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.

Continue reading

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

The ECB’s Negative Rate Policy Has Been Effective but Faces Limits

By Andy Jobst and Huidan Lin

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

More than two years ago, seeking to revive a moribund economy, the European Central Bank (ECB) embarked on a new monetary policy measure: charging interest on excess liquidity that banks held at the central bank. The move complemented a series of other easing measures aimed at bringing inflation back to the ECB’s price stability objective of below, but close to, two percent over the medium term. Continue reading

Sluggish Business Investment in the Euro Area: The Roles of Small and Medium Enterprises and Debt

By John C. Bluedorn and Christian Ebeke

Small businesses could be the lifeblood of Europe’s economy, but their size and high debt are two of the factors holding back the investment recovery in the euro area. The solution partly lies in policies to help firms grow and reduce debt.

Our new study, part of the IMF’s annual economic health check of the euro area, takes a novel bottom-up look at the problem. We analyze the drivers of investment using a large dataset of over six million observations in eight euro area countries, from 2003 to 2013: Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Finland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. 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.

Continue reading

A Spanner in the Works: An Update to the World Economic Outlook

21970901656_57e69fe1e3_zBy Maurice Obstfeld

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

The United Kingdom’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union adds downward pressure to the world economy at a time when growth has been slow amid an array of remaining downside risks. The first half of 2016 revealed some promising signs—for example, stronger than expected growth in the euro area and Japan, as well as a partial recovery in commodity prices that helped several emerging and developing economies. As of June 22, we were therefore prepared to upgrade our 2016-17 global growth projections slightly. But Brexit has thrown a spanner in the works.

Continue reading

Five Lessons from a Review of Recent Crisis Programs

Vivek Arora.Feb2015-thumbBy Vivek Arora

Version in 中文 (Chinese), Español (Spanish)

IMF lending increased to unprecedented levels in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. As difficulties emerged, we extended financial support to countries across the world—in the euro area, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and emerging economies in Europe.

The IMF tried to draw lessons in real time as the crisis evolved in order to adapt our operations. We reviewed individual programs and, from time to time, paused and took stock of our experience across countries.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: