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Ms. Nicole Laframboise, Ms. Patricia Alonso-Gamo, Mr. Alain Feler, Mrs. Stefania Bazzoni, Mr. Karim A. Nashashibi, and Sebastian Paris Horvitz

Abstract

This paper offers Algeria's recent experience with macroeconomic stabilization and systemic transformation from a centrally planned to a market economy. The analyses focuses on the period since 1994 when Algeria embarked on a comprehensive reform program that has benefitted from IMF support, first through a one-year Stand-by Arrangement, and from May 1995, through a three-year arrangement under the Extended Fund Facility. To better understand this experience, this paper provides some background information on Algeria's political history and economic developments during the period preceding the Stand-By arrangement.

Mr. Thomas Helbling and Ms. Sena Eken

Abstract

Following the 15-year civil war that started in 1975, Lebanon's government began the difficult task of economic stabilization and confidence building, on the one hand, and postwar reconstruction and development, on the other. The government led the reconstruction effort by formulating programs that aimed to rapidly rehabilitate the country's severly damaged infrastructure in preparation for private-sector-led growth over the medium term. At the same time, Lebanon introduced an exchange-rate-based nominal anchor policy to stabilize expectations and cut inflation. This paper analyzes the government's progress with the policies adopted.

Rodrigo Jaramillo

CENTRAL BANKS or other monetary authorities have at their disposal both general and specific instruments for controlling credit either by affecting its price (discount rate) or by changing its quantity.1 Open market operations and reserve ratios are general and quantitative measures; discount rates are also general but work through prices (interest rates). However, when central banks wish to influence not only the total volume of credit available but also its specific distribution among users, they may exercise selective controls by making quantitative credit allocations or by charging differential rates to various groups of banks or to individual banks.

Mr. George T. Abed and Mr. Hamid R Davoodi

Abstract

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region. Despite undertaking economic reforms in many countries, and having considerable success in avoiding crises and achieving macroeconomic stability, the region’s economic performance in the past 30 years has been below potential. This paper takes stock of the region’s relatively weak performance, explores the reasons for this out come, and proposes an agenda for urgent reforms.

Mr. George T. Abed and Mr. Hamid R Davoodi

Abstract

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region that includes countries with a common heritage, vastly different levels of per capita income, and a common set of challenges (see Box 1). Historically, dependence on oil wealth in many countries and a legacy of central planning in other countries have played major roles in shaping the region’s development strategies.

Mr. Paolo Mauro, Mr. Torbjorn I. Becker, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, Mr. Romain Ranciere, and Mr. Olivier D Jeanne

Abstract

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.

Margaret G. de Vries

A VIGOROUS INTEREST among economists in exchange rates in recent years makes it worthwhile to ascertain the magnitudes of the exchange rate depreciation that has actually occurred for a broad range of countries since World War II. A number of economists have lamented the relatively little change in exchange rates in the past 20 years. These economists have, for the most part, focused their observations primarily on the major industrial and more developed countries. Investigation of the magnitudes of depreciation in the less developed countries has usually been confined to a single country or to a few countries in a given region. Or it has been presumed that most of them have followed major currencies—the U.S. dollar, the pound sterling, or the French franc. The actual magnitudes of exchange depreciation for a wide spectrum of less developed countries for the postwar period have not been presented. Yet, such knowledge is basic to much of the discussion concerning trade policies between the more and the less developed countries.