Recent political and social unrest in some emerging and developing countries may have idiosyncratic features. But they also have a common denominator: a yearning for more equality in incomes, economic self-determination, and political power. Are these developments in seemingly unrelated emerging economies the beginning of a trend? Simple—some would say simplistic!—empirical evidence suggests that this […]
We’ve just updated our latest assessment of the state of government finances, debts, and deficits in advanced and emerging economies. Fiscal adjustment is continuing in the advanced economies at a speed that is broadly appropriate, and roughly what we projected three months ago. In emerging economies there’s a pause in fiscal adjustment this year and next, but this too is […]
When it comes to adjusting public spending, getting the balance right is important. Fiscal adjustment is taking place in economies around the world, but risks remain high. Bringing debt and deficits down to more moderate levels is important to easing risks. From one perspective, the sooner this happens, the better. But, slashing budgets too abruptly […]
The IMF has argued for some time that the very high public debt ratios in many advanced economies should be brought down to safer levels through a gradual and steady process. Doing either too little or too much both involve risks: not enough fiscal adjustment could lead to a loss of market confidence and a […]
In the midst of jittery financial markets, and global economic doom and gloom, it’s easy to become pessimistic. Perhaps too much so; amid what seems like a steady drum beat of bad news, one can lose sight of what has been achieved over the last couple of years. Public debt and fiscal deficits in many […]
In Sao Paulo, Brazil last Friday we launched our latest assessment of the state of government finances, debts and deficits. While many countries are slogging through a tough fiscal time, there is some good news, including in the United States ̶ the deficit will be lower this year than previously expected. I will also give […]
You hear a lot these days—not least from me—about the fiscal problems of advanced economies. But let’s not forget the fiscal problems that low-income countries face, though they are of a different kind.
For all too many low-income countries, government tax revenues are far from enough to meet the needs of their people. Some have made good progress, and this helped them weather the crisis better than many advanced economies—but there is an underlying, quiet crisis of inadequately resourced governments.
Undertaking a sizable fiscal adjustment is a lot like driving up a tall mountain: it’s hard work, it can take a long time, and you don’t want to run out of fuel partway up the incline.Countries are starting the climb, cutting back government deficits and debt levels, but according to our analysis often current plans aren’t enough to get countries where they need and want to go.
As we said in the just-published Fiscal Monitor update, fiscal policy this year in some leading advanced economies is shaping up to be quite different from what was expected just last November.
How can governments have their cake and eat it too? How can fiscal policy provide sufficient support to economic activity, and reassure markets that fiscal solvency is not at risk? The poor state of fiscal accounts of most advanced countries calls for austere fiscal policies, before the confidence crisis that is now hitting a few small advanced economies spreads to the larger ones. But not right now: a frontloaded adjustment—that is a tightening that is not gradual but falls disproportionately early in the adjustment phase—could destabilize the recovery.