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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

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.
International Monetary Fund. Secretary's Department

Abstract

Seven years after the onset of the global financial crisis, the world still has a way to go to secure a sustainable recovery marked by strong growth that supports rapid job creation and benefits all, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde says in her foreword to the institution’s Annual Report 2014—From Stabilization to Sustainable Growth, published today. The recovery is ongoing, but it is still too slow and fragile, subject to the vagaries of financial sentiment. Millions of people are still looking for work. The level of uncertainty might be diminishing, but it is certainly not disappearing.” Ms. Lagarde said that “throughout the crisis and in the recovery period, the IMF has been, and continues to be, an indispensible agent of economic cooperation” for its membership. The report covers the work of the IMF’s Executive Board and contains financial statements for the year May 1, 2013, to April 30, 2014. It describes the IMF’s support for its 188 member countries, with an emphasis on the core areas of IMF responsibility: assessing their economic and financial policies, providing financing where needed, and building capacity in key areas of economic policy.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the various transmission channels of the Syrian crisis—though quantification is hampered by the lack of reliable data—with focus on the impact on fiscal performance and labor markets; it also takes stock of international donor efforts to date. The paper also provides overviews of main effects on Lebanon’s economy, the expenditure pressures associated with the refugee presence, the impact on poverty and inequality, and the added strains on labor markets. A section of the paper describes the response by the international community to help Lebanon cope with the Syrian crisis. Absent additional international support, the needs of both refugees and affected Lebanese communities will not be met. Sound government policies—including implementation of a concerted policy framework to deal with refugee issues and a commitment to fiscal discipline—will send credible signals to donors and help mobilize budget support. Tackling the unprecedented refugee crisis requires strong international support. There has been a large international humanitarian response, but much more is needed.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Strong economic performance across the Middle East and Central Asia is examined against the background of high prices for energy and other commodities. Common economic trends are presented, while prospects and policies are reviewed for the coming year in light of the global economic environment. This latest REO includes boxes treating specific regional topics, such as financial sector reforms and integration in Maghreb countries; economic developments in oil-exporting countries in response to changes in petroleum prices; and the growth boom in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

International Monetary Fund
The Selected Issues paper of Lebanon provides an update of the vulnerability assessment based on the balance sheet approach. It explores the interest rate determination, the strength of the link to international interest rates, and exposure to international interest rate shocks, summarizes the methodology used to derive confidence intervals around the path of the debt ratio in the staff’s adjustment scenario, and provides an assessment of Lebanon’s competitiveness from a macroeconomic and microeconomic perspective, with a view to identify possible sources of competitiveness gains over the medium term.
International Monetary Fund
Based on data collected on a wide range of financial sector indicators, new indices of financial development for countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are constructed, encompassing six themes: development of the monetary sector and monetary policy, banking sector development, nonbank financial development, regulation and supervision, financial openness, and institutional quality. The paper finds that the degree of financial development varies across the region. Some countries have relatively well-developed banking sectors and regulatory and supervisory regimes. However, across the region, more needs to be done to reinforce the institutional environment and promote nonbank financial sector development. Based on a subset of indicators, the MENA region is found to compare favorably with a few other regions, but it ranks far behind the industrialized countries and East Asia.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This paper reviews the exchange regimes of five emerging market countries in the Middle East and North Africa region-Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia-and one oil-exporting country-Iran-to see whether they need to consider adopting more flexible arrangements as they further open their economies to trade and capital flows.

Yongseok Shin and Ms. Rachel Glennerster
This paper finds that reforms introduced by the IMF to promote transparency have created more informed markets and reduced borrowing costs for those emerging market countries that volunteered for them. Using a quarterly panel estimation with fixed country effects, we find that sovereign spreads fall following the adoption of three different transparency reforms. The effects are economically important, especially for those countries with low initial transparency. We use two-stage least squares to address any endogeneity in the timing of reforms exploiting internal IMF timetables that are unrelated to country events. Next, using a panel GARCH specification, we show that spreads move more than normal in the days immediately following publication of IMF country documents.