Western Hemisphere

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Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Ruud de Mooij, Andrew Hodge, Jan Loeprick, Dinar Prihardini, Ms. Alpa Shah, Sebastian Beer, Sonja Davidovic, Arbind M Modi, and Fan Qi
Digitalization in Asia is pervasive, unique, and growing. It stands out by its sheer scale, with internet users far exceeding numbers in other regions. This facilitates e-commerce in markets that are large by international standards, supported by innovative payment systems and featuring major corporate players, including a number of large, home-grown, highly digitalized businesses (tech giants) that rival US multinational enterprises (MNEs) in size. Opportunity for future growth exists, as a significant population share remains unconnected.
Rasmané Ouedraogo and Mr. Amadou N Sy
This paper studies the effect of digitalization on the perception of corruption and trust in tax officials in Africa. Using individual-level data from Afrobarometer surveys and several indices of digitalization, we find that an increase in digital adoption is associated with a reduction in the perception of corruption and an increase in trust in tax officials. Exploiting the exogeneous deployment of submarine cables at the local level, the paper provides evidence of a negative impact of the use of Internet on the perception of corruption. Yet, the paper shows that the dampening effect of digitalization on corruption is hindered in countries where the government has a pattern of intentionally shutting down the Internet, while countries that successfully promote information and communication technology (ICT) enjoy a more amplified effect.
Mr. Carlos Mulas-Granados, Mr. Richard Varghese, Vizhdan Boranova, Alice deChalendar, and Judith Wallenstein
We exploit a survey data set that contains information on how 11,000 workers across advanced and emerging market economies perceive the main forces shaping the future of work. In general, workers feel more positive than negative about automation, especially in emerging markets. We find that negative perceptions about automation are prevalent among workers who are older, poorer, more exposed to job volatility, and from countries with higher levels of robot penetration. Perceptions over automation are positively viewed by workers with higher levels of job satisfaction, higher educational attainment, and from countries with stronger labor protection. Workers with positive perceptions of automation also tend to respond that re-education and retraining will be needed to adapt to rapidly evolving skill demands. These workers expect governments to have a role in shaping the future of work through protection of labor and new forms of social benefits. The demand for protection and benefits is more significant among women and workers that have suffered job volatility.
Mr. Balazs Csonto, Yuxuan Huang, and Mr. Camilo E Tovar Mora
This paper examines the extent to which digitalization—measured by a new proxy based on IP addresses allocations per country—has influenced inflation dynamics in a sample of 36 advanced and emerging economies over 2000-2017. Phillips curve estimates show that digitalization has a statistically significant negative effect on inflation in the short run. Its economic impact is not large but has increased since 2012 and mainly operates through a cost/competition channel. Principal components and cointegration analysis further suggest digitalization is a key driver of lower trend inflation.
Ms. Longmei Zhang and Ms. Sally Chen
China’s digital economy has expanded rapidly in recent years. While average digitalization of the economy remains lower than in advanced economies, digitalization is already high in certain regions and sectors, in particular e-commerce and fintech, and costal regions. Such transformation has boosted productivity growth, with varying impact on employment across sectors. Going forward, digitalization will continue to reshape the Chinese economy by improving efficiency, softening though not reversing, the downward trend of potential growth as the economy matures. The government should play a vital role in maximizing the benefits of digitalization while minimizing related risks, such as potential labor disruption, privacy infringement, emerging oligopolies, and financial risks.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

Growth in the first half of 2018 was softer than in 2017, especially in advanced economies. In contrast, growth remained robust in emerging market economies and broadly in line with expectations. After rising to 6.9 percent in 2017, growth in China continued to be strong into the first half of 2018 but has likely slowed since, given the latest high-frequency indicators, including weakening investment growth. In Japan, after exceeding potential for two years, growth dropped into negative territory in the first quarter of 2018 before rebounding sharply in the second quarter. In India, growth continues to recover steadily after the disruptions related to demonetization and the rollout of the goods and services tax in the last fiscal year.1 And in ASEAN-4 economies (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand), growth generally lost momentum in the first half of 2018, except in Thailand.

International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.

Abstract

This report discusses fiscal trends in policies aimed at reducing fiscal vulnerabilities and boosting medium-term growth, recent fiscal developments and the fiscal outlook in advanced economies, emerging markets, and low-income developing countries; recent trends in government debt and analysis of changes in fiscal balances, revenue, and spending; potential fiscal risks; and growth from the fiscal policies. It also describes how digitalization can help governments improve implementation of current policy and widen the range of policy options, and opportunities and risks for fiscal policy, including improvements in policy implementation, the design of future policy, and how digitalization can create opportunities for fraud and increase government vulnerabilities.

International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
Digitalization encompasses a wide range of new applications of information technology in business models and products that are transforming the economy and social interactions. Digitalization is both an enabler and a disruptor of businesses. The lack of a generally agreed definition of the “digital economy” or “digital sector” and the lack of industry and product classification for Internet platforms and associated services are hurdles to measuring the digital economy. This paper distinguishes between the “digital sector” and the increasingly digitalized modern economy, often called the “digital economy,” and focuses on the measurement of the digital sector. The digital sector covers the core activities of digitalization, ICT goods and services, online platforms, and platform-enabled activities such as the sharing economy.

Abstract

Digitization promises to reshape fiscal policy by transforming how governments collect, process, share, and act on information. More and higher-quality information can improve not only policy design for tax and spending, but also systems for their management, including tax administration and compliance, delivery of public services, administration of social programs, public financial management, and more. Countries must chart their own paths to effectively balance the potential benefits against the risks and challenges, including institutional and capacity constraints, privacy concerns, and new avenues for fraud and evasion. Support for this book and the conference on which it is based was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “Click Download on the top right corner for your free copy..."

Mr. Dong He, Mr. Ross B Leckow, Mr. V. Haksar, Mr. Tommaso Mancini Griffoli, Nigel Jenkinson, Ms. Mikari Kashima, Mr. Tanai Khiaonarong, Ms. Celine Rochon, and Hervé Tourpe
A new wave of technological innovations, often called “fintech,” is accelerating change in the financial sector. What impact might fintech have on financial services, and how should regulation respond? This paper sets out an economic framework for thinking through the channels by which fintech might provide solutions that respond to consumer needs for trust, security, privacy, and better services, change the competitive landscape, and affect regulation. It combines a broad discussion of trends across financial services with a focus on cross-border payments and especially the impact of distributed ledger technology. Overall, the paper finds that boundaries among different types of service providers are blurring; barriers to entry are changing; and improvements in cross-border payments are likely. It argues that regulatory authorities need to balance carefully efficiency and stability trade-offs in the face of rapid changes, and ensure that trust is maintained in an evolving financial system. It also highlights the importance of international cooperation.