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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

Asia has achieved remarkable economic success over the past five decades. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, and successive waves of economies have made the transition to middle-income and even advanced-economy status. And whereas the region used to be almost entirely dependent on foreign know-how, several of its economies are now on the cutting edge of technological advance. Even more striking, all of this has happened within just a couple of generations, the product of a winning mix of integration with the global economy via trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), high savings rates, large investments in human and physical capital, and sound macroeconomic policies.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

The global expansion that began two years ago appears to have peaked and become less synchronized across economies. While economic activity moderated in advanced economies during the first half of 2018 compared to 2017, it remained steady in most emerging economies (Figure 1). Growth was lower than expected in the euro area, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, in the United States, domestic demand continued to be buoyant, underpinned by low unemployment and a historically large, temporary fiscal expansion. Among emerging market economies, growth remained strong in emerging Asia but weakened in Argentina, Brazil, and Turkey. Several downside risks highlighted in the April 2018 World Economic Outlook (WEO) have increased or partially materialized, such as rising trade tensions and capital outflows from emerging economies with weaker fundamentals. With this more mixed global growth picture, there are already signs that trade is slowing.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

Asia’s heavy reliance on trade in general, and its integration in global value chains in particular, have been critical elements behind the region’s stellar growth record. But rising income levels and wages in the region combined with a less buoyant medium-term outlook in advanced economies suggest the need for Asia to reconsider its growth model, currently oriented toward meeting final demand in other regions (IMF 2016, Mano 2016). In addition, China has not exited labor-intensive light manufacturing sectors as quickly as Korea and Japan did in earlier eras, possibly limiting opportunities for the next wave of Asian developing economies and again suggesting the need for a new model (Mathai and others 2016). Finally, the secular decline in manufacturing’s share in employment combined with the fast rise in automation (for example, robotics), also points to a needed shift toward tradable services (IMF 2018e).

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

The April 2017 Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific documented that productivity growth in a number of economies in Asia—just as in the rest of the world—slowed after the global financial crisis, and that this slowdown was most severe in the region’s advanced economies and in China (Figure 11). In addition, the slowdown was not a temporary phenomenon, but rather has persisted and even become the “new normal” in some economies. IMF (2018c), the third background paper to this Regional Economic Outlook, complements the earlier analysis, which was based on national accounts data, by examining firm-level data from the Orbis data set for six advanced and emerging market Asian economies for which sufficient data are available (China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand), during the period 2003–15.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

The final challenge for Asia addressed in this Regional Economic Outlook: Asia and Pacific is how to reap the potential benefits of the digital revolution while minimizing its costs. While digitalization and automation are not new, they have accelerated in recent years, and a new wave of innovation—triggered by advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, computing power, and cryptography, as well as the explosion of big data—is reshaping the global economy. More so than during past periods of innovation, including the spread of personal computers in the 1980s and the rise of the internet in the 1990s, today’s technological advances are multiple and overlapping, creating synergies and accelerating outcomes. The digital revolution is affecting all sectors and activities of the economy, with a far-reaching social and economic impact. The new technologies are general-purpose in nature, with the potential—over time—to transform the global economy, substantially boost productivity, and fundamentally alter the way humans live and work, much as the steam engine and electricity did. That said, history suggests that such benefits may be observed only with a delay—after a sufficient stock of the new technology and complementary innovations, as well as the capital investments to implement them, are built up. And by the same token, the substantial disruptions and dislocations that may occur may also take place only over time. It is likely that neither the opportunities nor the challenges related to digitalization have yet become fully apparent.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

Asia is the world’s most dynamic economic region. But it faces a number of serious challenges over the medium to long term—that its trade-reliant growth strategy will no longer be viable (at least in its current form), that population aging will weigh on many dimensions of economic performance, that productivity growth may not accelerate again, and that the ongoing digitalization of its economies may lead to major disruptions even as k boosts productivity over time.

M. Neison, Edward M. Graham, Paul Krugman, Charles Gardner, Mr. David John Goldsbrough, Anand Chandavarkar, Mr. Joseph Gold, Maurice Scott, Deepak Lai, V.V. Bhatt, Michael Liplon, Richard Longhurst, Alexander von, and der Osten

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.

Richard H.R. Harper, Brian C. Stuart, Ian G. Heggie, and Piers Vickers

How will EMU affect the way the IMF monitors economic developments in its European members?

Robert R. Miller

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.