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Davide Furceri, Jun Ge, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Gabriele Ciminelli
Many countries are experiencing persistent, weak medium-term growth and limited fiscal space. Against this background, economic policy agendas—in both advanced and developing economies—are focusing increasingly on structural reforms. While there is broad agreement on the economic benefits of structural reforms, the political-economy of reform is less settled. This is because reforms may generate gains only in the longer term while distributional effects may be sizable in the short run, and because governments may lack political capital to confront vocal interest groups. In these circumstances, politicians may hold back on reforms, fearing they will be penalized at the ballot box. The aim of this Staff Discussion Note is to examine whether the fear of a political cost associated with structural reforms is justified by the available evidence, and whether there are lessons from the data about how reform strategies might be designed to mitigate potential political costs. It provides a major addition to recent IMF analysis examining the output and employment effect of reforms
International Monetary Fund
The Executive Summary is also available in: Arabic , Chinese, French, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish. The membership is facing a rapidly changing and uncertain world. The United States is poised to raise interest rates amid ongoing recovery, China’s expected slowdown as it rebalances growth is creating larger-than-anticipated spillovers, and commodity producers are facing the end of a long cycle of high commodity prices. These necessary transitions pose challenges, particularly for emerging and low-income developing countries, where prospects have dwindled the most. Policymakers are increasingly grappling with difficult policy trade-offs. Faced with limited room to maneuver and the need to adapt to new realities, what relative weight should be placed on supporting demand and current activity, on reducing financial risks as financial conditions tighten, and on implementing urgently needed structural reforms to revive future growth? Policies need to reflect country circumstances and coalesce into a new multilateralism. Mutually reinforcing policies are needed to support growth today, invest in resilience and safeguard financial stability, and implement the structural reforms needed for a sustainable and inclusive future. Policies should reflect member circumstances and also add up to a coherent whole—to ensure that demand is created not substituted, market resilience is enhanced not circumvented, and that structural reforms are enacted not delayed. Cooperation is vital in areas such as the global financial safety net, trade, climate change, international taxation, sustainable development goals (SDGs), and demographic transitions and migration. The Fund will support the membership at this juncture. The Fund has both the universal membership and mandate to address growth and economic stability issues at the national and global levels. To support the membership most effectively, the Fund will focus on three priorities that best reflect this new AIM: • Agility. Advice will focus on policies to support members cope with evolving transitions—respond to tighter and more volatile financial conditions and implement effective macro-structural reforms. The lending framework will deliver financial assistance quickly where needed. Delivery of technical assistance and training will be enhanced by greater use of online tools. • Integration. In the face of growing policy trade-offs, the Fund will support its members by better integrating policy advice across sectors, embracing evolving priorities, promoting integration of global, regional, and bilateral safety nets, and better leveraging synergies between surveillance and capacity building. • Member-Focused. With policy concerns evolving rapidly and advice becoming more dependent on country-specifics, the Fund will deepen its engagement with members, better deliver its knowledge, and ensure faster feedback to policymakers. The Fund continues to refine its core work—surveillance, lending, and capacity building—and to attain greater intellectual and cultural diversity to respond to this changing global environment and its corresponding policy challenges. To further improve services to the membership, Fund activities need to be fully supported by adequate financial, human, budgetary, and technological resources.
Mr. Tamim Bayoumi
This paper examines domestic policy cooperation, a curiously neglected issue. Both international and domestic cooperation were live issues in the 1970s when the IS/LM model predicted very different external outcomes from monetary and fiscal policies. Interest in domestic policy cooperation has since fallen on hard intellectual times—with knock-ons to international cooperation—as macroeconomic policy roles became highly compartmentalized. I first discuss the intellectual and policy making undercurrents behind this neglect, and explain why they are less relevant after the global crisis. This is followed by a discussion of: macroeconomic policy cooperation in a world of more fiscal activism; coordination across financial agencies and with macroeconomic policies; and how structural policies fit into this. The paper concludes with a proposal for a “grand bargain” across principle players to create a “new domestic cooperation.”
