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International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

This Selected Issues paper assesses macroeconomic fiscal risks and the benefits of improved fiscal risk management in Angola. Angola faces fiscal risks coming from multiple sources, such as volatility in oil prices and production, macroeconomic shocks, weak macroeconomic forecasting; weaknesses in public fiscal management, energy subsidies, potential delays of oil revenue transfers from the state-owned oil company Sonangol to the Treasury, and contingent liabilities from state-owned banks and enterprises. Addressing these risks requires action in various fronts, including more transparent fiscal reporting, improved forecasting of fiscal aggregates and other macroeconomic variables, developing a fiscal stabilization fund with more flexible deposit and withdrawal rules, strengthened public expenditure controls, and more timely oil revenue transfers from Sonangol to the Treasury.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper on Angola reports that oil production in Angola accounts for about half of GDP and about 75 percent of government revenue. The projections for the government’s fiscal position in the medium term will be crucially dependent on both the value of oil production and the proportion that will accrue to the government. However, in addition to the usual uncertainties associated with projections of the total value of oil output, the government’s share has been subject to volatility.

Mr. Tito Cordella, Luca Antonio Ricci, and Marta Ruiz-Arranz

Do highly indebted countries suffer from a debt overhang? Can debt relief foster their growth rates? To answer these important questions, this article looks at how the debt-growth relation varies with indebtedness levels, as well as with the quality of policies and institutions, in a panel of developing countries. The main findings are that, in countries with good policies and institutions, there is evidence of debt overhang when the net present value of debt rises above 20–25 percent of GDP; however, debt becomes irrelevant above 70–80 percent. In countries with bad policies and institutions, thresholds appear to be lower, but the evidence of debt overhang is weaker and we cannot rule out that debt is always irrelevant. Indeed, in such countries, as well as in countries with high indebtedness levels, investment does not depend on debt levels. The analysis suggests that not all countries are likely to profit from debt relief, and thus that a one-size-fits-all debt relief approach might not be the most appropriate one.

International Monetary Fund
This paper provides an analysis of important factors that have affected the Angolan economy in recent years. The paper summarizes political developments since 1992 and provides an overview of developments in each major sector of the economy. The paper surveys the trade regime and reform priorities affecting it, summarizes available information on poverty, and describes issues affecting development of the diamond sector, formerly a mainstay of the Angolan economy. The paper also provides a technical analysis of the authorities’ current monetary rule, and a summary of the tax system.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper analyzes Portugal’s export performance in 2006 and assesses whether it might augur a sustained recovery. The paper examines the factors underlying the recent export rebound, and searches for signs of fundamental changes in structures of the export industries during the last decade. It highlights the importance of labor market flexibility. Using a four-country version of the IMF Global Economic Model, the paper attempts to illustrate the benefits of labor market reform to help close the competitiveness gap.
International Monetary Fund
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.
Mr. Robert M Burgess
This paper discusses initial performance of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Macroeconomic Convergence Program. The SADC’s regional economic integration agenda includes a macroeconomic convergence program, intended to achieve and maintain macroeconomic stability in the region, thereby contributing to faster economic growth and laying the basis for eventual monetary union. As macroeconomic performance in the SADC region has improved in recent years, most countries are making progress toward, and in many cases exceeding, the convergence criteria. Most SADC member states have recorded solid macroeconomic performance in recent years, in general coming close too, and in many cases surpassing, the convergence targets specified for 2008. A notable exception in this regard is Zimbabwe, which was in the grip of hyperinflation. The macroeconomic targets for later years are ambitious and, in some cases, warrant further evaluation, given that achieving the targets may be neither necessary nor enough to achieve good macroeconomic results.
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.
Louis M. Goreux

Compensatory financing as a means of helping primary exporting countries with balance of payments difficulties caused by shortfalls in their export earnings has been in use for many years. It gained prominence following the worldwide recession of 1975. This article reviews the latest commodity cycle and describes the enormous increase in compensatory drawings from the Fund since the liberalization of the Fund’s facility in December 1975.