Studying the market for salt in 19th century India and the effects on trade of a railroad built 150 years ago led economist Dave Donaldson to important new findings that are relevant today. Donaldson was the 2017 John Bates Clark Medalist, awarded for the most significant contributions by an economist under the age of 40. In this podcast, Donaldson talks about his work on trade and how it benefits economic welfare.
A profile of Dave Donaldson, Sherlock of Trade is featured in the June 2018 edition of Finance and Development Magazine.
Dave Donaldson is professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As economic advisor to the government of India, Arvind Subramanian helped design the country’s goods and services tax. In July of last year, the national GST replaced the patchwork of value-added, sales, and excise taxes levied by 29 states and the federal government. In this podcast, Subramanian discusses the benefits of the new tax with the IMF’s Chris Wellisz. He says the tax helped create a single internal market for the first time since independence. Their conversation is also featured in the June 2018 edition of Finance and Development Magazine.
Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Advisor to the government of India
Estonians rarely stand in line for anything anymore. Estonia ranks among the most digitally advanced countries in the world and virtually all government services are now offered online. Estonia is also where Skype was born. In this podcast, Estonia’s Chief Information Officer, Siim Sikkut talks about how technology has transformed Estonia’s economy, and an e-residency program that is wooing more start-ups. Read more about Estonia’s remarkable digitalization process in the March 2018 issue of Finance and Development Magazine.
Siim Sikkut is Estonia’s Chief Information Officer.
With public debt on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa, boosting the private sector has become more important than ever. Zhi Yong Heng is a private investor for TLG Capital, an investment firm that focusses on equity opportunities in Africa. In this podcast, Heng says investors are missing out on great investment opportunities because of misperceptions of the risks and the business environment in the region. The latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa devotes an entire chapter on private investment.
Zhi Yong Heng is Head of Special Situations at TLG Capital
The latest Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa shows a modest uptick in growth largely driven by stronger global growth and higher commodity prices. In this podcast the IMF’s Papa N’Diaye, says it’s time to implement reforms that will firm up the recovery. The study shows growth picking up from 2⅔ percent in 2017 to 3½ percent in 2018. N’Diaye heads the team of IMF economists who write the report and he says the uptick is good news for the region which has been experiencing a slowdown in economic growth over the last few years.
When people trust their government, good things happen. They’re much more likely to pay their taxes and support those large infrastructure investment projects that help economic growth. A new IMF paper on the institution’s role in governance issues shows that high corruption means less growth and more inequality. In this podcast, Lea Giménez Duarte talks about how Paraguay has benefited from a transparency law introduced in 2015. Giménez Duarte is Paraguay’s first ever woman finance minister, and joined a panel about transparency and corruption during the IMF World-Bank Spring Meetings.
Lea Giménez Duarte is Paraguay’s Finance Minister
The Global Financial Stability Report, or GFSR, is published twice a year and looks at the risks facing the global financial system. The objective is to prevent future crises by highlighting policies that might help mitigate some of those risks. In this podcast, the IMF’s Fabio Natalucci suggests investors stay attuned to risks associated with rising interest rates and protectionism. Natalucci heads the team of economists who write the overview chapter of the GFSR. The report also looks at crypto-assets for the first time.
Fabio Natalucci, is a Deputy Director in the IMF's Monetary and Capital Markets Department.
While the word hack sounds nefarious there’s nothing sinister about a hackathon. It is a creative brainstorming event that brings together people from the private sector, government, academia, civil society and technical experts to devise solutions to help governments raise revenues. In this podcast, economist Katherine Baer talks about her recent experience in hackathons in Senegal, Uganda and Ivory Coast, and how new technologies can help those governments collect more taxes.
Katherine Baer, Division Chief, IMF Fiscal Affairs department.
Economic shocks and climate change increase the risk of conflict. If current trends continue, 80 percent of the world’s poorest people will live in fragile states by the year 2030. This means the work of development will increasingly be about how to prevent conflict and how to achieve positive change in post-conflict and fragile states. In this podcast, DfID’s chief economist Rachel Glennerster, says economists need to get better at understanding these risks and predicting conflict. Before joining the UK’s Department for International Development, Glennerster was Executive Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. She was invited to speak at the IMF where she once worked as an economist.
