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

Saving the Lost Generation


By Dominique Strauss-Kahn

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

Oslo was the scene this week of a remarkable event that brought together global leaders from government, business, trade unions, and academia to discuss what many of them said is the biggest issue facing the world today: the jobs crisis.

They spoke of the 210 million people currently out of work worldwide—the highest level of official unemployment in history. They spoke of the human impact in terms of persistent loss of earnings, reduced life expectancy, and lower educational achievement for the children of the unemployed. And they spoke of a potentially “lost generation” of young people whose unemployment rates are much higher than for older groups.

Fortunately, they also spoke of what can be done to save this lost generation.

The Oslo Conference—hosted by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg of Norway and co-sponsored by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—the first such joint endeavor in 66 years—attracted extraordinary participation. Continue reading

Turning up the Volume—Asia’s Voice and Leadership in Global Policymaking


By Naoyuki Shinohara

(Version in 中文,  日本語 and 한국어)

Asia’s voice is getting louder and the IMF—and, indeed, the world—is listening.

I am writing from Daejeon, Korea where the Fund and the government of Korea are hosting together a high-level international conference over the next two days.

The conference, entitled Asia 21: Leading the Way Forward, is an opportune time to reflect on exactly that: Asian leadership. Both the topics to be discussed and participants expected for the event speak volumes of the range and depth of expertise and experience in the region.

With broader recognition of the region’s economic, analytic and policy successes, Asia is now a leading voice in the global dialogue on economic and financial policies.

Continue reading

Looking Beyond the Crisis


By John Lipsky in Jackson Hole

In my first two Jackson Hole blogs, I addressed some of the key challenges to restoring growth. Yet whatever shape the recovery takes once the Great Recession ends, several significant long-term problems will have to be faced if a solid expansion is to be sustained.

In particular, the principal sources of growth in many economies will shift, structural hurdles to growth will have to be overcome, the legacy of anti-crisis fiscal policies will have to be dealt with, and the governance of global economic policy will have to adjust to new realities. In other words, the agenda will be packed for many Jackson Hole Symposiums well into the future.

At present, growth in the principal economies is being restarted with the help of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. As has been noted widely, a sustained expansion will require a shift back to private demand. Yet the U.S. recession has been marked by a significant increase in U.S. household saving out of current income that has been associated with the substantial losses in household net worth suffered during the past two years.

MARKETS STABLE DESPITE TERRORIST THREATS

The stimulus has provided a fillip to markets.

An immediate result has been weak consumption spending, and a significant decline in the U.S. current account surplus. Not only did these shifts appear to be inevitable even before the current crisis, but they almost certainly are going to be long-lasting.

In other words, it was the case prior to the crisis that sustaining a global expansion will require strengthened demand growth outside the United States, an aspect that the current crisis has served to make clear to all. This premise already underpinned the IMF-sponsored Multilateral Consultations on Global Imbalances that took place in 2006/07. The aim of that exercise was to develop mutually consistent policies that would support sustained growth while reducing global imbalances by facilitating an appropriate shift internationally in  the sources of growth, especially in economies that have relied on export-led growth. Whether the current crisis might have been moderated if the agreed policy programs had been fully implemented is moot, but the Consultation’s broad policy goals will remain relevant in the post-crisis period.

Continue reading

High-Stakes Choices In Next Stage of Crisis


By Caroline Atkinson

After averting a second Great Depression, what should policy makers do to foster recovery?

Economic policymakers are rarely popular. Central bank governors are notorious for removing the punch bowl at the party. Ministers of finance are traditionally the ones who say no to their colleagues’ pet spending projects.

In the upside-down world of recent months, finance ministers and central bank governors around the world seemed to have switched sides.  They became cheerleaders for expansionary policies. The IMF has argued strongly for this, as long as countries had room to take on more debt. Despite some hiccups, it seems clearer with every economic release that the extraordinary actions governments have taken have paid off, at least in halting the slide. Economic prospects may not be quite as bright as recent market moves would suggest. But the risk of spreading financial collapse has lessened markedly

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