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IMFSurvey Magazine: Podcasts

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Listen to IMF economists and other experts discuss key economic and financial issues of the day. Click on the play button. Alternatively, download the audio MP3 file—a popular digital music format for sound files. Broadcasters: this facility is also being made available to enable these podcasts to be broadcast on radio outlets free of charge. Also available in iTunes

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Most Unequal on Earth

August 27, 2015

Latin America a region of stark income contrasts. Informal settlement Parque Real favela and upscale Morumbi neighborhood, Sao Paulo, Brazil (Danny Lehman/Corbis)

While the gap between rich and poor is widest in Latin America, research led by Nora Lustig shows it’s the only region in the world where the gap is actually narrowing. But in this podcast, Lustig admits it’s still unclear what specifically is behind the trend.


Nora Lustig, Samuel Z. Stone Professor of Latin American Economics, director of the Commitment to Equity Institute at Tulane University and fellow of the Center for Global Development and the Inter-American Dialogue.

Painting a Better Picture of Poverty

August 20, 2015

Even in the absence of absolute poverty, people may still suffer deprivation, which requires action, says Alkire (photo: IMF)

Poverty can mean different things in different countries. The creator of the “Multidimensional Poverty Index” explains how the measure is designed to expand policymakers’ understanding of poverty beyond the traditional benchmark of living on less than $1.25 per day.


Sabina Alkire, Director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative

Domestic Reforms to Expand Trade

August 13, 2015

Villagers carrying harvest to market in Ethiopia. It’s difficult to trade globally without an efficient local transportation network (xPACIFICA/Corbis)

World trade has slowed in the past decade. Professor Douglas Irwin says countries need to shift from focusing on trade barriers at borders, to domestic reforms that would help entrepreneurs get their goods to port cities for export.


Douglas Irwin is Professor in the Department of Economics at Dartmouth College, and Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research

Russia Feeling The Pinch of Cheaper Oil, Sanctions

August 06, 2015

Checking pipelines for cracks in Siberia: Falling oil prices are putting added pressure on Russia’s economy (photo: Jerome Levitch/Corbis)

Russia is now likely in recession with GDP growth expected to decline 3.4 percent this year, says the IMF in its annual economic assessment. Mission Chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo, explains how Russia’s economic woes are largely due to the dramatic drop in oil prices, and sanctions in response to developments in Crimea and Ukraine.


Ernesto Ramirez Rigo: IMF Mission Chief for Russia

Building Up India's Infrastructure Capacity

July 23, 2015

Trucks drive past a flyover under construction in India. The country needs to strengthen its capacity to guide public-private partnerships, says Lall. (photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi/Corbis)

India has invested nearly half a trillion dollars in its infrastructure over the last decade, but finding the funding for mega-projects is only half the challenge. The head of one of the country’s leading infrastructure finance companies explains.


Rajiv Lall, Managing Director & Vice Chairman, Infrastructure Development Finance Company, India

The Global Implications of Lower Oil Prices

July 14, 2015

Fracking Tower in Colorado. Shale oil and new drilling technologies account for more than half of the decline in oil prices according to new IMF staff report(Chris Rogers/Corbis)

While lower oil prices can mean significant losses in revenue for some oil exporting countries, consumers should be paying less for fuel and have more money to spend. IMF’s Aasim Husain says the higher spending will be good for global growth.


Aasim Husain, Co-author and Deputy Director in the Middle East and Central Asia department of the IMF

Paying For the New Development Agenda

July 08, 2015

School children in Kampong Tralach village, Cambodia: IMF measures will help expand loan resources available to low-income countries (Michael Nolan/Robert Harding World Imagery/Corbis)

IMF board of Directors approved a package of proposals to help developing countries finance the new Sustainable Development Goals. IMF’s Sean Nolan says the package will enhance the financial safety net for low income countries and fragile states.


Sean Nolan, Deputy Director in the IMF’s Strategy Policy and Review Department

Global Trade Starts At Home

July 02, 2015

Border post in Chirundu Zimbabwe on border with Zambia where truckers often spend days waiting to clear their goods through customs (Gideon Mendel/Corbis)

Increasing trade can spur growth says Mari Pangestu of Jakarta’s center for Strategic and International Studies. In this podcast Pangestu talks about how efficient, open and fair regional trade agreements make for a healthier global trade environment.


Mari Pangestu, Director of Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta.

Keeping the Glass Full in Burkina Faso

June 25, 2015

Water in town of Dano, Burkina Faso is precious and distribution is strictly regulated (Simone Bergamaschi/NurPhoto/Corbis)

The IMF recently published a study on the world’s water resource management challenges. Co-author Laure Redifer says Burkina Faso is an example of how efficient water resource management can improve a country’s economic prospects.


Laure Redifer, IMF Mission Chief for Burkina Faso

Inequality’s Toll on Growth

June 18, 2015

Steel workers in New York City. Income inequality is at its highest level in decades with half of the world’s wealth in the hands of 1% of the population (Andrew Stern/Demotix/Corbis)

Study by IMF Staff suggests raising income levels of the poor and middle boosts overall economic growth. Co-authors Kalpana Kochhar and Era Dabla-Norris say the wealth of the rich is not trickling down.


Kalpana Kochhar: Deputy Director, Asia and Pacific Department at the IMF
Era Dabla-Norris: Deputy Chief in Strategy Policy and Review Dept at the IMF

Financing the New Development Goals

June 11, 2015

Children scavenging for recyclables to sell in Philippines. Goal 11 of the UN’s Sustainable Development goals is to make human settlements more inclusive and sustainable (Jacob Maentz/Corbis)

As the United Nations prepares to adopt its 17 new Sustainable Development goals in September, Florencio Abad talks about how the Philippines and other countries might find the resources required to hit the targets.


Florencio Barsana Abad, Budget and Management Secretary for the Philippine Government

Solvency or Bust?

June 04, 2015

Auckland skyline, New Zealand. Save during good times to ease the bad, says the country's former PM (photo: Stuart Black/Corbis)

Public debt is a normal part of a government’s finances, but too much debt can have serious consequences for a country. During a seminar at the IMF-World Bank Meetings, one former head of state, who left office with public finances in good standing, explains how her administration succeeded where others have so often failed.


Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP

Rwanda: Building from the Ashes

May 29, 2015

A defendant stands before a “Gacaca” court in Rwanda. The east African country adopted Gacaca, or "justice on the grass” after the genocide of 1994 (Photo: Rick D’Elia/Corbis)

Two decades on from the genocide in which hundreds of thousands were slaughtered, the tiny east African state of Rwanda has been seeking a path to development and reconciliation.


Claver Gatete, Minister of Finance of Rwanda

Infrastructure Investment: The Case of the U.K.

May 14, 2015

Engineer works on train tracks in UK. Investment in transport links can propel the growth of smaller urban centers, says Spence (photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures/Corbis)

Over the next decade and a half , the United Kingdom will pour hundreds of billions of dollars into transport, and other infrastructure projects. One of the country’s top experts in the field says good planning, and strong political are critical to success.


Geoffrey Spence, Chief Executive of Infrastructure UK

$1.1 Billion in Debt Relief for Chad

May 08, 2015

Refugee camp in eastern Chad.Chad is host to thousands fleeing conflict in neighboring countries, adding pressure on the government’s limited resources. (Photo: LUC GNAGO/Reuters/Corbis)

Mauricio Villafuerte, IMF Mission Chief for Chad says the country has made some remarkable economic reforms since 2010, paving the way for US$1.1 billion in debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.


Mauricio Villafuerte, Mission Chief for Chad in the IMF’s African Department

Sub-Saharan Africa’s Latest Economic Outlook

April 28, 2015

Workers build bridge in Kenya: IMF says sub-Saharan Africa’s growing workforce could prove to be a boon for region in coming years. (photo: Michael Wirtz/Newscom)

IMF’s Céline Allard says sub-Saharan Africa is set for another year of solid performance despite declining commodities, with a projected growth rate of 4.5 percent for 2015.


