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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated safe distancing measures have accelerated the digital revolution. A similar dynamic is taking place in Singapore, a country at the forefront of digital usage, including through unprecedented growth of e-commerce. An empirical analysis of sector-level labor productivity growth in advanced economies, including Singapore, suggests that digitalization and innovation, captured through e-commerce, robotization, and research and development, are associated with higher labor productivity growth. Singapore has scope for a sizeable expansion of e-commerce (despite recent rapid growth) and of research and development. This would help the country further reap the benefits of the digital economy, notably through higher productivity growth, and accelerate economic transformation.

International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
This paper focuses on smart policies that can alleviate the short-term pain of technological disruption and pave the way for long-term gain. As computing power improves dramatically and more and more people around the world participate in the digital economy, care should be taken about how to devise policies that will allow us to fully exploit the digital revolution’s benefits while minimizing job dislocation. Digital technology will spread further, and efforts to ignore it or legislate against it will likely fail. Even with short-term dislocations, reorganizing the economy around revolutionary technologies generates huge long-term benefits. The digital revolution should be accepted and improved rather than ignored and repressed. Given the global reach of digital technology, and the risk of a race to the bottom, there is a need for policy cooperation like that of global financial markets and sea and air traffic. The history of earlier general-purpose technologies demonstrates that even with short-term dislocations, reorganizing the economy around revolutionary technologies generates huge long-term benefits.