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Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
This paper analyzes determinants and consequences of FX interventions in the Kyrgyz Republic. Most of the literature on the topic focuses on advanced and emerging economies and this paper provides new evidence from a low-income country. We find that FX interventions take place in response to movements in the exchange rate and its volatility. There is also evidence of “leaning against the wind”, which is more pronounced for relatively larger FX sales and purchases. The “leaning against the wind” is asymmetric toward FX sales and largely reflects leaning against depreciation of domestic currency. We document a varying degree of de-facto exchange rate stability despite the de-jure floating exchange rate regime. During most of the sample, the exchange rate management index was relatively low in line with the floating exchange rate regime, with the exception of the period from 2018 Q4 until the COVID-19 shock, during which the exchange rate management index was relatively high.
Mr. Sami Ben Naceur, Mr. Ralph Chami, and Mohamed Trabelsi
This paper explores the relationship between remittances and financial inclusion for a sample of 187 countries over the period 2004-2015, using cross-country as well as dynamic panel GMM regressions. At low levels of remittances-to-GDP, these flows act as a substitute to formal financial channels, thereby reducing financial inclusion. In contrast, when remittance-to-GDP ratio is high, above 13% on average, they tend to complement formal access and usage channels, thus enhancing financial inclusion. This “U shaped” relationship highlights the role of remittance flows in financing household consumption at low levels, while raising formal household bank savings and allowing for more intermediation, at high levels of remittance-to-GDP.
Mishel Ghassibe, Maximiliano Appendino, and Samir Elsadek Mahmoudi
This paper offers empirical evidence that greater financial inclusion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can promote higher economic growth and employment, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia regions. First, we show that countries with higher SME financial inclusion exhibit more effective monetary policy transmission and tax collection. Second, we find substantial employment and labor productivity growth gains at the firm level from access to credit, gains that are higher for SMEs. We also obtain evidence of a substantial positive impact on SME employment and labor productivity growth from improved credit bureau coverage and insolvency regimes. Finally, cross-country aggregate evidence confirms the employment and growth gains from SME financial inclusion, which appear larger in the Middle East and Central Asia than in other regions.
Ms. Froukelien Wendt, Peter Katz, and Alice Zanza
The key objective of this note is to support authorities in their decision making about the optimal organization of central securities depositories (CSDs) in their country. For the purpose of this note, a CSD is defined as an entity that provides securities accounts, a securities settlement system, and central safekeeping services to market participants, which can be banks and other financial institutions. Authorities in developing markets, in particular central banks, may grapple with two questions: (1) whether to pursue a single CSD to increase market efficiencies and benefit from economies of scale and scope and (2) whether to partake in the governance of the CSD as owner or operator. This note presents seven considerations for authorities to take into account when answering these questions and determining the best model for their country.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

As in other regions in the world, countries in MENAP and CCA regions are exposed to tightening in global financing conditions and ongoing global trade tensions. The former has already begun to impact several emerging market economies in MENAP and could have more severe implications should financial market sentiment suddenly deteriorate. Escalating global trade tensions will have a limited direct and immediate impact on these regions but could impart significant strains over time through negative effects on trading partners and through market confidence effects.

Mr. Norbert Funke, Asel Isakova, and Maksym Ivanyna
Using data from the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report as an example, this paper compares structural indicators for 25 countries in Emerging Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia with a generic country with similar charactersitics that is 40 percent richer as well as a country with the average EU income. This comparison suggests that improvements will be particularly crucial in the areas of institutions, financial market development, infrastructure, goods and labor market efficiency and areas related to innovation. For the generally more ambitious goal of reaching average EU income, the reform needs are correspondingly larger. The methodology focuses on (approximate) comparisons between countries and does not try to establish the link between structural reforms and growth. While we test for changes in empirical specifications, caveats relate to the quality of structural indicators, possible non-linearities, and reform complementarities. The approach can be applied to other indicators and at a more granular level.