Céline Allard, Head of Regional Study Division in IMF African department

Jakkie Cilliers on Fragile States

April 24, 2015

Women rush into a feeding centre while soldiers try to contain the crowd in Badbaado, a camp established for internally displaced people in the country's capital Mogadishu (photo: Stuart Price/UN/Handout/Corbis)

More Than 1 billion people live in countries affected by fragility. Fragile states are often confronted with political instability or conflict, inadequate public services, and lack of economic opportunities.


Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa
Claver Gatete, Minister of Finance of Rwanda
Kaifala Marah, Minister of Finance and Economic Development in Sierra Leone

Uneven Global Economic Growth for 2015

April 14, 2015

Blanchard delivered the IMF’s economic forecast for 2015 in Washington DC, at the start of the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings (photo: IMF)

The International Monetary Fund expects the world’s economy to expand by 3.5 percent this year, but the economic picture differs across the world. The impact of the global financial crisis are still being felt.


Olivier Blanchard, IMF Chief Economist

Lagarde: Prevent “New Mediocre” From Becoming “New Reality”

April 09, 2015

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, speaking at the Atlantic Council April 9th 2015

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said policymakers around the world need to work together to strengthen global economic growth.


Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director

Delving into the World of Shadow Banks

March 26, 2015

A payday loan center in the UK. Lending institutions, which aren't banks, also need to be regulated, says Turner (photo: Nigel Kirby/Loop Images/Corbis)

A former chairman of the UK's Financial Services Industry, Adair Turner, says there’s room for non-bank lending institutions, but thoughtful regulations need be put in place.


Lord Adair Turner, Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking

Finance for All: Promoting Financial Inclusion in Central Africa

March 19, 2015

Small businesses in Central Africa often have difficulty getting loans (photo: Nigel Pavitt/JAI/Corbis)

The IMF and the Central bank of Central African states are co-hosting a conference on Inclusive Growth, in Congo Brazzaville on March 23rd.


Mario de Zamaroczy, Division Chief, IMF African Department

Alun Thomas on Rwanda’s Changing Job Market

March 13, 2015

Rwanda’s growth in agriculture is limited due to lack of arable land. (Photo: George Steinmetz/Corbis)

More Rwandans are leaving their work on the farm to start small household businesses.


Alun H. Thomas, Senior economist in the IMF’s African Department

Ekkehard Ernst on The Shrinking Middle

February 27, 2015

Mural honoring workers by Artist Richard Downs. Cover of Finance & Development’s March issue

The International Labour Organization says while the demand for highly skilled jobs is on the rise, middle-class jobs are in sharp decline.


Ekkehard Ernst, Chief of the job-friendly Macroeconomic Policy Team at the International Labour Organization

Building a Monetary Union in East Africa

February 26, 2015

New book published by IMF examines regional integration in East Africa.

The Quest for Regional Integration in the East African Community lays out all aspects of the ongoing financial integration process for Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.


Oral Williams, Co-author, and Deputy Division Chief in the IMF’s African Department

Boosting Women-Owned Businesses Key to Growth

February 23, 2015

More woman entrepreneurs would help recharge the global economy (Photo: Hero Images/Hero Images/Corbis)

Melanne Verveer , served as Ambassador-at-Large for global women’s issues under President Obama. She says more women in small and medium sized enterprises is a catalyst for growth.


Melanne Verveer: Executive Director of the Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University

Preventing Another Plague

February 12, 2015

Limiting the international spread of infectious disease is difficult in a globalized world (photo: Alan Hindle/Corbis)

The World Bank has labeled global pandemic one of the greatest risks facing the world today, but according to one economist, preventing such a disaster is only a matter of political will.


Olga Jonas, World Bank Economic Advisor

IMF Grants Help Ebola-hit Countries Drive Down Debt

February 05, 2015

Men unload protective gear to combat Ebola in Liberia. Ebola has had a devastating effect on the economy (Photo: Ahmed JALLANZO/epa/Corbis)

The IMF will provide grants totaling $100 million to the three countries worst hit by the Ebola epidemic. Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone will use the funds to cover the cost of servicing their debt.


Sean Nolan, Director of the IMF’s Strategy, Policy, and Review Department

Economies of the Bottom Billion

January 30, 2015

Haiti has seen very little growth since the devastating earthquake in January 2010 (© Joel Addams/ Aurora Photos/Corbis)

New report on low income countries helps strengthen IMF's monitoring framework.


Chris Lane: IMF Division Chief, Strategy, Policy and Review
Amadou Sy: Senior Research Fellow, Africa Growth Initiative, Brookings Inst.

Olivier Blanchard, on the State Of The World Economy

January 20, 2015

Global oversupply of oil has pushed prices down by more than 50 percent since June 2014. (photo: Christian Charisius/Reuters/Corbis)

A conversation with IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard, where he talks about the latest downward revisions to the World Economic Outlook. Even with a boost from falling oil prices, the WEO update shows global growth for 2015-16 at 3.5 and 3.7 percent.


Olivier Blanchard, IMF Chief Economic Counsellor and Director of Research

Dirty Energy’s Human Toll

January 16, 2015

Smoke stacks in Datong, China. Taxes could help better reflect the true cost of burning fossil fuel, suggests Parry (photo: Paul Souders/Corbis)

The burning of fossil fuels comes with many costs. Millions of people die each year from the pollution it emits. This follow up to an earlier interview with an IMF economist explores the health risks posed by air pollution and some proposed solutions.


Ian Parry, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF

Michael Spence: Inclusive Growth=Stability

January 08, 2015

Occupy Wall Street movement quickly became a global phenomenon on the premise that the richest one percent controls nearly half of global wealth. (John Sommers II/Reuters/Corbis)

Strong economic growth helps keep people employed and healthy, but there’s a growing sense in many countries that only the wealthiest are reaping the benefits. Nobel laureate Michael Spence says inclusive growth is key to economic stability.


Michael Spence, Nobel Laureate and professor of economics at New York University

Women In The Workforce: Breaking The Barriers

December 31, 2014

Woman worker packing cocoa products at a plant in Abidjan. Women in Ivory Coast could not work without their husband’s consent before the law was changed in 2012. (T.GOUEGNON/Reuters/Corbis)

The IMF says the global economy would benefit by Boosting Women’s Participation in the Labor Force, and hosted a seminar on the topic last fall during the Fund’s annual meetings. Sarah Iqbal participated in that forum and talks in this podcast about the hurdles women face when starting a business.

Read as well the IMF Survey story on Unleashing the Economic Power of Women


Sarah Iqbal, World Bank Women Business And The Law Project

The Cost of Antibiotic Resistance

December 23, 2014

Alexander Fleming (1881-1955) discovered Penicillin. Overuse of antibiotics is making treatment more expensive (Photo: Bettman/CORBIS)

Antibiotics have transformed modern medicine, but their overuse has resulted in more drug–resistant strains of bacteria. As resistance increases, people in poorer countries often can’t afford expensive second-line drugs.


Ramanan Laxminarayan, Princeton University and director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy

Justin Wolfers: Policies To Bridge The Income Gap

December 18, 2014

Homeless in New York. The OECD says the gap between rich and poor is at its highest level in 30 years. (Photo: Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Corbis)

Economist Justin Wolfers explains why the continued challenge of tackling income inequality should be a global priority for countries around the world and across the economic spectrum.


Justin Wolfers, Senior Fellow at The Peterson Institute for International Economics

South Africa’s Economic Challenges

December 11, 2014

Keeping the lights on in Cape Town is getting harder, as South Africa’s power utility enforces more rolling blackouts to cope with increasing demand.(photo: Markus Oblander/imageBROKER/Corbis)

South Africa can celebrate significant progress in its first 20 years of democracy, but faces the challenge of reviving a weak economy. Addressing structural constraints such as electricity shortages are key to increasing growth.


Laura Papi: IMF Mission Chief for South Africa

The World According to Adam Smith

December 05, 2014

Engraving of Adam Smith, father of modern capitalism. Man desires to be loved and to be lovely, says Smith (photo: Bettman/Corbis)

Despite his reputation as the father of greedy capitalism, Adam Smith did a great deal of thinking about the human condition and how to be a better, more generous person. One economist believes that Smith could change your life.

