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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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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 Jarhan, 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

The Missing Middle

July 13, 2012

Graduation ceremony in New York, U.S. Increasing access to a good education is one way to lessen inequality, says Rajan (Photo: Elder/Corbis)

As the trend towards increasing inequality continues, most attention is focused at the extremes: those who are paid at the top of the pay scale, and others who only manage to scrape by. But a former IMF Chief Economist says we should really be worried about “the missing middle.”


Raghuram Rajan, Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business

New Rules for Everyday Foodies

July 05, 2012

A Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. Cowen encourages readers to be more adventurous about trying new foods (Photo: Karnow/Corbis)

How to find the best tortillas while traveling in Mexico? Why is American food so bad today? Is agribusiness good for the global economy? Prolific author, blogger and economist Tyler Cowen takes on these questions--and many more--in his new book, “An Economist Gets Lunch,” reviewed in June’s F&D magazine.


Tyler Cowen, economist and author of “An Economist Gets Lunch”

Debt Relief for Côte d’Ivoire

June 26, 2012

A cocoa bean. Reform of Côte d’Ivoire’s cocoa industry was one precondition of debt relief (Photo: Zhao Yingquan/Xinhua Press/Corbis)

Côte d’Ivoire has been granted over seven billion dollars in debt relief. This represents more than 60 percent of the country’s external debt, and will help create a more sustainable future.


Doris Ross, IMF mission chief for Côte d’Ivoire

The Moral Limits of Markets

June 20, 2012

Security Line at Reagan National airport, U.S. Money makes it possible to jump queues. But is this desirable? (photo: (Xinhua/Zhang Jun/Corbis)

In California, a prisoner can pay to upgrade his cell, women are paid to carry a pregnancy, businesses pay to advertise on people’s bodies. Is this moral? Sandal believes we need to prevent market values from reaching spheres of life where they don’t belong.


Michael Sandel, Harvard professor and author of “What Money Can’t Buy”

The Quest for Secure Energy

June 14, 2012

A test burn at an exploratory oil well in the North Sea. Energy conservation should be a global priority, says Yergin (Photo: George Steimetz/Corbis)

From the jammed streets of Beijing, China, to the conflicts in the Mideast and on Capitol Hill, the quest to secure energy supplies has shaped global politics and economics, says one of the world’s leading energy experts.


Daniel Yergin, author and energy expert

Reforming the Economic System

June 08, 2012

Buildings in London’s financial district. Financial bubbles are created by perverse incentives, says Wolf (Photo: Image Source/Corbis)

Martin Wolf, columnist for the Financial Times and contributor to the Occupy Handbook, explains the challenges to reforming the economic system.


Martin Wolf, contributor to the “Occupy Handbook”

Grabbing Power, Endangering Growth

May 31, 2012

Occupy protesters in Chicago, U.S. The occupy movement is part of a proud tradition of protests in the U.S., says Robinson (Photo: REUTERS/ Young/Newscom)

Why are some countries rich and others poor? James Robinson argues that the wealth of a country is most closely tied to how far the average person is able to share in its overall economic growth. But he warns that there is always a tendency for a small minority to try and concentrate power and wealth in its hands.


James Robinson, co-author of “Why Nations Fail”

Global Economy Learns to Absorb Oil Price Hikes

May 24, 2012

Pumping oil in California, United States. Over the last decade, the world has been using oil more efficiently (photo: Lowell Georgia/Corbis)

Over the past decade, oil prices have increased fourfold, reaching levels only seen in the 1970s. But the global economy has been resilient in the face of these spikes. Jorg Decressin of the IMF Research Department explains.


Jorg Decressin, IMF Research Department

The Vicious Circle of Inequality

May 17, 2012

Occupy Wall Street protest in New York. “Occupiers” have denounced the rise in inequality over recent years (photo Houston/Newscom)

In the June issue of Finance & Development we review “The Occupy Handbook”.  In this podcast, one of the contributors to the book explains why inequality is at the heart of the global crisis.


Robin Wells, economist and author of “Principles of Economics”

Africa Sustains Growth Despite Global Uncertainty

May 14, 2012

Oil pipelines in Nigeria. One of the chapters of the new report is about how to successfully manage natural resources (photo: George Steinmetz/Corbis)

Despite the weaker global economic environment, sub-Saharan Africa is expected to continue growing strongly in 2012, according to the IMF. In its latest Regional Economic Outlook for Africa, the IMF says the region’s robust growth is because it is relatively isolated from negative factors pulling down many other countries.


