Natural disasters are a source of economic risks in many countries, especially in smaller and lower-income states, and ex-ante preparedness is needed to manage the risks. The paper discusses sovereign experience with disaster insurance as a key instrument to mitigate the risks; proposes ways to judge the adequacy of insurance; and considers ways to enhance its use by vulnerable countries. The paper especially aims to inform policy decisions on disaster insurance. Through simulations of natural disasters and various insurance options, we find that sovereign decisions on optimal risk transfer involve balancing trade-offs between growth and debt, based on government risk preferences and country risk exposure. The choice of optimal insurance for smaller countries turns out to be more constrained by cost considerations due to their higher exposure, likely resulting in underinsurance; donor grants could help them achieve a more optimal protection. We also find that optimal insurance packages are those that are least costly relative to expected payouts (i.e. have the lowest insurance multiple), which are also the packages that insure less severe (more frequent) disasters.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper discusses Jamaica’s Sixth Review Under the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA). All quantitative performance criteria, indicative targets, and the structural benchmark at end-June were met, marking a successful completion of the SBA. Discussions centered on policies to lock-in macroeconomic stability and advance supply-side reforms to promote inclusive growth, including: building institutions and advancing fiscal reforms to safeguard and sustain economic stability and debt reduction; improving monetary operations and policy transmission; and bolstering financial inclusion, access to credit, and formality. Most structural policy commitments are on track, although some key reforms to public sector transformation, the compensation framework for public employees, legislation to establish a fiscal council, and creating a special resolution regime for financial institutions have been delayed due to capacity constraints and the need to build stakeholder support for these reforms. Important gains have been made in the oversight of financial institutions.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper presents a quantification of the long-term benefits of ex-ante resilient investment and insurance needs against natural disasters (ND) in Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). Cost-benefit analysis of resilient investment based on a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model tailored to small states and calibrated to all ECCU economies is also discussed in the paper. The model’s aggregate production function illustrates the interaction among the participating sectors and their contribution to output, ultimately informing the role of resilient investment. The study also quantifies government insurance coverage needs and costs using an empirical stochastic model that simulates NDs fiscal costs. The insurance needs are framed within the World Bank insurance layering framework. The results in this paper underscore the importance of a shift from ex-post recovery to a focus on ex-ante resilience building. Ex-ante resilient investment and insurance are key to the welfare and financial sustainability of the ECCU, given high intensity and recurrence of NDs.
This paper presents background on Caribbean small states as context for the main paper, “Macroeconomic Issues in Small States and Implications for Fund Engagement.” It draws on recent analytical work presented at a conference for policy makers in September 2012, in Trinidad and Tobago. Caribbean small states, while sharing many features of other small states (size-related macroeconomic vulnerabilities, lack of economies of scale, and capacity constraints) have specific characteristics which merit attention
The Executive Board of the IMF has approved a disbursement of an amount equivalent to SDR 2.075 million under the Rapid Credit Facility for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to help the country manage the economic impact of Hurricane Tomas. The Board’s approval enables the immediate disbursement of the full amount. The late-October 2010 hurricane inflicted significant damage to agriculture, housing, and infrastructure. The initial assessment conducted by the government estimated the cost of damage at 5 percent of gross domestic product.
The sharp global recession has been taking a toll on the St. Kitts and Nevis economy. The staff report examines the St. Kitts and Nevis 2009 Article IV Consultation and request for Emergency Natural Disaster Assistance. Economic activity has weakened markedly, particularly in tourism and foreign direct investment (FDI)-related construction, the drivers of growth in recent years. The drop-off in tourism receipts, FDI, and other capital flows could lead to a worsening of the balance-of-payments position.
The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) countries’ economies are heavily dependent on the United States for foreign direct investment, mainly in the tourism sector. The Selected Issues paper discusses economic development and policies of the ECCU. About one-third of the stayover tourists to the ECCU countries are from the United States., the top tourist-source country. The flow of remittances is also an important channel of influence, reflecting the significant proportion of Caribbean migrants living in the United States.
An opening of Cuba to U.S. tourism would represent a seismic shift in the Caribbean's tourism industry. This study models the impact of such a potential opening by estimating a counterfactual that captures the current bilateral restriction on tourism between the two countries. After controlling for natural disasters, trade agreements, and other factors, the results show that a hypothetical liberalization of Cuba-U.S. tourism would increase long-term regional arrivals. Neighboring destinations would lose the implicit protection the current restriction affords them, and Cuba would gain market share, but this would be partially offset in the short-run by the redistribution of non-U.S. tourists currently in Cuba. The results also suggest that Caribbean countries have in general not lowered their dependency on U.S. tourists, leaving them vulnerable to this potential change.
Although Caribbean countries have been largely successful in bringing annual inflation down to single digits in recent years-regardless of their exchange rate regime-their growth rates have been disappointing and their public debt has risen rapidly. By 2003, 14 of 15 Caribbean countries ranked in the top 30 of the world's highly indebted emerging market countries. Most of the increase in their public debt is accounted for by a deterioration in primary fiscal balances that has been largely due to a sharp increase in expenditures rather than a fall in revenues. With the countries of the region now increasingly facing unsustainable debt positions, innovative ways need to be found to raise their economic growth rates and generate fiscal savings to reverse the debt buildup, and to maintain or raise their current living standards.