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

A Field Guide to Exchange Rate Regimes in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe


By Philip Gerson and Johannes Wiegand

For an economist interested in examining the evolution of monetary and exchange rate regimes, Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) provides a habitat of unparalleled diversity. Almost every type of regime can be found in the region: from floating and inflation targeting over various pegs to the unilateral use of the euro and full euro area membership.

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Strengthening Canada’s Economic Toolkit: Improving the Inflation Targeting Framework


By Maurice Obstfeld, Douglas Laxton, Yulia Ustyugova, and Hou Wang

For the past 25 years, Canada’s monetary policy framework has been working well. Headline inflation averaged 1.9 percent, 1994–2015, and long-term inflation expectations have been very well anchored to the 2 percent target (Chart 1).

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The Whole Can Be Greater Than the Sum of its Parts


By Vitor Gaspar, Maurice Obstfeld and Ratna Sahay

There are policy options to bring new life into anemic economic recoveries and to counteract renewed slowdowns.  Our new paper, along with our co-authors, debunks widespread concerns that little can be done by policymakers facing a vicious cycle of (too) low growth, (too) low inflation, near-zero interest rates, and high debt levels.

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A Tale of Two Tellers


Jeff Hayden

by Jeff Hayden

My mother eases her car into the drive-through lane at our local bank, signs the back of her check, and places it in a metal canister. WHOOSH—the cylinder flies through a pneumatic tube to the teller inside the building.

In a few minutes, the teller squawks her thanks from the intercom speaker nearby. Another WHOOSH, and the canister returns. Inside we find a deposit receipt and a lollipop. Welcome to high-efficiency consumer banking, circa 1973.

Summer 2016. In our kitchen, I watch my oldest son rip open his paycheck and whip out his iPhone. TAP. SWIPE. CLICK. The deposit is made in an instant, thanks to an app that plugs him into an electronic banking network.

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The ECB’s Negative Rate Policy Has Been Effective but Faces Limits


By Andy Jobst and Huidan Lin

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

More than two years ago, seeking to revive a moribund economy, the European Central Bank (ECB) embarked on a new monetary policy measure: charging interest on excess liquidity that banks held at the central bank. The move complemented a series of other easing measures aimed at bringing inflation back to the ECB’s price stability objective of below, but close to, two percent over the medium term. Continue reading

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