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What Pandemics Mean for Robots and Inequality

1 day ago

By Tahsin Saadi Sedik and Jiae Yoo
From car manufacture to self-service checkouts, we all see how automation can transform the world of work—with lower costs and higher productivity on one hand, and more precarious employment for people on the other. But the COVID-19 pandemic added fuel to the fire. The rise in telework, for example, is hurting low-wage workers and increasing inequality. More broadly, if the pandemic accelerates the pace of automation, then we may face a jobless recovery for low-skilled workers. Our recent IMF staff research suggests that such concerns are justified.

Low-skilled workers are more at risk of displacement by robots than high-skilled workers, which reinforces existing inequality dynamics.

We focus on one form of automation, industrial robots, and analyze

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A COVID-19 Recovery Contribution

4 days ago

By Vitor Gaspar, Michael Keen, Alexander Klemm, and Paolo Mauro
The economic costs of the pandemic have fallen most heavily on those least able to bear them. Governments have taken steps to support people and firms through wage subsidies, unemployment benefits, and other fiscal measures. But more investment in health care, education, and other basic public services will still be needed, and this will come at a cost. With rising inequality and mounting public debt, countries will have to find innovative approaches to raise the money to pay for it all.

Public sentiment may be shifting in favor of more progressive taxation.

To this end, governments are now starting to focus on mobilizing revenue from corporations and individuals who can best afford to pay. This revenue will help meet the

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Short-term Shot and Long-term Healing for Latin America and the Caribbean

5 days ago

By Alejandro Werner, Takuji Komatsuzaki, and Carlo Pizzinelli
Español, Português
Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean recovered briskly in the second half of 2020, yet still more slowly than the global economy and other emerging markets. That’s despite unprecedented policy support, strong performance of trading partners, soaring commodity prices and accommodative global financial conditions. The persistence of the health crisis in many countries casts a shadow on the near-term outlook. People and economies continue to require a short-term shot to exit from the COVID-19 crisis, while the aggravation of several underlying structural fragilities poses significant long-term challenges.

The region’s contraction of 7 percent in 2020 was the sharpest in the world.

The region’s contraction

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From Vaccines to V-Shaped Recovery in Europe

7 days ago

By Alfred Kammer
Español, Français, Português
One year into the pandemic, Europe finds itself at another turning point. New waves of infection are hitting the continent, requiring new lockdowns. But, unlike last year, safe and effective vaccines are now available. While the pace of vaccination is still slow, an end to the pandemic is in sight.
Reflecting the periodic infection waves and the pace of vaccinations, the economic recovery in Europe is still halting and uneven. While industrial production has returned to pre-pandemic levels, the service sector is still contracting.

While the pace of vaccination is still slow, an end to the pandemic is in sight.

However, looking ahead, we project that Europe’s economic growth will rebound by 4.5 percent this year. Assuming that vaccines become

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After a Strong Crisis Response, Asia Can Build a Fairer and Greener Future

8 days ago

By Jonathan D. Ostry
中文, 日本語
In some Asia-Pacific countries, the unpleasant memory of the pandemic is receding; elsewhere, second or third waves of infections are raging. A recovery is underway, but the regional averages obscure wide differences within and across countries.

Asia is likely to benefit from the US fiscal expansion through trade channels, but could experience financial turbulence or capital outflows if US yields rise faster than markets expect.

Everywhere, the pandemic has inflicted historic income losses borne mostly by the less advantaged: low-wage and informal workers, as well as youth and women. A region known for its trademark growth-with-equity model now runs the risk of entrenching excessive inequality. If policymakers do not act, they risk stunted opportunities,

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Tailoring Government Support

14 days ago

By Vitor Gaspar, W. Raphael Lam, Paolo Mauro, and Mehdi Raissi
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
The race to vaccinate against COVID-19 continues, but the pace of inoculation varies widely across countries, with access unavailable to many. Global cooperation must be stepped up to produce and distribute vaccines to all countries at affordable costs. The sooner vaccinations curb the pandemic, the faster economies can return to normal.

The sooner vaccinations curb the pandemic, the faster economies can return to normal.

