Hites Ahir, Hendre Garbers, Mattia Coppo, Mr. Giovanni Melina, Mr. Futoshi Narita, Ms. Filiz D Unsal, Vivian Malta, Xin Tang, Daniel Gurara, Luis-Felipe Zanna, Linda G. Venable, Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, and Mr. Chris Papageorgiou
Despite strong economic growth since 2000, many low-income countries (LICs) still face numerous macroeconomic challenges, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the deceleration in real GDP growth during the 2008 global financial crisis, LICs on average saw 4.5 percent of real GDP growth during 2000 to 2014, making progress in economic convergence toward higher-income countries. However, the commodity price collapse in 2014–15 hit many commodity-exporting LICs and highlighted their vulnerabilities due to the limited extent of economic diversification. Furthermore, LICs are currently facing a crisis like no other—COVID-19, which requires careful policymaking to save lives and livelihoods in LICs, informed by policy debate and thoughtful research tailored to the COVID-19 situation. There are also other challenges beyond COVID-19, such as climate change, high levels of public debt burdens, and persistent structural issues.
This paper assesses the sustainability of Japan’s fiscal position. The simulations indicate that, even if the government’s pension reform plan is fully implemented, the initial budget imbalance, combined with pressures from population aging, would lead to explosive increases in government deficits and debt. Present-value calculations point to a fiscal “gap” of about 4 percent of GDP, indicating the combination of tax increases and/or spending cuts that would be required to generate a sustainable long-run fiscal position. Finally, the paper presents an illustrative package of tax and spending measures that could be implemented to close this gap.