Antoinette Sayeh, Director, IMF Africa Department

Foreign Investment Boosts Growth

May 10, 2012

Chinese shoe factory in Nigeria. FDI now makes up an average 5-6 percent of low-income countries' GDP (photo: Qiu Jun/Xinhua Press/Corbis)

Foreign direct investment has been booming globally. In 2007 it reached a peak of $2 trillion. Money from Brazil, Russia, India and China to low-income countries—especially those in sub-Saharan Africa—is flowing especially quickly, fueling growth and development.


Montfort Mlachila, IMF African Department

Okonjo-Iweala on Reforms for African Growth

May 03, 2012

Africa showed great unity by backing her bid for the World Bank presidency, says Okonjo-Iweala (Photo: Ramin Talaie/EPA/Newscom)

Nigeria’s charismatic finance minister talks about Nigeria’s vigorous growth, the reforms Africa needs to continue powering ahead, and that failed bid for the World Bank presidency.


Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Finance Minister, Nigeria

Analyzing Risks to the World Economy

April 27, 2012

Coffee beans in Nicaragua. Falling prices could threaten the economies of commodity-exporting countries, says the IMF (Janet Jarman/Corbis)

We look beyond the headlines of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, and analyze how a potential increase in oil prices, large household debt, or volatile commodity prices could  derail the fragile recovery. Rebecca Kaufman reports.


Olivier Blanchard, Chief Economist, IMF
Rupa Duttagupta, economist, Research Dept
Daniel Leigh, economist, Research Dept

View from the Ground at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings

April 20, 2012

The euro crisis, alongside unemployment, are seem as common threats by reporters from around the world (photo: Orhan Tsolak/Corbis)

Earlier this week, we heard from IMF experts about their expectations for the world economy. Now, with the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings in full gear, we asked journalists from around the world for views. What does the state of the global economy look like, and what do they see are the biggest risks out there?


Timid Global Recovery Faces Threats

April 19, 2012

Collective action is needed to keep crisis at bay, said Lagarde. All countries have to address their issues. (photo: IMF)

The global economy has entered a “timid” recovery but still faces high risks, with some dark clouds on the horizon, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said at the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC.


Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director

Global Outlook Brighter, But Risks Remain

April 17, 2012

Worker holds a handful of oil in Azerbaijan. Rising oil prices could wreak havoc on the global recovery(photo: Remi Benali/Corbis)

Prospects for the global economy are slowly improving, but another crisis in Europe, or a spike in oil prices could undermine the fragile global recovery, warns Olivier Blanchard, Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, in this interview to mark the release of IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook.


Olivier Blanchard, Chief Economist, IMF

Growing Chinese Investment in Africa

April 13, 2012

Foreign engineers on a Chinese oil rig near Port Harcourt (Nigeria). Africa's natural resources are attracting growing Chinese investment (photo: Kratochvil/ Corbis)

Chinese investment in Sub-Saharan Africa has been on the rise in recent years, peaking in 2008 at more than $5 billion dollars. Although not without some controversy, the increasing investment is having a mojor impact on African growth. But will it continue?


Antoinette Sayeh, Director, IMF Africa Dept

Finance and the Good Society

April 05, 2012

Blue mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. Whether to build a hospital or a mosque, we need financing, says Shiller (photo: Tetra images/Corbis)

Many blame the financial sector for the current economic downturn, but in his new book, Robert Shiller aims to change our way of thinking about the much maligned industry.


Robert Shiller, author of “Finance and the Good Society”

Remittances and Foreign Aid for Growth

March 29, 2012

Counting Philippine pesos and U.S. dollars. To maximize the benefit of remittances transaction costs should be cut (photo: Corbis)

Remittances have become an increasingly important source of financing in the developing world. So how can money sent home by migrant workers best be used in the fight against global poverty?


Kangni Kpodar, IMF, Fiscal Affairs Dept

An Ever Closer Union

March 22, 2012

Ivoirian woman selling shea butter in the capital, Abidjan. Cote d’Ivoire is the main motor of growth for the WAEMU (photo: Gouegnon/Corbis)

Despite struggling with the effects of the European debt crisis, political turmoil in Cote d'Ivoire and a severe drought in the Sahel, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) promises to prove its resilience in the coming year. After growing less that 1% in 2011, the IMF estimates growth to rebound to 7% this year.


