Global governance

Fukunari Kimura, 07 January 2020

While national governments are already implementing various economic policies related to data flows in the real world, there is not yet a consensus on how economists should approach the topic. This column outlines a framework recently proposed by the T20 Task Force on Trade, Investment, and Globalization that classifies data flow policy into five categories and allows the appropriateness of policy from the viewpoint of economics to be discussed. As a result, it becomes possible to achieve policy harmonisation in some areas and to identify others where harmonisation cannot easily be achieved.

Basak Bayramoglu, Brian Copeland, Marco Fugazza, Jean-François Jacques, 21 October 2019

With fisheries resources dwindling drastically, countries are scrambling to negotiate a deal to reduce subsidies and ensure sustainable management. This column suggests that reaching a deal on fisheries subsidies may be difficult. For many resources, international spillover effects create incentives to negotiate reductions in subsidies, since one country’s subsidy worsens other exporters’ terms of trade. However, the renewable nature of fisheries arguably limits these incentives, and a comprehensive approach to negotiations including quotas and subsidies is desirable to support both fishing communities and environmental sustainability.

Laurence Boone, Marco Buti, 18 October 2019

After years of solid growth, worldwide economic activity has slowed down sharply in 2019 while global trade has stalled. At October’s annual meeting of the IMF, policymakers have the difficult task of addressing the immediate policy challenges to support economic growth while also preparing our economies for the future. This column argues that while monetary policy is widely recognised as facing increasing constraints, fiscal policy and structural reforms need to play a stronger role. In particular, fiscal policy could become more supportive, notably in the euro area. Undertaking the right type of public investment now – in infrastructure, education or to mitigate climate change – would both stimulate our economies and contribute to making them stronger and more sustainable. 

Patrizia Baudino, Raihan Zamil, 30 September 2019

Non-performing assets are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they often trigger episodes of financial crises. On the other, once a crisis erupts, market participants must have confidence in banks’ reported asset quality metrics in order to regain faith in the financial system. This column shows that accounting standards and prudential frameworks to identify and measure non-performing assets vary widely across countries. This presents a challenge for comparing credit risk across banks and countries, for which the column proposes a range of policy options. 

Tito Cordella, Andrew Powell, 02 September 2019

Countries almost always repay loans from the IMF and the World Bank before others, even though this preferred treatment rarely appears in legal contracts. This column presents a framework to investigate this puzzle. It argues that the ability to restrict lending allows international financial institutions to lend at the risk-free rate and creates incentives for repayment. IMF and World Bank loans are thus complementary to commercial lending.

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