Listen to Russ Roberts on economics as entertainment


Russ Roberts, research fellow, Stanford University, Hoover Institution, and author

Hip-Hop Economics

November 26, 2014

Economic heavyweights Keynes and Hayek duke it out in Robert’s hip-hop music video which has over seven million views

Economic ideas can be a hard pill to swallow for non-academics, and yet virtually everyone can benefit from understanding them. Economist Russ Roberts discusses how he uses stories, rap music and the internet to help the medicine go down.


Russ Roberts, author, research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Data Drives Better Decisions

November 19, 2014

As the world economies become more interlinked, good data can help identify and manage financial contagion. (Photo: RG.Images/Stock4B/Corbis)

Data has gained prominence as a vital building block for making sound policy. IMF Director of Statistics, Louis Marc Ducharme talks about how the IMF is helping make data more widely available to policy makers.


Christine Lagarde: Managing Director, IMF
Louis Marc Ducharme: Director, Statistics Department, IMF

Income Inequality can lead to Economic Instability

November 12, 2014

Poverty and homelessness can be found from Bombay to the wealthy neighborhoods of New York City. (Alison Wright/National Geographic Society/Corbis)

When the richest 85 people hold the combined wealth of 3.5 Billion poor people, economist Jose Antonio Ocampo explains that Income inequality can shift from a human rights issue to a marker of potentially dangerous economic instability.


Jose Antonio Ocampo, Columbia University professor

Stop Squeezing Workers, and Step Up Investment, says ILO

November 06, 2014

Processing carrots in a factory. Polaski denies that one reason for slow growth is labor inflexibility (Photo: Maximilian Stock Ltd/Science Faction/Corbis)

Labor market flexibility is considered by many to be essential to an efficient market economy. But a top-level official of the ILO says there’s been an excessive focus on worker flexibility. Off the back of an IMF/World Bank seminar, she explained how economic growth can be nurtured to benefit all.


Sandra Polaski, Deputy Director-General, International Labor Organization

Uganda-Capacity Building for Growth

October 29, 2014

Kampala skyline. Infrastructure development projects this year have helped Uganda’s capital city repair roads, street lights, and drainage systems.(Yannick Tylle /Corbis)

As Uganda’s economy continues to grow, so does the need for more efficient ways of managing large development projects. The country’s finance minister says the objectives of each program must be clear, for capacity building to be effective. Minister Kiwanuka participated in a Capacity Building seminar earlier this month–watch the webcast.


Maria Kiwanuka, Uganda’s Minister of Finance

Arvind Subramanian, on Boosting India's Private Sector

October 23, 2014

Unloading coal in Chandigarh. Half of India’s thermal power stations have less than a week’s supply of coal on hand. (Verma/Reuters/Corbis)

Private investment is down in India, partly due to the lack of coal and electricity. Interviewed in late August, before his appointment as the country's new chief economic adviser, Arvind Subramanian says removing those bottlenecks will be key to increasing growth.


Arvind Subramanian, India’s chief economic advisor

Unlocking Economic Growth in the Caribbean

October 20, 2014

Jamaican harvesting sugar cane (photo: Steve Starr/Corbis Images)

Caribbean economies have been slow to recover from the global financial crisis. This week, the IMF and the government of Jamaica will host a high level forum that will discuss ways of boosting the economies of the region.


Bert van Selm, IMF Jamaica representative
Therese Turner Jones, IADB Representative in Jamaica
Brian Wynter, Governor of the Bank of Jamaica
Joanne Creary Johnson, IMF Communications Officer

The Long Life of Keynesian Economics

October 16, 2014

British economist, John Maynard Keynes. Keynesian economics has been modified and adapted with each crisis, says Jahan (photo: Corbis)

The work of master economist John Maynard Keynes has been key in the resolution of successive crises from the Great Depression to the recent global financial crisis. An IMF economist gives an overview of the man, his ideas and their impact on economic policy.


Sarwat Jahan, IMF economist, Strategy, Policy, & Review Department

Strong Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa Continues

October 10, 2014

Rail station site in Ethiopia. IMF urges public spending shift toward infrastructure investment (photo: Negeri/Reuters/ Newscom)

The IMF’s latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa says growth in the region is currently at 5% and will continue to rise to 5¾ in 2015. The good news is overshadowed however in countries worst affected by the Ebola pandemic.


Isabell Adenauer, Africa Department, IMF

IMF’s Recipe to Escape Prolonged Slow Growth

October 09, 2014

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at news briefing: ‘Where growth is low and uneven, we believe that there has to be a new momentum’ (IMF photo)

The world needs more growth, and more jobs to escape the prospect of prolonged, mediocre economic future, says the head of the International Monetary Fund who laid out the prospects for the global economy, and the priorities for the international organization at the start of the IMF-World Bank Meetings.


Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director

Building Roads To Growth

October 08, 2014

Giant pothole. Infrastructure investment can be a powerful impetus for growth and jobs (photo: Corbis)

In the current environment of slow economic growth, there’s a strong case for increasing public investment in countries where conditions are right. A new study in the IMF’s World Economic Outlook suggests the benefits of investing in infrastructure, often far outweigh the risks.


Abdul de Guia Abiad, IMF, research Department

IMF Forecasts Disappointing Global Growth, Uneven Recovery

October 07, 2014

A worker unloads coal from truck inside a coal yard in India. Structural reforms are needed to unlock growth (photo:DAVE/Reuters/Corbis)

The global economy is suffering weak and uneven growth, with countries experiencing different rates of recovery from the global financial crisis of 2008. While the economies of some advanced countries continue to expand, the emerging markets are facing lower domestic demand and geopolitical tensions.


Olivier Blanchard, IMF Chief Economist

IMF Approves $130 Million for Countries Worst Hit by Ebola

September 26, 2014

Medical workers in Freetown learn how to protect themselves against Ebola during a training session (Xinhua/Huang Xianbin)

The International Monetary Fund is to give $130 million of financial assistance to the three countries in west Africa hardest hit by the ebola crisis. Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are facing slowing growth and disruptions to agriculture, mining, and services because of the outbreak.


Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director

Indian and Chinese Exceptionalism?

September 18, 2014

Chinese President, Xi shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad, India. (photo: EPA/Divyakant Solanki)

As the Chinese president, Xi Jinping continues his state visit to India, a leading Indian economist assesses the rapid development of these two giant economies, and suggests that the world’s most populous countries may be forging a quite exceptional development path.


Arvind Subramanian, Peterson Institute for International Economics

Being a Small State Isn’t Easy, But It Doesn’t Have to be Hard

August 28, 2014

Teafualiku island, part of Tuvalu, one of a series of low lying islands that are threatened by global warming (photo: Ashley Cooper/Corbis)

Small states or countries with fewer than 1.5 million people have been struggling economically in recent years. An IMF economist offers an explanation and possible solutions.


Sarwat Jahan, IMF economist

Is Africa Forging a Unique Development Path?

August 15, 2014

Oasis shopping mall, Kampala, Uganda. Africa’s rapid urbanization has fed the country’s service sector (photo: Yannick Tylle/Corbis)

Traditionally, countries developed their economies by moving away from agriculture into manufacturing. This was then followed by growth of the service sector. But many countries in Africa are building their service sector without transitioning through widespread industrialization. Is Africa experiencing a quite different path towards development? Click here for more information.


Douglas Gollin, Professor of Development Economics, Oxford Department of International Development

Avoiding a Hard Landing in China

August 07, 2014

Construction in China. Many local governments rely on borrowing, real estate revenue to finance spending, says Rodlauer (photo: Paul Souders/Corbis)

Chinese economic growth has been slowing in recent years. If the world’s second largest economy is to achieve sustainable, long-term growth, it needs reforms to shadow banking, local government finances and the real estate sector, say IMF economists.


