Africa Pausing


Jeff HaydenBy Jeff Hayden

Strong performance by many African economies over the past two decades led some commentators to coin the term “Africa Rising” to describe the region’s surging economic power.

The term graced the cover of TIME magazine in December 2012, in an issue that chronicled the region’s decades-long journey from economic anemia to impressive vigor. Beginning in the mid-1990s, many—but certainly not all—countries in sub-Saharan Africa energized their economies, achieving in recent years some of the world’s highest growth. Living standards improved as a result, as did health care and other key services, inspiring hope for a bright future. Continue reading

Reducing Inequality in Asia: Sharing the Growth Dividend


By Sonali Jain-Chandra, Kalpana Kochhar and Tidiane Kinda

Version in 中文 (Chinese)

Asia continues to be the world’s growth leader, but the gains from growth are less widely shared than before. Until about 1990, Asia grew rapidly and secured large gains in poverty reduction while simultaneously achieving a fairly equitable society. Since the early 1990s, however, the region has witnessed widening income inequality that has accompanied its robust expansion—a break from its own remarkable past.

This matters because elevated levels of inequality are harmful for the pace and sustainability of growth. What can be done? Our research finds that policies could substantially reverse the trend of rising inequality. In particular, given limited social safety nets, well-designed fiscal policies may be able to alleviate inequality without stifling the region’s wealth-creating growth. Continue reading

Act Now, Act Together


By Vitor Gaspar and Luc Eyraud

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

Public finances have had a rough year. A new reality is emerging. Against this backdrop, countries need to act now to boost growth and build resilience. They must also be prepared to act together to fend off global risks.

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Imagine What Fiscal Policy Could Do For Innovation


By Vitor Gaspar and Ruud De Mooij

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

Imagine how three-dimensional printing, driverless cars and artificial intelligence will change our future. Or think of how developments in information technology, e-commerce and the sharing economy are already changing the way we learn, work, shop, and travel. Innovation drives progress and, in economic terms, determines productivity growth. And productivity growth, in turn, determines prosperity. It impacts our lives and well-being in fundamental ways: it determines where and how long we live; it determines our quality of life. Continue reading

The Case for Reforming the Price of Water


David Lipton2012By David Lipton

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

One of the first things most students of economics learn is the diamond and water paradox. How can it be that water is free even though life cannot exist without it, while diamonds are expensive although no one dies for lack of diamonds?

The answer is that water can be free if its supply is abundant relative to demand. Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear that worldwide, the demand for water outpaces supply. This imbalance is the clearest sign that water is underpriced. Yet, many governments are reluctant to price water like other goods.

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Japan: Time to Load a Fourth Arrow—Wage Increases


By Luc Everaert and Giovanni Ganelli

(Version in 日本語)

Everybody agrees: wages need to grow if Japan is to make a definite escape from deflation. Full- time wages have increased by a mere 0.3 percent since 1995! For example, despite its record profits, Toyota increased its base salary only by 1.1 percent last year. The average of 219 Keidanren firms managed just 0.44 percent. Clearly, an increase in base wages, colloquially referred to as “base up”, is long overdue.

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Population Pressures


Jeff HaydenBy Jeff Hayden

(Versions in عربي and Español)

Say “population growth” and many people immediately think of resources under stress. The mind jumps to 19th century scholar Thomas Malthus, who saw population outstripping the food supply, or to Paul Ehrlich, whose 1968 book The Population Bomb warned of global catastrophe from overpopulation.

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