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Erez Aiden, Jean-Baptiste Michel, and Coyle Diane

This chapter discusses the story of European integration in what is known as the European Union. The decision in 1951 by six European nations to pool coal and steel production under a common authority—the European Coal and Steel Community—marked the beginning of European integration. French statesman and political visionary Robert Schuman proposed the coal and steel community in 1950. The chapter also highlights that the 28-member European Union, built around common policies and shared institutions, has proved robust to many challenges and has accommodated great change used by 18 countries. The European Union was also awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. The study shows that the 2008 global financial crisis laid bare fault lines, exposing tensions between EU members and stresses and gaps in institutions and policies that Europe’s political leaders are working hard to address. The IMF’s chief for Europe argues that what Europe needs is more integration, not less.

Mr. Axel Palmason

The Human Development Report 2001 was launched in Mexico on July 10. This year’s report explores how new technologies can advance human development and, in effect, help make globalization work for all. Currently an urgent question in international policymaking circles, the links between technology, poverty reduction, and human development were also a prominent theme of the recent Genoa summit of the Group of Eight. Previous editions of the Human Development Report—the flagship publication of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP)—have scrutinized globalization, growth, poverty eradication, and human rights from the standpoint of human development.

Marijn A. Bolhuis and Brett Rayner
We leverage insights from machine learning to optimize the tradeoff between bias and variance when estimating economic models using pooled datasets. Specifically, we develop a simple algorithm that estimates the similarity of economic structures across countries and selects the optimal pool of countries to maximize out-of-sample prediction accuracy of a model. We apply the new alogrithm by nowcasting output growth with a panel of 102 countries and are able to significantly improve forecast accuracy relative to alternative pools. The algortihm improves nowcast performance for advanced economies, as well as emerging market and developing economies, suggesting that machine learning techniques using pooled data could be an important macro tool for many countries.
Warren C. Baum and Stokes M. Tolbert

This paper elaborates the introduction of surveillance that gave the IMF broader responsibilities with respect to oversight of its members’ policies than existed under the par value system. The IMF’s purview has been broadened under the new system but, by the same token, its members are no longer obliged to seek its concurrence in changes in exchange rates. The continuing volatility of exchange rates, and their prolonged divergence from levels that appear to be sustainable over time, have been matters of growing concern.

Christopher Freeman

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.