Markus Rodlauer, IMF mission chief for China

How Fiscal Policy Can Address Energy’s Environmental Impacts

July 31, 2014

Coal power station near Cottbus, Germany. Moving from existing to efficient fuel prices would reduce pollution-related deaths. (photo: Rehle/Reuters/Newscom)

Fiscal policies should be center stage in getting energy prices to reflect the harmful health and environmental side effects associated with energy use, according to a new report released by the IMF.


Ian Parry, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF

Firms Told: Pay Your Fair Share to Reduce Inequality

July 10, 2014

Gold miner at work in South Africa. Many sub-Saharan African countries depend heavily on taxes from resource extraction (photo: Charles o’Rear/Corbis)

Equality is not just about everyone getting their fair share, it’s also about everyone paying their fair share. A top NGO chief says the growing wealth gap could be reduced by tightening both domestic and international tax rules.
Read more: Blog and Policy Paper.
Listen on Soundcloud


Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International

IMF Offers Free Economic Training to All

July 03, 2014

Students working at their computers, Abuja, Nigeria. A stronger understanding of the economy could help promote a sounder public debate, says Dudine.

The IMF has launched the first in a series of free online courses for those interested in furthering their economic education. One of the course’s instructors explains the benefits of raising the public’s knowledge about economics, and what he himself has learned from the creation of the course. Listen on Soundcloud


Paolo Dudine, IMF economist and Massive Open Online Course instructor

The Rise and Rise of Shadow Banking in China

June 26, 2014

Construction site Shanghai, China. Shadow banking has fuelled the rapid growth in property development (photo: Kohls/Corbis)

Shadow banking is a system of uninsured investments from non-bank institutions. It can yield very high returns, but investments come with the risk of total bust. Despite the potential for enormous losses, shadow banking will continue to be a part of China's economic landscape, says one Sino expert.


David Dollar, Brookings Institution

Africa: Future Bright, If It Does the Right Thing

June 20, 2014

Mining for gold in DR Congo. African countries only receive 3-5 percent of royalties for natural resources, says Armah (photo: Guillaume Bonn/Corbis)

Africa has grown faster than many other parts of the world over the last two decades, but many Africans are still not seeing the benefits. One Africa specialist suggests measures that authorities might adopt to take advantage of the continent’s burgeoning potential.


Bartholomew Armah, UN’s Economic Commission for Africa.

David Dollar on The Sino Shift

June 12, 2014

Migrant workers’ dorm building, China. Future migrants are likely to work in the service sector (photo: Imagine China/Corbis)

After years of double digit expansion, China’s economic growth is slowing. The world’s second largest economy expanded off the back of manufacturing, investment and exports. But, China is now looking inwards for its future growth.


David Dollar, Brookings Institution

How Economics can Inform Moral Decisions

June 05, 2014

Surgeons perform kidney transplant. Perhaps we should consider allowing people to sell their kidneys to save lives, suggests Taylor (photo: Owen Franken/Corbis)

Economists are often criticized for viewing the world through the lens of costs and benefits, while ignoring the morality of an economic decision. But, while economics can’t answer moral questions, it can inform the debate, says one expert.


Timothy Taylor, Managing Editor, American Journal of Economic Perspectives

More, Better Jobs to Reduce Inequality

May 29, 2014

Shadow of demonstrators, Tunisia 2011. High unemployment can fuel unrest as during the Arab Spring in 2011, says Ryder (photo: Hamideddine Bouali/Demotix/Corbis)

Over recent decades, labor’s share of GDP has declined steadily in many countries. The International Labour Organization suggests that reforming the labor market could halt that downturn and, at the same time, help reduce inequality.


Guy Ryder, Director-General of the International Labour Organization

Piketty: The Origins of Wealth Inequality

May 22, 2014

Historically, the rate of return on capital has exceeded economic growth leading to wealth inequality, says Piketty (photo: Pablo Garrigós/Demotix/Corbis)

The uneven distribution of wealth is one of the most debated issues in contemporary politics and economics. In a recently published, best-selling book, Thomas Piketty, explains the historical forces which have resulted in this inequality, and why a global tax on wealth could be the solution.


Thomas Piketty, economist and author of “Capital in the 21st Century”

Rising Inequality: Not All Bad News

May 16, 2014

Worker at small parts manufacturing plant in China. Growth in emerging markets like China has been “pro-egalitarian”, says Cowen (photo: Mick Ryan/Corbis).

News of rising inequality is, more often than not, met with much handwringing. But, the growing gap between the super rich and the rest has also been accompanied by the lifting of millions out of poverty.


Tyler Cowen, Professor of economics, George Mason University

Africa Set for Faster Growth

April 24, 2014

Farmers winnow barley in Ethiopia. A good harvest has helped to boost growth in many parts of Africa (photo: Jim Richardson/Corbis)

The future continues to look bright for sub-Saharan Africa, with robust growth expected to accelerate next year. But the IMF also warns of possible threats to the continent’s economy coming from outside the region.


Isabell Adenauer, Africa Department, IMF

Tax and Spending Ideas to Reduce Inequality

April 17, 2014

Homeless in Beverly Hills, U.S.. Well designed redistribution can even boost growth, says Clements (photo: Joel Stettenheim/Corbis)

Rising inequality around the world is becoming a cause of increasing concern. The IMF recently contributed to the debate by suggesting how governments might use tax and spending to reduce the gap between the haves and the have lesses, without slowing down growth.


Benedict Clements, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF

Arrested Development: The Role of Agriculture

April 03, 2014

Subsistence farmers plant rice in Madagascar. People can only move out of farming once they produce more than they can eat (photo: Frans Lanting/Corbis)

Why are some countries richer than others? The key may lie in the agricultural sector, says one expert, who suggests that low agricultural productivity may be keeping poor countries in a state of arrested development.


Richard Rogerson, Professor of economics, Princeton University

Man Versus Nature

March 20, 2014

Post-Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines. People in developing economies are more likely to live in high-risk areas (photo: Czeasar Dancel/Corbis)

The frequency of natural disasters has increased, and it’s usually poorer countries that are more affected than the developed. But IMF economists say the right policies can softened their devastating impact.


Nicole Laframboise, Deputy Division Chief, IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department

World Braced to Meet Rising Energy Needs, says BP economist

March 10, 2014

Gas flare in oil fields in N Dakota, U.S. The country is close to becoming energy self-sufficient (photo: Tony Waltham/Corbis)

Over the next two decades, global energy consumption is expected to increase by more than 40 percent, according to the Chief Economist of BP, who describes some of the likely tectonic shifts in the energy sector of the future.


Christof Rühl - Group Chief Economist, BP

The Limits of Economics

February 24, 2014

Trichet during a meeting at the European Central Bank. During the crisis, policymakers felt abandoned by economic models, says Trichet (Photo: Corbis/Schults)

Economists use models to try to make sense of economic trends and shape policies. But, since the financial meltdown of 2008, many have criticized what they see as an overreliance on these models which failed to predict the crisis. The former President of the European Central Bank suggests ways these models might be improved.


Jean-Claude Trichet, Former President of the European Central Bank

Unemployment Benefits: The Good and The Bad

February 06, 2014

A recruitment sign. Unemployment benefits are important for low-income families, to prevent them from falling into poverty (Photo: James Leynse/Corbis)

Unemployment benefits deter job seekers from accepting work, say critics.  But do they?  One expert weighs the evidence.


Robert Moffitt, Professor of Economics, Johns Hopkins University

Bridging Humanitarian Aid and Development

January 30, 2014

Victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. “We save lives, but don’t think about the [future of the] child whose life we saved,” says Georgieva (Photo: Reynold Mainsie/Corbis)

Traditionally, humanitarian workers and development specialists were seen as inhabiting two different worlds, but one expert calls for some joined up thinking to help the people of fragile states.


Kristalina Georgieva European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response

Global Growth on the Rise, But with Wide Regional Variations

January 21, 2014

Washing windows of a building Washington, D.C. The WEO Update projects U.S. growth of 2.8 percent in 2014 (photo: Jewel Samad/Corbis)

Global growth is expected to increase this year, says the International Monetary Fund in its latest report on the health of the global economy. The IMF forecasts global growth to average 3.7 percent in 2014-up from 3 percent in 2013-and to rise to 3.9 percent in 2015.


