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.
Mr. Stijn Claessens, M. Ayhan Kose, and Marco E. Terrones
Latin America: An End to Boom and Bust? covers prospects in that region, which has managed to sustain a decade of prosperity after a history of boom and bust cycles. In our cover story, Nicolás Eyzaguirre, Director of the IMF's Western Hemisphere Department, says Latin America has the potential to become an increasingly important global player. But boosting productivity and competitiveness remain key policy challenges and the fruits of success must be more broadly shared. Other articles on our cover theme look at the prospects for Brazil, inequality in Latin America, and how to raise productivity. Turning from Latin America, we interview former IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus, former IMF MD and now head of a group of luminaries tasked with generating ideas on how to make the global monetary system more stable in the wake of the world financial crisis. This issue of F&D also features articles on financial market cycles, public investment in infrastructure, whether to worry about inflation or deflation, democracy and liberalization, how to manage health care spending, and rising food prices. People in Economics profiles growth guru Robert Solow, winner of the 1987 Nobel Prize in economics. Our regular Back to Basics feature explains financial services. Data Spotlight looks at how access to financial services is growing in developing countries; and Picture This highlights the IMF's new database of public debt since 1880.
This issue of the IMF Research Bulletin opens with a letter from the new editor, Rabah Arezki. The Research Summaries are a "Primer on 'Global Liquidity'" (Eugenio Cerutti, Stijn Claessens, and Lev Ratnovski); and "Trade Integration adn Business Cycle Synchronization" (Kevin Cheng, Romain Duval, and Dulani Senevirante). The Q&A column looks at "Seven Questions on the Global Housing Markets" (Hites Ahir, Heedon Kang, and Prakash Loungani). September 2014 issue of the Bulletin also includes updates on IMF Working Papers, Staff Discussion Notes, and Recommended Readings from the IMF Bookstore, as well as special announcements on new staff publications and the Fifteenth Annual Jacques Polak Research Conference. Also included is information on the latest issue of “IMF Economic Review” with a link to an article by Paul Krugman.
New Q&A feature in this issue focuses on "Seven Questions about Recessions" (by Marco Terrones); IMF research summaries on financial stress (by Selim Elekdag) and on the real effects of the 2007–08 financial crisis (by Hui Tong); listing of visiting scholars at the IMF during April–June 2009; listing of recent IMF Working Papers; listing of contents of Vol. 56 No. 2 of IMF Staff Papers; listing of recent external publications by IMF staff; and a feature on Staff Position Notes, the IMF’s new policy paper series, including a list of recent papers.
This paper analyzes the duration of house price upturns and downturns in the last 40 years for 19 OECD countries. I provide two sets of results, one pertaining to the average length and the other to the length distribution. On average, upturns are longer than downturns, but the difference disappears once the last house price boom is excluded. In terms of length distribution, upturns (but not downturns) are more likely to end as their duration increases. This duration dependence is consistent with a boom-bust view of house price dynamics, where booms represent departures from fundamentals that are increasingly difficult to sustain.
The link between monetary policy and asset price movements has been of perennial interest to policymakers. In this paper, we consider the potential case for preemptive monetary restrictions when asset price reversals can have serious effects on real output. First, we present some stylized facts on boom-bust dynamics in stock and property prices in developed economies. We then discuss the case for a preemptive monetary policy in the context of a stylized model. We find that the optimal policy depends on the economic conditions in a complex, nonlinear way and cannot be summarized by a simple policy rule of the type considered in the inflation-targeting literature.
Mr. Adrian Alter, Jane Dokko, and Miss Dulani Seneviratne
We examine the relationship between house price synchronicity and global financial
conditions across 40 countries and about 70 cities over the past three decades. The role
played by cross-border banking flows in residential property markets is examined as well.
Looser global financial conditions are associated with greater house price synchronicity,
even after controlling for bilateral financial integration. Moreover, we find that
synchronicity across major cities may differ from that of their respective countries’,
perhaps due to the influence of global investors on local house price dynamics. Policy
choices such as macroprudential tools and exchange rate flexibility appear to be relevant
for mitigating the sensitivity of domestic housing markets to the rest of the world.
Why are housing markets so prone to boom-bust cycles? The mortgage market structure prior to the Savings and Loan crisis contributed to the volatility in real housing activity which, in turn, amplified the volatility in housing prices. The subsequent development of a national, market-based system of securitized mortgage finance has damped this boom-bust cycle. We test whether deviations of actual housing prices from values forecast by a model based on economic fundamentals have responded to the change in financial structure, and find that pricing errors have fallen significantly since the mid-1980s. Tests of the relative importance of the change in financial market structure versus the reduction of inflation over this period indicate a primary role for market structure in improving pricing efficiency.
Africa's Middle-Class Motor finds growing evidence that a recent resurgence in the continent's economic well-being has staying power. In his overview article, Harvard professor Calestous Juma says the emphasis for too long has been on eradicating poverty through aid rather than promoting prosperity through improved infrastructure, education, entrepreneurship, and trade. That is now changing: there is a growing emphasis on policies that produce a middle class. The new African middle class may not have the buying power of a Western middle class but it demands enough goods and services to support stronger economic growth, which, as IMF African Department head Antoinette Sayeh points out, in turn helps the poorest members of society. Oxford University economist Paul Collier discusses a crucial component of Africa's needed infrastructure: railways. It is a continent eminently suited to rail, development of which has been held back more by political than economic reasons. But even as sub-Saharan African thrives, its largest and most important economy, South Africa, has had an anemic performance in recent years. We also profile Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's colorful economic czar. "Picture This" mines current trends to predict what Africa will look like a half century from now and "Data Spotlight" looks at increased regional trade in Africa. Elsewhere, Cornell Professor Eswar Prasad, examines a global role reversal in which emerging, not advanced, economies are displaying resilience in the face of the global economic crisis. The University of Queensland's John Quiggin, who wrote Zombie Economics, examines whether it makes sense in many cases to sell public enterprises. Economists Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago and Rodney Ramcharan of the U.S. Federal Reserve find clues to current asset booms and busts in the behavior of U.S. farmland prices a century ago.