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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Plato & the Incas: Overheard at the IMF’s Annual Meetings

By iMFdirect

According to Plato, you do not really know something unless you can give an account of it.  Otherwise, you have just an opinion and not real knowledge.  The seminars that took place during the IMF’s Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru would have made Plato proud.

Our editors deployed their pens and notepads and brought back these themes and highlights.

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Uncertain Times, Difficult Choices

By Vitor Gaspar and Alejandro Werner              

(Versions in Español and Português)                                         

Latin America under stress

After a period of strong growth, economic activity in Latin America has slowed sharply. Growth among the six larger, financially-integrated economies—Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay—is expected to be negative this year. With heightened financial market pressures and limited policy space, the credibility of policy makers is being seriously tested. In this challenging environment, policy-makers in these six countries face some difficult questions: how to strike the right balance between smoothing the adjustment and strengthening credibility? What role should fiscal policy play in this new, uncertain and rapidly evolving environment?

These and other questions will be addressed at the Annual Meetings in Lima, Peru next week.  As we prepare for these meetings, we offer our thoughts on some of the pressing issues for Latin America.

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The Key to Raising Business Investment: Keep Pushing the Accelerator

David Lipton By David Lipton 

Why have businesses in advanced economies not been investing more in machinery, equipment and plants? Business investment is the largest component of private investment, and its weakness has puzzled many of us.

Some believe that the key to more business investment is less uncertainty about fiscal policy, regulation, and structural reforms. Some believe that it is providing better financing, including for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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