Hanming Fang, Quanlin Gu, Wei Xiong, Li-An Zhou, 27 May 2015

China has experienced a decade-long housing market boom, with the market being compared to the housing bubbles of Japan in the 1980s and the US in the 2000s. This column uses data on mortgage loans in 120 cities to investigate whether the Chinese housing market might trigger a financial crisis. Although price growth rates are comparable to those experienced by Japan prior to its bubble, substantial income growth and high mortgage down payment ratios helped support the steady participation of low-income households. A high expectation of future income growth, however, might have been a key driver of price-to-income ratios, and this may not be sustainable.

Andreas Müller, Kjetil Storesletten, Fabrizio Zilibotti, 27 May 2015

In the policy circles, there are confronting positions regarding Greece’s assistance programme and the structural reforms it should implement. This column argues that the best response is pragmatism and sequential compromise. Efficiency requires an assistance programme providing the country with debt relief with an intervention of an institution such as the IMF. Thus, misconceived economic principles could bring large welfare losses for Greece and renewed financial instability in the Eurozone.

Biagio Bossone, Marco Cattaneo, 26 May 2015

Introducing a currency in parallel to the euro could help Greece repay its external debt and resume economic activity. This second column in a two-part series evaluates the different options and their effects on aggregate demand and fiscal sustainability. The authors propose a tax credit certificates programme, which they argue could generate new spending capacity and avoid the adoption of new austerity measures.

Olivier Blanchard, 25 May 2015

On 15-16 April 2015, the IMF organised the third conference on ‘Rethinking Macro Policy’. In this column, IMF’s Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard presents his personal takeaways from the conference. Though progress in macro policy is undeniable, confusion is unavoidable given the complex issues that remain to be settled. 

Biagio Bossone, Marco Cattaneo, 25 May 2015

To prevent it from defaulting on its debt, the Greek government might need to introduce a new domestic currency, in parallel to the euro. This column, the first in a two-part series, compares the current proposals for a parallel currency and discusses how such a policy instrument could promote economic recovery.

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