Back to School Blogs


By iMFdirect

It’s been a busy summer, and you might not have had a chance to read everything as it came across your screen.  So as your holidays wind down and you head to work, the editors at iMFdirect have put together some key blogs on hot topics to help you get back up to speed by September.

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The Euro Area Workforce is Aging, Costing Growth


By Shekhar Aiyar, Christian Ebeke, and Xiaobo Shao

Versions in Français (French), and Español (Spanish)

In parallel to the aging of the general population, the workforce in the euro area is also growing older. This could cause productivity growth to decline in the years ahead, raising another policy challenge for governments already dealing with legacies from the crisis such as high unemployment and debt.  Continue reading

Currency & Power


by iMFdirect

We have a global economy, but we don’t have a global currency. Or do we?

In this podcast interview with Benjamin Cohen, professor of International Political Economy at the University of California, Cohen explains why currencies become internationalized, and examines the relationship between world currencies and State power.

Power is influence, and it is also the ability to do what you want without having to worry about what others want, according to Cohen.

The United States dollar has been a dominant currency because the U.S. economy has dominated since World War II. What makes the dollar attractive, according to Cohen, is the U.S. financial market. The dollar offers liquidity advantages that no other does.

Cohen describes what he calls a currency pyramid, which  includes the U.S. dollar at the very peak.  It has universal scope and domain. Potentially the renminbi, China’s currency (also known as the yuan), which is still just a minnow, according to Cohen, but it’s international use is growing quite rapidly. It reflects that China has achieved a degree of autonomy that’s almost unprecedented.

Some people would like one world currency, which would come with a great deal of power. Cohen does not believe a world currency is possible in today’s world.

The best we can hope for is for institutions like the IMF to help governments to manage their currencies more efficiently.

According to Cohen, as long as we have a political system that relies on state sovereignty, we’re going to live with an imperfect monetary system, and the best we can hope for is international institutions that can help smooth some of the rough edges.

To listen to the podcast, you can tune in here:

 

The Lowdown on U.S. Core Inflation


Yasser AbdihBy Yasser Abdih

There was a time when U.S. central bankers worried that inflation was too high, and they tried to bring it down. Now the opposite is true: the Federal Reserve is concerned that inflation has remained stubbornly low, and it’s trying to boost prices. The reason: persistently low inflation raises the risk that prices will actually start to decline, a dangerous condition known as deflation. That’s bad news because it makes people less willing to borrow and spend—anticipating lower prices, consumers will put off spending—and could also lead to a fall in wages. Continue reading

Getting into Higher Gear: Why Structural Reforms Are Critical for Revving Up Global Growth


David Lipton 2016-1By David Lipton

Versions in عربي (Arabic), Español (Spanish)

Almost a decade after the start of the global financial crisis, the world economy is still trying to achieve escape velocity. The IMF’s recent forecast for global growth is a disappointing 3.1 percent in 2016 and 3.4 percent in 2017. And the outlook remains clouded by increased economic and political uncertainty, including from the impact of the Brexit vote.

Policymakers have taken forceful macroeconomic policy action to support growth, such as fiscal stimulus and appropriately accommodative monetary policy. But a lasting recovery remains elusive. Continue reading

G-20: Five Ways to Spark Growth


By iMFdirect

Once again, we face the prospect of weak and fragile global growth. Released earlier this week, the IMF’s update to the global economic outlook expects global growth at 3.1 percent and 3.4 percent in 2016 and 2017, respectively, slightly down from April estimates. The global outlook, which was set for a small upward revision prior to the U.K.’s referendum, has been revised downward, reflecting the increased economic, political, and institutional uncertainty. Continue reading

Emigration Slows Eastern Europe’s Catch Up With the West


By Nadeem Ilahi, Anna Ilyina, and Daria Zakharova

(Versions in: Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, and Slovenian)

The opening up of Eastern Europe to the rest of the world in the early 1990s brought about tremendous benefits. The inflow of capital and innovation has led to better institutions, better economic management, and higher efficiency. On the flip side, it has also led to sizable and persistent outflow of people.

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