Sub-Saharan Africa has made significant inroads in reducing poverty and increasing access to education and health services, but the infrastructure deficit still looms large throughout the region. For many countries, the ability to finance their development needs has become more constrained as public debt has increased rapidly in recent years. In this podcast, Abebe Aemro Selassie says when governments invest in the right types of infrastructure, people are more willing to pay the taxes the government needs to service its debt. Selassie is Director of the IMF's African Department, which has helped organize a special conference in Dakar, Senegal, this week to discuss how countries can continue to address the infrastructure gap while maintaining manageable debt levels.
Following the great economic crises of the 20th century, there were periods of intellectual and political upheaval that ultimately changed economic policy. Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England, argues the 2008 financial crisis should have prompted the same reaction but didn’t. King delivered this year's Per Jacobsson Lecture during the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings and warned the failure to dramatically change our approach to economic policy risks another financial crisis.
Lord Mervyn King is Professor of Economics at New York University and the London School of Economics. He is also author of The End of Alchemy and has a forthcoming book entitled Radical Uncertainty.
Investing in social programs can soften the blow of inequalities and foster more stable societies. In this podcast, we speak with Deborah Greenfield, Deputy Director General for Policy at the International Labour Organization, which was formed one hundred years ago out of the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War 1. And while the work environment has changed dramatically in the past one hundred years, gaining access to basic social programs remains a struggle for far too many workers around the world today. A recent ILO study says more than half the global population lacks healthcare and social security. Greenfield says social protection floors provide important support to workers as they transition into the changing job market.
Read the paper about IMF Engagement on Social Spending,
Somalia is one of the world's most conflict-affected states. Many countries around the world suffer from weak governing institutions, but Somalia was without a functional central government for 20 years. In this podcast, Somalia's Finance Minister, Abdirahman Duale Beileh, says while elections in 2012 have since helped reestablish some of the institutions that bind the country's disparate communities, the road to recovery remains a steep climb. Duale Beileh is also a distinguished artist and songwriter, and we hear his latest song about students struggling to get an education amid violence and social destruction. Abdirahman Duale Beileh was in Washington for the 2019 IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings.
You'll find the webcast of Dr. Beileh's presentation about Effective Engagement in Fragile States at IMF.org.
Link to his song Heestii Dalkani Gurmad Buu Raba
In her first IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings as IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva talks with Foreign Policy Magazine's Ravi Agrawal about breaking down barriers to women's career growth. Georgieva is the first person from an emerging market economy, and only the second woman to lead the IMF since its inception in 1944. In this podcast, Georgieva and Agrawal discuss the economic benefits of gender equality and the societal transformation that is required to correct the injustices of the past.
The dramatic drop in commodity prices in 2014 has had lingering effects in sub-Saharan Africa. One such effect is a growing backlog of payments by governments to service providers, known as arrears. But despite the prevalence of arrears in the region, their causes and consequences are not well understood. The latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa looks at the economic and social impact of increasing arrears in recent years. In this podcast, IMF economists Samuel Delepierre and David Stenzel say domestic arrears can undermine private sector activity and citizens’ trust in the government.
Competition is considered to be an essential driving force of market economies. It’s said to ensure a more efficient allocation of resources and can boost innovation and productivity. But what happens when there isn’t enough competition? The latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa looks at how the lack of competition in the region is hurting the poor and undermining economic growth. In this podcast, IMF economists Reda Cherif and Jesus Gonzalez-Garcia say more competition could lower prices and increase welfare.
Photo: Competition makes the economy work for people. (iStock by Getty images/ Stefan_Ganev)
The Global Financial Stability Report exposes weak spots in the global economy that could amplify the impact of a shock, such as an intensification of trade tensions or rising corporate debt. Fabio Natalucci heads the team of economists who write the GFSR. In this podcast, Natalucci says if current trends continue, debt owed by firms unable to cover interest expenses with earnings, or debt-at-risk, could rise to $19 trillion.
Fabio Natalucci, is Deputy Director in the IMF's Monetary and Capital Markets Department.
Read the IMF BLOG
While elections are one of the most important pillars of democracy, in many African countries they are characterized by uncertainties due to the high risk of electoral violence. Studies often look at ethnic tensions and political cleavages as drivers of electoral violence, but how might gender play into this? IMF economist Rasmane Ouedraogo investigates the impact of gender equality on electoral violence in Africa and finds yet another good reason to increase female labor force participation.
