A Preview of the 2014 IMF Spring Meetings

April 7, 2014
Finance ministers and central bank governors from around the world are set to gather in Washington, DC for the IMF ministerial meetings later this week, where they will discuss three main items. This commentary outlines what topics will be deliberated and previews the main thrust of the discussions that are likely to unfold.

Banking Union: Progress Made, but the Devil Is in the Details

April 1, 2014
The March 20, 2014 agreement on the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) is a major step toward repairing the euro area’s financial architecture. The SRM is the second pillar of the blueprint for banking union, following agreement on the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), which will take effect when the European Central Bank (ECB) takes over the supervision of systemic banks in November 2014. Both pillars are needed to align banking supervision and resolution at a central level, thus avoiding any tensions between EU-level supervision and national resolution schemes.

Data for Development: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

February 24, 2014
Governments, information and telecommunication companies, international organizations and humanitarian aid agencies are embracing data as a new tool that will revolutionize the way we address some of the world’s most serious problems, including food shortages and price volatility, financial crises, disease outbreaks and human rights violations.

An Early "Spring" in Bosnia?

February 20, 2014
Branka Marijan and Dejan Guzina
Since the signing of the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, Bosnia has often been described as relatively stable but stagnant. Recent protests, however, have pushed Bosnia into what one analyst described as “unchartered waters." While commentators suggest that this newfound activism could usher in a “Bosnian Spring” with transformative potential, more caution and EU attention are needed.

A Canadian Voice at Davos

January 31, 2014
The 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meetings in Davos, Switzerland, were a testament to the fact that live, in-person interaction is still a necessary complement to remote, decentralized and virtual connections. Titans of business, heads of government and policy mandarins huddle in this remote ski town every year because they know they can accomplish more in a few days clustered in close proximity to each other than they can in months of travel or video conference calls.

Debt Dynamics Indicate That Italy Remains Vulnerable as Spain Stabilizes

January 28, 2014
Spain and Italy are both expected to emerge from a recession this year with projected growth of 0.6 percent. However, even though the static snapshots of growth appear the same, Spain and Italy face very different macroeconomic and financial conditions and risks over the medium term.

Latest IMF Forecasts: No Longer Waiting for Godot?

January 21, 2014
After some improvement in the global economy in 2013, today’s release from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggests that more progress will be made in the year to come. The recovery in advanced economies is gaining traction, but with the accumulation of government debt and slow balance sheet adjustments, the IMF indicates that it is not yet time to tighten monetary policy. Emerging economies are expected to maintain their strength as many of them return to potential output from their cyclical peaks.

You Can't Buy Nirvana: Adam Smith and the Buddha

December 17, 2013
Ronald Wintrobe
Economics and Buddhism would seem to have little in common with each other. The central question in Buddhist philosophy, however, is the same as that in economics: what is the key to human happiness? But Buddhism and economics answer this question opposite to one another. In economics, wealth is the key to happiness — the wealthier you are the more goods and services you can consume. This is the essence of the classical view of economics as presented by Adam Smith (1723–1790) in his work The Wealth of Nations. In Buddhism, desires or “cravings” for goods and services are like addictions. Buying more goods and services does little or nothing to reduce the cravings. The only way to enhance one’s happiness is to reduce the cravings themselves. This was the central insight of Gotama (later known as the Buddha) 2,500 years ago, and it remains the core of Buddhist doctrine today. How is it that these two philosophies can approach the same central question from such different perspectives? Can they learn from each other?

The Changing Face of Brazil as an International Donor — From Lula to Dilma Rousseff

December 11, 2013
Emerging powers such as China, India and Brazil have drawn worldwide attention over the last decade, not least for their transition from recipients to sources of international development assistance. While some observers have suggested this could led to a paradigm shift in development cooperation, this commentary argues that the expectations for Brazil's role may be too high.

The G20: Reincarnation of an Acupuncturist?

December 6, 2013
Those who believe in reincarnation, the idea that people receive their “just desserts” in succeeding lives, may wonder about Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Was he a sinner in a previous life, now repaid with the “wicked problems” of the Group of Twenty (G20) 2014 presidency? Or, was he a saint, rewarded with the unique opportunity to lead the G20 on a course to ensure Australian influence and long-term stable, sustainable and balanced growth for the world economy?