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

Maintaining the Positive Momentum of the Global Economy


Lagarde.2015MDPORTRAIT4_114x128By Christine Lagarde

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

Baden-Baden, the German spa town built on ancient thermal springs, is a fitting venue to discuss the health of the global economy during this week’s meeting of the Group of Twenty finance ministers and central bank governors.

Policymakers will likely share a sense of growing optimism, because the recent strengthening of activity suggests that the world economy may finally snap out of its multi-year convalescence.  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

‘Soft’ Infrastructure Is Crucial for Stable and Balanced Growth in China


By iMFdirect

Version in 中文 (Chinese)

An important attribute of China’s remarkable record of economic growth has been the creation of an astonishing network of “hard” infrastructure, like roads, power stations, and communication networks. Now, China needs to move toward a new stage of reforms designed to help rebalance its economy. The stakes for global prosperity are high—China is the second largest economy and contributes one-third of the world’s growth.  Continue reading

Dealing with Sovereign Debt—The IMF Perspective


By Sean Hagan, Maurice Obstfeld, and Poul M. Thomsen

Versions in Français (French), Deutsch (German), ελληνικά (Greek), and Español (Spanish)

Debt is central to the functioning of a modern economy. Firms can use it to finance investments in future productivity. Households can use it to finance lumpy purchases, such as big consumer durables, or a home. Sometimes, however, firms’ investments do not pan out or a household’s main earner loses his or her job. Countries’ legal systems generally recognize that in these cases, debtors and creditors alike—along with society at large—may be better off if there is an orderly procedure for reorganizing debts.  Continue reading

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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