International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Context. Economic activity strengthened somewhat in 2014 while the external current account deficit worsened primarily as a result of Baha Mar construction-related imports. The authorities continue to make substantial progress on fiscal consolidation with successful VAT implementation in January 2015 setting the stage for continued improvements in the fiscal position. Lower oil prices helped keep inflation anchored in 2014. Still, notwithstanding the capital flow management (CFM) regime, international reserves remain low. Key policy advice: Despite the U.S. recovery and the imminent opening of the Baha Mar resort, the growth outlook remains well below pre-global crisis levels, and strong and timely measures should be implemented to strengthen competitiveness and raise potential growth. In addition, rebuilding fiscal and external buffers will be essential for sustaining macroeconomic stability: • Reigniting strong and inclusive medium-term growth. Structural reforms are needed to address longstanding competiveness issues including labor market impediments to growth. Energy sector reforms could substantially lower energy costs, boost productivity and facilitate economic diversification in the medium term. A diversification strategy should explore the potential for increasing value added in the tourism sector, including through deepening linkages with agriculture. • Rebuilding fiscal and external buffers. Notwithstanding the CFM regime, the fixed exchange rate peg constrains monetary policy, leaving fiscal policy as the main instrument for macroeconomic stabilization. Steadfast implementation of the VAT and expenditure rationalization in the context of a medium-term budgetary framework, together with public enterprise reforms, would help rebuild fiscal buffers and support international reserves. • Preserving financial sector stability. The pre-crisis credit boom has left the banking system with an overhang of non-performing loans, which will likely continue to generate headwinds for the economy. Despite this, the banking system remains very well capitalized and liquid. Measures should be put in place to resolve the debt overhang while further strengthening the regulatory and supervisory framework.
This paper highlights that the Washington Consensus helped fill the need for an economic policy framework following the discrediting of central planning and import-substitution trade strategies. Latin American governments championed the Consensus in the early 1990s, and the policy agenda delivered some of the things it was supposed to—healthier budgets, lower inflation, lower external debt ratios, and economic growth. But unemployment rose in many countries and poverty remained widespread, while the emphasis on market openness made states vulnerable to the side effects of globalization.
Mr. Paolo Mauro, Mr. Torbjorn I. Becker, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, Mr. Romain Ranciere, and Mr. Olivier D Jeanne
This paper focuses on what countries can do on their own—that is, on the role of domestic policies—with respect to country insurance. Member countries are routinely faced with a range of shocks that can contribute to higher volatility in aggregate output and, in extreme cases, to economic crises. The presence of such risks underlies a potential demand for mechanisms to soften the blow from adverse economic shocks. For all countries, the first line of defense against adverse shocks is the pursuit of sound policies. In light of the large costs experienced by emerging markets and developing countries as a result of past debt crises, fiscal policies should seek to improve sustainability, taking into account that sustainable debt levels seem to be lower in emerging and developing countries than in advanced countries. Although much can be accomplished by individual countries through sound policies, risk management, and self-insurance through reserves, collective insurance arrangements are likely to continue playing a key role in cushioning countries from the impact of shocks.
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Large current account imbalances have been recorded in the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union since their independence. Are these current account positions sustainable, reflecting the special circumstances of transition, or are the positions untenable over the longer term? This study attempts to address this important question by first describing recent current account developments in these transition economies. It subsequently focuses on a wide range of external sustainability indicators by drawing on the existing literature, and attempts to assess their potential usefulness in a transiton country context. The indicators examined include real exchange rates, fiscal revenues and expenditures, savings and investment developments, openness measures, growth projections, external debt composition, foreign exchange reserve cover, and various financial sector measures.
This forthcoming title in the Departmental Paper Series describes the special challenges facing low-income countries as economic growth contracts by an estimated 1.1 percent globally. Coping with the Crisis: Challenges Facing Low-Income Countries provides an assessment of the implications of the financial crisis for low-income countries, evaluates the short-term macroeconomic outlook for these countries, and discusses the policy challenges they face. Chapters cover the outlook for global economic growth and commodity prices, an overview of how low-income countries have been affected, fiscal policy, monetary and exchange rate policy responses, potential external financing needs and how the international community, including the IMF, can help countries meet them. The challenges ahead for low-income countries are delineated, including debt vulnerabilities and the need for countries to develop well-regulated local capital markets and banking systems, as well as enhanced public sector efficiency.
What risks and opportunities does globalization pose for emerging market economies? Are capital flows on balance harmful or beneficial? Should external borrowing be restrained in emerging Asia? How risky is financial liberalization, and how costly are financial crises in emerging markets? The seventh annual Dubrovnik Economic Conference on June 28–29 addressed all of these issues. Organized by the Croatian National Bank, the Dubrovnik conference serves as an annual gathering of experts from multilateral financial institutions, academia, central banks, governments, and the private sector to exchange views on emerging market economy issues. This year’s discussions examined lessons from the tumultuous 1990s but also noted that recent turmoil in Turkey, Argentina, and elsewhere underscores how vital and topical these issues remain.