Herve Joly, IMF, African Dept

IMF Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu on Pacific Challenges

March 21, 2012

Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director, IMF

Ahead of a conference jointly hosted by IMF and the government of Samoa in Apia on March 23, IMF Deputy Managing Director Min Zhu talks about how the Pacific region can promote inclusive growth and build resilience to shocks.


Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director, IMF
Patrizia Tumbarello, Chief, Pacific Islands Unit, IMF

How to Avoid Natural Resources Pitfalls

March 16, 2012

Copper bracelets. Natural resources wealth can help growth but it can also reduce competitiveness, says Nord (Photo: Reed/Corbis)

Over the last few years, many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have benefited from the rise in commodity prices. But being wealthy in natural resources brings its own problems. The IMF is to host a conference in Kinshasa to discuss how these problems might be overcome.


Roger Nord, IMF, African Dept.

Hunger in the Sahel

March 08, 2012

A young nomad squats by his calf in the nomad desert. The people of the Sahel region suffer from chronic food shortages (Photo: Baldizzione/Corbis)

Hunger is a chronic problem in the Sahel. But now a widespread drought has wiped out crops and made the food situation worse. Millions are at risk. Is the international community taking enough notice?


Eric Munoz, Oxfam America
Jacques Higgins, World Food Program
Christian Josz, IMF
Meera Shaka, World Bank
John Staatz, Michigan State University

Drowning in Debt

March 01, 2012

Historically, the foremost creditor nation has shaped the global economy. In the future this role will fall to China, says Coggan

To coincide with the release of March’s Finance & Development, we interview one of the contributors to this quarter’s magazine, Philip Coggan.  In a new book, Coggan argues that the extraordinary rise in debt levels in recent years will reshape our world order.



Philip Coggan
, author of “Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order

Fostering Economic Integration in East Africa

February 24, 2012

Any move toward monetary union would need to be carefully planned, says Shinohara (photo: IMF)

As the East African Community considers an ever closer union, the EAC and the Fund co-host a conference to discuss benefits of regional integration and future macroeconomic challenges faced by the region.


Naoyuki Shinohara, IMF, Deputy Managing Director

Keeping Up Growth in the East African Community

February 23, 2012

Workers near Mamba, Tanzania. The EAC needs to upgrade its infrastructure if it is to sustain growth in the future (Photo: Brecher/Corbis)

Over the last decade, the East African Community has enjoyed some of the fastest growth rates in the world. To continue on its growth path, IMF economists suggest the region can learn lessons from other countries which have enjoyed rapid development.


Catherine McAuliffe, IMF, African Dept.

In the Face of a Food Crisis

February 16, 2012

Millet fields, Niger. A drought has caused crop failure in the Sahel and a widespread food crisis could be next (Photo: Houtryve/VII Network/Corbis)

A drought is threatening to bring hunger to millions of people in the Sahel—a belt of grassland and savanna running across Africa under the Sahara desert. We look at how one country, Mali, is coping with a looming food emergency.


Christian Josz, IMF, Africa Dept.

Paying for Infrastructure in Africa

February 09, 2012

Highway construction in Kenya. New sources of funding for infrastructure in Africa can bring their own problems (photo: Corbis/Xinhua/Zhao Yingquan)

Africans suffer some of the weakest infrastructure in the world—a reality holding the continent back from further growth and prosperity. For decades, governments in the region had few options for funding major infrastructure projects. It's all different now. But that's not necessarily a good thing.


Andrew Berg, IMF Research dept.

Postcard from Poland

January 31, 2012

A woman cycles past the Warsaw stock exchange: Poland's stable banking system and high growth are the envy of its neighbors (photo: Newscom)

Poland was granted a precautionary loan under the IMF's Flexible Credit Line in 2010 but hasn't needed to draw on the funds. How did Poland manage to weather the global crisis with some of the highest growth rates in Europe?


Mark Allen, IMF representative for eastern and central Europe

IMF Marks Down Global Growth Forecast

January 24, 2012

Without strong growth it is difficult to address unemployment. “High growth is the only way,” says Blanchard (photo: IMF)

The International Monetary Fund has sharply cut its forecast for world growth this year. In an interview to mark the publication of an update to its World Economic Outlook, the Chief Economist to the IMF, Olivier Blanchard, said the euro area is likely to fall into a mild recession affecting the rest of the world. Jennifer Beckman reports.


