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International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.
This paper focuses on Ukraine’s Ex-Post Evaluation of Exceptional Access Under the 2015 Extended Arrangement. Sound fiscal and monetary policies since the 2014–2015 crisis have resulted in a sharp reduction in Ukraine’s external and internal imbalances. Public debt was put on a downward path, inflation has declined, and international reserves have recovered. The new Stand-By Arrangement will provide an anchor for the authorities’ efforts to address the impact of the crisis, while ensuring macroeconomic stability and safeguarding achievements to date. Together with support from the World Bank and the European Union, it will help address large financing needs. The program will focus on safeguarding medium-term fiscal sustainability, preserving central bank independence and the flexible exchange rate, and enhancing financial stability while recovering the costs from bank resolutions. The National Bank of Ukraine has skillfully managed monetary policy during a very challenging period. Central Bank independence should be preserved, and monetary and exchange rate policies should continue to provide a stable anchor in the context of the inflation-targeting regime, while allowing orderly exchange rate adjustment and preventing liquidity stress.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2016 Article IV Consultation shows that following a severe crisis in 2014–15, the economy of Ukraine is growing again. The flexible exchange rate and tight fiscal and monetary policies have greatly reduced internal and external imbalances. The current account deficit fell sharply, from more than 9 percent of GDP in 2013 to 3.6 percent of GDP in 2016. The overall fiscal deficit declined to 2.3 percent of GDP in 2016. Growth will remain at 2 percent in 2017 due to the impact of the blockade in the eastern part of Ukraine, but is expected to reach 3 percent in 2018 as the economy adjusts and about 3.5–4.0 percent over the medium term.
Angana Banerji, Ms. Bergljot B Barkbu, Mr. James A John, Mr. Tidiane Kinda, Mr. Sergejs Saksonovs, Hanni Schoelermann, and Mr. Tao Wu
The momentum for structural reforms is waning in the euro area at a time when even faster progress is needed to boost productivity and growth, achieve real economic convergence, and improve the resilience of the monetary union. What can the European Union (EU) institutions do to bridge this divide? This paper argues for greater simplicity, transparency and accountability in the EU governance framework for structural reforms. Our three interrelated proposals—“outcome-based” benchmarking; better use of existing EU processes to strengthen oversight and reduce discretion; and improved financial incentives—could help advance reforms. Ex post monitoring by an independent EU-level “structural council” and ex ante policy innovation by national productivity councils could strengthen accountability and ownership. Deeper governance reforms should be considered in the medium-term with a view toward a greater EU role in promoting convergence.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
KEY ISSUES Abenomics has lifted Japan out of the doldrums and needs to be reinforced to accomplish the desired “once in a lifetime” economic regime shift. Building on initial positive results, policies now need to embark on a sustained effort to meet the unprecedented challenges Japan is facing: ending an entrenched deflationary mindset, raising growth, restoring fiscal and debt sustainability, and maintaining financial stability in the face of adverse demographics. Japan should be at the vanguard of structural reform. More vigorous efforts to raise labor supply and deregulate domestic markets, backed by further endeavors to raise wages and investment and designed to boost confidence and raise domestic demand, will be essential to lift growth, facilitate fiscal consolidation, and unburden monetary policy. A credible medium-term fiscal consolidation plan is needed to remove uncertainty about the direction of policies that may be holding back domestic demand. The overarching goal should be to put debt on a downward path, through gradual but steady consolidation that does not derail growth and inflation momentum. It should be based on prudent economic assumptions and on concrete structural revenue and expenditure measures identified upfront. More explicit monetary guidance would enhance inflation dynamics. Actual and expected inflation remain well below the Bank of Japan’s (BoJ’s) inflation target and monetary policy transmission remains weak. The BoJ needs to stand ready to undertake further easing and should provide stronger guidance to markets through enhanced communication. Absent deeper structural reforms, even with further easing, reaching two- percent inflation in a stable manner is likely to take longer than envisaged, suggesting that the BoJ should put greater emphasis on achieving the inflation target in a stable manner rather than within a specific time frame. The financial sector should be a greater catalyst for growth, and guard against risks from unconventional policies. The soundness of the financial system allows more risk taking and consolidation, while remaining resilient to the likely higher volatility of asset prices, exchange rates and interest rates, and lower liquidity in the JGB market as quantitative easing proceeds. While the 2014 external position was assessed to be broadly aligned with fundamentals, subsequent developments and incomplete policies raise the risk of negative spillovers. With the depreciation of the yen relative to its mid-2014 level, further monetary easing without bolder structural reforms and a credible medium-term fiscal consolidation plan could lead to sluggish domestic demand and overreliance on yen depreciation to pursue domestic policy objectives.
Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo and Ms. Natasha X Che
Which structural reforms affect the speed the regional convergence within a country? We found that domestic financial development, trade/current account openness, better institutional infrastructure, and selected labor market reforms facilitate regional convergence. However, these reforms have mixed effects on the growth of regions closer to the country’s development frontier. We also document that regional income disparity and average income are inversely correlated across countries so that speeding up regional convergence increases national income. We also present a theoretical model to discuss these results.
Pelin Berkmen
With Japan’s public debt reaching historical levels, the need for fiscal consolidation and structural reforms have increased. As fiscal consolidation will require a sustained and large adjustment in the fiscal balance, its growth effect is a concern particularly for the short run. This paper uses the IMF’s Global Integrated Monetary and Fiscal Model to analyze the growth impact of fiscal consolidation and structural reforms. Although fiscal consolidation has short-term costs, the potential long-term benefits are considerable, and reforms that raise potential growth could support consolidation. Simulations show that the external environment also matters but domestic policies should be the priority.
International Monetary Fund
The staff report examines Cameroon’s Sixth Review Under the Three-Year Arrangement Under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and Request for Waiver of Performance Criterion. The authorities stressed their interest in a successor IMF program to support Cameroon’s medium-term economic objectives. Sound oil revenue management helped contain money growth, and inflation remained generally low. The government significantly lowered its indebtedness to the banking system, which helped to contain money growth despite a large increase in international reserves.
International Monetary Fund
The staff report for the Fourth Review on Nigeria highlights developments under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI). Robust non-oil sector growth significantly strengthened fiscal and external positions, reducing inflation that surpassed the original program goals. Fiscal risks have increased in the short term because recent practices on the use of an oil price rule and oil savings, which have been important to macroeconomic performance, are being revisited. The government’s consensual approach within the framework of the constitution offers the prospect of a lasting solution.