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International Monetary Fund. African Dept.


The macroeconomic outlook for sub-Saharan Africa continues to strengthen. Growth is expected to increase from 2.7 percent in 2017 to 3.1 percent in 2018, reflecting domestic policy adjustments and a supportive external environment, including continued steady growth in the global economy, higher commodity prices, and accommodative external financing conditions. Inflation is abating; and fiscal imbalances are being contained in many countries. Over the medium term, and on current policies, growth is expected to accelerate to about 4 percent, too low to create the number of jobs needed to absorb anticipated new entrants into labor markets.

Mr. Francisco Roch
This paper presents a comparative analysis of the macroeconomic adjustment in Chile, Colombia, and Peru to commodity terms-of-trade shocks. The study is done in two steps: (i) an analysis of the impulse responses of key macroeconomic variables to terms-of-trade shocks and (ii) an event study of the adjustment to the recent decline in commodity prices. The experiences of these countries highlight the importance of flexible exchange rates to help with the adjustment to lower commodity prices, and staying vigilant in addressing depreciation pressures on inflation through tightening monetary policies. On the fiscal front, evidence shows that greater fiscal space, like in Chile and Peru, gives more room for accommodating terms-of-trade shocks.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This paper outlines that the banking sector remains healthy, backed by high capital, liquidity, provisioning and profitability ratios. Sector-wide nonperforming loans (NPLs) have increased slightly (to 2 percent in 2017:Q1), due largely to stresses in the Oil and Gas (O&G) services sector. Banks have responded by increasing provisions (using forward-looking measures of impairment) and restructuring their loans. Overall, the banking sector is well-positioned to withstand shocks. Capital and liquidity positions are sufficiently strong and well above regulatory requirements. Capital and liquidity positions of the local banking groups remain strong. Liquidity coverage ratios (LCR) of all three major banks remained high and rose in 2016:Q4, remaining well above the regulatory limits. The turnaround in bank’s profitability (especially the strong performance in 2017:Q1) is attributed to two factors: an acceleration in credit growth and increases in fee income from wealth management services. Local banks have been a key factor behind the wealth management sector’s growth and its main beneficiary.
Jihad Alwazir, Mr. Fazurin Jamaludin, Dongyeol Lee, Niamh Sheridan, and Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello
Access to financial services in the small states of the Pacific is being eroded. Weaknesses in Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism compliance in the context of high levels of remittances are contributing to banks’ decisions to withdraw corresponding banking relationships and close bank accounts of money transfer operators. In this paper, we gather evidence on these developments in the small states of the Pacific, discuss the main drivers, and the potentially negative impact on the financial sector and macroeconomy. We then identify the collective efforts needed to address the consequences of withdrawal of corresponding banking relationships and outline policy measures to help the affected countries mitigate the impact.
Gustavo Adler, Mr. Nicolas E Magud, and Alejandro M. Werner
We study the process of external adjustment to large terms-of-trade level shifts—identified with a Markov-switching approach—for a large set of countries during the period 1960–2015. We find that adjustment to these shocks is relatively fast. Current accounts experience, on average, a contemporaneous variation of only about ½ of the magnitude of the price shock—indicating a significant volume offset—and a full adjustment within 3–4 years. Dynamics are largely symmetric for terms-of-trade booms and busts, as well as for advanced and emerging market economies. External adjustment is driven primarily by offsetting shifts in domestic demand, as opposed to variations in output (also reflected in the response of import rather than export volumes), indicating a strong income channel at play. Exchange rate flexibility appears to have played an important buffering role during booms, but less so during busts; while international reserve holdings have been a key tool for smoothing the adjustment process.
Mr. Patrick P. Walsh and Mr. Alexander Repkine
We examine industrial output in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and Romania during 1989–95 in terms of pretransitional product trade orientation. The growth of EU-oriented output within sectors of industry, ex-post trade, and market liberalization, is modeled as foreign direct investment induced Schumpeterian (vertical) waves of product innovation. The growth of non-EU-oriented output within sectors is modeled as unobservable deterministic heterogeneity. The results indicate that the gap observed in industrial output performance when comparing Eastern European to former Soviet countries is mainly explained by the inherited presence of EU-oriented production and its unconstrained growth over the transition period.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
This paper focuses on official intervention on the forward exchange market. The purpose is to provide a straightforward account of the theory of intervention and to use it to discuss the problems raised. The forward exchange market may be conveniently treated in terms of stocks rather than of flows; that is, the forward exchange rate is taken as reconciling the desires of market participants with respect to the holding—rather than the changing—of forward exchange positions. Official intervention in the forward exchange market can be analysed by regarding the authorities either as part of the market or as distinct from it. Official swap transactions are frequently undertaken not on the open market but by direct arrangement with foreign monetary authorities or with commercial banks. The substantial rise to be expected in the forward premium would, of course, have an adverse effect on the foreign balance, which might be unwelcome from a cyclical standpoint though it would probably merely involve a diminution in the improvement that would otherwise have occurred as a result of the recession.