If the global pandemic is controlled via vaccination, the resulting stronger economic growth would yield more than $1 trillion in additional tax revenues in advanced economies by 2025—and save more in fiscal support measures. The COVID-19 vaccination will

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An Asynchronous and Divergent Recovery May Put Financial Stability at Risk

14 days ago

By Tobias Adrian
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
After enduring a tumultuous 2020, the global economy is finally emerging from the worst phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit with prospects diverging starkly across regions and countries—and only after a “lost year” spent in suspended animation. The economic trauma would have been much worse if the global economy had not been supported by the unprecedented policy actions taken by central banks and by the fiscal measures implemented by governments.

Global markets are watching the current rise of US long-term interest rates.

Global markets are watching the current rise of US long-term interest rates, worried that a rapid and persistent increase may result in tighter financial conditions, potentially hurting growth

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Managing Divergent Recoveries

15 days ago

By Gita Gopinath
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
It is one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and the global community still confronts extreme social and economic strain as the human toll rises and millions remain unemployed. Yet, even with high uncertainty about the path of the pandemic, a way out of this health and economic crisis is increasingly visible. Thanks to the ingenuity of the scientific community hundreds of millions of people are being vaccinated and this is expected to power recoveries in many countries later this year. Economies also continue to adapt to new ways of working despite reduced mobility, leading to a stronger-than-anticipated rebound across regions. Additional fiscal support in large economies, particularly the United States, has further

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Funding the Recovery of Low-income Countries After COVID

15 days ago

By Guillaume Chabert, Robert Gregory, and Gaelle Pierre
عربي, 中文, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
Many of the poorest countries in the world are facing the threat of a weak recovery, and setback in their development path.

The needs of the poorest countries over the next five years are acute. But they are not out of reach.

In our paper, we estimate that low-income countries will need around $200 billion until 2025 to step up their response to the pandemic, and a further $250 billion to catch up with advanced economies. An additional $100 billion will be needed if risks identified in the baseline scenario materialize. Meeting these needs will require a coordinated, multifaceted, strong response.
Several factors hamper the economic recovery of low-income countries. First, they face

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How Rising Interest Rates Could Affect Emerging Markets

16 days ago

By Philipp Engler, Roberto Piazza and Galen Sher
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
Rapid vaccine rollout in the United States and passage of its $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package have boosted its expected economic recovery. In anticipation, longer-term US interest rates have risen rapidly, with the rate on 10-year Treasury securities going from under 1 percent at the start of the year to over 1.75 percent in mid-March. A similar surge has occurred in the United Kingdom. In January and February, interest rates also rose somewhat in the euro area and Japan before central banks there stepped in with easier monetary policy.

Our research in the latest World Economic Outlook finds that for emerging markets, what matters is the reason for the rise in US interest rates.

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Taming the Wave of Small and Medium Enterprise Insolvencies

19 days ago

By Federico J. Díez, Romain Duval, Chiara Maggi and Nicola Pierri
The pandemic has hit small and medium enterprises particularly hard, partly because they are predominant in some contact-intensive sectors like hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. As a result, many advanced economies risk experiencing a wave of liquidations that could destroy millions of jobs, damage the financial system, and weaken an already fragile economic recovery. Policymakers should take novel and swift action to alleviate this wave.

Compared to past crises, this time around there is a clearer case for solvency support by governments.

Abundant liquidity support through loans, credit guarantees, and moratoria on debt payments have protected many small and medium enterprises from the immediate risk of

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Giving Everyone a Fair Shot

20 days ago

By David Amaglobeli, Vitor Gaspar, and Paolo Mauro
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
The COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vicious circle of inequality. To break this pattern and give everyone a fair shot at prosperity, governments need to improve access to basic public services—such as health care (including vaccination) and education—and strengthen redistributive policies.
For most countries, this would require raising additional revenue and improving the efficiency of spending. These reforms must be complemented by greater transparency and accountability, which can help increase overall trust in government and contribute to more cohesive societies.
COVID-19 and inequality
Inequality was a pre-existing condition that worsened COVID-19’s impact. Disparities in

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Slow-Healing Scars: The Pandemic’s Legacy

21 days ago

By Sonali Das and Philippe Wingender
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
Recessions wreak havoc and the damage is often long-lived. Businesses shut down, investment spending is cut, and people out of work can lose skills and motivation as the months stretch on. But the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is no ordinary recession. Compared to previous global crises, the contraction was sudden and deep—using quarterly data, global output declined about three times as much as in the global financial crisis, in half the time.