Rasmane Ouedraogo and Idrissa Ouedraogo are coauthors of Gender Equality and Electoral Violence in Africa: Unlocking the Peacemaking Potential of Women
As the average annual global temperature is expected to rise by 4 degrees Celsius or more by 2100, economic output in countries with hot climates continues to fall. And given that most low-income countries are located in hot regions, low-income countries are bearing the brunt of the negative economic costs of climate change even though they contribute very little to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause it. In this podcast, IMF economists Sebastian Acevedo and Natalija Novta say the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters is having a negative impact on growth.
Acevedo and Novta are coauthors of Weather Shocks and Output in Low-Income Countries:Adaptation and the Role of Policies
Migration is on the front burner these days. We hear a lot about people moving from one country to the next, fleeing conflict or seeking a better life. But what about the movement of people within a country? Economist Tamim Bayoumi says a well-functioning economy has people moving around to maximize their own welfare and in turn maximize the system; a basic tenant of market economics. Bayoumi is coauthor of Stranded! How Rising Inequality Suppressed US Migration and Hurt Those “Left Behind. In this podcast, Bayoumi says increasing house price and income inequality has reduced long distance migration, the type most linked to jobs.
Tamim Bayoumi is Deputy Director in the IMF’s Strategy, Policy and Review Department.
July was the hottest month on record according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientific research now indicates more clearly than ever that our growing carbon footprint is warming the planet at an alarming rate and threatening our ecosystems. In this podcast, economist Ralph Chami, and whale conservationist Michael Fishbach, explain the carbon capture potential of whales and how supporting international efforts to restore whale populations around the world is one of the simplest ways to fight climate change.
Ralph Chami’s article Whales Fight Climate Change in the online edition of Finance and Development Magazine.
Being diagnosed with a serious illness is a shock to the system, and treatment and recovery can mean major disruptions in a person’s life. But illness also takes millions of people out of the labor force every year and the quality of the care they receive can determine the extent to which this is a shock to the economy. IMF economist Nicola Pierri, with coauthors Anne-Line Koch Helsø and Adelina Yanyue Wang have published a research paper on The Economic Impact of Healthcare Quality. In this podcast, Pierri says low quality hospitals can wind up being very costly to both people and the economy at large.
In his latest book, Raghuram Rajan takes a close look at the relationship between the state, markets and communities, and argues localism is the answer to globalization. Rajan is a distinguished professor of finance at the University of Chicago, former head of India’s central bank and former Chief Economist at the IMF, where he was invited to talk about The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind
The use of digital technologies is transforming how tax administrations operate, helping to improve efficiency and service delivery. A striking example has been Peru's adoption of electronic invoicing, which allows the automatic transfer of billing information between firms and the tax authority. Drawn by its potential to strengthen tax compliance and reduce costs, Peru is among more than 50 countries around the world to have implemented e-invoicing and many others are preparing to follow suit. IMF economists Salma Khalid and Matthieu Bellon have been studying the impact of Peru's mandatory e-invoicing reform that started back in 2014. Their research paper will be published this fall.
Salma Khalid is an economist in the Western Hemisphere Department and Matthieu Bellon is an economist in the Fiscal Affairs Department at the IMF.
Technological innovation like automation using robots to produce goods and provide services creates tremendous opportunities for businesses. But as the cost of producing robots goes down, is this technology widening the income gap? Economist Arnaud Costinot has been studying technological change and its impact on inequality, and in this podcast, he discusses how a robot tax might help better distribute the benefits of artificial intelligence, or AI technologies. Arnaud Costinot is a Professor of Economics at MIT, and coauthor of Robots, Trade, and Luddism: A Sufficient Statistic Approach to Optimal Technology Regulation. Costinot was invited to present his research at the IMF.
International corporate tax avoidance is a growing concern for both advanced economies and low-income countries. The changing nature of the global economy–notably increasing digitalization, in some cases, is making it easier for firms to shift profits to low-tax countries. Michael Keen is a Deputy Director in the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department, and in this podcast he says the international tax system is under unprecedented stress. Keen was a lead author of a recent IMF policy paper that sets out the current state of the international corporate tax system and explores ways to address some of its shortcomings.