Olivier Blanchard, IMF Chief Economist

Tackling Youth Unemployment in Africa

January 16, 2014

Governor Sanusi and IMF Managing Director Lagarde. The youth bulge is not only a risk but an opportunity, says Sanusi (Photo: Wermuth/Corbis)

Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, but the persistence of youth unemployment threatens this progress. Some see this growth without jobs as a ticking time bomb. Lamido Sanusi, the Governor of the central bank of Nigeria explains how to tackle this issue.


Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Central Bank Governor, Nigeria

Zambia: Gains Tempered by Large Fiscal Deficit

January 09, 2014

Zambian copper miners. Copper accounts for around 65 percent of the country’s exports. (Joel Stettenheim/CORBIS)

Zambia has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years, but the size of its fiscal deficit looms large over its future, says the IMF in a new report on the state of this south African economy.


John Wakeman-Linn, IMF mission chief to Zambia

We All Need to Benefit from Economic Growth

December 05, 2013

Swedish schoolchildren at work. In Sweden, most children attend public schools creating social cohesion, says Aghion (photo: C Grant/AP/Corbis)

“A rising tide lifts all boats.” That may be true on the oceans, but it’s not always the case when it comes to economic growth. But, countries can choose to pursue economic policies that will benefit all—rich and poor alike.


Philippe Aghion, Professor, Harvard University

Emerging Markets: Future Unclear

November 22, 2013

Financial district in Shangai. China needs legal and institutional reforms to improve its private sector, says Wolf (Photo: Lobermann /Corbis)

After a decade of strong growth, many emerging markets have experienced an economic slowdown. Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, explains how these economies might restore momentum.


Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Africa’s Middle Class Spearheads Growth

November 14, 2013

Students in Somaliland. Young Africans should be able to choose between an academic or vocational path, says Ncube (photo: Kari /Corbis)

In a wide ranging interview, the chief economist of the African development bank gave his thoughts on the African middle class, the state of data in Africa and the continent’s stellar economic performance.


Mthuli Ncube, African Development Bank, Chief Economist and Vice President

Slower Growth in Emerging Markets: The New Normal

November 07, 2013

Unloading cabbages in Moscow, Russia. Slowing growth in emerging markets may be the new normal, say Adams (photo: Denis Sinyakov/Corbis)

The recent slowing growth in emerging markets may continue for the foreseeable future says economist Tim Adams. At a recent seminar on "Emerging Markets: Restoring the Momentum", Adams suggested that this change could be a good thing, heralding more balanced and sustainable growth.


Tim Adams, President and CEO of The Institute of International Finance

Africa: Keeping Up the Pace

October 31, 2013

Iron Foundry in China. A slowdown in emerging markets could negatively impact Africa (Photo: Roy Corbis)

In the latest economic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa, the International Monetary Fund expects growth to reach 6% in 2014, up from the 5% expected this year. The region is benefiting from improved domestic and global conditions.


Montfort Mlachila, IMF, African Department

Protecting the World’s Water Resources

October 24, 2013

Child in Sao Tome and Principe. One of the challenges of the 21st century remains universal access to safe water, says Gleick (Photo: Asael/Corbis)

Water is the one resource we cannot live without. Yet, in some parts of the world, it remains inaccessible to many. To coincide with his article in September’s “Finance & Development,” Peter Gleick argues that we need to radically change how we consume this vital resource.


Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute

How to Get Faster, Stronger Growth in Central, Eastern Europe

October 17, 2013

Construction in central Warsaw. Poland was the first country in the region to benefit from an IMF program after the Berlin wall fell (photo: Fedosenko/Corbis)

Since the global financial crisis, growth in the economies of central, eastern and southeastern Europe has been disappointing. In a new report, the International Monetary Fund suggests how this region might be returned to greater prosperity.


James Roaf, IMF, Regional Resident Representative for Central and Eastern Europe

The Threat of the Debt Ceiling

October 15, 2013

Capitol Hill, Washington DC. US politicians are working towards a deal to avoid a sovereign default (Photo: Ward/Corbis)

As US politicians race against the clock to avoid the United States defaulting on its debt, Martin Wolf describes what the debt ceiling is, and its implications for the global economy.


Martin Wolf, Financial Times

Global Growth Patterns Shift

October 08, 2013

Automobile factory in China. Emerging markets are displaying weaker than expected growth says the IMF (Photo: Xu/Corbis)

In the latest update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF says it expects the world’s economy to grow by 2.9 percent this year—below the 3.2 percent recorded last year. Growth is likely to be driven by advanced economies, while the performance of emerging markets will be weaker than expected.


Olivier Blanchard, IMF, Chief economist

South Africa: The battle for jobs, growth and equality

October 01, 2013

Power station site in Limpopo, South Africa—part of government’s infrastructure investment drive (photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/Newscom)

Despite its many achievements since the transition to majority rule, South Africa struggles with low growth, widespread unemployment, and sharp social tensions.  The IMF says Africa’s largest economy needs to pursue structural reforms to boost growth and create jobs for a growing population.


Laura Papi, IMF, African Department

Getting to Growth in the Caribbean

September 19, 2013

Nassau, Bahamas where the countries of the Caribbean are meeting to discuss the future of the region (Photo: Sonnet/Corbis)

The countries of the Caribbean may be small, but they are facing many of the same challenges confronting larger nations. These include the need to create more jobs and achieve a more inclusive growth.


Adrienne Cheasty, IMF, Western Hemisphere Department

Kenya's Economy Takes Off

September 13, 2013

Agricultural worker in Kenya. The country is one of the African frontier economies, the next generation of emerging markets (Photo: Corbis/Walsh)

Kenya is one of the success stories of Africa’s economic resurgence. With this strong performance in mind, the Kenya and the IMF will co-host a conference to discuss the country's prospects.


Antoinette Sayeh, IMF, African Department

Liberalization Boosts Growth in Myanmar

September 05, 2013

A fisherman in Lac Inle. International investment could swiftly alter the lives of Myanmar’s low-income agricultural workers (Photo: Maisant/Corbis)

Myanmar has made impressive strides in opening and liberalizing the economy, boosting growth and the economic outlook, but the formerly isolated country still faces some challenges.


Matt Davies, IMF, Asia and Pacific Department 

Universities Boom, But New Grads Struggle

August 29, 2013

Students in Changchun, China. Many developing countries are faced with an influx of new graduates struggling to find a job (photo: Chang/Corbis)

Economic growth in the developing world has been accompanied by massive increases in higher education enrollment. This can feed a country’s development—but it also puts new pressures on a country’s leaders and workers.


Richard Freeman, Harvard University

The Persistence of Informal Sector Work

August 22, 2013

Street vendor in Vietnam. Governments need to extend social protection to informal workers says Freeman (photo: Sitton/Corbis)

As the economies of the developing world expand, new jobs beckon. But Richard Freeman says these countries have seen a surprising persistence of informal sector jobs—which offer low pay and scant worker protection.


Richard Freeman, Economist, Professor, Harvard University

Remittances Can Act as Drag on Development

July 25, 2013

A money changer in Manila. Remittances are a major source of foreign currency for countries like the Philippines (photo: Ranoco /Corbis)

If you are one of the hundreds of thousands of people who send money abroad to friends and relatives, beware!  You may be doing as much harm as good, suggests one IMF economist.  Although these remittances can be a lifeline for families, they can also undermine economic growth. 


Ralph Chami, IMF, Middle East and Central Asia Department

Third World Lessons for First World Growth

July 18, 2013

Worker in a soybean field in Brazil. First world countries have a lot to learn from countries like Brazil, says Henry (Photo: Orezzoli/Corbis)

Developed countries need to be industrious like ants, says economist, Peter Blair Henry.   For years they have offered advice to developing countries on the best path to growth. They might benefit from heeding some of their own advice, he suggests.


