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Mr. Andrew J Tiffin
Macroeconomic analysis in Lebanon presents a distinct challenge. For example, long delays in the publication of GDP data mean that our analysis often relies on proxy variables, and resembles an extended version of the “nowcasting” challenge familiar to many central banks. Addressing this problem—and mindful of the pitfalls of extracting information from a large number of correlated proxies—we explore some recent techniques from the machine learning literature. We focus on two popular techniques (Elastic Net regression and Random Forests) and provide an estimation procedure that is intuitively familiar and well suited to the challenging features of Lebanon’s data.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx

Yu Ching Wong

The past decade was a disappointing one for Pacific island countries. As globalization intensified, the region’s population growth outpaced economic growth and the private sector created few jobs. Clearly, “business as usual” offered no prescription for the future. In early April, senior government officials and private sector representatives from Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and Tuvalu joined researchers and officials of multilateral and bilateral donors for a high-level seminar—”Seizing Opportunities for Growth in a Globalizing World”—in Palau. The seminar—co-hosted by the IMF, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency—explored the challenges facing these island economies as they seek their own path to sustainable growth and development.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region that shares a common cultural and institutional heritage as well (see box, page 4).