calgary on March 26 with Finance Ministers of the region, I focused on the second challenge so that favorable conditions today do not come at the expense of a bust tomorrow.

It’s a nice coincidence that this meeting of Finance Ministers of the Americas and the Caribbean was held here in Calgary. Canada is a good example of “managing the good times,” but as in many countries across the globe, some challenges remain. Continue reading

All Eyes on Paris and the G-20


By iMFdirect

Certainly the world did not end in 2008 with the collapse of Lehman and the crisis that followed. But, it didn’t mostly—perhaps only—because extraordinary international policy cooperation helped avert a far worse outcome.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn

… the G-20 has now to adapt to a new economic environment. It must prove that it is able to coordinate the economic policies of major economies on an ongoing basis.
French G-20 Presidency

G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors gather in Paris for their first ministerial level meeting of France’s G-20 presidency at a critical juncture Continue reading

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