Olivier Blanchard, Chief Economist, IMF

The Battle against Corruption

January 19, 2012

Rally during Tunisia's first free elections in Oct 2011 following years of corruption and authoritarianism (photo: Giuliano Koren/Corbis)

Corruption exists the world over, but it affects developing countries disproportionately. One economist points to the role played by the political order. He says some systems of government are better able to fend off corruption.


Rabah Arezki, economist, IMF

Doing Business in Kenya

January 12, 2012

A reserve guide talks on his mobile. The IT revolution has created new opportunities says Gathitu (photo: Richard T. Nowitz/Corbis)

Kenya, one of Africa's most dynamic economies, has been powered by a boom in the Information Technology sector. Kariuku Gathitu is a young Kenyan entrepreneur and founder of a software company specializing in mobile money transfers. In this podcast, he shares his insights about doing business in one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.


Kariuki Gathitu, Zege Technologies, Kenya

African Growth Hanging in the Balance

January 06, 2012

Gold bar in Ghana. Primary products remain Africa's main exports but price volatility could reduce profits, says Nord (photo: Max Milligan/Corbis)

Most African countries are expected to continue growing in 2012. But grim economic prospects in many parts of the world threaten this positive outlook. Roger Nord of the IMF's African Department identifies the challenges facing Africa this year.


Roger Nord, IMF, Africa department

The IMF and the Stormy Decade

December 28, 2011

Celebrating the new year in Berlin in 1990. The fall of the Berlin wall ushered in an era of economic reforms in Eastern Europe (Corbis/Wolfgang Kumm)

The 1990s was a momentous time for the IMF. The organization oversaw the transition of many former Eastern bloc countries into market economies, played an important role in the aftermath of major capital account crises, all the while, introducing historic reforms back at headquarters. The IMF’s official historian talks about this tumultuous era


James Boughton, IMF, historian

IMF Chief Travels to Africa

December 15, 2011

"I am going [to Africa] to listen, and to appreciate what is expected of us," says Lagarde ahead of her visit to the continent(IMF/Michael Spilotro)

Christine Lagarde is set to visit Africa for the first time since her appointment as Managing Director of the IMF. In this podcast, she explains the purpose of her trip to Nigeria and Niger and the deep partnership between the IMF and the continent.


Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director

Preventing Famine

December 15, 2011

Young Somali woman holding her malnourished child. The famine has affected thousands in the region (Stuart Price/UN/handout)

After the dire food shortages almost 25 years ago in Ethiopia, American aid helped implement an early warning system aimed at forecasting likely food emergencies. So why wasn't the disaster in the Horn of Africa foreseen?


Mwangi Kimenyi, Brookings Institute
Josette Sheeran, UN World Food Program
Ray Offenheiser, Oxfam America
Njuguna Ndung'u, Kenyan Central Bank Governor

Unequal = Indebted

December 08, 2011

Food lines during the Great Depression (1930). Kumhof sees similarities between the great depression and the current crisis. (Bettman/CORBIS)

For the last three decades, in many countries, the rich have become ever richer, while the vast majority have seen their incomes stagnate. This increasing income inequality has been coupled with ever greater debt burdens. How did we get to this point? IMF economists believe they have some answers, drawing a link between higher inequality and increased debt.


Michael Kumhof, IMF Research Dept

Growing Together

December 01, 2011

A microcredit client on the phone. Access to microcredit is an important part of inclusive growth, says economist Francois Bourguignon (Phillipe Lissac/Corbis)

Does economic growth improve life for all? Many economists are coming to the conclusion that rather than simply growing the economic pie, we need to consider how the economic pie is shared. So how to ensure that we all grow together?


François Bourguignon : Paris School of Economics
Rodrigo Garcia-Verdu: IMF
Joseph Stiglitz: Columbia university
Ray Offenheiser: Oxfam America
Josette Sheeran: United Nations World Food Program
Alun Thomas: IMF

China Rising

November 23, 2011

Sunrise over Pudong (Shanghai). China could be the world's next economic superpower, says Subramanian (Paul Hardy/Corbis)

China is swiftly closing in on the United States as the world's largest economy. The Asian nation's growth rate is several times that of the US, and China's economy could be the world's largest within a decade, according to Arvind Subramanian. In a new book, he envisages a world dominated by China's overwhelming economic power.