When it comes to environmental policies, Ian Parry argues none are more effective than carbon taxes. Parry, an expert on fiscal policy and climate change at the IMF, says carbon taxes promote a full range of responses for reducing emissions–like switching from coal to clean generation fuels, reducing the demand for electricity, transportation fuels, and so on and can be administratively straightforward to implement. Parry is author of several research papers on carbon taxation and his recent article What Is Carbon Taxation? is published in the June 2019 edition of Finance and Development Magazine.
Ian Parry is the principal environmental fiscal policy expert in the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department.
Global value chains break up the production process so that different steps can be carried out in different countries. In the past, a country had to master the production of a whole manufactured product to export it, which rarely happened. With value chains, a country can specialize in one or several activities in which it has a comparative advantage. In this podcast, David Dollar says he’s seen Asia’s economies transformed by value chains in recent years. Before joining Brookings as Senior Fellow at the China Center, Dollar was World Bank Country Director for China and represented the US Treasury in Beijing. Dollar’s recent article on value chains Invisible Links is published in the June 2019 edition of Finance and Development Magazine.
Check out the Dollar and Sense podcast at Brookings.edu
Debt is at record levels around the world. 40 percent of low-income countries are wrestling with debt distress or high-risk debt levels and for a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa the debt crisis has already materialized. Fanwell Kenala Bokosi is the Executive Director for the African Forum and Network for Debt and Development, or AFRODAD. In this podcast, Bokosi says the nature of Africa’s debt has changed in recent years, making it more difficult to find solutions for debt sustainability problems. Fanwell Bokosi joined a panel on Tackling Debt during the 2019 IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings
The main objective of the Paris agreement signed by 190 countries in 2015, is to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a transition to low emissions economies. A new IMF paper looks at the role of fiscal policies in helping countries implement their climate strategies. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute joined a panel to discuss the paper at the Center for Global Development. Before joining WRI, Steer held senior positions at the World Bank and was the Chief Author of the landmark 1992 World Development Report that placed environmental economics front and center. In this podcast, Steer says carbon emissions need to be dramatically cut from the global economy to avoid dangerous climate change, and carbon pricing can help do that.
Read the paper: Fiscal Policies for Paris Climate Strategies
In 2018, African Union members established the African Continental Free Trade Area in an effort to boost regional trade. They agreed to eliminate tariffs on most goods, liberalize the trade of services and address obstacles to trade between African countries. The African free trade agreement has since been ratified by 22 countries and is likely to take effect later this year. The IMF’s latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa studies the potential impact of the agreement that will establish a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion dollars. In this podcast, economists Reda Cherif and Geremia Palomba say this could be an economic game changer for the continent.
Geremia Palomba is a Deputy Division Chief and Reda Cherif is a Senior Economist in IMF’s African Department.
Nature and economic progress often have a conflicting relationship. In this podcast, lifelong champion of the natural world Sir David Attenborough joins IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde for a tête à tête on how economic growth and the economies of nature can work together to preserve life on earth. While the world’s natural resources make life and industry possible, the demands of a growing economy are putting unsustainable pressures on our climate and vital ecosystems. In his broadcasting career spanning over six decades, Sir David Attenborough has connected people to the wonders of the natural world through visually stunning documentaries like The Blue Planet, and more recently Our Planet; the quintessential guide to the economy of nature. David Attenborough and Christine Lagarde met before a live audience during the IMF World-Bank Spring Meetings.
There is a strong link between the ups and downs of home prices around the world and the global economy. The latest Global Financial Stability Report takes a deep look into what the latest trends in the housing sector might tell us about vulnerabilities within in the financial system. Claudio Raddatz leads the IMF’s Global Financial Stability Analysis team, and in this podcast, he says a high share of financial crisis in recent decades have been preceded by boom-bust patterns in the housing sector.
Read the IMF BLOG
Achieving inclusive growth is one of the critical challenges of our time. In this podcast, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde opens a public discussion between IMF Chief Economist, Gita Gopinath, World Bank Chief Economist, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg and OECD Chief Economist, Laurence Boone, about how to ensure economic growth benefits the many and not only the few. In her introduction, Lagarde points out that it’s a first for these three multilateral institutions to have women Chief Economists at the same time. The seminar entitled Income Inequality Matters took place during the IMF World-Bank Spring Meetings.
Gita Gopinath is the Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department at the IMF.
Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg is the Chief Economist of the World Bank Group.
Laurence Boone is the OECD Chief Economist, G-20 Finance Deputy and Head of the economics department.