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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

IMF Country Report No. 21/130

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Switzerland has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic well. The pandemic has had major social and economic impacts, but an early, strong, and sustained health and economic policy response helped contain the contraction of activity. Coordinated efforts targeting households and firms stemmed a loss of purchasing power and a rise of unemployment and bankruptcies. Recovery has commenced, but uncertainty and risks remain high, dominated by pandemic dynamics. The rebound should deepen, as vaccination proceeds, containment is eased, and domestic and global demand picks up. Fiscal support has been rightly extended in 2021, and monetary policy remains accommodative. Policies should remain supportive until there are clear signs of sustained recovery; the authorities should expand support if needed. Redirection to fostering green, digital transformation with attention to low-income earners will be needed, including to ensure that prolonged emergency support does not hinder structural changes in the economy.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

This paper analyzes the impact of COVID-19 on liquidity and solvency risks of firms across different sectors of the Swiss economy, as well as mitigation effects of policies implemented in 2020. Developments in liquidity and equity positions are simulated based on financial data for a sector-median company. The simulations suggest that the policies implemented helped reduce liquidity shortfalls and solvency risks. Additional, targeted measures may be needed to support viable companies going forward.

International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, Review Department, and International Monetary Fund. Legal Dept.
This paper proposes that the Executive Board approve the disbursement of a third tranche of CCRT debt service relief to 28 of the 29 CCRT-eligible members, covering the period April 14, 2021 through October 15, 2021, given staff’s assessment that sufficient financial resources are available.
Ljubica Dordevic, Caio Ferreira, Moses Kitonga, and Katharine Seal
The paper employs two complementary strategies. First, it is pursues textual analysis (text mining) of the assessment reports to identify successes and challenges the authorities are facing. Second, it analyzes the grades in the Basel Core Principles assessments, including their evolution and association with bank fragility.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
The UK entered 2020 negotiating a new economic relationship with the EU and facing other challenges, including meeting climate targets, dealing with an aging population, and reinvigorating tepid productivity growth. Growth and investment had been weak since the 2016 referendum, and the current account deficit elevated, but unemployment was low, inflation on target, and balance sheets strong. The global pandemic hit the UK hard in March, and the country now faces a second wave. The economic impact has been severe, but helped by an aggressive policy response, jobs have been preserved, businesses kept afloat, and banking sector losses contained. Still, the outlook for the near term is weak, as the economy works through the second wave, Brexit, rising unemployment, and corporate distress. Risks are overall to the downside, centering on the degree of balance sheet damage sustained by households and small and medium enterprises. The pace at which vaccines are able to bring the pandemic under control could be an important mitigating factor.
Mr. Serhan Cevik
The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis like no other in modern times, and there is a growing apprehension about handling potentially contaminated cash. This paper is the first empirical attempt in the literature to investigate whether the risk of infectious diseases affects demand for physical cash. Since the intensity of cash use may influence the spread of infectious diseases, this paper utilizes two-stage least squares (2SLS) methodology with instrumental variable (IV) to address omitted variable bias and account for potential endogeneity. The analysis indicates that the spread of infectious diseases lowers demand for physical cash, after controlling for macroeconomic, financial, and technological factors. While the transactional constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic could become a catalyst for the use of digital technologies around the world, electronic payment methods may not be universally available in every country owing to financial and technological bottlenecks.
International Monetary Fund. Secretary's Department

Abstract

This year, as the world faced a crisis like no other, the International Monetary Fund and its member countries swung into action to save lives and put a floor under the world economy. But the outlook remains uncertain. Countries now face a “long ascent” that will be difficult, uneven, uncertain, and prone to setbacks. The IMF is working to help countries focus on "policies for people" to generate a transformational recovery through job-rich growth that benefits all.