We expect world output in the medium-term to be about 3 percent lower in 2024 than pre-pandemic projections.

Systemic financial stress—associated with long-lasting economic damage—has been largely avoided so far, owing to the unprecedented

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Working Out the Differences: Labor Policies for a Fairer Recovery

21 days ago

By John Bluedorn
عربي, 中文, Español, Français,  日本語,  Português, Русский
The COVID-19 pandemic’s destruction of jobs was sure and swift. The lasting effects of the crisis on workers could be just as painful and unequal.
Youth and lower-skilled workers took some of the hardest hits on average. Women, especially in emerging market and developing economies, also suffered. Many of these workers face earnings losses and difficult searches for job opportunities. Even after the pandemic recedes, structural changes to the economy in the wake of the shock may mean that job options in some sectors and occupations permanently shrink and others grow.

The pandemic is likely to inflict sizable costs on the unemployed, particularly lower-skilled workers.

In our latest World Economic Outlook we examine

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Confronting the Hazards of Rising Leverage

23 days ago

By Adolfo Barajas and Fabio Natalucci
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
Leverage, the ability to borrow, is a double-edged sword. It can boost economic growth by allowing firms to invest in machinery to expand their scale of production, or by allowing people to purchase homes and cars or invest in education. During economic crises, it can play a particularly important role by providing a bridge to the economic recovery.

The question becomes how to ensure that the fledgling recovery is not endangered, while at the same time avoiding an excessive buildup of leverage.

Most recently, amid the sharp contraction in economic activity brought on by lockdowns and social distancing practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers took actions to ensure that firms and

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Commercial Real Estate at a Crossroads

23 days ago

By Andrea Deghi and Fabio Natalucci
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский
Empty office buildings. Reduced store hours. Unbelievably low hotel room rates. All are signs of the times. The containment measures put in place last year in response to the pandemic shuttered businesses and offices, and dealt a severe blow to the demand for commercial real estate—especially, in the retail, hotel, and office segments.

The commercial real estate sector has the potential to affect broader financial stability.

Beyond its immediate impact, the pandemic has also clouded the outlook for commercial real estate, given the advent of trends such as the decline in demand for traditional brick-and-mortar retail in favor of e-commerce, or for offices as work-from-home policies gain traction.

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How European Banks Can Support the Recovery

26 days ago

By Mai Chi Dao, Andreas Jobst, Aiko Mineshima, and Srobona Mitra
Español, Français, Português
A robust post-COVID-19 recovery will depend on banks having sufficient capital to provide credit. While most European banks entered the pandemic with strong capital levels, they are highly exposed to economic sectors hit hard by the pandemic.
A new IMF study assesses the impact of the pandemic on European banks’ capital through its effect on profitability, asset quality, and risk exposures. The approach differs from other recent studies—by the European Central Bank and European Banking Authority—because it incorporates policy support provided to banks and borrowers. It also incorporates granular estimates of corporate sector distress, and examines a larger number of European countries and

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Asia-Pacific, the Gigantic Domino of Climate Change

26 days ago

By Vitor Gaspar and Chang Yong Rhee
Forget the poetic flap of a butterfly’s wings in Beijing causing rain in Central Park. Climate issues in Asia-Pacific are measured in superlatives. The world’s biggest population. Two of the three largest carbon dioxide-emitting countries and the largest share of emissions globally. The most exposed to extreme weather events. Some of the smallest and most vulnerable countries. Also, the fastest-growing part of the global economy and many of the leaders in green technology.

What Asia does to fight global warming will be literally felt across the whole planet.

It’s not hard to see that what Asia does to fight global warming will be literally felt across the whole planet.
Pursuing a green recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19 might sound daunting, but

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The Future of Asia: What a Difference a Year Can Make

March 17, 2021

By Chang Yong Rhee and Katsiaryna Svirydzenka
 中文, 日本語
The Sydney Opera resumed live performances and the city of Melbourne recently hosted the Australian Open tennis tournament with fans (mostly) in attendance. Japan is back to planning the delayed 2020 Summer Olympics, while China focuses on the Beijing 2022 Winter Games. Having been hit by COVID-19 first, Asia is also recovering first. At the pandemic’s first anniversary, is the region back to full health?