Peter Henry, New York University

Global Growing Pains

July 09, 2013

Steel factory laborer in Qundao, China. Lower-than-expected growth in emerging markets is putting brakes on global outlook (photo: STR/AFP/ Newscom)

The global economy is growing more slowly than expected, says the IMF in its latest assessment. It’s revise growth downwards to 3.1 percent this year, and warns risks are rising in emerging markets.


Olivier Blanchard, IMF, Chief Economist

Small, Medium-sized Firms and the Jobs Market

July 03, 2013

A small business owner in East Africa. Government can help small firms by improving access to financing (Photo: Strauss/Curtis/Corbis)

Unemployment is a worry around the world, but it’s a particularly pressing issue for developing countries with their growing, young population. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can be an important source of new jobs, IF governments provide them with the right encouragement.


Meghana Ayyagari, Professor, George Washington University

In Search of Sweet Liquid Gold

June 27, 2013

Boiling maple sap to turn into syrup. The supply of this product is heavily regulated by the global strategic reserve (Photo: Ury/Corbis)

Many countries create cartels to control the price of important commodities because they want to maximize their income or protect key domestic industries. But the use of cartels is criticized for causing higher prices for consumers. We investigate the pros and cons of cartels through the example of the maple syrup industry.


Jacqueline Deslauriers, IMF, Communications Department

Africa: Credit Where it’s Due

June 20, 2013

A tailor at work in Mali. Good credit could be used to improve regional power grids, boosting productivity, says Sy (Photo: Reuters/Newscom)

When it comes to borrowing money on the international financial markets, several countries of sub-Saharan Africa can now access money at cheaper rates than some European nations. The change is historic and could open up exciting opportunities for the continent.


Amadou Sy, IMF, Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Women’s Tales from Wall Street

June 14, 2013

Students celebrate graduation. Women need to recognize the importance of connections to get progress, say Wall street experts (photo: Annie G. Belt/ Corbis)

Despite outnumbering men as college graduates within OECD countries, women are still underrepresented at the very top managerial levels, particularly in finance & business. A group of women veterans of Wall street describe how they got to Wall Street, what they found there, and offer advice to young women who want to get there.


Jolyne Caruso, Carla Harris, Anne Miller, Janet Newton, Darin White

Africa: Onwards and Upwards

June 06, 2013

Farmer walks to market in Uganda. Sub-Saharan Africa must invest in infrastructure, says Kiwanuka (photo:Andrew Aitchison/Corbis)

Sub-Saharan Africa has just completed one of its best decades of growth since the 1960s. This is because the region has learnt lessons from the past, says Uganda’s finance minister, who is optimistic about the outlook for the continent.


Maria Kiwanuka, Uganda, Finance Minister

African Women Need Better Jobs

May 30, 2013

Harvesting coffee in Kenya.  African women need better options than traditional jobs such as agricultural work, says Hallward-Driemeier. (Photo: Souders/Corbis)

More women in sub-Saharan Africa participate in the labor force than in any other region. But, most still face an uphill struggle to make ends meet. For them, the problem isn’t finding work—it’s the kind of work they do.


Mary Hallward-Driemeier, World Bank, Economist

Why Educated Civil Servants Matter to Your Success

May 23, 2013

City Hall Maputo, Mozambique. In poorer economies the more educated tend to cluster in the public sector, says Arezki (Photo: Trower/Corbis)

A country’s economic success depends a lot on how educated its population is. But as Rabah Arezki argues in an article in June’s issue of Finance & Development, a highly educated civil service, in particular, can help promote growth for all.


Rabah Arezki, IMF, Research department

Does What You Export Matter?

May 16, 2013

El Indio gold and copper mine, Chile. Throughout history Chile has had variable success with its copper industry (Photo: Warren/ Corbis)

Some economists say that a country’s exports can determine its economic fate. But William Maloney rejects the idea that exports play such a critical role. He says it’s not what you export, but how you do it. 


William Maloney, World Bank, economist

Africa: Strong Growth and Bright Prospects

May 10, 2013

Food market in Niger. Strong activity in Africa’s low-income countries offsets slowdown in middle-income countries (Photo: Taggart/Corbis)

With a gradually improving outlook for the global economy, growth in sub-Saharan Africa is set to strengthen to 5.5%, according to the IMF’s latest forecast for the region. But growth patterns vary within the region.


Alfredo Cuevas, IMF, African Department

Booms Don’t Last Forever

May 06, 2013

Coffee beans in Uganda. Commodity dependent countries must save their revenue when prices are high, to protect themselves when they become low (Photo: Aitchinson/Corbis)

In recent years, commodity prices have been riding high, and many commodity dependent countries have benefited from these high prices. But this boon is unlikely to last forever: prices may fall, and nations can run out of key commodities.


Jose Ocampo, Columbia University, professor

Structural Change: Paving the Way for Development?

April 25, 2013

Steel mill in Beijing, China. The country’s rapid industrialization was an essential part of its successful development (Photo: Corbis/Liu)

When a country shifts from being largely based on agrarian economy to being based on services, or industry, it is said to have undergone structural change. Harvard’s Dani Rodrik explains why structural change is so critical to development.


Dani Rodrik, Harvard University, Professor

On the Road to Recovery, At Different Speeds

April 16, 2013

Furniture factory in Botswana. Despite their robust growth, developing countries still face many challenges, says the IMF (Photo: Pettersson/Corbis)

Although global growth is expected to reach 3.3% this year, and 4% in 2014, the health of the world’s economy is mixed. Olivier Blanchard, Chief Economist at the IMF explains that although the worst is behind us, policymakers still can’t afford to relax.


Olivier Blanchard, IMF, Chief Economist

Breaking Through the Low-Income Ceiling

April 10, 2013

Students in Bangladesh. Low-income countries still need to address many challenges such as improving education (Photo: Kasmauski/Corbis)

In the last two decades, many low-income countries have experienced economic take off. But in the 60s and 70s, many of these same countries already boasted robust economic performances, until it all came to an abrupt stop. Can low-income countries keep on growing, this time?


Rupa Duttagupta, IMF, Research Department

How to Become Capable of Growth

April 04, 2013

Industrial wool spinning machine in Canada. "The greater the knowhow, the more likely a country is to develop," says Hausmann (Photo: Radius Image/Corbis)

When you want to get a better job or achieve personal development, you might choose to increase your skills. This might mean learning something new, or acquiring more education. It’s the same with countries, if they want to climb up the ladder of development, they need to develop their capacity, or “capabilities,” says top economist Ricardo Hausmann.


Ricardo Hausmann, Harvard University

Reforming Energy Subsidies in Africa

March 27, 2013

Power station in South Africa. Measures to protect the poor must be included in any reform of Africa’s energy sector (Photo: Sibeko/Newscom)

In many countries, governments often subsidize the energy sector keeping the price of power lower than it might otherwise be. The aim is to protect the poor by keeping prices low. But, a new study by the International Monetary Fund suggests that these subsidies don't always have the desired effect.


Trevor Alleyne, IMF, African Department

Domestic Integration Before Globalization

March 21, 2013

Xinjiang Desert, China. Unlike eastern China, the west of the country is not well integrated into the global economy, says Wacziarg (photo: Liqun/Corbis)

Supporters of globalization say that globalization creates growth by encouraging people and countries to interact and trade with each other across national borders. But, has the focus on international integration caused policymakers to overlook the need to integrate their national economies?


Romain Wacziarg, University of California, LA

A Short History of Debt

March 15, 2013

Medical clinic in Tanzania. Less money spent on paying down debt means more available to spend on sectors like health (photo: Hugh Sitton/Corbis)

Sub-Saharan economies might be performing well now, but not so long ago, they were mired in debt. During the 70’s, many of them borrowed money to unsustainable levels and found themselves unable to service their debt. Joly explains how they got out of their predicament.


