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Yongzheng Yang, Hong Chen, Shiu raj Singh, and Baljeet Singh
This study aims to test within a relatively homogeneous group of small states what differentiates the growth performance of Pacific island countries (PICs) from their peers. We find that PICs are disadvantaged by distance and hampered by lower investment and exports compared with other small island states, but greater political stability, catch-up effects from lower initial incomes, and slower population growth have helped offset some of these disadvantages. On balance, policy-related factors, together with geography-related disadvantages, have led to growth rates in PICs that are much lower than in other small states. We also examine how real exchange rate appreciation, unfavorable developments in the external trade environment, and rising international transport costs may have contributed to PICs’ slower growth over the past decade.
Mr. Valerio Crispolti, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Jun I Kim, Ms. Kazuko Shirono, and Mr. George C. Tsibouris

Abstract

Low-income countries routinely experience exogenous disturbances—sharp swings in the terms of trade, export demand, natural disasters, and volatile financial flows—that contribute to higher volatility in aggregate output and consumption compared with other countries. Assessing Reserve Adequacy in Low-Income Countries presents the findings of an analysis of a range of external shocks faced by these countries, beginning with a discussion of the impact of external shocks on macroeconomic growth, volatility, and welfare. Although sound macroeconomic and prudential policy frameworks are the first line of defense for limiting vulnerability, international reserves constitute the main form of self-insurance against such shocks. The evidence suggests that low-income countries with reserve coverage above three months of imports were better able to smooth consumption and absorption in the face of external shocks compared with those with lower reserve holdings. The analysis also points to the importance of country characteristics and vulnerabilities in assessing reserve adequacy.

Ms. Era Dabla-Norris and Yasemin Bal Gunduz
This paper develops a new index which provides early warning signals of a growth crisis in the event of large external shocks in low-income countries. Multivariate regression analysis and a univariate signaling approach are used to map information from a parsimonious set of underlying policy, structural, and institutional indicators into a composite vulnerability index. The results show that vulnerabilities to a growth crisis in low-income countries declined significantly from their peaks in the early 1990s, but have risen in recent years as fiscal policy buffers were expended in the wake of the global financial crisis.
Mr. Yehenew Endegnanew, Ms. Therese Turner-Jones, and Charles Amo Yartey
This paper examines the empirical link between fiscal policy and the current account focusing on microstates defined as countries with a population of less than 2 million between 1970 and 2009. The paper employs panel regression and panel vector autoregression (VAR) on 155 countries of which 42 are microstates. Panel regression results show that a percentage point improvement in the fiscal balance improves the current account balance by 0.4 percentage points of GDP. The real effective exchange rate has no significant impact on the current account in microstates but the coefficient is significant in the global sample. Panel VAR results show that an increase in government consumption results in real exchange appreciation but the effect on the current account after an initial deterioration dies out quicker in microstates than in the global sample. The result implies that fiscal policy has little effect on the current account in microstates beyond its direct impact on imports. Overall, the results suggest that the weak relative price effects make the effect of fiscal adjustment on the current account much more difficult in microstates.
International Monetary Fund
This paper analyzes Solomon Islands’ ongoing reforms concerning of the mineral taxation regime and the fiscal impact of mineral resources. The analysis shows that mineral revenue could be substantial, provided that mineral prices remain strong in the medium term. Enforcing the tax agreement with, a Gold Ridge company, and implementing the new resource taxation regime are critical to ensure that the forthcoming mineral wealth spills over to the rest of the economy. Solomon Islands should adopt new fiscal rules and fiscal responsibility provisions to manage large but volatile resource revenue.
International Monetary Fund
This paper examines the impact of trade costs on real exchange rate volatility. The channel is examined by constructing a two-country Ricardian model of trade, based on the work of Dornbusch, Fischer, and Samuelson (1977), which shows that higher trade costs result in a larger nontradable sector. This, in turn, leads to higher real exchange rate volatility. We provide empirical evidence supporting the channel.
Mr. Alejandro Izquierdo, Ward Brown, Mr. Brian Ames, and Shatayanan Devarajan

Abstract

This pamphlet excerpts a chapter on macroeconomic policy from the Poverty Reduction Policy Source book, a guide prepared by the World Bank and IMF to assist countries in developing and strengthening their poverty reduction strategies. It probes the relationship between macroeconomic policy matters, such as growth and inflation, and the fight against poverty, and explains how sound monetary and fiscal policies-key tools of the macroeconomist-can help to spur growth and ease poverty.