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Economy

Three Policy Priorities for a Robust Recovery

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We must work together to end the pandemic, navigate monetary tightening and shift focus to fiscal sustainability.

When the Group of Twenty finance ministers and central bank governors gather in Jakarta, in person and virtually, this week, they can take inspiration from the Indonesian phrase, gotong royong, “working together to achieve a common goal. This spirit is more important than ever as countries are facing a tough obstacle course this year.

The good news is that the global economic recovery continues, but its pace has moderated amid high uncertainty and rising risksThree weeks ago, we cut our global forecast to a still-healthy 4.4 percent for 2022, partly because of a reassessment of growth prospects in the United States and China.

Since then, economic indicators have continued to point to weaker growth momentum, due to the Omicron variant and persistent supply chain disruptions. Inflation readings have been higher than expected in many economies; financial markets remain volatile; and geopolitical tensions have sharply increased.

That is why we need strong international cooperation and extraordinary agility. For most countries, this means continuing to support growth and employment while keeping inflation under control and maintaining financial stability—all in the context of high debt levels.

Our new report to the G20 shows just how complex this obstacle course is and what policymakers can do to get through it. Let me highlight three priorities:

First, we need broader efforts to fight ‘economic long-Covid’

We project cumulative global output losses from the pandemic of nearly $13.8 trillion through 2024. Omicron is the latest reminder that a durable and inclusive recovery is impossible while the pandemic continues.

But considerable uncertainty remains about the path of the virus post-Omicron, including the durability of protection offered by vaccines or prior infections, and the risk of new variants.

In this environment, our best defense is to move from a singular focus on vaccines to ensuring each country has equitable access to a comprehensive COVID-19 toolkit with vaccines, tests, and treatments. Keeping these tools updated as the virus evolves will require ongoing investments in medical research, disease surveillance, and health systems that reach the “last mile” into every community.

Upfront financing of $23.4 billion to close the ACT-Accelerator funding gap will be an important down payment on distributing this dynamic toolkit everywhere. Going forward, enhanced coordination between G20 finance and health ministries is essential to increasing resilience—both to potential new SARS-CoV-2 variants, and future pandemics that could pose systemic risks.

Ending the pandemic will also help address the scars from economic long-COVID. Think of the profound disruptions in many businesses and labor markets. And think of the cost to students worldwide, estimated at up to $17 trillion over their lives due to learning losses, lower productivity, and employment disruptions.

School closures have been especially acute for students in emerging economies where educational attainment was much lower to begin with—threatening to compound the dangerous divergence among countries.

What can be done? Strong policy action. Scaling up social spending, reskilling programs, remedial training for teachers and tutoring for students will help economies get back on track and build resilience to future health and economic challenges.

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Second, countries need to navigate the monetary tightening cycle

While there is significant differentiation across economies and high uncertainty going forward, inflation pressures have been building in many countries, calling for a withdrawal of monetary accommodation where necessary.

Going forward, it is important to calibrate policies to country circumstances. It means withdrawal of monetary accommodation in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, where labor markets are tight and inflation expectations are rising. Others, including the euro area, can afford to act more slowly, especially if the rise in inflation relates largely to energy prices. But they, too, should be ready to act if economic data warrants a faster policy pivot.

Of course, clear communication of any shift remains essential to safeguard financial stability at home and abroad. Some emerging and developing economies have already been forced to combat inflation by raising interest rates. And the policy pivot in advanced economies may require additional tightening across a wider range of nations. This would sharpen the already difficult trade-off countries face in taming inflation while supporting growth and employment.

So far, global financial conditions have remained relatively favorable, partly because of negative real interest rates in most G20 countries. But if these financial conditions tighten suddenly, emerging and developing countries must be ready for potential capital flow reversals.

To prepare for this, borrowers should extend debt maturities where feasible now , while containing a further buildup of foreign currency debts. When shocks do come, flexible exchange rates are important for absorbing them, in most cases, but they are not the only tool available.

In the event of high volatility, foreign exchange interventions may be appropriate, as Indonesia successfully did in 2020. Capital flow management measures may also be sensible in times of economic or financial crisis: think of Iceland in 2008 and Cyprus in 2013. And countries can take macroprudential measures to guard against risks in the non-bank financial sector or where property markets are surging. Of course, all these measures may still need to be combined with macroeconomic adjustments.

In other words, we need to ensure that all countries can move safely through the monetary tightening cycle.

Third, countries need to shift their focus to fiscal sustainability

As countries emerge from the grip of the pandemic, they need to carefully calibrate their fiscal policies. It’s easy to see why: extraordinary fiscal measures helped prevent another Great Depression, but they have also pushed up debt levels. In 2020, we observed the largest one-year debt surge since the second world war, with global debt—both public and private—rising to $226 trillion.

For many countries, this means ensuring continued support for health systems and the most vulnerable, while reducing deficits and debt levels to meet their specific needs. For example, a faster scaling back of fiscal support is warranted in countries where the recovery is further ahead. This in turn will facilitate their shift in monetary policy by reducing demand and thus helping to contain inflationary pressures.