Asia must remain agile and innovative to exit the crisis in a durable, greener, and more equitable way.

The best answer is that it is too early to know for sure. The pandemic exacerbated existing long-term issues: slowing productivity growth, growing indebtedness, aging population, rising inequality, and managing climate change. A

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CHART OF THE WEEKBlowing Hot and Cold

March 16, 2021

By Jiaxiong Yao
When it’s cold we reach for the heater, and when it’s hot we turn on the air conditioning. A warming globe could reduce the need for heating in cold seasons and increase the demand for cooling when it’s hot. In principle, there is a sweet spot where it is neither too cold nor too hot to demand much electricity. The question is: where are we now relative to this sweet spot, and what are the implications?
My recent IMF staff working paper uses satellite data to examine the relationship between electricity demand and temperature. The study compares changes in electricity usage—approximated by nighttime lights recorded by satellites, which are highly correlated with electricity usage—with changes in temperature over time at subnational levels. Since electricity is often used

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Rising Market Power—A Threat to the Recovery?

March 15, 2021

By Kristalina Georgieva, Federico J. Díez, Romain Duval, and Daniel Schwarz
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский 
The crisis has hit small and medium enterprises especially hard, causing massive job losses and other economic scars. Among these—less noticeable, but also serious—is rising market power among dominant firms as they emerge even stronger while smaller rivals fall away.
We know from experience and IMF research that excessive market power in the hands of a few firms can be a drag on medium-term growth, stifling innovation and holding back investment. Such an outcome could undermine the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and it would block the rise of many emerging firms at a time when their dynamism is desperately needed.

We see growing signs in many industries

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Keeping it Local: A Secure and Stable Way to Access Financing

March 12, 2021

By Tobias Adrian, Thor Jonasson, Ayhan Kose, and Anderson Silva
عربي, Español, 日本語, Русский
Paychecks for teachers, new hospital equipment, social assistance programs, and other public expenditures. All depend to large extent on governments’ ability to fund them. When governments—particularly those in emerging and developing economies—need money to pay these and other goods and services, they often turn to bond markets, where they interact with investors seeking to buy government bonds.

A local-currency bond market can make an economy more resilient to sudden movements in foreign capital flows.

But borrowing in foreign currencies in international bond markets can leave these countries exposed to volatile exchange-rate movements. To avoid risks from currency fluctuations, many have

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A New Vision for the US Climate Agenda

March 10, 2021

By Ian Parry
 عربي, 中文, Español, 日本語, Português, Русский 
Over the next decade, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by 25– 50 percent to be on track for meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of containing global warming to 1.5–2°C.
The United States intends to do its part. Its climate plan pledges US carbon neutrality by 2050, with a 2030 emissions target to be announced shortly.

The United States will need to act decisively to help deliver the global emissions reductions needed over the next decade.

The plan envisions stronger energy efficiency standards, clean technology subsidies, and $2 trillion of public funding over ten years for clean energy infrastructure and critical technologies, such as green hydrogen.
This blueprint is an excellent start. Our new research

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CHART OF THE WEEKHow Countries Are Helping Small Businesses Survive COVID-19

March 9, 2021

By Kazuko Shirono, Esha Chhabra, and Yingjie Fan
The economic downturn caused by the pandemic has taken a painful toll on small businesses. Scores of retail businesses have permanently closed in cities around the world since the Great Lockdown in the spring of 2020.
Small and medium enterprises have an out-sized impact on local economies. They account for half to two-thirds of private sector employment in the United States and the European Union, respectively, and contribute close to 40 percent of national income in emerging economies.
But small companies face greater constraints in accessing finance than larger firms, especially during economic crises. So governments have taken a variety of measures to help small businesses weather the pandemic. Without such support, the failure rate of

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Engendering the Recovery: Budgeting with Women in Mind

