No Victory Lap Yet: U.S. Wage Growth Elusive

stephan-danningerBy Stephan Danninger

The U.S. labor market seems to have finally healed. The unemployment rate has been below 5 percent for some time and job growth is steady. And more Americans are coming back to the labor market—in other words, labor participation is increasing. Yet, despite a bump-up in 2015, wage growth so far this year—compared to the 2000s—is still disappointingly low (see Chart 1). This is worrying because consumer spending, which makes up the majority of U.S. economic output, cannot continue at the current pace unless wages grow.  Continue reading

The Calculus of Conflict in the Middle East

Lagarde.2015MDPORTRAIT4_114x128By Christine Lagarde

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

As world leaders head to New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly, there is still no end to the heart-breaking images of war-torn cities in the Middle East and North Africa, and of a massive exodus of people looking for sanctuary and opportunities to sustain a livelihood.

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To Boost Growth: Employ More Women

Lagarde.2015MDPORTRAIT4_114x128By Christine Lagarde

Version in Français (French)

At his swearing-in ceremony last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked why he had appointed a gender-balanced cabinet, a first for Canada (and for most countries around the world). He replied “Because it’s 2015.”

He was right, of course, and his response demonstrated his government’s clear commitment to gender equality. But there is another important reason for promoting greater female participation in the workforce: women in jobs are good for growth. IMF studies have shown significant macroeconomic gains when women are able to participate more fully in the labor market. Continue reading

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

China’s Rebalancing Explained in 6 Charts

By Longmei Zhang

Version in 中文 (Chinese)

The word “rebalancing” is often used to describe China’s economic transition. But what does it mean? And how much is China rebalancing? A recent IMF paper attempts to answer these questions.  Continue reading

An Argument for Paying Down Public Debt

By Vitor Gaspar and Julio Escolano

What should governments do about high public debt-to-GDP ratios?  This question is getting much-deserved attention. Let’s abstract from macroeconomic (business cycle) considerations and look at the issue purely from an optimal tax smoothing perspective—that is, weighing the cost and benefits of raising taxes to pay down debt. By doing so we decidedly do not engage in the current debate about the contribution that fiscal policy may make to demand management. 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

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