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Mr. Nooman Rebei and Rashid Sbia
This paper documents the determinants of real oil price in the global market based on SVAR model embedding transitory and permanent shocks on oil demand and supply as well as speculative disturbances. We find evidence of significant differences in the propagation mechanisms of transitory versus permanent shocks, pointing to the importance of disentangling their distinct effects. Permanent supply disruptions turn out to be a bigger factor in historical oil price movements during the most recent decades, while speculative shocks became less influential.
Mr. Joshua Charap, Mr. Arthur Ribeiro da Silva, and Mr. Pedro C Rodriguez
The economic and environmental implications of energy subsidies have received renewed attention from policymakers and economists in recent years. Nevertheless there remains significant uncertainty regarding the magnitude of the impact of energy subsidies on energy consumption. In this paper we analyze a panel of cross-country data to explore the responsiveness of energy consumption to changes in energy prices and the implications of our findings for the debate on energy subsidy reform. Our findings indicate a long-term price elasticity of energy demand between -0.3 and -0.5, which suggests that countries can reap significant long-term benefits from the reform of energy subsidies. Our findings also indicate that short-term gains from subsidy reform are likely to be much smaller, which suggests the need for either a gradual approach to subsidy reform or for more generous safety nets in the short term.
Mr. Rabah Arezki, Ms. Catherine A Pattillo, Mr. Marc G Quintyn, and Min Zhu

Abstract

In the years following the global financial crisis, many low-income countries experienced rapid recovery and strong economic growth. However, many are now facing enormous difficulties because of rapidly rising food and fuel prices, with the threat of millions of people being pushed into poverty around the globe. The risk of continued food price volatility is a systemic challenge, and a failure in one country has been shown to have a profound impact on entire regions. This volume addresses the challenges of commodity price volatility for low-income countries and explores some macroeconomic policy options for responding to commodity price shocks. The book then looks at inclusive growth policies to address inequality in commodity-exporting countries, particularly natural resource rich countries. Perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, emerging Asia, and Mexico are presented and, finally, the role of the international donor community is examined. This volume is a must read for policymakers everywhere, from those in advanced, donor countries to those in countries with the poorest and most vulnerable populations.

International Monetary Fund
The rapid recovery in many low-income countries (LICs) following the global crisis has been sustained in 2012. Softening commodity prices have led to moderating inflation pressures in most LICs. However, progress in rebuilding policy buffers has halted over the past two years, despite continued strong growth in LICs.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

This issue of the Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia provides an in-depth look at the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region, as well as the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA). Four chapters deal with MENAP oil exporters, MENAP oil importers, policy challenges facing MENAP, and sustaining the recovery in the CCA countries. Two developments mark the outlook for the MENAP region: the social and political unrest and the surge in global fuel and food prices, which have resulted in unusually large uncertainties in the near-term economic outlook. Meanwhile, growth in the CCA countries was higher than expected. Three main policy challenges to CCA countries are rising inflation, heightened social pressures to spend, and the poor quality of bank portfolios. Job creation and poverty reduction are key objectives for all CCA countries.

Mr. Paolo Dudine, Sibabrata Das, Ms. Pritha Mitra, Yongzheng Yang, Eteri Kvintradze, and Miss Nkunde Mwase
Low-income countries were hit especially hard by sharp increases in world food and fuel prices in 2007-08 and the global financial crisis that followed. In response, the International Monetary Fund scaled up its financial assistance to low-income countries and revamped its concessional lending facilities to make them more flexible in meeting the diverse needs of these countries. Creating Policy Space in Low-Income Countries during the Recent Crises assesses empirically the outcome of the IMF response, and provides insight into how IMF-supported programs in low-income countries have been adapted to the changing economic circumstances in these countries. The authors report that these programs have provided expanded policy space in the face of the global price shocks and financial crisis.
International Monetary Fund
An analysis of recent programs in low-income countries, covering countries with continuous program engagement with the IMF throughout the period 2007-09, shows that program design has been adapted to provide expanded policy space in response to the food and fuel price shocks of 2007-08 and to the global financial crisis that followed. The analysis also finds that structural conditionality in Fund-supported programs in low-income countries has become more streamlined, with a dominant focus on public sector resource management and accountability.
Mr. Kenji Moriyama and Abdul Naseer
This paper forecasts inflation in Sudan following two methodologies: the Autoregressive Moving Average (ARMA) model and by looking at the leading indicators of inflation. The estimated ARMA model remarkably tracks the actual inflation during the sample period. The Granger causality test suggests that private sector credit and world wheat prices are the leading indicators explaining inflation in Sudan. Inflation forecasts based on both approaches suggest that inflationary pressures for 2009 and 2010 will be modest and that inflation will remain in single-digits, assuming that prudent macroeconomic policies are maintained.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Regional Economic Outlook: Middle East and Central Asia underlines that the region has continued to experience strong growth in 2008, and the short-term outlook is generally favorable. However, inflation has emerged as a key issue, and while the global credit crunch has thus far had a limited impact on regional financial markets, the financial turmoil and slowdown in developed economies could lower growth in the period ahead. Policies will need to focus on tightening the fiscal and monetary stance where appropriate, with greater exchange rate flexibility, and continuing efforts to strengthen the resilience of financial sectors.