We develop a tractable small open-economy model to study the first-round effects of international food price shocks in developing countries. We define first-round effects as changes in headline inflation that, holding core inflation constant, help implement relative price adjustments. The model features three goods (food, a generic traded good and a non-traded good), varying degrees of tradability of the food basket, and alternative international asset market structures (complete and incomplete markets, and financial autarky). First-round effects depend crucially on the asset market structure and the different transmission mechanisms they trigger. Under complete markets, inter-temporal substitution prevails, making the inflationary impact of international food prices proportional to the food share in consumption, which in developing economies is typically large. Under financial autarky, the income channel is dominant, and first-round effects are instead proportional to the country's food balance—the difference between the country's food endowment and its consumption—which in developing countries is typically small. The latter result holds regardless of the degree of food tradability. Incomplete markets yield a combination of the two extremes. Our results cast some doubt on the view that international food price shocks are inherently inflationary in developing countries.
This paper computes Malawi's equilibrium real exchange rate as a function of its fundamentals as derived from economic theory. It finds evidence in favor of the equilibrium approach to exchange rate determination, with several variables (particularly government consumption and real per capita growth) found to drive movements in the time-varying equilibrium real exchange rate. The results also indicate that following a shock there is a rapid reversion of the real exchange rate to its time-varying equilibrium, with a half-life of reversion of about 11 months.
A key obstacle to fundamental tariff reform in many developing countries is the revenue loss that it ultimately implies. This paper establishes a simple and practicable strategy for realizing the efficiency gains from tariff reform without reducing public revenues, showing that for a small open economy, a cut in tariffs combined with a point-for-point increase in domestic consumption taxes increases both welfare and public revenues. Increasingly stringent conditions are required, however, to ensure unambiguously beneficial outcomes from this reform strategy when allowance is made for such important features as nontradeable goods, intermediate inputs, and imperfect competition.
Isha Agrawal, Zafar U. Ahmed, Mr. Michael Mered, and Mr. Roger Nord
Tanzania’s adjustment program, which began in the mid-1980s, was accompanied by a sharp increase in the levels of foreign assistance. Previous studies, using published data, have not reflected much improvement in economic performance during the reform period. This paper attempts to shed new light on the relationship between adjustment and aid dependency in Tanzania, by adjusting the macroeconomic database to correct for data deficiencies in several important respects. A subsequent comparison with other sub-Saharan African countries shows that, contrary to traditional interpretation, Tanzania’s increased dependence on foreign assistance did not lead to a deterioration in domestic savings performance. Efficiency of investment, however, has been substantially lower in Tanzania.