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Others, especially in the developing world, face far more difficult trade-offs. Their fiscal firepower has been scarce throughout the crisis, which has left them with weaker recoveries and deeper scars from economic long-Covid. And they have little scope to prepare for a post-pandemic economy that is greener and more digital.

For example, the IMF last year described how green supply policies, including a 10-year public investment program, could raise annual global output by about 2 percent compared to the baseline on average over 2021-30.

All these policy actions can help us find new modus vivendi for a more shock-prone world. But they may be hampered by debt. We estimate that about 60 percent of low-income countries are in or at high risk of debt distress, double 2015 levels. These and many other economies will need more domestic revenue mobilization, more grants and concessional financing, and more help to deal with debt immediately.

That includes reinvigorating the G-20 Common Framework for debt treatment. This should start with offering a standstill on debt service payments during the negotiation under the framework. Quicker and more efficient processes are needed, with clarity on the steps to go through, so that everyone knows the road ahead—from formation of creditor committees to an agreement on debt resolution. And make the framework available to a wider range of highly indebted countries.

The IMF’s role

The IMF plays an important role in this area by providing macroeconomic frameworks and debt sustainability analyses. And we encourage greater debt transparency: by requesting greater disclosure of what a member country owes and to whom when it seeks IMF financing, and by working with our members through the IMF-World Bank Multi-Pronged Approach to debt vulnerability.

We also need to build on the historic allocation of Special Drawing Rights of $650 billion. As well as holding the new SDRs as reserves, some members have already begun to put them to good use. For example: Nepal for vaccine imports; North Macedonia for health spending and pandemic lifelines; and Senegal to boost vaccine production capacity.

To magnify the impact of the allocation, we encourage channeling of new SDRs through our Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, which provides concessional financing to low-income countries, and the new Resilience and Sustainability Trust.

With its cheaper rates and longer maturities, the RST could fund climate, pandemic preparedness, and digitalization policies that would improve macroeconomic stability for decades to come. The G20 has given its strong backing to the RST, and we aim to have it fully operational this year.

As countries face up to multiple challenges, the IMF will support them with calibrated policy advice, capacity development, and financial assistance where needed. The key is to bring agility into all aspects of policymaking—but even that is not enough.

We also need to follow the spirit of Indonesia’s motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika—”Unity in Diversity.” Together we can get through the obstacle course to a durable recovery that works for all.

Courtesy : IMF Blog

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Crypto

Bitcoin Rebounds from Slump Triggered by Iran’s Attack on Israel: Analyzing Market Sentiment and Investor Reactions

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Introduction

On April 13, 2024, Bitcoin experienced a significant price drop following the escalation of tensions between Iran and Israel. The attack on Israel by Iran led to a sharp decline in the price of Bitcoin, causing concern among investors and market analysts. However, the cryptocurrency market has shown resilience, with Bitcoin rebounding from the slump, indicating a potential recovery in the market. In this blog article, we will analyze the impact of the geopolitical event on Bitcoin’s price, market sentiment, and investor reactions.

Impact on Bitcoin Price

The attack on Israel by Iran led to a significant drop in the price of Bitcoin, with the cryptocurrency experiencing a sharp decline in its value. According to CoinMarketCap, the price of Bitcoin dropped from $25,987.73 to $24,427.20 within a few hours of the news. This decline can be attributed to the uncertainty and fear among investors, as geopolitical events can have a significant impact on the global economy and financial markets.

Market Sentiment

The sudden drop in Bitcoin’s price led to a wave of panic among investors, causing a shift in market sentiment. According to data from CoinMarketCap, the market sentiment for Bitcoin shifted from “Neutral” to “Negative” within hours of the news. This change in sentiment can be attributed to the fear of potential economic instability caused by the geopolitical event.

Geopolitical Events and Bitcoin

Geopolitical events have a significant impact on the cryptocurrency market, particularly on the price of Bitcoin. In recent years, we have seen how events such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing US-China trade war have affected the cryptocurrency market. The attack on Israel by Iran is just another example of how geopolitical events can cause volatility in the market.

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Investor Reactions

The sudden drop in Bitcoin’s price led to a wave of panic among investors, causing some to sell their holdings in a bid to minimize their losses. However, other investors saw this as an opportunity to buy Bitcoin at a lower price, believing that the cryptocurrency would recover in the long run. This divergence in investor reactions highlights the inherent volatility of the cryptocurrency market and the importance of understanding market sentiment and geopolitical events.

Recovery and Future Outlook

Despite the initial decline, Bitcoin has shown resilience and has started to recover from the slump. As of the time of writing, the price of Bitcoin has rebounded to $25,537.95, indicating a potential recovery in the market. However, the long-term outlook for Bitcoin remains uncertain, as the cryptocurrency market is heavily influenced by geopolitical events and market sentiment.

