Everyone knows that you should treat monthly economic data with caution since what seems like news is often just a blip – something random in measurement. Since you cannot normally tell the difference between a blip and news on the day, most media organisations understandably treat the release as news and perhaps add some caution to a story towards the end when few people will still be taking notice.
Today is different. I can definitively say the good UK employment data is a blip and should not be considered news. The reason is that the Office for National Statistics are decent enough to publish underlying data for the series proving the case. Read more
Special coverage: IMF meetings
Although the IMF is super-orthodox and Anglo Saxon, when it comes to advanced economy monetary policy, even with a French managing director and chief economist, there are some signs of a softer IMF this spring.
Most attention has focused on capital controls, on which the Fund has issued its first ever guidelines on their use. This is seen as the IMF giving ground to countries, such as China, seeking to build foreign exchange reserves for currency management rather than expose itself to volatile capital inflows. This is a misreading of the IMF’s intentions.
The Fund could not have been clearer that capital controls are only a valid part of the macroeconomic toolkit if a country’s currency is not undervalued, it has sufficient foreign exchange reserves and it is unable to use monetary or fiscal policy. Only one - foreign exchange reserves – of these three criteria apply to China.
In contrast, in the World Economic Outlook, the Fund complains repeatedly about China’s exchange rate Read more
The US lacks a “credible strategy” to stabilise its mounting public debt, posing a small but significant risk of a new global economic crisis, says the International Monetary Fund.
In an unusually stern rebuke to its largest shareholder, the IMF said the US was the only advanced economy to be increasing its underlying budget deficit in 2011, at a time when its economy was growing fast enough to reduce borrowing. The latest warning on the deficit was delivered as Barack Obama, the US president, is becoming increasingly engaged in the debate over ways to curb America’s mounting debt. Read more