Yashaswini Dunga, Nancy Hardie, Stephanie Kelly, Jeremy Lawson, 25 March 2019

As climate change worsens and the forces of populism gather, there is a strong argument for moving beyond narrow economic measures of national progress. This column presents a new indicator of progress that integrates environmental, social, and governance factors into growth analysis. Results show that the countries that have been able to blend economic dynamism with environmental, social, and governance dynamism are mostly developing economies. These countries often fly under the radar of traditional macroeconomic analyses. 

Martin Guzman, José Antonio Ocampo, Joseph Stiglitz, 21 February 2019

The role of exchange rate policies in economic development is still largely debated. This column argues that there are theoretical foundations for policies that guarantee competitive and stable real exchange rates. When there are constraints on the available set of policy instruments, the complementary use of competitive exchange rates with export taxes for traditional export sectors would result in effectively multiple real exchange rates. The empirical evidence suggests that both foreign exchange interventions and capital account regulations can be effectively used for maintaining competitive exchange rates and for dampening the effects of boom-bust cycles in external financing and the terms of trade on the exchange rate, thereby promoting growth and stability.

Sriram Balasubramanian, 17 February 2019

There has been considerable criticism of the general reliance on GDP as an indicator of growth and development. One strand of criticism focuses on the inability of GDP to capture the subjective well-being or happiness of a populace. This column examines new growth models, paying particular attention to Bhutan, which has pursued gross national happiness, rather than GDP, since the 1970s. It finds evidence of the Easterlin paradox in Bhutan, and draws out lessons for macroeconomic growth models. 

Oya Celasun, Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, Maurice Obstfeld, 24 December 2018

Branko Milanovic, 20 December 2018

Meghana Ayyagari, Thorsten Beck, Maria Soledad Martinez Peria, 11 December 2018

Macroprudential tools have been implemented widely following the Global Crisis. Using data from 900,000 firms in 49 countries, this column finds that such policies are associated with lower credit growth during the period 2003-2011. The effects are especially significant for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and young firms that are more financially constrained and bank dependent. The results imply a trade-off between financial stability and inclusion.

Marco Del Negro, Domenico Giannone, Marc Giannoni, Andrea Tambalotti, 12 November 2018

Interest rates are at their lowest levels of the last 150 years in virtually all advanced economies. This column argues that this unprecedented environment reflects secular global forces that have lowered the trend in the world real interest rate by about two percentage points over the past 30 to 40 years. Whatever forces might lift real interest rates in the future must also be global, such as a sustained pickup in world economic growth, or a better alignment between the global demand and supply for safe and liquid assets.

Marco Buti, Björn Döhring, 08 November 2018

GDP growth has become more uneven globally, and has shifted into a lower gear in Europe. So it is unsurprising that commentators have started warning about a more severe downturn. The Commission's autumn 2018 European Economic Forecast is no exception in highlighting an unusual amount of uncertainty clouding the economic outlook. The predominance of downside risks implies that macroeconomic outcomes could ex post be worse than our central scenario. This column discusses, on the basis of concrete examples, different types of uncertainty surrounding the still benign forecast baseline. Prudence requires economic policy to prepare for the eventuality of worse outturns. 

Dev Patel, Justin Sandefur, Arvind Subramanian, 25 October 2018

Diane Coyle, 16 October 2018

Jan Bakker, Stephan Maurer, Jörn-Steffen Pischke, Ferdinand Rauch, 23 August 2018

Economists often point out the benefits of trade, yet empirical evidence for these benefits has been hard to come by and tends to be recent. This column goes back to the first millennium BC to analyse the growth effects of one of the first major trade expansions in human history: the systematic crossing of the open sea in the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians. A strong positive relationship between connectedness and archaeological sites suggests a large role for geography and trade in development even at such an early juncture in history.

Linda Yueh, 05 August 2018

Between 1960 and 2008, only a dozen or so middle-income countries became prosperous. This column explores the factors affecting how and why some countries become prosperous, while others fail. Consistent with the theories of New Institutional Economics, economies that adopted the economic policies and institutional reforms of successful countries enjoyed the largest increases in prosperity. These successes point to the advantages of looking beyond the economic staples of capital, labour, and technology in fashioning growth policies.

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Debora Revoltella, Jan Svejnar, Christoph Weiss, 25 July 2018

Many barriers keep resources from flowing to the most efficient firms in the EU. This column uses firm-level data from all EU countries to explore how the dispersion of resources affects macroeconomic performance. Harmonising the business environment – and thus easing the flow of resources – across countries and industries could increase aggregate EU growth by 18%. The findings also demonstrate how firm-level characteristics can help us understand distortions in the allocation of resources across firms. 

Moreno Bertoldi, Paolo Pesenti, Hélène Rey, Petr Wagner, 20 July 2018

Ten years after the global crisis, transatlantic relationships are at a crossroads. This column summarises a conference jointly organised by the New York Fed, the European Commission, and CEPR at which the participants discussed the strength of current growth prospects and the likelihood of inflation remaining subdued in advanced economies, and whether the current regulatory and policy frameworks are well suited to supporting financial stability and growth. One conclusion was while an escalation in trade tensions between the US and EU would have significant economic consequences on both sides of the Atlantic, this is not a foregone conclusion and there is room to uphold and strengthen the transatlantic relationship.

Benjamin Born, Gernot Müller, Moritz Schularick, Petr Sedláček, 18 July 2018

Growth and employment in the US have been robust over the past 18 months, and President Trump frequently takes personal credit for these trends. This column explores how the US economy would have evolved without Trump. An analysis shows no difference between the post-election performance of the US economy under Trump and a synthetic ‘doppelganger’ US economy without Trump, suggesting that there has been no ‘Trump effect’.  

Marco Buti, András Chabin, Björn Döhring, João Leal, 13 July 2018

Next week, after ten days of swift, flat riding, the Tour de France reaches the Alps. The European economy, meanwhile, has been pedalling uphill since the beginning of this year. 2017 was easy riding as strong global growth boosted domestic investment, but economic growth has had to move into lower gear in the first half of 2018 as this transmission is no longer working properly, and escalating trade conflicts could derail it. This column presents the European Commission’s Summer 2018 Interim Forecast, which suggests that a tightening of global financial conditions could add to the headwinds, though central banks' balance sheets will remain large for a long time, and domestic fundamentals in the euro area remain strong. 

Paul Schmelzing, 24 May 2018

Growth rates have been stubbornly low since the financial crisis, and many have noted that the interest rate environment has been weakening since the 1980s. This column places recent episodes in the context of longer-term economic history, going back to the 14th century. Trends over recent decades are generally in line with a long-term ‘suprasecular’ trend of declining real rates. Negative real rates could become a more frequent phenomenon, and indeed constitute a ‘new normal’.

Finn Tarp, 16 April 2018

In economies like Viet Nam, policy agendas are increasingly data-driven. In this video, Finn Tarp shares five key policy goals for the country, based on data-rich household surveys. A combination of all five, including increasing productivty and innovation in and out of the agricultural sector, are needed to promote long-term growth.

Thorsten Beck, Maria Soledad Martinez Peria, Maurice Obstfeld, Andrea Presbitero, 12 April 2018

Research has shown that financial inclusion is closely linked to economic development and growth. However, more work is needed to establish the magnitude and channels of this effect and to pinpoint the types of financial services that have a stronger payoff without threatening financial stability. This column tackles these questions by presenting new evidence from a recent IMF-DFID conference on financial inclusion. It also suggests avenues for future research on the topic.

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