Rocio Gondo, Altynai Aidarova, and Mr. Manmohan Singh
This paper discusses migration and remittances trends, and calculates the natural (or benchmark) level of dollarization in Caucasus, Central Asia and others in the region. This natural level of dollarization is conceptually linked to the currency allocation in a portfolio of deposits to maximize welfare, in line with Ize and Levy Yeyati (2003). The fall in remittances due to the economic slowdown since the spread of COVID-19 affects the macroeconomic fundamentals that determine demand for foreign currency deposits. We calculate the natural dollarization level by integrating structural macroeconomic characteristics. We show that despite the reduction in deposit dollarization, there is still a gap with respect to the natural level of dollarization, especially in a scenario of (persistent) lower remittance inflows.
Mr. Sami Ben Naceur, Mr. Ralph Chami, and Mohamed Trabelsi
This paper explores the relationship between remittances and financial inclusion for a sample of 187 countries over the period 2004-2015, using cross-country as well as dynamic panel GMM regressions. At low levels of remittances-to-GDP, these flows act as a substitute to formal financial channels, thereby reducing financial inclusion. In contrast, when remittance-to-GDP ratio is high, above 13% on average, they tend to complement formal access and usage channels, thus enhancing financial inclusion. This “U shaped” relationship highlights the role of remittance flows in financing household consumption at low levels, while raising formal household bank savings and allowing for more intermediation, at high levels of remittance-to-GDP.
Mr. Ralph Chami, Ekkehard Ernst, Connel Fullenkamp, and Anne Oeking
We present cross-country evidence on the impact of remittances on labor market outcomes.
Remittances appear to have a strong impact on both labor supply and labor demand in
recipient countries. These effects are highly significant and greater in size than those of
foreign direct investment or offcial development aid. On the supply side, remittances reduce
labor force participation and increase informality of the labor market. In addition, male and
female labor supply show significantly different sensitivities to remittances. On the demand
side, remittances reduce overall unemployment but benefit mostly lower-wage, lowerproductivity
nontradables industries at the expense of high-productivity, high-wage tradables
sectors. As a consequence, even though inequality declines as a result of larger remittances,
average wage and productivity growth declines, the latter more strongly than the former
leading to an increase in the labor income share. In fragile states, in contrast, remittances
impose a positive externality, possibly because the tradables sector tends to be
underdeveloped. Our findings indicate that reforms to foster inclusive growth need to take
into account the role of remittances in order to be successful.
Zidong An, Tayeb Ghazi, Nathalie Gonzalez Prieto, and Mr. Aomar Ibourk
This paper investigates the relationship between economic growth and job creation in developing economies with a focus on low and lower middle-income countries along two dimensions: growth patterns and short-run correlations. Analysis on growth patterns shows that regime changes are quite common in both economic growth and employment growth, yet they are not synchronized with each other. Okun’s Law—the short-run relationship between output and labor market—holds in half of the countries in our sample and shows considerable cross-country heterogeneity.
The paper uses a unique survey of remittance-receiving individuals from Tajikistan to study the impact of policy awareness on consumer behavior. The results show that knowledge of deposit insurance encourages the use of formal channels for transmitting remittances and reduces dollarization. Given the size and importance of remittances in Tajikistan, improving financial literacy and better publicizing details of the social safety net may encourage a more frequent use of formal channels for transferring remittances and reduce reliance on foreign exchange for transaction purposes. This is likely to improve bank profitability, enhance financial stability, and improve access to finance.
In this paper, we use a bank-level panel dataset to investigate the determinants of bank interest margins in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) over the period 1998–2013. We apply the dealership model of Ho and Saunders (1981) and its extensions to assess the extent to which high spreads of banks in the CCA can be related to bank-specific variables, to competition, and to macroeconomic factors. We find that interest spreads are affected by operating cost, credit risk, liquidity risk, bank size, bank diversification, banking sector competition, and macroeconomic policies; but the impact depends on the country.
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.
Inflation followed a strikingly uniform pattern in all countries of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia during the period 1996-2009, falling until about 2000 and then rising. International fuel prices do not help explain this pattern. This conclusion is robust even when different cross sections of countries are tested or when different regression variables are included. The pattern of inflation is explained mainly by past inflation, the strength of the US dollar, US inflation, and—depending on the subset of countries analyzed—monetary and exchange rate policies and nonfuel commodity prices.