Public Spending on Health Care under IMF-Supported Programs


By Sanjeev Gupta and Baoping Shang

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

Government policies matter when it comes to public health. And when a country’s economy is suffering a severe economic crisis, the decisions become even more critical.  Over the past few decades, protecting social programs and spending on health has been a cornerstone of the IMF’s support for countries.  Continue reading

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

What to Do about Growth


camilla-andersen-may2015By Camilla Lund Andersen

Deep unease about rising inequality and stagnating living standards in advanced economies was at the heart of the 2016 political upheaval. Globalization and trade have been blamed, but entrenched slow growth—what economists call secular stagnation—may be the real culprit. Parents who took for granted that their children would enjoy a brighter future had their dreams dashed by the global financial crisis of 2008. Nine years later, rising populism and a return to nationalist, inward-looking policies threaten to unravel the postwar economic order.  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

Taxing Oil, Gas and Minerals Across Borders Poses Challenges for Developing Nations


By Philip Daniel, Michael Keen, Artur Swistak, and Victor Thuronyi

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

Seventy percent of the world’s poorest people live in countries rich in oil, natural gas or minerals, making effective taxation of these extractive industries critical to alleviating poverty and achieving sustained growth. But national borders make that task much harder, opening possibilities for tax avoidance by multinationals and raising tough jurisdictional issues when resource deposits cross frontiers. Continue reading

Data and Inequality


by iMFdirect

Policymakers need good data to help them make good decisions.

Ravi Kanbur says producing statistics on inequality is never just a technical act; it has political consequences.  Kanbur is a Professor of Economics at Cornell University and delivered the keynote speech at the Fourth IMF Statistical Forum on Statistics for Inclusive Growth.

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Helping Feed the World’s Fast-Growing Population


rabah-arezki-imfBy Rabah Arezki

Agriculture and food markets are plagued with inefficiencies that have dramatic consequences for the welfare of the world’s most vulnerable populations. Globally, farm subsidies amount to over $560 billion a year—equivalent to nearly four times the aid given to developing countries by richer ones. Major emerging-market nations have increased subsidies rapidly, even as rich nations cut theirs drastically. Meanwhile, tariffs on farm products remain a major point of contention in global trade talks.

One third of global food production goes to waste, while food insecurity is still rampant in developing countries. Even with the explosion of agricultural productivity since the middle of the 20th century, food security remains a challenge for much of the developing world. Food-calorie production will have to expand by 70 percent by 2050 to keep up with a global population that’s forecast to grow to 9.7 billion from last year’s 7.3 billion. Food insecurity can lead to violence and conflicts that can spill over well beyond borders.  Continue reading

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