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Mr. Gonzalo Salinas and Patrick A. Imam
The growth literature has had problems explaining the "sub-Saharan African growth dummy" in cross-country regressions. Instead of taking the usual approach of focusing on long-run growth and assuming that sub-Saharan countries have homogenous parameters in growth regressions, we concentrate our analysis on episodes of growth turnarounds (identifying growth accelerations, decelerations, and collapses) and use only West African countries in our sample. The driving force of growth turnarounds are estimated by analyzing external shocks, political and institutional changes, economic reforms, and indicators particularly relevant to the region. Using probits for a group of 22 Western African economies for the period 1960-2006, we find that growth accelerations are most clearly associated with external shocks, economic liberalization, political stability, and closeness to the coast; decelerations occurred during short-lived regimes and when corruption indices weakened; and collapses are linked to external shocks, falling domestic credit, and proximity to the coast. We then identify policy implications.
Ms. Anne Marie Gulde and Mr. Charalambos G Tsangarides

Abstract

About one-third of countries covered by the IMF's African Department are members of the CFA franc zone. With most other countries moving away from fixed exchange rates, the issue of an adequate policy framework to ensure the sustainability of the CFA franc zone is clearly of interest to policymakers and academics. However, little academic research exists in the public domain. This book aims to fill this void by bringing together work undertaken in the context of intensified regional surveillance and highlighting the current challenges and the main policy requirements if the arrangements are to be carried forward. The book is based on empirical research by a broad group of IMF economists, with contributions from several outside experts.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

Les perspectives sont excellentes pour la région. La croissance en Afrique subsaharienne devrait atteindre 6 % en 2007 et 6¾ % en 2008. L’expansion économique est plus forte dans les pays exportateurs de pétrole, mais bénéficie à toutes les catégories de pays. De tels résultats s’inscriraient dans une période particulièrement positive. La forte croissance et le bas niveau d’inflation observés dans la région ces dernières années sont sans précédent depuis plus de 30 ans.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

The region's prospects look strong. Growth in sub-Saharan Africa should reach 6 percent in 2007 and 6¾ percent in 2008. The economic expansion is strongest in oil exporters but cuts across all country groups. This would extend a period of very good performance. In recent years, sub-Saharan Africa has been experiencing its strongest growth and lowest inflation in over 30 years.

Mr. Oral Williams and Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji
The stance of fiscal policy in CEMAC and WAEMU is strongly influenced by fiscal effort in the previous period. This persistence underscores the risks of a procyclical fiscal policy stance, given these countries' high degree of dependence on primary commodities and exposure to terms of trade shocks. This paper finds that the coefficient of the lagged debt stock was significant and positive, consistent with the theory that higher levels of debt warrant greater fiscal effort. Various measures of economic performance, as captured by economic growth and per capita GDP, openness, and the terms of trade were also found to be important factors in explaining fiscal performance. As fiscal performance seems to be strongly affected by both real GDP growth and terms of trade fluctuations, there appears to be a need to develop supplementary fiscal-related criteria that take into account the influence of output and the terms of trade.
Mr. Mark W Lewis, Ms. Aurelie Martin, and Gabriel Di Bella
Assessing a country's competitiveness routinely starts with an analysis of the real exchange rate. However, in low-income countries, empirical analysis of the real exchange rate is often subject to important limitations that seriously weaken the results. This paper summarizes the methodologies used to assess real exchange rate misalignments and discusses the range of obstacles common to low-income countries. Recognizing the importance of using a wide range of indicators for assessing competitiveness in low-income countries, the paper discusses alternative competitive measures and then proposes a template of indicators to allow for a systematic assessment of competitiveness in low-income countries. The template is then used to rank countries according to their competitiveness performance in 2006.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper on the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) reviews the evolution of actual and equilibrium real effective exchange rates (REER). The current level of the CEMAC REER is broadly in line with its long-term equilibrium value. The estimation approach herein is subject to certain limitations, some of which are inherent to the literature that tries to estimate the equilibrium REERs. Absolute statements about magnitudes of any possible misalignments should be avoided given the degree of model uncertainty; error bands around estimated equilibrium exchange rates may, in some cases, yield inconclusive results.
Mr. Dhaneshwar Ghura and Benoît Mercereau
This paper provides empirical evidence that the propensity for political instability in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) has been increased by low tax revenues and deteriorations in the terms of trade. The direct effect of political instability on economic growth is not statistically significant, once account is taken of domestic investment, and economic growth in neighboring countries. The policy implications are: (i) mobilization of domestic revenues to pay public employees' salaries and provide basic social services would lower the probability of coups; (ii) economic diversification would reduce the propensity for adverse terms of trade shocks to fuel coups; and (iii) neighboring countries' efforts to resolve conflicts and achieve sustained growth would be beneficial for the C.A.R.'s economic performance.
Mr. Hazel Selvon, Ms. Tracy Polius, and Mr. Oral Williams
The paper presents a comparison of the gains from the pooling of reserves, and hence reserve variability, in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) and the CFA franc zone. The results indicate that countries within the ECCU area have achieved greater balance of payments protection than the CFA zone countries from the pooling of reserves. Unanticipated changes in the terms of trade lowered reserves in the CFA relative to the ECCU, which may reflect a greater reliance on primary commodities in the CFA compared with services in the ECCU.