Rachel Glennerster, Chief Economist of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development- DfID.
Some economists would argue that extreme weather can increase criminal behavior by reducing incomes—especially in the agriculture sector. But in this podcast, economist Gordon McCord says the psychological effect of higher temperatures on violent behavior plays a prominent role. McCord is coauthor of a study that uses data from homicides in Mexico spanning 15 years, and considers the impact of a cash transfer program on reducing interpersonal violence on hot days. He presented his research at the 2018 American Economic Association’s Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.
Promoting gender equality can be an economic game changer. The IMF’s latest economic review of Nigeria’s economy says closing the gender gap would mean higher growth and productivity, and greater economic stability. In this podcast, IMF economist and coauthor, Monique Newiak, says Nigerian women could help transform the economy given the chance. The report says Nigeria suffers from wide-spread gender inequality and is therefore missing out on a key ingredient to economic success. Newiak says reducing gender inequality could boost growth by one and one-quarter percent on average.
Monique Newiak, is an economist in the IMF’s Africa department and coauthor of Nigeria’s latest economic review, that includes a study on The Macroeconomic Costs of Gender Inequality in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s economy is picking up according to the IMF’s latest economic review. Growth hit 0.8 percent in 2017 after contracting by 1.6 percent in 2016. The report attributes the increase—in part—to the recent recovery in oil prices. But as the country emerges from recession, the IMF’s Amine Mati says following through on planned reforms regardless of oil price swings and upcoming elections, is key to lifting Nigeria’s growth rates to where they should be. Mati heads the IMF team for Nigeria and oversaw this latest economic assessment.
Amine Mati, International Monetary Fund's mission chief and senior resident representative in Nigeria.
Major discoveries of oil and gas deposits have always been cause for celebration in developing countries, in anticipation of the potential financial windfall. But research has shown that countries with abundant revenues from natural resources often tend to have less economic growth and more social problems than do non-resource-rich countries. And in this podcast, World Bank economist James Cust says in many cases, economic growth begins to underperform long before the first drop of oil is ever produced. Cust and David Mihalyi of the Natural Resource Governance Institute, coauthored The Presource Curse, published in the December 2017 edition of the IMF’s Finance and Development magazine.
James Cust is an economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for Africa at the World Bank and an external research associate at the University of Oxford.
Incomes for Europe’s youth declined after the 2007 global financial crisis—largely due to unemployment. And while things have recovered somewhat, the trend toward short-term work and less stable jobs has meant incomes have not grown and young people are now more likely to fall into poverty. Meanwhile, Europeans 65 and older have seen incomes increase by 10 percent. New research by IMF staff looks at this Growing Inequality and Poverty Across Generations in Europe, and how it could have long term effects on Europe’s economy. In this podcast, coauthor Alexander Pitt says when the young are better off, we’re all better off.
Alexander Pitt, Senior Economist in the IMF’s European department, and co-author of A Dream Deferred: Inequality and Poverty Across Generations in Europe.
In the new world of lower commodity prices, many sub-Saharan African countries are having to diversify their economies. And while sub-Saharan Africa has had periods of rapid growth, the process by which workers move from low-productivity jobs to better paying higher productivity jobs has been slower than in other regions. The IMF’s latest Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa devotes an entire chapter to studying the potential benefits of a stepped-up diversification agenda. In this podcast, co-author Axel Schimmelpfennig says Africa’s young entrepreneurs should be at the heart of the diversification process.
Axel Schimmelpfennig, IMF Mission Chief for Uganda
Populism has become a bit of a buzz word of late. It’s often at the very center of debates about politics and elections. But what about the economic implications of populism? That was the subject of a seminar at this year’s American Economic Association’s Annual Meeting. The panel was organized by the IMF’s Antonio Spilimbergo, and included economic heavyweights Dani Rodrik, Raghuram Rajan, and political scientist Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser. In this Podcast, Kaltwasser says populism is creeping into economic policy.
Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser is an Associate Professor in Political Science at Diego Portales University in Chile, and co-author of Populism: A Very Short Introduction.
