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International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.

This paper provides a brief overview of the latest research on the ability of forecasters to predict recessions. The paper highlights that few recessions have been forecast before their onset. Forecasters tend to be excessively cautious and do not revise their forecasts promptly and sufficiently to reflect incoming news. Nor do they fully take into account interdependence among economies. This paper also focuses on robust growth determinants highlighting that a fundamental problem confronting researchers is the lack of an explicit theory identifying the determinants of growth.

Ms. Chikako Oka
This paper attempts to predict the incidence of arrears to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by modifying and applying two of the major early warning systems for currency crises: the "signals" approach proposed by Kaminsky, Lizondo, and Reinhart (1997) and the probit-based alternative developed by Berg and Pattillo (1998). The results, based on both in-sample and out-of-sample tests, appear encouraging. While the unique nature of IMF arrears poses some challenges, the models could be useful tools for identifying countries at high risk of incurring arrears to the IMF.
Ms. Helene Poirson Ward, Mr. Luca A Ricci, and Ms. Catherine A Pattillo
This paper assesses the non linear impact of external debt on growth using a large panel data set of 93 developing countries over 1969–98. Results are generally robust across different econometric methodologies, regression specifications, and different debt indicators. For a country with average indebtedness, doubling the debt ratio would reduce annual per capita growth by between half and a full percentage point. The differential in per capita growth between countries with external indebtedness (in net present value) below 100 percent of exports and above 300 percent of exports seems to be in excess of 2 percent per annum. For countries that are to benefit from debt reduction under the current HIPC initiative, per capita growth might increase by 1 percentage point, unless constrained by other macroeconomic and structural economic distortions. Our findings also suggest that the average impact of debt becomes negative at about 160–170 percent of exports or 35–40 percent of GDP. The marginal impact of debt starts being negative at about half of these values. High debt appears to reduce growth mainly by lowering the efficiency of investment rather than its volume.
Goohoon Kwon and Mr. Se-Jik Kim
This paper presents a general equilibrium model of interenterprise arrears, characterized by n-stage production technology with random productivity shocks. The model shows that large interenterprise arrears in transition economies may reflect substantial business risks in those countries and that rapid privatization and commercialization may contribute to a huge initial accumulation of trade credits and arrears. The paper also suggests that administrative measures aimed at immediate reduction of IEA such as imposition of prepayments and penalty charges, would not be as effective as partial equilibrium frameworks suggest. Consequently, a fundamental solution should be sought instead in reducing business risks or improving enterprise information. Finally, the paper discusses the relevance of the model to Russian experience in 1993 and 1994.
Ms. Lisa Drakes, Ms. Chrystol Thomas, Roland Craigwell, and Kevin Greenidge
This paper addresses the issue of threshold effects between public debt and economic growth in the Caribbean. The main finding is that there exists a threshold debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of 55–56 percent. Moreover, the debt dynamics begin changing well before this threshold is reached. Specifically, at debt levels lower than 30 percent of GDP, increases in the debt-to-GDP ratio are associated with faster economic growth. However, as debt rises beyond 30 percent, the effects on economic growth diminishes rapidly and at debt levels reaching 55-56 percent of GDP, the growth impacts switch from positive to negative. Thus, beyond this threshold, debt becomes a drag on growth.
Fuad Hasanov and Reda Cherif
We study how macroeconomic shocks affect U.S. public debt dynamics using a VAR with debt feedback. Following a fiscal austerity shock, the debt ratio initially declines and then returns to its pre-shock path. Yet, the effect is not statistically significant. In a weak economic environment, the likelihood of a self-defeating austerity shock is much higher than in normal times. An inflation shock only slightly reduces the debt ratio for a few quarters. A positive growth shock unambiguously lowers debt. In our specification, the debt ratio is stationary, whereas a VAR excluding debt may imply an explosive debt path.
Mr. Geoffrey J Bannister and Mr. Luis D Barrot
This paper presents an alternative method for calculating debt targets using the debt intolerance literature of Reinhart, Rogoff, and Savastano (2003) and Reinhart and Rogoff (2009). The methodology presented improves on the previous papers by using a dynamic panel approach, correcting for endogeneity in the regressors and basing the calculation of debt targets on credit ratings, a more objective criteria. In addition the study uses a new data base on general government debt covering 120 countries over 21 years. The paper suggests a ranking of Central America, Panama, and Dominican Republic (CAPDR) countries in terms of debt intolerance - an index which could be used to further investigate the main components of debt intolerance.
Marzie Taheri Sanjani
This paper investigates financial frictions in US postwar data to understand the interaction between the real business cycle and the credit market. A Bayesian estimation technique is used to estimate a large Vector Autoregression and New Keynesian models demonstrating how financial shocks can have a large and sluggish impact on the economy. I identify the default risk and the maturity mismatch channels of monetary policy transmission; I further employ a generalized-IRF to establish countercyclicality of risk spreads; and I show that the maturity mismatch shocks produce a stronger impact than the default risk shocks.
Lahcen Bounader and Mohamed Doukali
We test the existence of the balance sheet channel of monetary policy in a middle-income country. Firm-level data scarcity and quality, in such a context, make the identification of this channel a steep challenge. To circumvent this challenge, we use panel instrumental variables estimation with measurement error to analyze the financial statements of 58 500 Moroccan firms over the period 2010-2016. Our analysis confirms the existence of this channel. It shows that monetary policy has a significant impact on small and medium enterprises’ access to banks’ financing, and that firm-specific variables are key determinants of firms’ financing decisions.
Mr. Atish R. Ghosh, Ms. Manuela Goretti, Mr. Bikas Joshi, Mr. Alun H. Thomas, and Mr. Juan Zalduendo

This paper presents two approaches to modeling the use of IMF resources from the General Resources Account in order to gauge whether the recent decline in credit outstanding is a temporary or a permanent phenomenon. The two approaches—the time-series behavior of credit outstanding and a two-stage program selection and access model—yield the same conclusion: the use of IMF resources is likely to decline sharply. Specifically, credit outstanding is projected to decline from an average of SDR 50 billion over 2000–05 to an average of about SDR 8 billion over 2006–10. Stochastic simulations suggest that it is unlikely to be much higher. These results are based on the IMF’s World Economic Outlook projections with a correction for historically observed over optimistic biases. In addition, alternative scenarios assuming weaker economic performance or a less benign global economic environment do not materially alter these results. IMF Staff Papers (2008) 55, 1–49; doi:10.1057/palgrave.imfsp.9450031