Jean François Clevy, Mr. Guilherme Pedras, and Mrs. Esther Perez Ruiz
The pandemic has urged countries around the globe to mobilize financing to support the recovery. This is even more relevant in Central America, where the policy response to cushion the pandemic’s economic and social impact has accentuated pre-existing debt vulnerabilities. This paper documents the potential for local currency bond markets to diversify and expand financing for the recovery, lowering bond yields, funding volatility, and exposure to global shocks. The paper further identifies priority actions, both national and regional, to support market development.
Lucyna Gornicka, Ms. Sumiko Ogawa, and Ms. TengTeng Xu
To assess the resilience of India’s corporate sector against COVID-19-related shocks, we conducted a series of stress tests using firm-level corporate balance sheet data. The results reveal a differential impact across sectors, with the most severe impact on contact-intensive services, construction, and manufacturing sectors, and micro, small, and medium enterprises. On policy impact, the results highlight that temporary policy measures have been particularly effective in supporting firm liquidity, but the impact on solvency is less pronounced. On financial sector balance sheets, we found that public sector banks are more vulnerable to stress in the corporate sector, partly due to their weaker starting capital positions. When considering forward-looking multiperiod growth scenarios, we find that the overall corporate performance will depend on the speed of recovery. A slower pace of recovery could lead to persistently high levels of debt at risk, especially in some services and industrial sectors.
Virginia Alonso-Albarran, Ms. Teresa R Curristine, Gemma Preston, Alberto Soler, Nino Tchelishvili, and Sureni Weerathunga
Achieving gender equality remains a significant challenge, that has only deepened with the on-set of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gender budgeting (GB) can help promote gender equality by applying a gender perspective to fiscal policies and the budget process. This paper takes stock of GB practices in G20 countries and benchmarks country performance using a GB index and data gathered from an IMF survey. All G20 countries have enacted gender focused fiscal policies but the public financial management (PFM) tools to operationalize these policies are far less established. We find that notwithstanding heterogeneity across countries, the average G20 level of GB practice is relatively low. More progress has been made establishing GB frameworks and budget preparation tools than with budget execution, monitoring and auditing. Too few countries assess the upfront impact of policies on gender and/or evaluate ex-post the effectiveness of policies and programs. Where GB features are in place, they tend to operate as an ‘add-on’, rather than a strategic and integral part of resource allocation decisions. Progress with GB does not appear to be dependent on the level of country development. Key to future efforts will be harnessing opportunities for integrating GB tools into existing PFM systems and more closely linking GB initiatives with PFM reforms.
Electoral rules determine how voters' preferences are aggregated and translated into political representation, and their design can lead to the election of representatives who represent broader or narrower constituencies. Relying on a regression discontinuity design, I contrast single- and two-round elections in Brazilian municipal races. Two-round elections use two rounds of voting to elect a winner, ensuring that the eventual winner obtains at least 50% of the vote. Theoretically, this can provide incentives for candidates to secure a broader base of support. Consistent with this, I show that in two-round elections, candidates represent a more geographically diverse group of voters, public schools have more resources, and there is less variation in resources across public schools. Effects appear to be driven by strategic responses of candidates, rather than differential entry into races. These results suggest that two-round elections can lead candidates to secure broader bases of support and to distribute public goods more broadly.
Ms. Anja Baum, Mr. Paulo A Medas, Alberto Soler, and Mouhamadou Sy
The size and operation of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) can imply significant risks for governments. SOEs are present in virtually every country in the world and are major players in domestic economies and in global markets. In some countries, they number in the thousands and are owned by national or subnational governments. SOEs are among the largest corporations in some advanced economies and comprise a third or more of the largest firms in several emerging markets. Many operate with systematic losses and carry significant liabilities. If SOEs face adverse shocks and financial distress they can impact the government budget or balance sheet through numerous transmission channels. This How to Note describes a newly developed SOE risk assessment tool to help country authorities and IMF country teams. The analysis can provide inputs for annual budgets and medium-term fiscal planning. This includes providing estimates of possible transfers to and from SOEs to the budget and possible financing needs. The note outlines the main steps and elements of the template to assess fiscal risks for governments from individual SOEs. The first step is to collect financial information on SOEs and their relation to the government budget, and to provide a benchmark against other SOEs in similar sectors. A second step is to do a forward-looking analysis based on baseline forecasts and stress scenarios, to identify and analyze possible risks and their impact on government accounts.
Corporate sector vulnerabilities have been a central policy topic since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, we analyze some 17,000 publicly listed firms in a sample of 24 countries, and assess their ability to withstand shocks induced by the pandemic to their liquidity, viability and solvency. For this purpose, we develop novel multi-factor sensitivity analysis and dynamic scenario-based stress test techniques to assess the impact of shocks on firm’s ability to service their debt, and on their liquidity and solvency positions. Applying the October 2020 WEO baseline and adverse scenarios, we find that a large share of publicly-listed firms become vulnerable as a result of the pandemic shock and additional borrowing needs to overcome cash shortfalls are large, while firm behavioral responses and policies substantially help overcome the impact of the shock in the near term. Looking forward, while interest coverage ratios tend to improve over time after the initial shock as earnings recover in line with projected macroeconomic conditions, liquidity needs remain substantial in many firms across countries and across industries, while insolvencies rise over time in specific industries. To inform policy debates, we offer an approach to a triage between viable and unviable firms, and find that the needs for liquidity support of viable firms remain important beyond 2020, and that medium-term debt restructuring needs and liquidations of firms may be substantial in the medium-term.
Public investment is likely to be an important component of any postcrisis recovery program. As countries work to ensure a smart, green, fair recovery, investing in modern, resilient, and efficient infrastructure assets will be key. This How to Note discusses how countries should manage public investments to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and similar crises. It provides countries with guidance on making efficient use of public investment to support economic recovery on three different capacity levels: basic, medium, and advanced.