Posted on May 29, 2015 by iMFdirect
By Petya Koeva Brooks and Gerd Schwartz
The 2008 global financial crisis and its aftermath have tested the European Union’s (EU) fiscal governance framework—the rules, regulations, and procedures that influence how budgetary policy is planned, approved, carried out, and monitored. Given the distinctive nature of EU integration, the framework aims to discipline national fiscal policies to prevent adverse spillovers to other countries and distortions to the conduct of the euro area’s common monetary policy.
The build-up of fiscal imbalances, however, revealed gaps in the framework. Public debt in the European Union soared following the crisis in 2008 to an average of around 95 percent in 2014—almost 30 percentage points above its average pre-crisis level (Chart 1).
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Europe, Finance, Fiscal policy, Global Governance, IMF, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: crisis, debt, EU, euro area, Fiscal Compact, fiscal framework, fiscal policies, imbalances, public debt, Stability and Growth Pact | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 8, 2015 by iMFdirect
By Xavier Debrun
(Versions in عربي, 中文, Français, Русский, 日本語and Español)
Anyone can easily picture an economy where instability, stagnation and runaway government deficits converge into a perfect storm. Yet the simple mirror image of stability, growth, and balanced budgets currently seems odd to many. And with monetary policy looking breathless, some even wonder whether sacrificing fiscal sanity for short-term growth might not be worth a try.
In any economic debate, looking at the data is always a good starting point. And the latest issue of the Fiscal Monitor does exactly that. Our study looks at the experience with fiscal stabilization during the past three decades in a broad sample of 85 advanced, emerging market, and developing economies. The message is loud and clear: governments can use fiscal policy to smooth fluctuations in economic activity, and this can lead to higher medium-term growth. This essentially means governments need to save in good times so that they can use the budget to stabilize output in bad times. In advanced economies, making fiscal policies more stabilizing could cut output volatility by about 15 percent, with a growth dividend of about 0.3 percentage point annually.
Filed under: Annual Meetings, Economic Crisis, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Financial Crisis, Fiscal policy, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Public debt, Reform | Tagged: debt, emerging market, Fiscal Monitor, fiscal policy, fiscal stabilization, government deficits, investment, recession | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 25, 2015 by iMFdirect
By Martine Guerguil
Does the European Union need closer fiscal integration, and in particular a stronger fiscal center, to become more resilient to economic shocks? A new IMF book, Designing a European Fiscal Union: Lessons from the Experience of Fiscal Federations, published by Routledge, examines the experience of 13 federal states to help inform the debate on this issue. It analyzes in detail their practices in devolving responsibilities from the subnational to the central level, compares them to those of the European Union, and draws lessons for a possible future fiscal union in Europe.
The book sets out to answer three sets of questions: (1) What is the role of centralized fiscal policies in federations, and hence the size, features, and functions of the central budget? (2) What institutional arrangements are used to coordinate fiscal policy between the federal and subnational levels? (3) What are the links between federal and subnational debt, and how have subnational financing crises been handled, when they occurred?
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic research, Europe, Financial Crisis, Fiscal, Fiscal policy, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Politics, Public debt | Tagged: Austria, Belgium, book launch, Brazil, Canada, debt, euro area, Europe, European Union, fiscal federation, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, United States | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 26, 2015 by iMFdirect
The IMF has released a new, free online data tool.
You can find all sorts of good stuff: from budget numbers to balance of payments data, debt statistics to critical global indicators. Good data supports good policy choices. With reliable and timely economic data, people can identify turning points in the economy or see looming risks.
*Wonky Warning* The data platform provides greater dynamic data visualizations, which show development over time and interact with each other. It includes a richer library of statistical tools, such as forecasting, smoothing, and aggregation. The platform strengthens the narrative and analysis of any data and allows users to customize their data experience.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic outlook, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Employment, Globalization, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries, Multilateral Cooperation | Tagged: balance of payments, debt, fiscal indicators, free data | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 7, 2015 by iMFdirect
By Kevin Fletcher and Peter Kunzel
The main features of boom-bust cycles in housing markets are by now all too familiar.
During booms, conditions such as lax lending standards and low interest rates help drive up house prices and with them mortgage debt.
When the bust arrives, over-indebted households find themselves underwater on their mortgages— owing more than their homes are worth.
Feeling the pinch of reduced wealth and access to credit, households, in turn, rein in consumption. At the same time, lower house prices cause investment in new houses to tumble.
Together, these forces significantly depress output and increase unemployment. Non-performing loans increase, and banks respond by tightening credit and lending standards, further depressing house prices and adding to the vicious cycle.
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic Crisis, Economic research, Europe, Financial Crisis, growth, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Investment, Transition | Tagged: bank lending, boom-bust cycle, debt, Denmark, house prices, housing market, Ireland, mortgages, Netherlands, private sector, Spain, tax exemptions, United States | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 12, 2014 by iMFdirect
By Sabina Bhatia
I know it might sound odd, but I actually like the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings. I know the traffic snarls on Pennsylvania Avenue are terrible, Washington cabbies ruder than ever, lots of men in dark suits (and sadly, they are still mostly men), and there is the constant rush from meeting to meeting.
But beyond the long lines, long hours, cold coffee and the constant buzz of communiqués, press releases, and scores of official meetings, I find my place in the rich and stimulating discussions among the non-official community.
This year, over 600 civil society organizations, including members of parliament, academics, and several youth and labor groups, came to the meetings. They deliberated, discussed and debated some thorny issues. The burning issues close to their hearts? Not that different from what officials are also debating. Here is some of what I heard:
Filed under: Africa, Annual Meetings, Civil Society, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Europe, Global Governance, IMF | Tagged: academics, civil society organizations, debt, ebola, inequality, infrastructure, investment, jobs, Labor, parliament, recovery, unemployment, women, youth | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 17, 2014 by iMFdirect
Fiscal policy makers have faced an extraordinarily challenging environment over the last few years. At the outset of the global financial crisis, the IMF for the first time advocated a fiscal expansion across all countries able to afford it, a seeming departure from the long-held consensus among economists that monetary policy rather than fiscal policy was the appropriate response to fluctuations in economic activity. Since then, the IMF has emphasized that the speed of fiscal adjustment should be determined by the specific circumstances in each country. Its recommendation that in general deficit reduction proceed steadily, but gradually, positions the IMF between the fiscal doves (who argue for postponing fiscal adjustment altogether) and the fiscal hawks (who argue for a front-loaded adjustment).
All this is highlighted in a recently released book Post-Crisis Fiscal Policy, edited by Carlo Cottarelli, Philip Gerson and Abdelhak Senhadji, that brings together the analysis underpinning the IMF’s position on the evolving role of fiscal policy. The book underscores how the global financial crisis has reshaped our understanding of the role of fiscal policy with topics that include a historical view of debt accumulation; the timing, size, and composition of fiscal stimulus packages in advanced and emerging economies; the heated debate surrounding the size of fiscal multipliers and the effectiveness of fiscal policy as a countercyclical tool and more.
Check out this book, which is written for a wide audience, and watch the webcast of the book launch hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics on July 14 .
Filed under: Advanced Economies, Economic research, Emerging Markets, Finance, Financial Crisis, Fiscal policy, Globalization, IMF, International Monetary Fund | Tagged: book launch, debt, fiscal adjustment, fiscal policy, Fiscal Stimulus | Leave a comment »