At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Africa is at a crossroads. It must quickly select the path it wishes to follow. Either the continent takes its destiny squarely into its own hands, or it leaves the shaping of its future to chance or to special interests. Africa does indeed have a choice. On one hand, it can allow the forces of implosion and ethnic warfare to become the masters of its fate, to the advantage of a few potentates lacking in vision or warlords with transient alliances. Thus, history would repeat itself, with all the suffering that this entails, and this old continent will be at the mercy of all types of corruption. Africa would be stripped of the wealth of its soil and the promise of its youth and left marginalized, adrift in the wake of history.
I am honored to be here to share with you the IMF’s thoughts on the turbulent events of the past two years and what lies ahead. With growing signs that the worst of the financial crisis is over, we now have an opportunity to reflect on the weaknesses revealed and remedies needed. But that does not mean that we can afford to be complacent. We are being given a chance to right the wrongs, and delay would only sow the seeds of the next crisis.
This paper explores how poor countries might take advantage of globalization to raise their living standards and converge toward the advanced economies. The poor country, which has cheap labor and inadequate capital, acquires the supe¬rior technology that the rich country has. With everyone rationally expecting greater things in the poor country, investment there takes off. People in the rich country save more to invest and take advantage of the new higher returns in the poor country. The poor country runs a substantial current account deficit and imports needed capital that the rich country happily, and profit¬ably, provides. The developing countries showed limited willingness and capacity to open up to competition. They had only a limited ability to attract foreign investment. The IMF ended up studying why some members failed to progress despite prolonged use of IMF resources. The Philippines, for example, had about 20 nearly consecutive IMF lending programs.
It is a great honor to be here to deliver this year’s Stavros Niarchos Lecture. I would like to thank Adam Posen and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for so kindly inviting me— and a special thanks to Larry Summers for his warm words of introduction.
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department
This paper discusses the role of fiscal policy and demographics. By the end of this century, about two-thirds of all countries are expected to have declining populations. This will have profound implications for economics, financial markets, social stability, and geopolitics. Fiscal policy responses and technological innovation are especially important parts of the solution. Without action, public pension and health systems will not be sustainable over the long term. The increase in life expectancy and economic welfare that came with the industrial revolution brought with it the seeds of demographic change. This is a demographic double whammy that will have major implications for economic growth, financial stability, and the public purse. With declining fertility rates, populations in some advanced economies did not just grow more slowly; they stagnated or began to shrink. IMF analysis suggests that, if everyone lived three years longer than expected, pension related costs could increase by 50 percent in both advanced and emerging economies. This would heavily affect private and public sector balance sheets and could also undermine financial stability.
This paper presents four commentaries by an IMF Deputy Managing Director on integration and growth in a globalized world economy. Globalized and integrated financial markets are the norm, complete with their tremendous opportunities—the chance to quicken the pace of investment, job creation, and growth—and, some inevitable risks. The paper also highlights that sound macroeconomic policies must be a top priority, and that these policies must be supported by transparency and accountability. Policies at the country and global level must be mutually reinforcing; industrial countries meeting the more outward-oriented policies of developing countries with greater openness around the world. It is recommended that the IMF agenda must include adopting bold structural reforms and building a social consensus for reform through economic security, good governance, and a better dialogue with civil society in Africa. In the Berlin address, it is suggested that development rests on three pillars: good economic policy, a favorable legal and political environment, and attention to equitable social development.
Let me first say how pleased I am to be back in Berlin at the invitation of the Foundation for International Development and to participate in another policy dialogue on a matter of critical importance for Africa’s future. Our first dialogue on Africa last December provided for a stimulating exchange of experience and ideas on how Africa could best face the challenges of globalization. Judging by our discussions thus far, this present dialogue will be just as successful. I hope I can prevail on our German friends to continue in this vein, and to build these dialogues into a regular forum for the exchange of views on issues of importance to Africa as it moves into the twenty-first century.
It is a great pleasure for me to participate in the first Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance of French-Speaking Countries and to address such a distinguished audience. I shall take this opportunity to share with you some thoughts on the importance of regional integration as an intermediate step toward the integration of developing countries into the world economy. In this connection, I believe that French-speaking Africa’s experience with regional integration has been very encouraging, has taught us much, and could serve as an example for other countries wishing to take the same route.