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International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Since independence, Bangladesh has achieved impressive economic growth and social development, making steady progress in reducing poverty and significant improvements in living standards. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted this long period of robust economic performance, deepening some earlier vulnerabilities. Stagnating job growth, rising inequality, and slowing poverty reduction remain challenges. Revenues are low, and financial sector vulnerabilities continue to be high. Substantial productive investment in infrastructure, human capital, and climate resilience is needed to achieve the authorities’ aspiration to reach the upper-middle income status in 2031.
Mr. Alberto Behar and Sandile Hlatshwayo
This note explains the value of strategic foresight and provides implementation advice based on the IMF’s experience with scenario planning and policy gaming. Section II provides an overview of strategic foresight and some of its tools. Scenario planning and policy gaming have been the Fund’s main foresight techniques so far, though other tools have been complementary. Accordingly, section III focuses on the scenario planning by illustrating applications before detailing the methods we have been using, while section IV describes policy gaming including the matrix policy gaming approach with which we have experimented so far. Section V summarizes the key points. In so doing, the note extends an invitation to those in the economics and finance fields (e.g., researchers, policymakers) to incorporate strategic foresight in their analysis and decision making.
Tao Sun
This note analyzes the economic impact of digital lending to micro and small sized enterprises (MSEs) in China during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. A preliminary analysis of a large pool of MSEs served by a digital bank indicates that digital banks were able to remotely evaluate borrowers and sustain lending during the pandemic, thereby facilitating the business continuity, sales growth, and financial inclusiveness of MSEs. In the global context, a policy framework—leveraging the advantages of digital banks and empowering digital banks, while guarding against possible financial stability risks—would further support small businesses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
A nascent recovery is underway in Thailand following the COVID-19 downturn. Ample policy buffers, underpinned by judicious management of public finances, allowed the authorities to implement a multipronged package of fiscal, monetary, and financial policies to mitigate the COVID-19 impact on households, businesses, and the financial system. This, together with rigorous containment measures, led to a successful flattening of the infection curve during most of 2020. Nevertheless, the pandemic has taken a large toll on the economy, potentially inducing long-term scarring and increasing inequality.
Andrea Deghi, Dulani Seneviratne, and Tomohiro Tsuruga
This paper assesses whether corporate liquidity needs in the G7 economies were met during the containment phase of the COVID-19 pandemic (February-June 2020) using various approaches to identify credit supply shocks. The pandemic crisis adversely affected nonfinancial corporate sector cash flows, generating liquidity and solvency pressures. However, corporate borrowing surged in March and into the second quarter, thanks to credit line drawdowns and unprecedented policy support. In the United States, the bond market was buoyant from the end of March onward, but credit supply conditions for bank loans and the syndicated loan market tightened. In other G7 economies, credit supply conditions generally eased somewhat across markets during the second quarter. Among listed firms, entities with weaker liquidity or solvency positions before the onset of COVID-19, as well as smaller firms, suffered relatively more financial stress in some economies in the early stages of the crisis. Residual signs of strain remained as of the end of June. Policy interventions, especially those directly targeting the corporate sector, had a beneficial effect on credit supply overall.
Changyong Rhee and Katsiaryna Svirydzenka
The Asia-Pacific region was the first to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; it put a strain on its people and economies, and policymaking became exceptionally difficult. This departmental paper contains the assessment of the key challenges facing Asia at this critical juncture and policy advice to the region both to address the current challenges and to build the foundations for a more sustainable and inclusive future. The paper focuses on (1) adjusting to the COVID-19 shock, (2) using unconventional policies when policy space is limited, (3) dealing with debt, and (4) helping the vulnerable and greening the recovery. The paper first presents the different ways countries are adjusting to the COVID-19 shock.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The U.S. is in the midst of an unprecedented social and economic shock. The longest expansion in U.S. history has been derailed by the unanticipated advent of COVID-19. To preserve lives and support public health, it was necessary to put in place a broad-based shutdown of the U.S. economy in March. Despite the gradual easing of state lockdown restrictions and lifting of stay-at-home orders starting in late April, the collateral economic damage has been enormous. First, and foremost, as of July 16, more than 136,000 Americans have tragically lost their lives and many more have become seriously ill. Almost fifteen million Americans have lost their jobs, many small and large businesses are under financial stress, and future prospects are highly uncertain. Reopening decisions will have to be handled carefully to mitigate the economic costs while containing the ongoing rise in COVID-19 infection rates. It will likely take a prolonged period to repair the economy and to return activity to pre-pandemic levels. All in all, globally there will be difficult months and years ahead and it is of particular concern that the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is still rising.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This paper discusses Bangladesh’s Requests for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) and Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI). Bangladesh’s economy has been severely impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with weaker domestic demand and a sharp decline in exports and remittances. The authorities have responded quickly to the COVID-19 outbreak with a comprehensive set of measures aimed at containing the spread of the pandemic, providing immediate relief to the most vulnerable households and affected businesses, and preserving the country’s macroeconomic prospects. A temporary increase in the fiscal deficit is necessary, and it will be important to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of all emergency spending. The Bangladesh Bank took appropriate steps to ease liquidity conditions and allow the financial sector to support the economy. Further easing could be considered if the economic situation deteriorates and inflation remains moderate. A gradual increase in exchange rate flexibility should be allowed to adjust to the external shock while preserving foreign reserves.