OPEC’s Rebalancing Act


By Rabah Arezki and Akito Matsumoto

Versions in عربي (Arabic), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

In November 2014, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to maintain output despite a perceived global glut of oil. The result was a steep decline in price.

Two years later, on November 30, 2016, the organization took a different tack and committed to a six-month, 1.2 million barrel a day (3.5 percent) reduction in OPEC crude oil output to 32.5 million barrels per day, effective in January 2017. The result was a small price increase and some price stability. Continue reading

Chart of the Week: The Productivity Puzzle


By iMFdirect

Technological change seems to be happening faster than ever. The prospect of driverless cars, robot lawyers, and 3D-printed human organs becoming commonplace suggests a new wave of technological progress.  Continue reading

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

Chart of the Week: For India, Toilets Bring Benefits


By iMFdirect

Improving access to sanitation, an important Sustainable Development Goal, is essential for achieving gender equality and economic prosperity. It leads to increased female participation in the workforce, higher literacy and faster economic growth, according to the IMF’s latest research on India.  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

Islamic Banking Proposals Get IMF Approval


By Ghiath Shabsigh, Ross Leckow, and Zeine Zeidane

Versions in:  ArabicFrenchIndonesian, and Malay

Islamic banking, a small but fast-growing corner of the financial world, is receiving greater attention from regulators and policy makers. The IMF recently adopted a set of proposals on Islamic banking and called for a more comprehensive set of policies to ensure financial stability in countries with Islamic banking and support the sound development of the industry. The IMF is now calling for additional work and cooperation by its staff with other international agencies to improve the adoption of relevant standards for Islamic banking and to address remaining regulatory gaps.  Continue reading

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