Global economy

Aqib Aslam, Emine Boz, Eugenio Cerutti, Marcos Poplawski-Ribeiro, Petia Topalova, 13 February 2017

A growing literature aims to understand the remarkable slowdown in global trade growth in recent years. This column discusses a chapter in the IMF’s October 2016 World Economic Outlook on the drivers of the trade slowdown, and compares the findings to those of other recent studies. It argues that a variety of factors have contributed to weak trade growth, with widespread anaemic economic activity and the change in its composition being among the key drivers. 

Stelios Michalopoulos, Elias Papaioannou, 23 January 2017

Over the past decades, economists working on growth have ‘rediscovered’ the importance of history, leading to the emergence of a vibrant, far-reaching inter-disciplinary stream of work.  This column introduces a new eBook in three volumes which examines key themes in this emergent literature and discusses the impact they have on our understanding of the long-run influence of historical events on current economics.

Jacques Bughin, Susan Lund, 09 January 2017

In around 25 years, the internet has become an integral part of our daily lives, connecting billions of users and businesses worldwide and leading to an explosion in the volume of cross-border digital flows. This column attempts to measure these flows and their impact on global activity in general. Global flows of goods, services, finance, people, and data have raised world GDP by at least 10% in the past decade, with the contribution to growth of GDP from data flows nearly matching the value of global trade in physical goods and services.

Nicholas Kozeniauskas, Laura Veldkamp, 03 January 2017

Uncertainty shocks are a major avenue of research in the quest to explain business cycles, as well as asset prices and financial crises. This column argues that three conceptually distinct types of uncertainty that are often modelled independently – ‘macro’ uncertainty about an aggregate variable such as GDP, ‘micro’ uncertainty about firms’ individual outcomes, and ‘higher-order’ uncertainty that people have about the beliefs of others – are in fact related because all three are tied to disaster risk.

Julián Caballero, Andrés Fernández, Jongho Park, 19 December 2016

Emerging economies are substantially reliant on foreign corporate debt issuance, which has major macroeconomic implications. This column quantifies the extent to which debt issuance matters for macroeconomic performance in emerging economies, and how much macro vulnerability it has entailed. It finds evidence that a large increase in debt reliance has had a considerable effect on macroeconomic performance, but suggests that potential negative impacts on overall health of economies can be reduced in the future if policymakers have access to more and better information.

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