Revisiting the Paradox of Capital: The Reversal of Uphill Flows


By Emine Boz, Luis Cubeddu, and Maurice Obstfeld

Versions in عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French), 日本語 (Japanese),  Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

Basic economic theory tells us that capital should flow from slow-growing rich countries to faster-growing poor ones in search of higher returns. A decade ago, our former Research Department colleagues Eswar Prasad, Raghuram Rajan, and Arvind Subramanian examined why the reverse had been true—capital generally flowed “uphill” from poorer to richer countries. Building on the seminal work of Robert Lucas, they argued that certain characteristics of poorer countries, such as weaker institutions and lower levels of education, may reduce the risk-adjusted returns to investing there.  Continue reading

The IMF’s Work on Inequality: Bridging Research and Reality


By Prakash Loungani and Jonathan D. Ostry

Versions in عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French), and Español (Spanish)

Over the past three decades, income inequality has gone up in most advanced economies and in many developing ones as well. Why? Much of the research on inequality has focused on advances in technology and liberalization of trade as the main drivers. While technology and trade are global trends that are difficult to resist, IMF studies have shown that the design of government policies matters and can help limit increases in inequality. Continue reading

Going with the Flow: Benefits of Capital Inflows for Emerging Markets


deniz-igan-imfBy Deniz Igan

Michael Mussa, a former Chief Economist of the IMF, famously likened capital account liberalization to fire. In his comments at the IMF Economic Forum on October 2, 1998, he said: “Fire warms our homes, it cooks our food, our internal combustion engines,” and continued: “No doubt, fire is very useful, and we are not going to give up its manifold benefits. On the other hand, fire can also burn you down and do a great deal of damage.”

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The Whole Can Be Greater Than the Sum of its Parts


By Vitor Gaspar, Maurice Obstfeld and Ratna Sahay

There are policy options to bring new life into anemic economic recoveries and to counteract renewed slowdowns.  Our new paper, along with our co-authors, debunks widespread concerns that little can be done by policymakers facing a vicious cycle of (too) low growth, (too) low inflation, near-zero interest rates, and high debt levels.

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