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Vahram Stepanyan, Gohar Abajyan, Anta Ndoye, and Ms. Marwa Alnasaa
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a cornerstone of Arab economies, accounting for over 90 percent of all businesses and providing a major source of new job creation. Governments across the Arab World recognize the important role that SMEs can play in delivering higher and more inclusive growth. Many have rightly placed SME development at the center of growth and jobs strategies to meet the needs of young populations. Authorities have initiated policy interventions and schemes to support SME development. But progress so far has been patchy, and more comprehensive policy action is needed. Fostering vibrant and competitive SMEs that contribute to employment opportunities and high value-added output requires various stakeholders to deliver on a broad range of factors. Arab governments need a holistic policy approach that addresses the gaps in access to finance, creates an enabling business environment, and upgrades human capital and infrastructure. The approach should also promote an entrepreneurial mindset.
Mr. Benedicte Baduel, Carolin Geginat, and Ms. Gaelle Pierre
This paper examines the extent to which firms in selected MENA countries reported being constrained by the business environment around the time of the Arab Spring and the extent to which these constraints affected their employment performance. The results suggest that small firms in MENA faced more structural constraints than similar firms in other regions. We also find that MENA firms’ weaker job creation can be explained in great part by the macroeconomic environment and structural constraints. Low GDP growth, falling external competitiveness, corruption, lack of access to finance and poor access to electricity are found to explain a significant part of the lack of employment growth in MENA firms compared to their peers.
Vito Amendolagine, Mr. Andrea F Presbitero, Roberta Rabellotti, Marco Sanfilippo, and Adnan Seric
The local sourcing of intermediate products is one the main channels for foreign direct investment (FDI) spillovers. This paper investigates whether and how participation and positioning in the global value chains (GVCs) of host countries is associated to local sourcing by foreign investors. Matching two firm-level data sets of 19 Sub-Saharan African countries and Vietnam to country-sector level measures of GVC involvement, we find that more intense GVC participation and upstream specialization are associated to a higher share of inputs sourced locally by foreign investors. These effects are larger in countries with stronger rule of law and better education.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

This Selected Issues paper discusses the designing and implementing of Kuwait�s fiscal policy for the medium term. Fiscal policy has a major role to play in supporting macrostability and diversification. The fiscal strategy design and implementation on a yearly basis are based on a few key areas such as determining targets or ceilings for major fiscal parameters for a three-year rolling framework with binding next budget year and indicative two outer years, establishing a clear process for expressing policy objectives and their link to expenditure, etc. The illustrative budget sequencing with the fiscal strategy spearheading medium-term fiscal policymaking and linked to the annual budget process would support fiscal policy implementation.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

This Selected Issues Paper carries out an empirical analysis of the effects of policies and external shocks on economic activity in Suriname. The estimates are broadly consistent with prior empirical findings. The results reveal a strong contemporaneous correlation between credit and demand, while the empirical link between exports and demand seems slightly weaker. The results for import demand point to a strong correlation between imports and exports. The export variable is highly significant and explains a large fraction of the total variation in imports. An increase in exports of 1 percent is associated with a 0.61 percent increase in imports.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

This Selected Issues paper analyzes Spain’s sustainable growth rate. It sheds some light on Spain’s medium-term growth prospects by looking into the key factors driving potential growth, both in the past and likely in the future, and international experience of countries in the aftermath of financial crisis. The paper suggests Spain is likely to face a long period of moderate growth (about 1½–2 percent) and high unemployment, but policy action—especially that directed toward reducing structural unemployment and raising productivity—could lead to much better outcomes.

Vali Nasr

Two years ago, citizens in the Arab world—fired by their ideals and visions of a better life—ignited a social movement that inspired people around the globe. In Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen—the so-called Arab countries in transition—people embraced change, ushering in a new era. This issue of F&D looks at the difficulties of this transition, focusing on long-standing forces that shape the region’s economy and offering options for moving ahead to achieve strong, inclusive growth. • Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, maps out an agenda for modernizing and diversifying the region’s economies in “Toward Prosperity for All.” • In “Freedom and Bread Go Together,” Marwan Muasher addresses the intersection of economic progress and political change. • Vali Nasr, in a Point of View column, underscores the vital role small and medium-sized enterprises play in a successful democratic transition. Elsewhere in this issue, we look at how surging oil and gas production in the United States could shake up global energy markets; the effect of uncertainty on economic growth; and Mexico’s competitiveness rebound. F&D's People in Economics series profiles Christina Romer, former chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers and an architect of the U.S. stimulus package; and the latest installment in our Back to Basics series explains how structural policies help to both stabilize and strengthen economies.