The Asia-Pacific region continues to be the world leader in growth, and recent data point to a pickup in momentum. Growth is projected to reach 5.5 percent in 2017 and 5.4 percent in 2018. Accommodative policies will underpin domestic demand, offsetting tighter global financial conditions. Despite volatile capital flows, Asian financial markets have been resilient, reflecting strong fundamentals. However, the near-term outlook is clouded with significant uncertainty, and risks, on balance, remain slanted to the downside. On the upside, growth momentum remains strong, particularly in advanced economies and in Asia. Additional policy stimulus, especially U.S. fiscal policy, could provide further support. On the downside, the continued tightening of global financial conditions and economic uncertainty could trigger volatility in capital flows. A possible shift toward protectionism in major trading partners also represents a substantial risk to the region. Asia is particularly vulnerable to a decline in global trade because the region has a high trade openness ratio, with significant participation in global supply chains. A bumpier-than-expected transition in China would also have large spillovers. Medium-term growth faces secular headwinds, including population aging and slow productivity catchup. Adapting to aging could be especially challenging for Asia, as populations living at relatively low per capita income levels in many parts of the region are rapidly becoming old. In other words, parts of Asia risk “growing old before becoming rich.” Another challenge for the region is how to raise productivity growth—productivity convergence with the United States and other advanced economies has stalled—when external factors, including further trade integration, might not be as supportive as they were in the past. On policies, monetary policy should generally remain accommodative, though policy rates should be raised if inflationary pressures pick up, and macroprudential settings should be tightened in some countries to slow credit growth. Fiscal policy should support and complement structural reforms and external rebalancing, where needed and fiscal space is available; countries with closed output gaps should start rebuilding fiscal space. To sustain long-term growth, structural reforms are needed to deal with challenges from the demographic transition and to boost productivity.
In past decades, Asia has benefited significantly from demographic trends, along with strong policies. Many parts of Asia, particularly East Asia, reaped a “demographic dividend” as the number of workers grew faster than the number of dependents, providing a strong tailwind for growth. This dividend is about to end for many Asian economies. This can have important implications for labor markets, investment and saving decisions, and public budgets.
Nearly 10 years after the global financial crisis, the prospect of mediocre future growth is still a concern. In part, the cause for this concern is the recent slowdown in productivity growth in many advanced economies—a slowdown that is widely expected to continue. Another related reason is the weakness in business investment, which is one channel through which new technology and innovation—the fundamental underpinnings of productivity growth—influence economies.
This paper discusses Bulgaria’s prospects for converging to the living standards of the more advanced members of the European Union (EU). The unfavorable economic environment of the early 1990s and the economic crisis in 1996–97 hurt Bulgaria’s output, employment, and investment. Following the crisis, structural reforms and a sound macroeconomic framework set the stage for a sustained recovery. The structure of the Bulgaria economy has shifted markedly over the last decade, and investment has become the main engine of growth.
This paper examines economic developments and policies in Canada during 1990–95. Spurred by the robust growth in the United States and the easing of monetary conditions between 1991 and 1993, economic growth in Canada continued to strengthen during 1994. Real GDP grew by 4.5 percent in 1994 after growing by 2.2 percent in 1993 and 0.6 percent in 1992. Economic growth in 1994 was led by exports and investment in machinery and equipment. However, growth was more broadly based in 1994; private consumption strengthened, and there was a rebound in residential and nonresidential construction.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region that includes countries with a common heritage, vastly different levels of per capita income, and a common set of challenges (see Box 1). Historically, dependence on oil wealth in many countries and a legacy of central planning in other countries have played major roles in shaping the region’s development strategies.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region. Despite undertaking economic reforms in many countries, and having considerable success in avoiding crises and achieving macroeconomic stability, the region’s economic performance in the past 30 years has been below potential. This paper takes stock of the region’s relatively weak performance, explores the reasons for this out come, and proposes an agenda for urgent reforms.
This Selected Issues paper on the Czech Republic presents an analysis of various aspects of population aging: its macroeconomic effects; impact on fiscal sustainability; and implications for private savings. The paper simulates the macroeconomic effects of population aging in the Czech Republic using an overlapping-generations model. It finds that aging can significantly weaken the outlook for economic growth and living standards. The paper evaluates the fiscal implications of aging using a generational-accounting framework. It also evaluates the monetary policy implications of capital account volatility—as the relative importance of portfolio flows increases.