Posted on April 21, 2015 by iMFdirect
By iMFdirect editors
All happy countries are alike; each unhappy country is unhappy in its own way.
This twist on Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina echoed through the seminars during the IMF’s Spring Meetings as most countries, while recovering, are struggling with the prospect of lower potential growth and the “new mediocre” becoming a “new reality.”
Our editors fanned out to cover what officials and civil society had to say about how to help countries pave their own path to happiness.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Africa, Annual Meetings, Asia, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, Europe, Finance, Global Governance, Globalization, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Multilateral Cooperation | Tagged: Africa, Asia, Climate change, commodiity prices, development financing, fuel price subsidy, global economy, IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings, inflation, infrastructure, islamic finance, Middle East and North Africa, Millennium Development Goals, oil prices, public debt, Spring Meetings, trade | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 11, 2015 by iMFdirect
By Christopher Jarvis
(Version in عربي)
Egypt currently faces what may seem to be conflicting objectives. On the one hand, there’s an urgent need to restore economic stability—by achieving lower budget deficits, public debt and inflation, and adequate foreign exchange reserves. At the same time, there’s a long-standing need to achieve better standards of living—with more jobs, less poverty, and better health and education systems—one of the key reasons why people took to the streets in 2011.
Some might think that those two goals don’t go together—that the actions needed to reduce the budget and external deficits will necessarily take away from jobs and growth. But that’s not true. Some of the same policies that will improve Egypt’s financial situation can also help improve living standards.
Filed under: Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Employment, Financial Crisis, Government, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Middle East, Public debt, Reform | Tagged: Arab Spring, Article IV, education, Egypt, fiscal deficit, health, inflation, infrastructure, jobs, Middle Eas, poverty, public debt, structural reform, tourism, unemployment | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 28, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Antoinette M. Sayeh
Tremendous efforts are under way to upgrade sub-Saharan Africa’s infrastructure. But the needs on the ground are still immense as evidenced by the frequent electricity blackouts, poor roads, and insufficient access to clean water in many countries.
Infrastructure is one of the key challenges facing policymakers in the region—I experienced it first hand when I was finance minister of Liberia before coming to the IMF. The benefits are fairly clear: with improved infrastructure, new growth opportunities in the manufacturing and services sector can be generated, barriers to intraregional trade can be reduced, and economies will be better positioned to transition from low to higher productivity activities. Without improved infrastructure, I fear the increase in productivity and greater economic diversification necessary to sustain Africa’s current growth momentum will not materialize.
In this spirit, in the latest Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa economists from the IMF’s African Department looked at progress so far in addressing the infrastructure deficit and discussed policies needed going forward.
Filed under: Economic outlook, Economic research, Financial Crisis, Globalization, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries, Reform | Tagged: Africa, China, domestic tax revenues, infrastructure, investors, manufacturing, public debt, Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, telecommunication | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 5, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Ruud de Mooij and Ikuo Saito
(Versions in 日本語)
It is no surprise that, as part of its revised growth strategy presented in June, the Japanese government has announced it will reduce the corporate income tax rate. At more than 35 percent for most businesses, the Japanese rate is one of the highest among the industrialized countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (see Chart 1). Moreover, at a time when Japan needs to boost economic growth, the corporate income tax rate is generally seen as the country’s most growth-distortive tax.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Asia, Economic research, Employment, Financial regulation, Globalization, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment | Tagged: consumption tax, corporate income tax, Italy, Japan, public debt, small and medium-sized enterprises, tax cuts, tax deduction, tax incentives | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 5, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Jerry Schiff
(Versions in 日本語l and 中文)
Discussions in Japan of the “three arrows” of Abenomics—the three major components of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic plan to reflate the economy—are rampant among its citizens as well as economists, journalists and policy-makers worldwide. Even J-Pop groups are recording paeans to the economic policy named after the newly-elected premier. It is clear that “Abenomics” has been a remarkable branding success. But will it equally be an economic triumph?
We think it can be, and initial signs are positive. But such success is not assured. It will require difficult decisions as the country moves into largely uncharted territory. And much will depend on changing expectations within the country.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Asia, Economic Crisis, Finance, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Public debt | Tagged: Abenomics, Article IV, Bank of Japan, deflation, fiscal policy, growth, IMF, iMFdirect, International Monetary Fund, investment, Japan, monetary policy, public debt, quantitative easing, stimulus | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 30, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Deniz Igan
(Version in Español)
Much has changed on the fiscal front since we started worrying about U.S. fiscal sustainability. The federal government budget deficit has fallen sharply in recent years―from almost 12 percent of GDP in 2009 to less than 7 percent in 2012. And recent budget reports show that the deficit is shrinking faster than expected only a few months ago, to a projected 4½ percent of GDP for the current fiscal year, which ends September 30. Plus, health care cost growth has slowed down dramatically since the Great Recession, alleviating the pressure on public health care programs at least temporarily.
Does this mean we can stop worrying? Not quite. Recent developments certainly mean that things are better than we thought just a few years ago and the fiscal adjustment needed to restore sustainability is smaller. But if the choice and timing of policy measures is not right, the deficit reduction may turn out to be too much in the short run—stunting the economic recovery—and not enough in the long run.
So, in our recent annual check-up of the U.S. economy, our advice is to slow the pace of fiscal adjustment this year—which would help sustain growth and job creation—but to speed up putting in place a medium-term road map to restore long-run fiscal sustainability.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Economic research, Employment, Finance, Fiscal policy, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: Article IV, deficits, economic recovery, fiscal sustainability, IMF, iMFdirect, International Monetary Fund, public debt, United States | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 16, 2013 by iMFdirect
By Carlo Cottarelli
(Versions in عربي , 中文, 日本語, and Español)
The 2008–09 global economic crisis pushed public debt ratios of advanced economies to levels never seen before during peacetime. These high debt levels expose countries to a loss of market confidence and, ultimately, damage long-term growth prospects. Since 2010 advanced economies have been on a journey: the goal is to bring their public finances back to safer territory. They are in it for the long haul, not a sprint, and, as a redress of the large fiscal imbalances created by the crisis, without derailing the still fragile economic recovery, it requires a steady and gradual pace of adjustment—at least for countries not subject to market pressures.
This year we see the process of gradual fiscal adjustment reaching two symbolic milestones. First, the average deficit of advanced economies as a share of GDP will fall to half of its 2009 level at the peak of the crisis. Second, the average debt ratio will stop rising, after increasing steadily since 2007. Indeed, it will actually decline slightly.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Europe, Financial Crisis, Fiscal policy, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: deficit, Fiscal Monitor, France, GDP, Japan, public debt, United Kingdom, United States | Leave a comment »