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The IMF crisis and how to solve it

August 7, 2014 Comments off

The IMF crisis and how to solve it
Source: Oxford Economics

As the IMF approaches its 70th birthday, this extract from our July UK Economic Outlook investigates the Fund’s Greek programme, one of the most credibility-sapping in its history. We trace the IMF’s role in the programme from its stormy launch to misfiring implementation; the Fund’s half-hearted apology; and its early (and ongoing) attempts to draw lessons and revise its sovereign debt restructuring framework, which appear destined to deliver insufficient meaningful change. A transparency revolution is both necessary and feasible. It worked for central banks in the 1990s. Why not the Fund?

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Fairly Sharing the Social Impact of the Crisis in Greece

January 27, 2014 Comments off

Fairly Sharing the Social Impact of the Crisis in Greece
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Poverty and income inequality have worsened since the onset of the crisis. While the design of fiscal measures has mitigated the burden sharing of fiscal adjustment, as the recession has deepened unemployment has risen, earnings have declined and social tensions have increased. Getting people back to work and supporting the most vulnerable remain priorities for inclusive growth and distributing the costs of adjustment equitably. Within the limited fiscal space this calls for continued reforms in targeting social support, especially housing benefits, extending unemployment insurance and introducing a means-tested minimum income. Sustaining universal access to good health care is also essential. Well-designed activation policies are important to bring the unemployed, especially the young, to work. At the same time, it is important to strengthen the effectiveness of the labour inspection to ensure full enforcement of the labour code. Decisive steps to contain tax evasion are also critical to social fairness. Reforms by the government in many of these areas are welcome and need to continue.

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013

January 13, 2014 Comments off

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Fisheries (capture fisheries and aquaculture) supply the world each year with millions of tonnes of fish (including, notably, fish, molluscs and crustaceans). Fisheries as well as ancillary activities also provide livelihoods and income. The fishery sector contributes to development and growth in many countries, playing an important role for food security, poverty reduction, employment and trade.

This publication contains statistics on fisheries from 2005 to 2012. Data provided concern fishing fleet capacity, employment in fisheries, fish landings, aquaculture production, recreational fisheries, government financial transfers, and imports and exports of fish.

OECD countries covered

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

Non-member economies covered

Argentina, Chinese Taipei, Thailand

CRS — Sovereign Debt in Advanced Economies: Overview and Issues for Congress

November 4, 2013 Comments off

Sovereign Debt in Advanced Economies: Overview and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Sovereign debt, also called public debt or government debt, refers to debt incurred by governments. Since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, public debt in advanced economies has increased substantially. A number of factors related to the financial crisis have fueled the increase, including fiscal stimulus packages, the nationalization of private-sector debt, and lower tax revenue. Even if economic growth reverses some of these trends, such as by boosting tax receipts and reducing spending on government programs, aging populations in advanced economies are expected to strain government debt levels in coming years.

High levels of debt in advanced economies arose as an issue for concern for some analysts following the global financial crisis, after decades of attention on debt levels in developing and emerging markets. Four Eurozone countries, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Cyprus, have turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other European governments for financial assistance. Some analysts and policymakers are also concerned about are also concerned about debt levels in other advanced economies.

To date, many advanced-economy governments have embarked on fiscal austerity programs (such as cutting spending and/or increasing taxes) to address historically high levels of debt. This policy response has been criticized by some economists as possibly undermining a weak recovery from the global financial crisis. Others argue that the austerity plans do not go far enough, and that more reforms are necessary to bring debt levels down, especially considering the aging populations in many countries.

A Failure by Any Other Name: The International Bailouts of Greece

July 24, 2013 Comments off

A Failure by Any Other Name: The International Bailouts of Greece
Source: Levy Economics Institute of Bard College

Research Associate and Policy Fellow C. J. Polychroniou argues that a political solution based on a new economic vision is needed to bring an end to the Greek crisis. Polychroniou observes that what began as a financial crisis has been transformed into a full-fledged economic and social crisis by the neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union (EU). Instead of growth, these policies have destroyed Greece’s economy, divided the eurozone states, and hobbled a fragile global recovery. The past six years have seen Greece’s descent into economic and social ruin. Exiting the current crisis, for Greece and countries throughout the eurozone, requires more than an end to austerity. Broadly, EU institutions must be radically restructured around the principles of sustainable, equitable growth. Specifically, Greece needs a comprehensive development plan, with massive public spending and investment.

The Greek Crisis: Possible Costs and Likely Outcomes of a Grexit

June 22, 2012 Comments off

The Greek Crisis: Possible Costs and Likely Outcomes of a Grexit
Source: Levy Economics Institute at Bard College

The European Union’s (EU) handling of the Greek crisis has been an unmitigated disaster. In fact, EU political leadership has been a failure of historic proportions, as its myopic, neoliberal bent and fear-driven policies have brought the eurozone to the brink of collapse. After more than two years of a “kicking the can down the road” policy response, it’s a do-or-die situation for Euroland. Greece has reached the point where an exit looks rather imminent (it’s really a matter of time, regardless of the June 17 election outcome), Portugal is bleeding heavily, Spain is about to go under, and Italy is in a state of despair. This Policy Note examines why the bailout policies failed to rescue Greece and boost the eurozone, and what effects a “Grexit” might possibly have—on Greece and the rest of Euroland.

Greece’s Pyrrhic Victories Over the Bond Swap and New Bailout

March 16, 2012 Comments off

Greece’s Pyrrhic Victories Over the Bond Swap and New Bailout
Source: Levy Economics Institute at Bard College

Nearly two years after becoming the first eurozone member-state to be bailed out by the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greece is officially bankrupt. True, there was never any doubt about the outcome, but Greece’s restructuring of nearly 200 billion euros in private debt and the agreement for a new bailout package signify something much bigger—namely, the formal conversion of a sovereign nation into an EU/IMF zombie debtor, and a doomsday scenario that includes its forced exit from the eurozone.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

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