March 5, 2021

By Antoinette Sayeh, Jiro Honda, Carolina Renteria, Vincent Tang
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Русский 
International Women’s Day, March 8, marks a year from the start of widespread lockdowns in response to COVID-19. As an IMF blog warned back in July, women have borne the economic and social brunt of the pandemic. With many governments preparing budgets for the next fiscal year, we now have a golden opportunity to counter this inequity. We offer a starter kit for gender budgeting to help countries focus resources on women, and ensure future budgets are better for them than previous ones.
Government actions work
Examples abound of the disproportionate impact of lockdown policies on women and girls: one million Japanese women left the labor market when the pandemic hit, while labor

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The Evidence Is in on Negative Interest Rate Policies

March 3, 2021

By Luis Brandao-Marques and Gaston Gelos
عربي, 中文, Español, Français, 日本語, Português, Русский 
Interest rates are low, and “lower for longer” has become something of a mantra among policy makers, regulators, and other market watchers. But negative interest rates raise an entirely new set of questions.
After eight years of experience with negative interest rate policies, the initial skepticism (paying interest to borrowers rather than savers was certainly unprecedented) has proven largely misplaced. The evidence so far suggests that negative interest policies have worked.

The evidence so far indicates negative interest rate policies have succeeded in easing financial conditions without raising significant financial stability concerns.

Since 2012, a number of central banks introduced

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Staying Afloat: New Measures to Support European Businesses

March 2, 2021

By Alfred Kammer and Laura Papi
Español, Français 
Much of Europe rang in the start of 2021 with new lockdowns and weak economic activity. This same period saw the roll out of effective vaccines. While the end of the pandemic will remain a race between the virus and vaccines, there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
At the same time, government programs aimed at supporting lives and livelihoods have been highly successful. Amid the pandemic’s enormous human toll, these measures provided critical lifelines to people and have preserved the structure of the economy and the income of workers. The massive policy support saved millions of European firms, accounting for over 30 million jobs.
However, as the pandemic persists and measures—such as loan repayment moratoria—expire, bankruptcies

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The Haves and Have-nots Of the Digital Age

March 1, 2021

By Gita Bhatt
Accelerated by the pandemic, the digital future is coming at us faster than ever before, and maybe faster than we can imagine. In this issue of Finance & Development magazine, we explore the possible consequences—the good, the bad, and the gray.
For millions, technology has been a lifeline, changing the way we work, learn, shop, and entertain ourselves. In a year like no other, it has spurred game-changing digital shifts. Governments moved quickly, using mobile solutions to provide cash assistance; financial technology has helped the survival, and in some cases, growth of small- and medium-sized businesses; and the first national digital currency, in The Bahamas, provides a glimpse of the future of money.
Despite the promise of digital transformation, it can also drive

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The Great Divergence: A Fork in the Road for the Global Economy

February 24, 2021

By Kristalina Georgieva
عربي, Español, 日本語, Русский 
As G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meet virtually this week, the world continues to climb back from the worst recession in peacetime since the Great Depression.
The IMF recently projected global GDP growth at 5.5 per cent this year and 4.2 per cent in 2022. But it is going to be a long and uncertain ascent. Most of the world is facing a slow rollout of vaccines even as new virus mutations are spreading—and the prospects for recovery are diverging dangerously across countries and regions.
Indeed, the global economy is at a fork in the road. The question is: will policymakers take action to prevent this Great Divergence?

There is a major risk that most developing countries will languish for years to come.

As our note to

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Divergent Recoveries in Asia: History is not Destiny

February 23, 2021

By Davide Furceri, Jonathan D. Ostry, and Anthony C.K. Tan
 中文,  日本語
Asian economies are performing better than expected. In the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook Update, we upgraded our growth estimate for 2020 by 0.7 percentage point from our previous forecast in October, to a contraction of 1.5 percent—in regional terms, a better outcome than other parts of the world. This is largely driven by stronger-than-expected performance among advanced economies in the region, as well as some large emerging market economies such as China, India, Malaysia, and Thailand.

The expectation is for strong growth in Asia-Pacific in 2021 and 2022; but the aggregate figures mask an enormous range of output losses.

Growth outturns in the fourth quarter and higher-frequency economic indicators for

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