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Mr. Ravi Balakrishnan, Sandra Lizarazo, Marika Santoro, Mr. Frederik G Toscani, and Mr. Mauricio Vargas
Over the past decades, inequality has risen not just in advanced economies but also in many emerging market and developing economies, becoming one of the key global policy challenges. And throughout the 20th century, Latin America was associated with some of the world’s highest levels of inequality. Yet something interesting happened in the first decade and a half of the 21st century. Latin America was the only region in the World to have experienced significant declines in inequality in that period. Poverty also fell in Latin America, although this was replicated in other regions, and Latin America started from a relatively low base. Starting around 2014, however, and even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, poverty and inequality gains had already slowed in Latin America and, in some cases, gone into reverse. And the COVID-19 shock, which is still playing out, is likely to dramatically worsen short-term poverty and inequality dynamics. Against this background, this departmental paper investigates the link between commodity prices, and poverty and inequality developments in Latin America.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
This Supplement presents an account of the extensive consultations and the results of various analyses that supported the development of “A Strategy for IMF Engagement on Social Spending.”
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Article IV Consultation highlights that Belgium has experienced nine consecutive years of economic growth. Per capita GDP has surpassed pre-crisis levels, and unemployment is at its lowest level in four decades. The financial sector has also undergone structural changes and increased its resiliency to shocks. The authorities have implemented important reforms in recent years that have contributed to job creation, improved competitiveness, and lowered the deficit. However, the reform agenda is unfinished, and the new government should take advantage of the still favorable economic conditions to press ahead with further reforms to strengthen the resilience and growth potential of the economy. The priority should be to rebuild fiscal buffers by gradually moving toward a balanced budget in the medium term, supported by efficiency-oriented spending reforms. It is also imperative to boost productivity growth by supporting entrepreneurship, increasing investment in infrastructure, strengthening competition in services, and fostering innovation.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on long-term impact of Brexit on the European Union (EU). This paper examines consequences of Brexit on the EU27 under various post-Brexit scenarios by using two different complementary approaches. Our results, which are broadly in line with recent findings in the literature, are twofold. First, Brexit would have negative effects on the EU27 as well, given the depth and the complexity of the EU-U.K. integration. Similar to various empirical studies, it has been observed that the estimated long-term output and employment losses (in percent) for the EU27 in the study are on average lower than the corresponding losses for the UK estimated in the literature. The level of output and employment are estimated to fall at most by up to 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent in the long run in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, respectively. A “soft” Brexit outcome would lead to much lower losses.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper aims to provide European Union (EU), while recognizing that the choice of whether to remain in the EU is for U.K. voters to make and that their decisions will reflect both economic and noneconomic factors. The question of EU membership is both a political and an economic issue, and the referendum has sparked a wide-ranging debate on the United Kingdom’s role in the EU. Given the range of plausible alternative arrangements with the EU, the number of channels by which countries could be affected and the range of possible effects on the United Kingdom and other economies are broad.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses economic development and policies of Belgium. The new government has taken important steps to support job creation and address the cost of aging—notably through wage moderation, pension reform, and a tax shift. But growth prospects remain mediocre, public debt very high, and the labor market severely fragmented. The central task is to achieve a lasting reduction in public debt while nurturing the recovery and social cohesion. The government’s goal of achieving structural fiscal balance by 2018 is laudable but ambitious—with almost two percent of GDP of measures yet to be identified. Tapping Belgium’s full labor market potential requires a comprehensive and inclusive jobs strategy.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Belgian economy has shown considerable resilience but the outlook is weighed down by weak demand in Europe. Healthy private balance sheets, integration with Germany, and employment support schemes have helped sustain employment and economic activity. However, output is still well below potential and with, subdued growth prospects, job creation remains insufficient. Fiscal adjustment is expected to resume after a pause in 2014. The pace of adjustment targeted by the authorities for 2015–16 is appropriate given the level of debt and related risks.