A Tale of Two Tellers

Jeff Hayden

by Jeff Hayden

My mother eases her car into the drive-through lane at our local bank, signs the back of her check, and places it in a metal canister. WHOOSH—the cylinder flies through a pneumatic tube to the teller inside the building.

In a few minutes, the teller squawks her thanks from the intercom speaker nearby. Another WHOOSH, and the canister returns. Inside we find a deposit receipt and a lollipop. Welcome to high-efficiency consumer banking, circa 1973.

Summer 2016. In our kitchen, I watch my oldest son rip open his paycheck and whip out his iPhone. TAP. SWIPE. CLICK. The deposit is made in an instant, thanks to an app that plugs him into an electronic banking network.

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An Argument for Paying Down Public Debt

By Vitor Gaspar and Julio Escolano

What should governments do about high public debt-to-GDP ratios?  This question is getting much-deserved attention. Let’s abstract from macroeconomic (business cycle) considerations and look at the issue purely from an optimal tax smoothing perspective—that is, weighing the cost and benefits of raising taxes to pay down debt. By doing so we decidedly do not engage in the current debate about the contribution that fiscal policy may make to demand management. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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

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