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Afsaneh Beschloss and Mina Mashayekhi

GREEN BONDS, LAUNCHED by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank more than a decade ago, blazed a trail for investments that could eventually reach into trillions of dollars in climate-related projects, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, and ecosystem protection and restoration.

International Monetary Fund
Poverty has been a major challenge for Liberia. All developmental, governance, and social indicators have shown improvement as a result of a more robust implementation strategy led by the government with the support of development partners, civil society, and the private sector. The general economic condition has improved. However, enormous challenges remain for crafting of the next development strategy to fill any potential gap in development planning, the mobilizing and strategically placing of the private sector at the heart of economic growth and job creation.
International Monetary Fund
Liberia made slow progress on the implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). The impact of the global economic crisis affected implementation and slowed the pace of growth. With the development of the Public Financial Management (PFM) framework, a PRS deliverable, the credibility of the country’s financial systems is being restored. Increased vigilance in tax collection efforts, expansion of the tax base, and the elimination of discretionary exceptions led to a rise in revenue by 13.5 percent from US$207 million in fiscal year (FY) 2007/08 to US$235 million in FY2008/09.
Ms. Catherine A Pattillo and Mr. Hugh Bredenkamp
This note outlines a scheme for mobilizing financing to help developing countries confront the challenges posed by climate change. The idea is to create a “Green Fund” with the capacity to raise resources on a scale commensurate with the Copenhagen Accord ($100 billion a year by 2020). By providing a unified resource mobilization framework, with up-front agreement on burdensharing and the capacity to meet the financing needs identified at Copenhagen, the Green Fund could facilitate progress toward a binding global agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and allow developing countries to begin scaling up their climate change responses without delay. To achieve the necessary scale, the Green Fund would use an initial capital injection by developed countries in the form of reserve assets, which could include SDRs, to leverage resources from private and official investors by issuing low-cost “green bonds” in global capital markets. Contributors could agree to scale their equity stakes in proportion to their IMF quota shares, making these the “key” for burden sharing among the contributing countries. Since much of the financing would need to be provided ultimately as grants or highly concessional loans, the fund would also need to mobilize subsidy resources from contributors. Governments would likely require new sources of fiscal revenue for this purpose, including from carbon taxes and expanded carbon-trading schemes, which may take time to put in place. In the interim, the Green Fund could cover its subsidy needs from bond proceeds, interest income on its reserve asset capital base, and/or revenues from other innovative international tax schemes. Resources mobilized by the Green Fund could be channeled through existing climate funds, or via newly created special-purpose disbursement facilities. We are not proposing that the IMF itself would create, finance, or manage the Green Fund. The ideas set out in this note are being offered purely for consideration by the international community, and as a contribution to the broader public debate.
Mr. Paul S. Mills

Commodity Boom: How Long Will It Last?" asks how economies will fare after the record-high prices of key raw materials posted in recent months, which build on dramatic increases from their lows of 2000. The lead article warns that the impact on headline inflation levels might persist throughout 2008, even without further commodity price hikes. It urges policymakers to ensure efficient functioning of market forces at the global level, and to move swiftly to protect the poorest. Another article addresses the effects of climate change on agriculture, warning that farm production will fall dramatically-especially in developing countries-if steps are not taken to curb carbon emissions. Other articles on this theme argue that policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions need not hobble economies, and that financial markets can help address climate change. "People in Economics" profiles John Taylor; "Picture This" says the global energy system is on an increasingly unsustainable path; "Country Focus" spotlights South Africa; and "Straight Talk" examines early warnings provided by credit derivatives. Also in this issue, articles examine China's increasing economic engagement with Africa, and the outsourcing of service jobs to other countries.

International Monetary Fund

South Africa showed strong macroeconomic performance owing to its sound policies, which aimed at raising economic growth and reducing poverty, within a stable macroeconomic, social, and political environment. Executive Directors commended the strong economic performance, sustainable fiscal policies, and sound debt management that helped to reduce public debt. They appreciated the authorities' efforts on addressing major economic and social challenges while preserving macroeconomic stability. They agreed that the flexible exchange-rate system and sound financial system has helped the country to sustain economic growth.

Mr. Juan Sole
This paper mines the experience of capital markets during the 19th century to propose an alternative way of interpreting international default episodes. The standard view is that defaulting on sovereign debt entails exclusion from capital markets. Yet we have observed multiple instances of sovereign debt default in which the reaction of lenders was not the one predicted by the punishment story: in some cases, lending ceased for long periods, but in others it was not interrupted. This paper claims that the reaction of lenders after default stems from the additional knowledge about the borrower that lenders acquire during these episodes. The lending relationship is modeled in a costly state-verification environment in which governments have private information about their investment projects (good or bad). It is shown that, in the event of default, it is worthwhile for lenders to find out more about the type of project, and then interrupt lending only if the project is believed to be a bad one.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
New IMF financial sector department; Short takes: Oman, C.A.R., Greece; Nobelist Wangari Matthai on sustainable development; Moldova and remittances; Financial globalization; VAT refunds; Emerging markets alter financial landscape.