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.
This paper aims to put some constraints on the way primary surpluses are projected when making assessments of public debt sustainability. Projections should be tied either to the country's historical track record in generating surpluses-if the institutional and other factors accounting for this track record are expected to persist-or to some model that links primary surpluses to their fundamental determinants, either on the basis of constant institutions and policies or a credible reform program. History-based or model-based primary surplus projections provide a useful benchmark for judging the realism of fiscal forecasts underlying debt sustainability calculations. Together with information on future growth and interest rates, the primary surplus projections can be used to generate measures of overborrowing, and the magnitude of adjustment needed to return debt to a sustainable level.
Pension reform in several emerging market countries has been associated with rapid growth in assets under management and a positive impact on the development of local securities markets. However, limitations on such development may lead to asset price distortions, bubbles, and concentration of risks. Regulatory limits on pension fund investments are assessed in light of these risks and developments in modern portfolio theory. A gradual but decisive loosening of restrictions on equity and foreign investments is recommended. Changes in these regulations ought to be coordinated with measures designed to foster the development of local securities markets as well as with macroeconomic policies.
This paper seeks to revive the case for countries to self-insure against economic growth slowdowns by issuing GDP-indexed bonds. We simulate the effects of GDP-indexed bonds under different assumptions about fiscal policy reaction functions and their output effects and find that they could substantially reduce the likelihood that debt/GDP paths become explosive. The insurance premium would likely be small, because cross-country comovement of GDP growth rates is low and cross-country GDP growth risk is thus largely diversifiable for an investor holding a portfolio of GDP-indexed bonds. Potential obstacles to the emergence of a market for these bonds include the verifiability of GDP data, the trade-off between insurance and moral hazard, and the need for liquidity. The paper discusses institutional fixes and suggests an approach to attempting to start up a market.
The paper examines the recent privatization experience in Ukraine in the context of the streamlining of Fund structural conditionality. A particular focus is the shift from privatization-related conditionality based on quantitative targets to conditionality aimed at strengthening privatization procedures. The paper examines how this shift was managed in Ukraine and discusses the challenges of applying conditionality to privatization procedures and the implications for country ownership.
The past decade has witnessed a steady increase in outstanding external sovereign debt issued by emerging market economies. This paper examines some of the “received wisdom” regarding the benefits of external financing of domestic budget deficits and argues that it is often predicated on a narrow set of assumptions and incomplete evaluation of the underlying costs. The paper also suggests alternative sources of financing that can help capture some of the benefits associated with foreign financing without all of its costs.
Since the mid-1980s, there has been a very substantial increase in stock market activity in many developing countries. This paper first examines the main characteristics of the emerging stock markets, and illustrates the evolution of equity prices in these markets over the last decade. It then discusses the reasons for the markets’ growth and assesses the extent to which domestic policies, as well as external factors, have played a role. This is followed by a discussion of the likely benefits of these markets; the effects which any abrupt correction in stock prices could have for the economy; and the ways in which these markets can be made more efficient.