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International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

This report examines whether the IMF has effectively leveraged an important asset: data. It finds that in general, the IMF has been able to rely on a large amount of data of acceptable quality, and that data provision from member countries has improved markedly over time. Nonetheless, problems with data or data practices have, at times, adversely affected the IMF’s surveillance and lending activities. The roots of data problems are diverse, ranging from problems due to member countries’ capacity constraints or reluctance to share sensitive data to internal issues such as lack of appropriate staff incentives, institutional rigidities, and long-standing work practices. Efforts to tackle these problems are piecemeal, the report finds, without a clear comprehensive strategy that recognizes data as an institutional strategic asset, not just a consumption good for economists. The report makes a number of recommendations that could promote greater progress in this regard.

Ms. Sandra Marcelino and Ms. Ivetta Hakobyan
In 1996, the IMF and the World Bank introduced the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative—a comprehensive debt relief program aimed at reducing the external debt burden of eligible countries to sustainable levels, provided they carry out strong programs of macroeconomic adjustment and structural reforms designed to promote growth and reduce poverty. Now that the HIPC Initiative is nearly completed, this paper investigates whether the initiative managed to spur growth, either directly or indirectly through investment. In contrast to earlier studies, we conclude that there is some evidence of positive effects of the HIPC Initiative on growth. Such evidence suggests that the HIPC Initiative and MDRI have helped HIPC-eligible countries to reach higher growth, but it remains unclear whether this is through higher investment or another channel. Also, the analysis illustrates that it is hard to disentangle pure debt-relief effects from other concurrent factors.
Mr. Chris Becker
This paper seeks to document key characteristics of small island states in the Pacific. It restricts itself to a limited number of indicators which are macro-orientated - population, fertility of land, ability to tap into economies of scale, income, and geographic isolation. It leaves aside equally important but more micro-orientated variables and development indicators. We show that small island states in the Pacific are different from countries in other regional groupings in that they are extremely isolated and have limited scope to tap economies of scale due to small populations. They often have little arable land. There is empirical evidence to suggest that these factors are related to income growth.