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International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

Produced since 2012, the IMF’s annual External Sector Report analyzes global external developments and provides multilaterally consistent assessments of external positions, including current accounts, real exchange rates, external balance sheets, capital flows, and international reserves, of the world’s largest economies, representing over 90 percent of global GDP. Chapter 1 discusses the evolution of global external positions in 2019, external developments during the COVID-19 crisis, and policy priorities for responding to the crisis and for reducing excess imbalances over the medium term. Chapter 2 analyzes the relationship between the structure of external assets and liabilities—the components of the international investment position—and the risk of external stress events. It also assesses how heightened global risk aversion, as during the COVID-19 crisis, amplifies these risks. Chapter 3, “Individual Economy Assessments,” provides details on the different aspects of the overall external assessment and associated policy recommendations for 30 economies. This year’s report and associated external assessments are based on the latest vintage of the External Balance Assessment (EBA) methodology and on data and IMF staff projections as of July 15, 2020.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

Growth in Asia is expected to moderate to 5.0 percent in 2019 and 5.1 percent in 2020 (0.4 and 0.3 percentage point lower than projected last April, respectively). A marked deceleration in merchandise trade and investment, driven by distortionary trade measures and an uncertain policy environment, is weighing on activity, particularly in the manufacturing sector.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Financial Systems Dept.

Abstract

The April 2019 Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) finds that despite significant variability over the past two quarters, financial conditions remain accommodative. As a result, financial vulnerabilities have continued to build in the sovereign, corporate, and nonbank financial sectors in several systemically important countries, leading to elevated medium-term risks. The report attempts to provide a comprehensive assessment of these vulnerabilities while focusing specifically on corporate sector debt in advanced economies, the sovereign–financial sector nexus in the euro area, China’s financial imbalances, volatile portfolio flows to emerging markets, and downside risks to the housing market. These vulnerabilities require action by policymakers, including through the clear communication of any changes in their monetary policy outlook, the deployment and expansion of macroprudential tools, the stepping up of measures to repair public and private sector balance sheets, and the strengthening of emerging market resilience to foreign portfolio outflows. This GFSR also takes an in depth look at house prices at risk, a measure of downside risks to future house price growth—using theory, insights from past analyses, and new statistical techniques applied to 32 advanced and emerging market economies and major cities. The chapter finds that lower house price momentum, overvaluation, excessive credit growth, and tighter financial conditions predict heightened downside risks to house prices up to three years ahead. The measure of house prices at risk helps forecast downside risks to GDP growth and adds to early-warning models for financial crises. Policymakers can use estimates of house prices at risk to complement other surveillance indicators of housing market vulnerabilities and guide macroprudential policy actions aimed at building buffers and reducing vulnerabilities. Downside risks to house prices could also be relevant for monetary policymakers when forming their views on the downside risks to the economic and inflation outlook. Authorities considering measures to manage capital flows might also find such information useful when a surge in capital inflows increases downside risks to house prices and when other policy options are limited.

International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.

Abstract

After strong growth in 2017 and early 2018, global economic activity slowed notably in the second half of last year, reflecting a confluence of factors affecting major economies. China’s growth declined following a combination of needed regulatory tightening to rein in shadow banking and an increase in trade tensions with the United States. The euro area economy lost more momentum than expected as consumer and business confidence weakened and car production in Germany was disrupted by the introduction of new emission standards; investment dropped in Italy as sovereign spreads widened; and external demand, especially from emerging Asia, softened. Elsewhere, natural disasters hurt activity in Japan. Trade tensions increasingly took a toll on business confidence and, so, financial market sentiment worsened, with financial conditions tightening for vulnerable emerging markets in the spring of 2018 and then in advanced economies later in the year, weighing on global demand. Conditions have eased in 2019 as the US Federal Reserve signaled a more accommodative monetary policy stance and markets became more optimistic about a US–China trade deal, but they remain slightly more restrictive than in the fall.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

The macroeconomic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa continues to strengthen. Growth is expected to increase from 2.7 percent in 2017 to 3.1 percent in 2018, reflecting domestic policy adjustments and a supportive external environment, including continued steady growth in the global economy, higher commodity prices, and accommodative external financing conditions. Inflation is abating; and fiscal imbalances are being contained in many countries. Over the medium term, and on current policies, growth is expected to accelerate to about 4 percent, too low to create the number of jobs needed to absorb anticipated new entrants into labor markets.