While technology is reshaping economies around the world, a recent book published by the World Bank suggests developing countries are missing out on a huge opportunity. In this podcast, economist William Maloney, says the potential returns on investment into Research and Development by developing countries are astounding, and could dwarf international aid flows. Yet, developing country firms and governments invest very little toward realizing this potential. Maloney is Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the World Bank Group, and co-author of The Innovation Paradox. He was a guest lecturer at the IMF’s Developing Economies Seminar Series.
William F. Maloney is Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions in the World Bank Group
There are many layers to development. Sometimes there’s a need where the solution is not at all obvious. But other times it’s simply about connecting the dots- when the solution is available but out of reach due to the lack of infrastructure like roads, power lines or telephone wires. Technology is helping connect those dots more than ever before, and the phenomenon has come to be known as leapfrogging. In this podcast, we hear from the people behind Zipline, a start-up that uses drones to make emergency blood deliveries to remote clinics in Rwanda.
Gross domestic product, or GDP, is the one statistic that almost everyone knows is used to measure economic growth. But in this podcast, economist Diane Coyle suggests GDP may be a poor measure of prosperity. With all the technological advances in recent years one would expect that economies have become more productive. But when measured in GDP the numbers show the opposite is true. Coyle refers to this phenomenon as the productivity puzzle, and says the mismeasurement of digital activities within the economy has a lot to do with it. Coyle is Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester, and spoke at the IMF Statistical forum on Measuring the Digital Economy.
Read her blog The Enlightened Economist
2 years after 195 countries came together under the Paris Agreement to combat the effects of climate change, leading climate economist Nicholas Stern remains cautiously optimistic. In his landmark report on the impact of climate change published in 2006, Stern warned that the cost of inaction would be far greater for future generations than the costs of actions taken to reduce carbon emissions. In this podcast, Stern says while the world “passed the test” when signing the Paris Agreement, he worries that policy makers will not act quickly enough. Stern joined a panel discussion on the economic and financial issues related to climate change at the IMF World-Bank Annual meetings.
Nicholas Stern, Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics, and Chairman of its Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
Blockchain technology is a shared, public ledger of transactions that’s open to inspection but not subject to any form of central control. And while it offers potential for a variety of applications, its most famous is providing the platform for virtual currencies like bitcoin. Peter Smith is co-founder and CEO of Blockchain, and in this podcast, he talks about the evolution of crypto currency financial systems and what it could mean for big data analytics. Smith was the keynote speaker at the IMF’s Fifth Statistical forum on Measuring the Digital Economy.
Peter Smith, co-founder and CEO of Blockchain.
For much of the past century the 9 to 5 job with benefits at a firm was what most people associated with financial stability. But as technology reshapes the labor market, more people are branching out on their own. A new report by Freelancers Union says freelancers will be the majority of the US workforce within 10 years if the current trend continues. In this podcast, Sara Horowitz, Executive Director of Freelancers Union, says freelancers are adapting to the changing nature of work.
In September 2017, the Caribbean was hit by the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. Irma’s 185 mile per hour winds left several countries devastated. During a seminar on sovereign debt at the IMF World-Bank Annual meetings, Grenada’s Prime Minister and chair of CARICOM, Keith Mitchell, said catastrophe risk insurance could help vulnerable countries mitigate some of the risk from increasingly severe weather patterns.
Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada and chair of the Caribbean Community CARICOM
When the government of India last year declared that much of its currency in circulation would cease to be legal tender, digital transactions surged. Mobile payment platforms like PayTM stepped in to fill the void, and in the process are providing financial services to millions of people unable to open a traditional bank account. In this podcast, PayTM’s Madhur Deora, says financial technology is having an impact on India’s development. Deora joined a seminar about Fintech, during the IMF World-Bank Annual Meetings.
Madhur Deora, PayTM Chief Financial Officer
The IMF's latest regional economic outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa suggests the broad-based slowdown in sub-Saharan Africa is easing. In this podcast, co-author Jarek Wieczorek, says growth is up slightly from last year, but so is public debt. "If we maintain the trend we saw in the last 3 years, the debt will become unsustainable in many sub-Saharan African countries.”
Contributors: Jarek Wieczorek, Head of the Regional Studies Division in the IMF’s African Department