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Toan Quoc Nguyen, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, and Ms. Rina Bhattacharya

Abstract

The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, launched in 1999 by the IMF and the World Bank, was the first coordinated effort by the international financial community to reduce the foreign debt of the world’s poorest countries. It was based on the theory that economic growth in heavily indebted poor countries was being stifled by heavy debt burdens, making it virtually impossible for these countries to escape poverty. However, most of the empirical research on the effects of debt on growth has lumped together a diverse group of countries, and the literature on the countries’ impact of debt on poor is scant. This pamphlet presents the findings of the authors’ empirical research into the subject, analyzing the channels through which debt affects growth in low-income countries.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

The consumer price index (CPI) measures the rates at which the prices of consumer goods and services are changing over time. It is a key statistic for purposes of economic and social policymaking, especially monetary policy and social policy, and has substantial and wide-ranging implications for governments, businesses, and workers, as well as households. This important and comprehensive manual provides guidelines for statistical offices and other agencies responsible for constructing CPIs and explains in depth the methods that are used to calculate a CPI. It also examines the underlying economic and statistical concepts and priniciples needed for making choices in efficient and cost-effective ways and for appreciating the full implications of those choices. The following international organizations, concerned both with the measurement of inflation and with policies designed to control it, have collaborated on the preparation of this manual: the International Labour Office; the International Monetary Fund; the Organization for Econmomic Co-operation and Development; the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat); the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; and the World Bank.

Ms. Olga Ilinichna Stankova
The paper provides an overall view of communications across various areas of economic policy, aiming to help country authorities as they increasingly use communications as a policy tool in its own right. The paper identifies frontier communications challenges, drawing on a large body of research on the salient issues. Although communications can never be a substitute for good policies, economic reforms are more likely to fail or even be reversed if they are not understood or accepted by those whom they affect.
Mr. Koshy Mathai, Mr. Christoph Duenwald, Ms. Anastasia Guscina, Rayah Al-Farah, Mr. Hatim Bukhari, Mr. Atif Chaudry, Moataz El-Said, Fozan Fareed, Mrs. Kerstin Gerling, Nghia-Piotr Le, Mr. Franto Ricka, Mr. Cesar Serra, Tetyana Sydorenko, Mr. Sébastien Walker, and Mr. Mohammed Zaher
This paper examines the role of social spending in improving socioeconomic outcomes in the Middle East and Central Asia. In particular, it addresses the following questions: (1) how large is social spending across the region? (2) how do countries in the region fare on socioeconomic outcomes? (3) how important is social spending as a determinant of these outcomes? and (4) how efficient is social spending in the region?
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
'Crisis Shakes Europe: Stark Choices Ahead' looks at the harsh toll of the crisis on both Europe's advanced and emerging economies because of the global nature of the shocks that have hit both the financial sector and the real economy, and because of Europe's strong regional and global trade links. Marek Belka, Director of the IMF's European Department, writes in our lead article that beyond the immediate need for crisis management, Europe must revisit the frameworks on which the European Union is based because many have been revealed to be flawed or missing. But in many respects, one key European institution has proved its mettle—the euro. Both Charles Wyplosz and Barry Eichengreen discuss the future of the common currency. Also in this issue, IMF economists rank the current recession as the most severe in the postwar period; John Lipsky, the Fund's First Deputy Managing Director, examines the IMF's role in a postcrisis world; and Giovanni Dell'Ariccia assesses what we have learned about how to manage asset price booms to prevent the bust that has caused such havoc. In addition, we talk to Oxford economist Paul Collier about how to help low-income countries during the current crisis, while Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank, writes about how African policymakers can prepare to take advantage of a global economic recovery. 'Picture This' looks at what happens when aggressive monetary policy combats a crisis; 'Back to Basics' gives a primer on fiscal policy; and 'Data Spotlight' takes a look at the recent large swings in commodity prices.