Arvind Subramanian, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

More Inequality, Less Growth

November 22, 2011

Protester in New York. One of the leading issues fuelling the Occupy Wall Street movement is rising inequality (Julie Dermansky/Corbis)

Over the last three decades, in many parts of the world, the rich have got much richer, while just about everyone else has had very modest income growth. In this podcast, two IMF economists warn that inequality undermines growth.


Jonathan Ostry and Andrew Berg, IMF, Research Dept.

Keynes: The Man, The Message

November 17, 2011

Keynes—photographed here in 1938—spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking (Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS)

To coincide with the release of her new book, "Grand Pursuit: the Story of Economic Genius", reviewed in this December's "Finance and Development" magazine, we interview author Sylvia Nasar and historian Robert Skidelsky on a key figure of modern economics, John Maynard Keynes.


Sylvia Nasar, author
Robert Skidelsky, historian

Banerjee: Moving Beyond Agriculture

November 10, 2011

Rice farming in Senegal. Poor countries should diversify their economy away from agriculture to achieve higher growth, says Banerjee (Philippe Lissac/Godong/Corbis)

In recent months, the cost of basic staples has increased sharply, leaving many low-income countries struggling to buy food for their populations. What can poor countries can do to protect their people from surging food prices?


Abhijit Banerjee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Combating Youth Unemployment in Africa

November 03, 2011

Young men selling snacks in the market. A lack of skills traps many young Africans in low productivity jobs (Yannick Tylle/Corbis)

Worldwide, the rate of unemployment among people aged 15–24 years old, stands at over 13 percent, according to the International Labor Organization.


Mwase Nkunde: IMF
Shantayanan Devarajan: World bank
John May: World bank
Eduardo Bos: World Bank
Johannes Muller: IMF

Promoting Growth-for-All

October 27, 2011

Farmer in Ethiopia. Agricultural investment would help reduce poverty, promote growth-for-all, says Thomas (Michael Hanson/Corbis)

Over the last decade, many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced much higher growth than in the past. But have those gains been shared equally by all? Two Fund economists discuss how far economic growth in Africa has improved the lives of the poor.


Rodrigo Garcia-Verdu and Alun Thomas, IMF, African Dept.

Africa: Steady Growth, with Threat of Faster Inflation

October 19, 2011

Crane loads cocoa shipment in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire: strong commodity prices are helping to support growth in sub-Saharan Africa (photo: Luc Gnago/Reuters)

The IMF is optimistic about the prospects for Sub-Saharan Africa, and expects regional growth to be around 5 percent in the coming year. But commodity price swings, inflation and the risk of a global downturn threaten this outlook. The Director of the IMF's Africa Department identifies the latest key economic trends in the region and how they will affect its people.


Antoinette Sayeh, Director, IMF African Dept

IMF Opens New Technical Center

October 14, 2011

Coconut palm in Mauritius. This island nation, off the southeast coast of Africa, will host the IMF's new training center (Ocean/Corbis)

The IMF has opened a new technical assistance center in Mauritius which will allow member countries in southern Africa to leverage IMF know-how. The opening of the African Regional Technical Assistance Center South (Afritac) is in response to growing demand for IMF expertise.


Antoinette Sayeh, Director, IMF African Dept

Politics and Good Management of Natural Wealth

October 13, 2011

Presidential palace, Senegal. Governments determine whether their people benefit from their resource wealth, says Ross (Bernard Desjeux/CORBIS)

There are many economic pitfalls associated with being a resource-rich country: high inflation, Dutch disease, and volatile commodity prices, to name a few. But there are also political dangers. A top political scientist explains why political factors are as important as the economic.


Michael Ross, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Ghana: Sharing Out the Oil Wealth

October 06, 2011

Ghanaian president, John Atta Mills turns valve to allow the first barrel of crude oil to flow from its offshore oil field (AFP photo /Pius Utomi Ekpei)

The discovery of oil off the coast of Ghana back in 2007 was met with joy in the country. But Ghana was also determined not to fall victim to the corruption and conflict which has bedeviled other oil-rich countries. So, four years on, how much progress has this west African country made?


Mohammed Amin Adam, "Publish What You Pay, Ghana"

Stiglitz: Why We Need Inclusive Growth

September 29, 2011

Growth without inclusiveness can lead to instability, says Stiglitz who argues for a more holistic view of growth (Orjan F. Ellingvag/Corbis)

For over half a century, gross domestic product has been used as the single most important measure of a country’s progress. But, according to Joseph Stiglitz, GDP fails to reflect a nation’s overall well-being. The Nobel laureate argues for more inclusive growth.


