Oil Low-Commotion


By iMFdirect

Brent crude oil fell below $30 a barrel yesterday for the first time since 2004, which reminds us that commodity prices are a hot topic that impact everyone, everywhere, one way or another.

So we thought you might like to read a few of our recent blogs about what the !@#$% is going on, and why it matters for the global economy. Continue reading

Climate Change: How To Price Paris


by Vitor Gaspar, Michael Keen, and Ian Parry

(Versions in عربي中文Español, and Français)

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change is a historic diplomatic achievement. Climate change is a global problem. Many believed that global problem solving would prove elusive: the benefits of cutting emissions arise globally while the costs of doing so are borne nationally, so national self-interest would prevent a meaningful agreement. Paris proves otherwise—creating a commonality of purpose at the global level.  Continue reading

The Top Ten Blogs of 2015


by iMFdirect

2015 was a bold year for blogs at the IMF.  Boldness grows less common in the higher ranks, according to Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, but he couldn’t be more wrong when it comes to these blogs: the list includes work by the IMF’s former chief economist Olivier Blanchard and Vitor Gaspar, head of the Fiscal Affairs Department.

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The Price of Oil and the Price of Carbon


By Rabah Arezki and Maurice Obstfeld

(Versions in عربي中文Français日本語,  Русский, and Español)

“The human influence on the climate system is clear and is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.”Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report

Fossil fuel prices are likely to stay “low for long.” Notwithstanding important recent progress in developing renewable fuel sources, low fossil fuel prices could discourage further innovation in and adoption of cleaner energy technologies. The result would be higher emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Policymakers should not allow low energy prices to derail the clean energy transition. Action to restore appropriate price incentives, notably through corrective carbon pricing, is urgently needed to lower the risk of irreversible and potentially devastating effects of climate change. That approach also offers fiscal benefits.

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Metals and Oil: A Tale of Two Commodities


By Rabah Arezki and Akito Matsumoto

(Version in Español)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” With these words Charles Dickens opens his novel “A Tale of Two Cities”. Winners and losers in a “tale of two commodities” may one day look back with similar reflections, as prices of metals and oil have seen some seismic shifts in recent weeks, months and years.

This blog seeks to explain how demand — but also supply and financial market conditions — are affecting metals prices. We will show some contrast with oil, where supply is the major factor. Stay tuned for a deeper analysis of the trends in a special commodities feature, which will be included in next month’s World Economic Outlook.

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The Global Impact of Lower Oil Prices


by iMFdirect

Remember when oil was the big story? Yeah, us too.  And we’re still thinking through the issues and what they mean for oil importers and exporters, as well as the global economy.

This week IMF economists released a new paper, and we interviewed the lead author in this podcast, that delves into the benefits of lower oil prices for consumers and for the global economy.

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Act Local, Solve Global: The $5.3 Trillion Energy Subsidy Problem


By Benedict Clements and Vitor Gaspar

(Versions in 中文, Français日本語Русский and Español)

US$5.3 trillion; 6½ percent of global GDP—that is our latest reckoning of the cost of energy subsidies in 2015. These estimates are shocking. The figure likely exceeds government health spending across the world, estimated by the World Health Organization at 6 percent of global GDP, but for the different year of 2013. They correspond to one of the largest negative externality ever estimated. They have global relevance. And that’s not all: earlier work by the IMF also shows that these subsidies have adverse effects on economic efficiency, growth, and inequality.

What are energy subsidies

We define energy subsidies as the difference between what consumers pay for energy and its “true costs,” plus a country’s normal value added or sales  tax rate. These “true costs” of energy consumption include its supply costs and the damage that energy consumption inflicts on people and the environment. These damages, in turn, come from carbon emissions and hence global warming; the health effects of air pollution; and the effects on traffic congestion, traffic accidents, and road damage. Most of these externalities are borne by local populations, with the global warming component of energy subsidies  only a fourth of the total (Chart 1).

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