Conclusion

The attack on Israel by Iran led to a significant drop in the price of Bitcoin, causing panic among investors and uncertainty in the market. However, the cryptocurrency has shown resilience and has started to recover from the slump. As we move forward, it is essential to monitor geopolitical events and market sentiment to understand the potential impact on the cryptocurrency market.

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China

Navigating the Economic Transformation: China’s Future Depends on Microeconomic Policies

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Introduction

China’s economic growth has been a significant global phenomenon, with its rapid expansion driving global trade and shaping the global economy. However, as China enters a new phase of its economic development, it faces challenges that require a shift in focus from macroeconomic stimulus to microeconomic policies. This article explores the importance of microeconomic policies in China’s future economic growth and the implications for businesses and markets.

I. The Limitations of Macroeconomic Stimulus

  1. Temporary Boost: Macroeconomic stimulus, such as government spending and monetary policy, can provide a temporary boost to the economy. However, it does not address the underlying structural issues that hinder long-term growth.
  2. Amplifying Economic Shortcomings: Macroeconomic stimulus can exacerbate economic imbalances and inefficiencies, leading to a more significant correction in the future.

II. The Importance of Microeconomic Policies

  1. Structural Reforms: Microeconomic policies focus on structural reforms that address the root causes of economic challenges. These reforms can include labor market reforms, regulatory changes, and infrastructure investments.
  2. Encouraging Business Transformation: Microeconomic policies can create an environment that encourages businesses to transform and adapt to changing market conditions. This can lead to increased productivity, innovation, and competitiveness.

III. The Role of Businesses in China’s Economic Transformation

  1. Adapting to Market Changes: As China’s economy evolves, businesses must adapt to new market conditions and consumer preferences. This may involve shifting from traditional industries to more innovative and technology-driven sectors.
  2. Embracing Innovation: To prosper in the new economic environment, businesses must embrace innovation and technological advancements. This can include investing in research and development, adopting new technologies, and fostering a culture of innovation.
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IV. Implications for Markets and Investors

  1. Changing Market Dynamics: As China’s economic focus shifts from macroeconomic stimulus to microeconomic policies, market dynamics will change. Investors should be prepared for a more volatile and uncertain market environment.
  2. Opportunities for Investors: The shift to microeconomic policies presents opportunities for investors in sectors that benefit from structural reforms and business transformation. These may include technology, healthcare, and environmental sectors.

Conclusion

China’s future economic growth depends on its ability to navigate the complex transition from macroeconomic stimulus to microeconomic policies. This requires a focused effort on structural reforms, business transformation, and a shift towards innovation and technology. As China embarks on this transformation, businesses and investors must adapt to the changing market conditions and seize the opportunities presented by the new economic environment.

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Economy

Understanding the Latest Inflation Figures: Causes, Consequences, and the Fed’s Response

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woman calculating her receipts

Introduction

Inflation, the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising, has been a topic of concern for economists and policymakers alike. Recently, the US inflation rate has risen to 2.5%, according to the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure, the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index. This figure is in line with economists’ expectations but remains above the central bank’s target of 2%. In this blog article, we will delve into the causes of this inflation rise, its impact on the economy, the Federal Reserve’s response, and the potential future implications.

Causes of Inflation:

  1. Supply Chain Disruptions: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruptions in global supply chains, leading to increased demand for goods and services.
  2. Fiscal Policy: Government spending and tax policies can influence inflation by increasing the demand for goods and services, leading to higher prices.
  3. Monetary Policy: The Federal Reserve’s actions, such as adjusting interest rates, can impact inflation by influencing the supply of money and credit in the economy.

Impact of Inflation on the Economy:

  1. Consumer Prices: Inflation directly affects the prices consumers pay for goods and services, potentially reducing their purchasing power.
  2. Interest Rates: Central banks, like the Federal Reserve, may adjust interest rates to control inflation, which can impact borrowing costs and economic growth.
  3. Economic Stability: High and persistent inflation can lead to economic instability, as businesses and consumers struggle to predict future prices.

Fed’s Response to Inflation:

  1. Interest Rate Adjustments: The Federal Reserve has the ability to adjust interest rates to control inflation, which can impact borrowing costs and economic growth.
  2. Communication: The Fed communicates its monetary policy decisions and future expectations to the public, which can influence market expectations and economic behavior.
  3. Inflation Targets: The Fed has set a target inflation rate of 2%, which it aims to maintain over the long term.
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Future Implications of Inflation:

  1. Monetary Policy: The Fed’s response to inflation will depend on its assessment of the current economic situation and future expectations.
  2. Economic Growth: High and persistent inflation can negatively impact economic growth, as businesses and consumers may reduce spending and investment due to uncertainty.
  3. Policy Coordination: Central banks, governments, and international organizations may need to coordinate their policies to address inflation and promote economic stability.

Conclusion
The recent rise in US inflation to 2.5% is a cause for concern, as it remains above the Federal Reserve’s target. Understanding the causes of this inflation, its impact on the economy, and the Fed’s response is crucial for policymakers and investors alike. By addressing these issues, we can work towards maintaining economic stability and promoting sustainable growth.

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