Tariffs Do More Harm Than Good at Home


maurice-obstfeld2By Maurice Obstfeld

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

A longstanding challenge for the global economy is the possibility that some countries compete for export markets through artificially low prices. Political leaders and pundits sometimes propose import tariffs to offset the supposed price advantages and exert pressure for policy changes abroad. What proponents often fail to realize is that such tariff policies, while certainly hurting their targets, can also be very costly at home. And surprisingly, the self-inflicted harm can be substantial even when trade partners do not retaliate with tariffs of their own. Continue reading

The Euro Area Workforce is Aging, Costing Growth


By Shekhar Aiyar, Christian Ebeke, and Xiaobo Shao

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

In parallel to the aging of the general population, the workforce in the euro area is also growing older. This could cause productivity growth to decline in the years ahead, raising another policy challenge for governments already dealing with legacies from the crisis such as high unemployment and debt.  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.

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Growing Older: Germany Needs Reforms


By Enrica Detragiache, Jean-Marc Natal, and Joana Pereira

Version in Deutsch (German)

Germany, a champion of structural reform prescriptions within the European Union, needs a large dose of the same medicine at home, too. Beyond public investment in transport and telecommunications, and more competition in services, dealing with an aging population needs urgent attention. With the right policies, Germany can bring more people into the workforce—and for longer—to counter the demographic trend, argues a recent study accompanying the regular health check of the German economy by the International Monetary Fund.

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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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With China Slowing, Faster Reforms Critical to Generate Jobs


By W. Raphael Lam, Xiaoguang Liu, and Alfred Schipke         

(Version in 中国)            

China is moving toward a “new normal” of safer and more sustainable growth.  To this end, ensuring its labor market stays resilient will be critical.  Reforms to contain vulnerabilities caused by buildup of credits may temporarily slow growth, and raise the unemployment rate, but supported through a strong safety net, these reforms will raise productivity, and facilitate more sustainable growth.

Despite the slowdown of the past few years, however, China’s labor market has remained resilient.  Efforts to maintain labor market stability are paying off, helped by an expanding services sector.

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