Herve Joly, IMF, African Department

Caribbean Union Faces Similar Challenges to Euro Area

March 07, 2013

Beach on Antigua and Barbuda—members of the world’s smallest currency union which uses the Eastern Caribbean dollar (photo: Michele Falzone/JAI/Corbis)

The euro area may be the world’s largest and most well-known regional currency union, but the Eastern Caribbean Economic and Currency Union is an interesting microcosm of its larger European counterpart. The two could learn lessons from each other, suggests an IMF economist.


Alfred Schipke, IMF, formerly Western Hemisphere, now Asia & Pacific Department

Revealing the Secrets of Bretton Woods

February 28, 2013

Bretton Woods 1944. The conference transcripts were discovered in a corner of the U.S. treasury archives (photo: Bettmann/Corbis)

The 1944 Bretton Woods conference laid the foundations of the modern international monetary system, but little was known about the exact proceedings of that historic gathering, until now.


Kurt Schuler, economist, U.S. Treasury

Reducing Inequality Through Tax and Spending

February 21, 2013

Rickshaws and a new BMW in the Indian capital, New Delhi. Targeted benefits, rather than universal benefits, are better at reducing inequality, says Coady. (Photo: Jens Kalaene/dpa/Corbis)

Fiscal policy—or the way a government taxes, spends and borrows money—can have a huge impact on reducing inequality. But according to a recent IMF study, that impact has been shrinking over the past decade, as governments scale back social benefits, and make income taxes less progressive.


David Coady, IMF, Fiscal Affairs Department

Africa Learns to Avoid Debt While Promoting Public Investment

February 15, 2013

A new road being built in Mozambique. Good public investment projects can help a country’s economy grow, says Issoufou (photo: Taylor/Corbis)

Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced steady economic growth in recent years spurred, in part, by increased public investment. This government spending can bring many benefits, but it can also be dangerous if the money is spent on poorly chosen projects, or financed by expensive loans which leave a country in debt.


Salifou Issoufou, IMF, Research Department

Fixing Fragile States

February 08, 2013

Somali woman collecting water. Since the collapse of its government, Somalia has not been able to meet some of the basic needs of its citizens (Photo: Courbet/Corbis)

The features of a fragile state can include political and economic instability, poverty, civil disorder, terrorism, human trafficking, disease, or all of these. But how to identify a fragile state, and what policies can fragile states pursue to become fully functioning nations?


Clare Lockhart, Institute of State Effectiveness and co-author of “Fixing Failed States”

Technology, Education, and Growing Inequality

January 31, 2013

A robot developed in Japan to care for the sick. But in most of the care sector, robots still cannot substitute for human beings (Photo: Gellie/Corbis)

Over the past several decades, advanced economies, especially the United States, have seen a striking rise in inequality. David Autor of MIT, argues that trend is driven by rapidly developing technology, which has made highly educated workers much more valuable, while pushing others out of jobs.


David Autor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Modest Growth Pickup in 2013, says IMF Chief Economist

January 23, 2013

New home in California, United States. Housing market turnaround expected to help boost U.S. growth in 2013 (photo: Mike Blake/Reuters/Newscom)

The global economy is set to strengthen gradually in 2013, but risks remain. In the latest update to its World Economic Outlook, the IMF projects growth will be 3.5% this year. In this podcast, the IMF chief economist explains that despite the brighter outlook, policymakers need to address risks to the global economy.


Olivier Blanchard, Chief Economist, IMF

Global Economy Avoids Collapse, but Reforms Still Needed

January 17, 2013

Financial collapse has been avoided, but developed economies still need to follow through on financial reforms and debt reduction, said Lagarde (photo: IMF)

World leaders have avoided a collapse of the global economy, but they must now follow through with reforms to avoid a relapse into crisis, says Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF.


Christine Lagarde, IMF, Managing Director

Social Safety Nets at Work: the Case of Burkina Faso

January 03, 2013

Children in Banfora, southwest Burkina Faso. In the past, social safety nets in the country were fragmented and failed to target the poorest (Photo: Marcell Claassen/Corbis)

In the second part of our series on social safety nets in sub-Saharan Africa, we look at practice on the ground. In Burkina Faso, the IMF is working with the government to develop targeted welfare programs. The aim is to identify and help the most vulnerable. But it is still a work-in-progress.


Isabell Adenauer, IMF Africa Department

Getting the World Back to Work

December 28, 2012

Young IT students in Nairobi, Kenya. In many developing countries, the sectors that contribute to GDP growth may not be large employers (photo: Kristian Buus/Corbis)

Globally, over 200 million people are unemployed, according to the IMF.  Many European markets and emerging markets are suffering double-digit jobless rates, and youth and long-term unemployment are at alarming levels.  What skills then do job seekers in a global labor market need to succeed?


Susan Lund, Director of Research, The McKinsey Global Institute

Social Safety Nets Sustain Growth in Africa

December 20, 2012

School child in Iringa, central Tanzania. Social safety measures can be used to keep children in school. (Photo: Andy Aitchison/In Pictures/Corbis)

Social safety nets aren’t just charitable handouts, they’re an essential way to ensure growth is sustainable. Safety nets range from cash transfers through health care, to public works programs to create employment. Over the last decade, more countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been adopting social safety nets to help their poorest.


David Coady, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department Lynne Sherburne-Benz, sector manager for social protection in Africa, World Bank.

Africa: Beyond Commodity Dependence

December 14, 2012

Labourers picking tea in Kenya. Countries that rely heavily on commodity exports are particularly vulnerable to commodity price shocks (photo: Hicks/Corbis)

The volatility and price spikes of raw commodities has affected many regions in recent years—sub-Saharan Africa among them. This is because the price of a commodity can make or break the health of a country in this region. What then can countries do to protect themselves from price shocks?


Jon Shields, IMF, Africa Department

Inclusiveness Essential to Growth, says Acemoglu

December 06, 2012

Construction site in China. Countries need to build strong institutions to ensure growth, says Acemoglu (Photo: Construction Photography/Corbis)

A nation's poverty or prosperity may have as much to do with politics as economics, says Daron Acemoglu. He argues that more democratic countries with inclusive political institutions create sustained prosperity, while “extractive,” authoritarian regimes lead toward poverty.


Daron Acemoglu, economist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-author of "Why Nations Fail."

Policies Which Destroy Growth

November 30, 2012

Cocoa beans in Cameroon. Resource countries are particularly susceptible to bad policies, says Fosu (Photo: Broker/Newscom)

Underdevelopment has often been blamed on  bad policies adopted by national governments. Augustin Fosu has identified four such policies which he believes have been the cause of inefficiency, overregulation and misallocation of resources.


Augustin Fosu, United Nations University, Scholar

Slave Trade Leaves Economic Legacy

November 21, 2012

Shadows in the “House of Slaves” on Goree Island, Senegal. The house is a major tourist destination and reminder of the country’s slaves trade (Photo: O’Reilly/Corbis)

Decades after the end of colonial rule in Africa, and more than one hundred years after the official end of the slave trade in the US, the continent remains among the least-developed regions of the globe. But how far is the trade in human beings responsible for Africa’s lack of economic progress?


Nathan Nunn, Harvard University, Professor

Africa: From Agriculture To Services

November 15, 2012

Watering plants in South Africa. Agriculture is a low productivity sector and accounts for close to one fifth of Africa’s GDP (photo: Miller/Newscom)

In the last two decades, growth has accelerated significantly in most of sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers at the IMF have been exploring whether this high growth has also led to, what economists describe as, “structural transformation” on the continent.


Alun Thomas, IMF, African Department

The Resilience of the Developing World

November 12, 2012

Cityscape of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Many economies in Southeast Asia adopted inflation targeting which made them more resilient to crises

In recent years, emerging markets and developing countries have proven remarkably resilient in the face of economic slumps. They have bounced back from downturns, and even grown their economies. It turns out there are some common factors to these success stories.


Abdul de Guia Abiad, IMF, research Department

Public-Private Partnerships: A Way Forward For Africa?

November 02, 2012

South Africa. PPPs, traditionally used on infrastructure projects, are now expanding into the social sector (Photo: Groenendijk/Harding/Newscom)

Public-private partnerships can benefit governments, providing a new source of funding for long-term projects, while sharing out risk. Over the past 20 years, more and more countries—many in Africa—have been experimenting with this form of collaboration.


