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Juliana Dutra Araujo, Mr. Antonio David, Carlos van Hombeeck, and Mr. Chris Papageorgiou
Low-income countries (LIDCs) are typically characterized by intermittent and very modest access to private external funding sources. Motivated by recent developments in private flows to LIDCs this paper makes two contributions: First, it constructs a new comprehensive dataset on gross private capital flows with special focus on non-FDI flows in LIDCs. Concentrating on LIDCs and more specifically on gross non-FDI private flows is intentionally aimed at closing a gap in existing datasets where country coverage of developing economies is limited mainly to emerging markets (EMs). Second, using the new data, it identifies several shifting patterns of gross non-FDI private inflows to LIDCs. A surprising fact emerges: since the mid 2000's periods of surges in gross non-FDI private inflows in LIDCs are broadly comparable to those of EMs. Moreover, while gross non-FDI inflows to LIDCs are on average much lower than those to EMs, we show that the LIDC top quartile gross non-FDI inflow is comparable to the EM median inflow and converging to the EM top quartile inflow.
Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, Hans Weisfeld, Ms. Catherine A Pattillo, Mr. Martin Schindler, Mr. Nikola Spatafora, and Mr. Andrew Berg
This paper investigates the short-run effects of the 2007-09 global financial crisis on growth in (mainly non-fuel exporting) low-income countries (LICs). Four conclusions stand out. First, for many individual LICs, 2009 was not extraordinarily calamitous; however, aggregate LIC output declined sharply because LICs were unusually synchronized. Second, the growth declines are on average well explained by the decline in export demand. Third, if the external environment facing LICs improves as forecast, their growth should rebound sharply. Finally, and contrary to received wisdom, there are few robust relationships between the cross-country growth variation and the policy and structural environment; the main exceptions are reserve coverage and labor-market flexibility.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The May 2010 Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia reports on the implications for the region of global economic developments and presents key policy challenges and recommendations. A resumption of capital inflows and the rebound in crude oil prices have aided the recovery in the oil-exporting countries of the Middle East and North Africa. The group of oil-importing countries is expected to show marginal increase in growth in response to a pickup in trade, investment, and bank credit. A key challenge for these countries is to enhance competitiveness to raise growth rates and generate employment. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, exports have begun to pick up, the decline in remittances appears to be slowing or reversing, and capital inflows have turned positive. For 2010, a recovery across the region is projected as the global economy, and in particular Russia, picks up speed. Overall, prospects for the region are improving and the regional impact of the Dubai crisis and events in Greece has been limited so far. Nevertheless, a repricing of sovereign debt cannot be excluded, adding a degree of uncertainty to the outlook.

Ms. Stefania Fabrizio
This forthcoming title in the Departmental Paper Series describes the special challenges facing low-income countries as economic growth contracts by an estimated 1.1 percent globally. Coping with the Crisis: Challenges Facing Low-Income Countries provides an assessment of the implications of the financial crisis for low-income countries, evaluates the short-term macroeconomic outlook for these countries, and discusses the policy challenges they face. Chapters cover the outlook for global economic growth and commodity prices, an overview of how low-income countries have been affected, fiscal policy, monetary and exchange rate policy responses, potential external financing needs and how the international community, including the IMF, can help countries meet them. The challenges ahead for low-income countries are delineated, including debt vulnerabilities and the need for countries to develop well-regulated local capital markets and banking systems, as well as enhanced public sector efficiency.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The global crisis is now affecting the countries in the Middle East and Central Asia region, and economic and financial vulnerabilities are rising. In the Middle East and North Africa, good economic fundamentals, appropriate policy responses, and sizable currency reserves are helping mitigate the impact of the shock. In the Caucasus and Central Asia, lower commodity prices and adverse economic developments in Russia have hit hard. The report notes that countries should prepare for the contingency of a prolonged global slowdown by supporting domestic demand for a longer period and strengthening financial systems further. In some countries with rising unemployment, it will be important to target government resources and policies on protecting the poor; in others, increased donor support will be necessary to maintain needed economic development.

International Monetary Fund
The Republic of Kazakhstan’s 2008 Article IV Consultation shows that banks have lost access to new external financing, credit extension has stalled, and growth has slowed. Nevertheless, Kazakhstan has considerable public financial resources to help it weather the current situation and the country is benefiting from high oil and commodity prices. A realistic assessment of the health of banks needs to be made and steps taken to mitigate risks, including by bolstering capital bases, strengthening bank supervision, and further developing the financial safety net framework.
International Monetary Fund
Economic activity in the Kyrgyz Republic has been buffeted by the political upheaval, and output growth has fallen short of expectations. The program builds on the country’s entrenched fiscal prudence and features a tightening in monetary policy, so as to secure rapid sustained growth in a low-inflation environment. Structural reforms under the program will focus on financial sector development, public financial management, further measures to reduce the energy sector’s quasifiscal losses, and improvements in the business climate. The main immediate risks to the outlook come from political pressures.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This study, another in the series focusing on special issues in transition, reviews the experience of output decline and recovery in the 25 countries of eastern and central Europe and the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Although these countries began the process of economic transformation with similar circumstances of output decline, the extent of decline, its duration, and the sustainability of recovery in growth varied considerably. The authors explore the factors behind this variation and find that the most important policies promoting early and sustained recovery were ones that supported financial stabilization and structural reforms in key areas such as private sector development, the tax system, economic liberalization, and secure property rights.

Mr. Donal McGettigan

Abstract

Large current account imbalances have been recorded in the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union since their independence. Are these current account positions sustainable, reflecting the special circumstances of transition, or are the positions untenable over the longer term? This study attempts to address this important question by first describing recent current account developments in these transition economies. It subsequently focuses on a wide range of external sustainability indicators by drawing on the existing literature, and attempts to assess their potential usefulness in a transiton country context. The indicators examined include real exchange rates, fiscal revenues and expenditures, savings and investment developments, openness measures, growth projections, external debt composition, foreign exchange reserve cover, and various financial sector measures.