International Monetary Fund
The Managing Director’s Global Policy Agenda (GPA) presented to the IMFC in April identified a range of actions needed to bolster today’s actual and tomorrow’s potential output, diminish risks, and confront emerging global challenges. These actions included calibrating fiscal adjustment to economic conditions while establishing credible long-term fiscal frameworks and implementing growth-friendly fiscal policies, improving monetary policy effectiveness while containing excessive financial risk-taking, and accelerating structural reforms to raise growth potential and ensure inclusiveness. The GPA also outlined how the Fund would support the membership through assessments and policy advice provided in the context of multilateral and bilateral surveillance, financial support, and capacity building. This document translates the policy priorities laid out in the GPA and the IMFC communiqué into a work agenda for the Executive Board over the next 12 months. In particular, the Board will be engaged on several issues of multilateral scope, including quota reform and resources, the SDR basket review, challenges facing the international monetary system, and the post-2015 global development agenda. The work program also includes several items from the action plan of the 2014 Triennial Surveillance Review (TSR).
José Vinãls, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Jay Surti, Mr. Aditya Narain, Ms. Michaela Erbenova, and Mr. Julian T Chow
The U.S., the U.K., and more recently, the E.U., have proposed policy measures directly targeting complexity and business structures of banks. Unlike other, price-based reforms (e.g., Basel 3 and G-SIFI surcharges), these proposals have been developed unilaterally with material differences in scope, design and implementation schedules. This may exacerbate cross-border regulatory arbitrage and put a further burden on consolidated supervision and cross-border resolution. This paper provides an analysis of the potential implications of implementing different structural policy measures. It proposes a pragmatic and coordinated approach to development of these policies to reduce risk of regulatory arbitrage and minimize unintended consequences. In doing so, it also aims to identify a set of common policy measures that countries could adopt to re-scope bank business models and corporate structures.
Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, Mr. Alessandro Prati, and Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo


This volume examines the impact on economic performance of structural policies-policies that increase the role of market forces and competition in the economy, while maintaining appropriate regulatory frameworks. The results reflect a new dataset covering reforms of domestic product markets, international trade, the domestic financial sector, and the external capital account, in 91 developed and developing countries. Among the key results of this study, the authors find that real and financial reforms (and, in particular, domestic financial liberalization, trade liberalization, and agricultural liberalization) boost income growth. However, growth effects differ significantly across alternative reform sequencing strategies: a trade-before-capital-account strategy achieves better outcomes than the reverse, or even than a "big bang"; also, liberalizing the domestic financial sector together with the external capital account is growth-enhancing, provided the economy is relatively open to international trade. Finally, relatively liberalized domestic financial sectors enhance the economy's resilience, reducing output costs from adverse terms-of-trade and interest-rate shocks; increased credit availability is one of the key mechanisms.

International Monetary Fund
This paper presents key findings of the Ex Post Assessment of Longer-Term Program Engagement for Bolivia. Bolivia is a country that is perceived as having one of the best structural reform records in Latin America but experienced sluggish per capita growth, and made virtually no progress in reducing income-based poverty measures. The paper presents a summary account of Bolivia’s performance under IMF-supported programs. It emphasizes that to address Bolivia’s main economic problems—insufficient growth, and fiscal and financial fragility—a new medium-term program should be focused on fundamental institutional and structural reforms.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy.
Mr. Mohsin S. Khan and Mr. Sunil Sharma
The paper uses finance and agency theory to establish two main propositions: First, that the conditionality attached to adjustment programs supported by the IMF is justified. Second, that ownership of programs by the borrowing country is crucial for their success. Hence, since both IMF conditionality and country ownership are necessary, the task is one of designing conditionality to maximize program ownership, subject to providing adequate safeguards for IMF lending. The paper discusses some recent proposals for enhancing ownership, and in particular, makes a case for incorporating floating tranches and outcomes-based conditionality in IMF-supported adjustment programs.