Isabell Adenauer, IMF, African Department

Nigeria, South Africa, and the Regional Economy

October 24, 2012

Merchants offloading Nigerian goods from a boat in Chad. Important trade ties link the economies of these two countries (Photo: Reuters/Corbis)

Economic linkages have become ever tighter and increasingly important in a globalized world. In the sub-Saharan region for example, the performance of South Africa and Nigeria—Africa’s two largest economies—can have reverberations far beyond their borders.


Cheikh Anta Gueye, IMF, African Department

The Haves and the Have Less

October 18, 2012

View of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Income inequality will need to be tackled in emerging countries as they become more developed, says Piketty (photo: Scorza/Newscom)

Income inequality in the U.S. has soared to its highest level since the Great Depression, and that trend has only deteriorated during the global downturn of recent years. Thomas Piketty has been tracking this growing disparity and says the yawning gap between the haves and have less is bad for growth and bad for society.


Thomas Piketty, Paris School of economics

Africa Maintaining Growth in an Uncertain World

October 12, 2012

Tea harvesting in Kenya. Low-income countries such as Kenya are expected to experience high levels of growth this year (photo: Mukoya/Newscom)

Despite the sluggish global economy, sub-Saharan Africa has remained resilient, with growth expected to be around 5% this year. But while low-income countries continue to expand, middle-income countries, and particularly those closely linked to European markets, are experiencing a slowdown.


Jon Shield, IMF, African Department

Dim Prospects for the World Economy

October 08, 2012

South Africa. Weaker demand from advanced economies are putting pressure on growth in emerging and developing economies (Photo: Qihua/Corbis)

Prospects for the global economy have deteriorated. In its latest world economic forecast, the IMF marked down growth projections to 3.3% this year. Olivier Blanchard, chief economist at the IMF, explains what is holding back the recovery.


Olivier Blanchard, Chief Economist, IMF

Riding Out Food and Fuel Price Volatility

October 04, 2012

Freshly harvested corn in Manitoba, Canada. Corn prices have been affected by the worst drought in the US in over fifty years, says Beidas-Strom (photo: Reede/Corbis)

As global food and fuel prices begin to rise once more, the IMF's Samya Beidas-Strom explains how the effects of price volatility can be mitigated.


Samya Beidas–Strom, IMF, Research Department

Managing Oil Wealth in Africa

October 02, 2012

A fishing boat near the Limbe oil rig, Cameroon. Countries in Central Africa still face big economic challenges despite their oil wealth (Photo: Johansson/Corbis)

Despite their oil wealth, the countries of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community still struggle with the “Resource Curse”. Sharmini Coorey, Director of the IMF’s Institute for Capacity Development, describes the challenges of managing oil wealth in the region and outlines policies to help overcome them.


Sharmini Coorey, IMF, Institute for Capacity Development

Towards a rebalancing of the Chinese Economy?

September 21, 2012

Train carrying Chinese containers in Alabama, USA. China’s terms of trade have deteriorated recently (Photo: Owaki/ Corbis)

China’s current account surplus has declined dramatically over recent years. Many economists believe this signals a much needed rebalancing of the world’s second largest economy toward domestic sources of growth. So, what’s the reason behind this drop and what does it mean for the rest of Asia?


Malhar Nabar and Olaf Unteroberdoerster, IMF, Asia and Pacific Department

Understanding Financial Crises

September 13, 2012

Bank customers in New York, USA, 1927. A loss of confidence in a bank can cause customers to withdraw their money (Photo: Underwood/ Corbis)

Financial crises have been with us for hundreds of years. From the currency crisis of the Roman Empire to more recent events such as the 2008 financial meltdown, financial crises have been pervasive in market economies. Gary Gorton argues that crises are inevitable, but that with the right policies, their effects can be mitigated.


Gary Gorton, Professor, Yale school of management

Learning the Lessons of Chinese and Indian Economic Success

September 07, 2012

Car manufacturing in India. Because of booming exports, India and China have enjoyed some of the world's fastest economic growth in recent years. (Photo: Jagadeesh/newscom)

India and China have enjoyed some of the world's fastest economic growth in recent years. But to keep up the momentum, they must undertake some reforms, says an IMF economist.


James Walsh, IMF, Asian and Pacific Department

Dervis on World Economic Integration

August 30, 2012

View of Shanghai, China. Over the long run, developing countries become less dependent on advanced countries, says Dervis (Photo: Puddy/Corbis)

Kemal Dervis says three fundamental trends characterize today’s world economy: convergence of emerging and advanced economies’ economic growth; interdependence of countries’ fortunes; and divergence of incomes within countries.


Kemal Dervis, Vice President and Director of Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution

Papademetriou on the Changing Face of Migration

August 30, 2012

A migrant worker harvests tulips in the United States. There will be fewer unskilled migrants in the future, says Papademetriou (photo: Braasch/Corbis)

Demetrios Papademetriou explains how the global movement of workers will change as the economic crisis continues in advanced economies. Immigration policy in these countries is likely to become much more selective.


Demetrios Papademetriou, President, Migration Policy Institute

Reinhart on the Dangers of Optimism

August 23, 2012

A man looks at stock prices in China. Policy makers often overlook risks to the economy during prosperous years, says Reinhart. (photo: Imaginechina/ Corbis)

For economist Carmen Reinhart, crises are often the result of over confidence in the economic and financial system. In the recently published "Occupy Handbook", she warns that policymakers must avoid the blind optimism of the "this-time-is-different-syndrome”.


Carmen Reinhart, Senior Fellow, the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Overcoming the Natural Resource Curse

August 16, 2012

Pouring Molten Copper at Copper Mill, Chile. This south American country has successfully mitigated the "natural resource curse," says Frankel.

Historically, countries that are rich in mineral and commodity resources, like oil, copper or coffee, for example, have had lower rates of growth compared to nations which don't enjoy those advantages. It's a phenomenon dubbed the "nature resource curse." Jeffrey Frankel outlines ways he believes the natural resource curse can be mitigated or even avoided.


Jeffrey Frankel, economist, National Bureau of Economic Research

Haiti: A Country on the Mend

August 09, 2012

Reconstruction of buildings in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Many Haitians have moved out of camps into new houses (Photo:Asael/Corbis)

Two and a half years after the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti, have conditions in the poorest country in the western hemisphere improved? In this podcast, the IMF mission chief for Haiti explains how the country is slowly healing.


Boileau Loko, IMF, Mission chief for Haiti

A New Course for Malawi

August 02, 2012

Fishermen in Malawi. The new IMF loan will help fund social programs to protect the poorest Malawians (Haitao/Newscom)

After a period of high growth between 2007 and 2010 , Malawi’s economic situation took a turn for the worst. Between 2010 and 2011, growth fell two percent from 6 and a half percent. But since April this year, when a new administration took office, the country has been enjoying renewed stability and revitalized relations with partners.


Tsidi Tsikata, IMF, Mission chief for Malawi

Global Downturn Contributes to China Slowdown

July 26, 2012

Selling washing machines in China. Savings need to come down, and the Chinese need to spend more, says Rodlauer (photo: Ryan Pyle/Corbis)

China’s growth is moderating, but it’s not all bad. The IMF’s most recent thinking on the world’s second largest economy


Markus Rodlauer, IMF, Mission chief for China

Breaking the Cycle

July 19, 2012

Cape Town at night (South Africa). Higher investment in public infrastructure is one key of economic development, says Tanoh ( photo: Corbis/Rieger)

Sub-Saharan Africa has come a long way. Ten years ago, it was labeled the “hopeless continent” by one leading publication, but today, Africa is considered by many as a rising power. In this podcast, Thierry Tanoh, who has just left as Vice president of the International Finance Corporation, shares his insights on the prospects for Africa’s development.


Thierry Tanoh, ex-Vice President for sub-Saharan African and Latin American region, International Finance Corporation