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Mr. Olaf Unteroberdoerster

Asia Leading the Way explores how the region is moving into a leadership role in the world economy. The issue looks at Asia's biggest economy, China, which has relied heavily on exports to grow, and its need to increase domestic demand and to promote global integration if it is to continue to thrive. China is not the only Asian economy that heavily depends on exports and all of them might take some cues from the region's second-biggest economy, India, which has a highly developed services sector. Min Zhu, the new Special Advisor to the IMF's Managing Director, talks about Asia in the global economy, the global financial crisis, correcting imbalances, and the IMF in Asia. And "People in Economics" profiles an Asian crusader for corporate governance, Korea's Jang Hasung. This issue of F&D also covers how best to reform central banking in the aftermath of the global economic crisis; the pernicious effects of derivatives trading on municipal government finances in Europe and the United States; and some ominous news for governments hoping to rely on better times to help them reduce their debt burdens. Mohamed El-Erian argues that sovereign wealth funds are well-placed to navigate the new global economy that will emerge following the world wide recession. "Back to Basics" explains supply and demand. "Data Spotlight" explores the continuing weakness in bank credit. And "Picture This" focuses on the high, and growing, cost of energy subsidies.

Min Zhu, Ms. Longmei Zhang, and Daoju Peng
China’s growth potential has become a hotly debated topic as the economy has reached an income level susceptible to the “middle-income trap” and financial vulnerabilities are mounting after years of rapid credit expansion. However, the existing literature has largely focused on macro level aggregates, which are ill suited to understanding China’s significant structural transformation and its impact on economic growth. To fill the gap, this paper takes a deep dive into China’s convergence progress in 38 industrial sectors and 11 services sectors, examines past sectoral transitions, and predicts future shifts. We find that China’s productivity convergence remains at an early stage, with the industrial sector more advanced than services. Large variations exist among subsectors, with high-tech industrial sectors, in particular the ICT sector, lagging low-tech sectors. Going forward, ample room remains for further convergence, but the shrinking distance to the frontier, the structural shift from industry to services, and demographic changes will put sustained downward pressure on growth, which could slow to 5 percent by 2025 and 4 percent by 2030. Digitalization, SOE reform, and services sector opening up could be three major forces boosting future growth, while the risks of a financial crisis and a reversal in global integration in trade and technology could slow the pace of convergence.
Kai Guo and Mr. Papa M N'Diaye
This paper gauges the key determinants of China's private consumption in relation to GDP using data on the Chinese economy and evidence from other countries' experiences. The results suggest there is nothing "special" about consumption in China. Rather, the challenge is to explain why the conditioning variables-notably a low level of service sector employment, the level of financial sector development, and low real interest rates-are so different in China relative to other countries' historical experience. The results suggest, in particular, that efforts to further raise household income and the share of employment in the services sector, as well as to develop capital markets, including liberalizing interest rates and creating alternative savings instruments are likely to have the biggest impact on consumption. Other mechanisms to raise household income and mitigate household-specific risk (such as by improving the healthcare and pension systems) also have a role to play.