Joseph Stiglitz, Economist, Columbia University

World Food Program Head on Horn of Africa Famine

September 24, 2011

Men queue for food aid in Somalia. Sheeran met famine victims who had walked for days to access aid. (Boris Roessler/dpa/Corbis)

Severe droughts, combined with an increase in the global prices for basic staples, have led to desperate food shortages in the Horn of Africa. In this podcast, Josette Sheeran, the head of the United Nations World Food Program describes the conditions she witnessed during her recent visit to the region.


Josette Sheeran, United Nations World Food Program

Paul Collier on Undoing the Resource Curse

September 23, 2011

A copper mine in DRC. Commodity wealth needs to be saved and invested to smooth consumption and global shocks, says Collier (Olivier Polet/Corbis)

Low-income countries rich in natural resources have performed worse economically than might be expected, falling prey to conflict, corruption, or overdependence on that resource. Paul Collier, a leading academic in the field of development, believes countries can learn from the past to successfully ride "the commodity tiger."


Paul Collier, University of Oxford

Helping Poor Countries Tackle Commodity Price Volatility

September 19, 2011

School feeding programs are one way to protect the most vulnerable from the effects of commodity price volatility (Anthony Asael/Art in All of Us/Corbis)

In recent years, commodity prices have surged and fallen dramatically. To try and help low-income countries who have been hit hard by this volatility, the IMF has developed a new tool to anticipate the impact of price fluctuations.Further infomation click for more


Hugh BredenkampIMF, Strategy, Policy and Review Dept

Managing the Pain of Fiscal Consolidation

September 08, 2011

Protests in Ireland against budget cuts. The need to cut deficits must be set against the cost to the most vulnerable(photo: Douglas O’Connor/Demotix)

After years of falling tax revenues and increasing spending, governments are now facing the prospect of having to slash, often record, deficits. In this podcast, to coincide with an article in the latest issue of Finance & Development magazine, the IMF’s Prakash Loungani explains who’s hit hardest in the face of government cutbacks.


Prakash Loungani, Advisor, IMF Research Dept

Harnessing Diasporas

September 02, 2011

Money sent by Africans living abroad aids spending and investment when it is sent back home (photo: Philippe Lissac/Godong/Corbis)

For the September issue of Finance & Development magazine, Dilip Ratha, a leading economist on migration, looks at the contribution made by overseas Africans, and presents a strategy to harness the wealth and skills of this powerful group.


Dilip Ratha, Economist, Migration and Remittances Unit, World Bank

IMF Responds to Horn of Africa Disaster

August 24, 2011

A young Somali victim of the drought in the Horn of Africa. The disaster has already claimed tens of thousands of lives (photo: EPA/Abukar Albadri/Corbis)

Severe droughts are gripping the Horn of Africa, leaving millions needing emergency assistance. Antoinette Sayeh, director of the Africa Department at the IMF, speaks about the Fund’s response to the crisis.


Antoinette Sayeh, Director, IMF, African Dept

The Rise of Inequality

August 18, 2011

Japanese woman passes a homeless man in Tokyo, Japan. Inequality has increased around the world (photo:Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Corbis)

Inequality is on the rise. Globally, the gap between the rich and the rest has been growing. This September's Finance and Development magazine takes up the theme of inequality. It includes an article by economist and author of a history of global inequality, Branko Milanovic. He explains some of the reasons for the increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots.


Branko Milanovic, Author of "The Haves and Have-Nots"

New MD Sets Out Work Priorities

July 06, 2011

Christine Lagarde, the IMF's first-ever female MD, faces the press at the beginning of her five-year tenure as the Fund's new chief (photo:IMF)

During her first ever news conference as the IMF's new Managing Director, Christiane Lagarde said that the challenges facing the global economy prompted her to take up her duties immediately. Speaking to journalists, she explained what she saw as the priorities confronting the Fund.


Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director

Turning the Curse Into a Blessing - Part 2

July 06, 2011

Diamond valuing in Botswana. Countries such as Ghana and Botswana have institutions that manage their natural wealth (photo: Juda Ngwenya/Reuters/Corbis)

Natural resource wealth can be a double-edged sword. So how can countries avoid the "curse" which may accompany their natural wealth? In the second of this two-part series, we explore the conditions, which contribute to the successful management of natural resources, and can lead to economic growth.


Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University
Roger Nord, IMF
Philip Daniel, IMF

Cursed by Natural Wealth- Part 1

June 30, 2011

Mining for sapphires. Resource wealth can be a huge boon for a country, or a cause of war and conflict (photo: Frantz Lanting/Corbis)

Historically, countries rich in natural resources have had slower growth than resource-poor countries. This paradox has often been attributed to the "natural resource curse." In the first of this two-part series, we look at the reasons behind this "curse," and investigate why natural resources often fail to create prosperity.


Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University
Leslie Lipschitz: IMF institute
Roger Nord, IMF

IMF in Fight Against Money Laundering

June 28, 2011

Bus destroyed in 2005 UK bomb attacks. Terrorists abuse the financial system to achieve their destructive ends (photo: Peter Macdiarmid/epa/Corbis)

Each year billions of dollars in proceeds from criminal activity are "laundered." It is estimated that the amounts involved could be as much as two to five percent of the world's GDP. In this podcast, a member of the IMF explains how the Fund is contributing to the international fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.


Jody Myers, IMF Legal Dept
Moderator: Jacob Fenston

Spreading the Wealth

June 24, 2011

Mozambican woman harvests rice. Greater agricultural productivity could mean more shared wealth (photo: Adrian Arbib/CORBIS)

Mozambique has had one of highest growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades. But the increased riches aren't being enjoyed by all. The government is now aiming for "inclusive growth"—something which the IMF is increasingly pursuing in ITS work in Sub-Saharan Africa. But what is "inclusive growth", and how to achieve it?


Johannes Mueller, IMF African Dept
Moderator: Jacob Fenston

Shaken to the Core

June 10, 2011

Japan is a major supplier of microcontrollers used in cars. The quake hit the global supply of vehicles (photo: Koichi Kamoshida/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

Japan's earthquake and tsunami earlier this year sent economic reverberations around the globe. As the Japanese begin the long process of rebuilding, and to coincide with an article to be published in June's Finance and Development magazine, one IMF economist offers his thoughts on how the world's third largest economy might use this opportunity to secure its long-term fiscal future.


Kenneth Kang, IMF Asia Dept
Moderator: Hyun-Sung Khang, IMF

Financial Institutions—Too Big Not to Fail

June 07, 2011

Traders on the Sao Paulo futures market during the recent financial crash. "Failure is not an option in the financial sector" Harford (photo: Sebastiao Moreira/epa/Corbis)

Failure is not necessarily a bad thing, according to Tim Harford. In his new book, Adapt, reviewed in the IMF's F&D magazine, Harford argues the world is so complex that only through trial and error can we find solutions to the problems confronting us. In conversation with Simon Johnson, Harford says we need to allow more room for failure in the financial sector.


Tim Harford, Financial Times economics correspondent
Simon Johnson, Former IMF chief economist

The Costs of Aging

June 03, 2011

Elderly Chinese woman takes photo with her mobile phone. The picture of China's population will, in future, look very different (photo: Tim Graham/Corbis)

China has a swelling elderly population. People over the age of 60 now account for 13.3% of the population, up nearly 3% since 2000—a trend fueled, in part, by the one-child policy. To mark the "Costs of Aging" theme in the June issue of Finance & Development magazine, we look at the implications of growing numbers of elderly in the world's most populous nation.


Philip O'Keefe , Lead Economist for China, World Bank
Moderator, Jacob Fenston

Putting the Poor Front and Center

May 27, 2011

Why might this cattle herder turn down a microcredit loan? Duflo says we need to better understand the motivations of the poor (photo: Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis)

Policies designed to pull the poor out of poverty can end up being, at worst, ineffective, at best, actively harmful. Developmental economist, Esther Duflo believes that just as one would test a new drug, social policy ideas should be subject to randomized control trials.


Esther Duflo, Poverty Action Lab, MIT
Moderator:, Hyun-Sung Khang

Experimenting with Failure

May 20, 2011

Children on a merry-go-round which pumps water underground. Playpumps illustrate the need to experiment says Harford (photo: Gideon Mendel/Corbis)

"Success always starts with failure" suggests Tim Harford, author of a new book entitled "Adapt". In this conversation with former IMF Chief Economist, Simon Johnson, Harford explains why the path to success often involves failure, experimentation, and adaptation.


Tim Harford, Financial Times economics correspondent
Simon Johnson, Former IMF Chief Economist