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Mr. Paolo Mauro, Tatiana Didier, and Mr. Sergio L. Schmukler
While a number of emerging market crises were characterized by widespread contagion during the 1990s, more recent crises (notably, in Argentina) have been mostly contained within national borders. This has led some observers to wonder whether contagion might have become a feature of the past, with markets now better discriminating between countries with good and bad fundamentals. This paper argues that a prudent working assumption is that contagion has not vanished permanently. Available data do not seem to point to a disappearance of the main channels that contribute to transmitting crises across countries. Moreover, anticipation of the Argentine crisis by international investors may help explain the recent absence of contagion.
Mr. Clinton R. Shiells, Mr. John R Dodsworth, and Mr. Paul Henri Mathieu
This paper explores from a regional perspective the distorted nature of trade in energy products within the CIS countries. The persistence of pricing distortions, barter arrangements, and discriminatory access to pipelines, as well as failure to honor contracts, has disrupted and distorted energy exports to non-CIS countries, undermined energy sector reforms, and distorted investment decisions. The paper focuses on cross-border issues as an integral component of the wider problem of inefficient energy use within the CIS. Several policy recommendations are proposed, including measures to foster greater competition, reduce state involvement, and promote regional cooperation.
Mr. Prakash Loungani and Mr. Paolo Mauro
This paper documents the scale of capital flight from Russia, compares it with that observed in other countries, and reviews policy options. The evidence from other countries suggests that capital flight can be reversed once reforms take hold. The paper argues that capital flight from Russia can only be curbed through a medium-term reform strategy aimed at improving governance and macroeconomic performance, and strengthening the banking system. Capital controls result in costly distortions and should gradually be phased out as part of that medium-term strategy.
Mr. Sanjeev Gupta
This paper briefly describes the factors constraining the social protection policies in the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union (BRO). The analysis considers public spending in social programs, including generalized subsidies for goods and consumer services, pensions, unemployment-related and social benefits, and education and health care. The paper then lists policies that can help mitigate the worsening living standards of the poor and the vulnerable in a fiscally sustainable manner.
Mr. John C. Odling-Smee and Mr. Basil B. Zavoiceo
The external debt of many countries of the Baltics, Russia, and the former Soviet Union has been growing rapidly in recent years and has played an important part in the transition process. However, it is vital to strike a balance between financing transition and ensuring that the external debt is not used to finance wasteful expenditures or delay the transition process. This is especially important since the rising stock of external debt makes the borrowing countries increasingly vulnerable to changes in perceived creditworthiness. Accordingly, countries must adopt policies, including pressing ahead with structural reforms, to ensure that the borrowing is used to promote sound growth.
Ms. Elaine Karen Buckberg
Although financial stabilization has laid the foundation for growth, structural reform of the economy will determine whether Russia achieves sustained medium-term growth. The next step for Russia is to create an institutional and regulatory environment that fosters investment and promotes new private sector activity. This paper examines the most critical reforms for promoting private sector development: reforming the tax system, reducing red tape and bureaucratic corruption, strengthening the judicial system, and improving capital market infrastructure.
Mr. Sanjeev Gupta and Mr. Ke-young Chu
The paper discusses the social protection implications of the weakening financial and administrative capacity of countries undergoing economic transition. The formal sector is shrinking, and unemployment and underemployment are rising rapidly. This is affecting both the revenue base of social protection programs and the ability of these countries to target social benefits. These developments make it imperative for these countries to restructure social benefits, rely more on self-targeting mechanisms to deliver benefits, as well as take immediate steps to improve payroll tax compliance. This is a Paper on Policy Analysis and Assessment and the author(s) would welcome any comments on the present text Citations should refer to a Paper on Policy Analysis and Assessment of the International Monetary Fund, mentioning the author(s) and the date of issuance. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Fund.
Amer Bisat
This paper discusses issues related to the gas arrears ‘crisis’ in Ukraine. It concludes that the problem, which can be traced to policy distortions, can be contained through an acceleration of structural reforms. The paper examines the nature of the contractual relations between Ukraine and its foreign suppliers; the role of the de facto government guarantee for gas import payments; the process of imposing financial discipline on non-payers; the nature of gas-related subsidy schemes; and the methods used in calculating domestic energy prices. An Appendix derives lessons from the Estonian case--an economy which, despite relatively similar initial conditions, avoided the emergence of energy payment difficulties. This is a Paper on Policy Analysis and Assessment and the author(s) would welcome any comments on the present text. Citations should refer to a Paper on Policy Analysis and Assessment of the International Monetary Fund, mentioning the author(s) and the date of issuance. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Fund.
Mr. Louis Dicks-Mireaux
Since 1991, the economies of the former Soviet Union have experienced sizeable shocks that have pushed equilibrium real wages far from pre-transition levels. This paper sets out a framework in which to assess the degree of real wage adjustment needed to restore equilibrium, and discusses practical problems in applying wage targets and monitoring real wage developments. A key policy conclusion is that because the accuracy of real wage targets is inevitably suspect, observable indicators should be identified to evaluate the adequacy of actual movements in real wages and of the wage targets; rigid indexation rules should be avoided in nominal incomes policies. This is a Paper on Policy Analysis and Assessment and the author(s) would welcome any comments on the present text. Citations should refer to a Paper on Policy Analysis and Assessment of the International Monetary Fund, mentioning the author(s) and the date of issuance. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Fund.