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International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department
This paper presents traction as a multidimensional concept and discusses a comprehensive and complementary set of approaches to attempt to measure it based on the Fund’s value added to policy dialogue and formulation and public debate in member countries.
Samya Beidas-Strom and Marco Lorusso
We build and estimate open economy two-bloc DSGE models to study the transmission and impact of shocks in Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. After accounting for country-specific fiscal and monetary sectors, we estimate their key policy and structural parameters. Our findings suggest that not only has output responded differently to shocks due to differing levels of diversification and structural and policy settings, but also the responses to fiscal consolidation differ: Russia would benefit from a smaller state foot-print, while in Saudi Arabia, unless this is accompanied by structural reforms that remove rigidities, output would fall. We also find that lower oil prices need not be bad news given more oil-intensive production structures. However, lower oil prices have hurt these oil producers as their public finances depend heavily on oil, among other factors. Productivity gains accompanied by ambitious structural reforms, along with fiscal and monetary reforms could support these economies to achieve better outcomes when oil prices fall, including via diversifying exports.
Stephen Snudden
This paper adds international migration and remittances into the IMF’s Flexible System of Global Models (FSGM). FSGM is a global general equilibrium model with endogenous primary commodity markets. A method to estimate the structural dynamics of major remitter regions is proposed. The dynamics of remittances and migration in FSGM are calibrated to be consistent with the main stylized facts of the empirical estimates. Structural disturbances pertinent to current global remittance flows are examined. These disturbances include disruptions to oil supply, output variation in Europe and the United States, labor nationalization policies in Saudi Arabia, and a global reduction in the cost to remit. The multilateral framework illustrates how remittance inflows need not originate from the region with the underlying economic disturbance but can arise from third party remitter regions affected by global commodity markets. The results also illustrate that the correlation of remittance inflows and the real GDP of labor-exporting economies can be either positively or negatively correlated. The evidence suggests that the behavioral incentive to migrate and remit cannot be deduced from correlations of real GDP and remittance inflows.
International Monetary Fund
The Fund’s decision on the New Arrangements to Borrow (the “NAB”), as amended, (the “NAB Decision”) is subject to renewals not later than 12 months before the end of each NAB period, with the current period set to expire on November 16, 2017. The NAB Decision was last renewed for a five-year period in November 2012. Pursuant to paragraph 19(a) of the NAB Decision, the Executive Board is to take a decision on the renewal no later than twelve months before the end of the NAB Decision, i.e., by November 16, 2016.1 Once a decision on renewal is taken, the new NAB period would become effective on November 17, 2017. In renewing the NAB Decision, the Fund and NAB participants are to review the functioning of the NAB Decision and, in particular, the experience with the procedures for activation. Modifications of the NAB Decision could be made at the time of renewal.
International Monetary Fund
After narrowing modestly in 2013, the global scale of current account imbalances, and of excess imbalances, held steady in 2014. Over the last several years, while the country composition of imbalances has rotated somewhat, overall there has been little progress on reducing excess imbalances. Excess deficits narrowed in some cases, but widened in others; progress on reducing excess surpluses has stalled. An unfinished policy agenda to reduce excess imbalances remains. Efforts by both surplus and deficit economies would be mutually reinforcing and support growth. Several significant recent developments will affect external positions in 2015: sharply lower oil prices, cyclical divergence and different monetary policies among the major economies, and related currency movements. Those developments do not overturn the previous pattern of excess imbalances and associated policy agenda, but they will have significant effects and raise new issues.
Ms. Pritha Mitra, Amr Hosny, Gohar Abajyan, and Mr. Mark Fischer
The Middle East and Central Asia’s economic growth potential is slowing faster than in other emerging and developing regions, dampening hopes for reducing persistent unemployment and improving the region’s generally low living standards. Why? And is it possible to alter this course? This paper addresses these questions by estimating potential growth, examining its supply-side drivers, and assessing which of them could be most effective in raising potential growth. The analysis reveals that the region’s potential growth is expected to slow by ¾ of a percentage point more than the EMDC average over the next five years. The reasons behind this slowdown differ across the region. Lower productivity growth drives the slowdown in the Caucasus and Central Asia and is also weighing on growth across the Middle East (MENAP); while a lower labor contribution to potential growth is the main driver in MENAP. Moving forward, given some natural constraints on labor, total factor productivity growth is key to unlocking the region’s higher growth potential. For oil importers, raising physical capital accumulation through greater investment will also play an important role.
Mr. Julio Escolano, Ms. Christina Kolerus, and Mr. Constant A Lonkeng Ngouana
This paper finds that tightening global financial conditions can worsen emerging economies’ public debt dynamics through an increasing interest rate-growth differential, particularly if coupled with high global risk aversion. Latin America and emerging Europe are the regions most likely to be adversely affected. In addition, historical evidence—analyzed by means of a Poisson count model—suggests that the frequency of sovereign debt crises increases in emerging economies at the early stage of U.S. monetary tightening cycles, at times in which the term spread also rises. The timing may be related to abrupt switches of expectations about the future course of policy in the early stages of tightening cycles.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

This issue discusses economic developments in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP), which continue to reflect the diversity of conditions prevailing across the region. Most high-income oil exporters, primarily in the GCC, continue to record steady growth and solid economic and financial fundamentals, albeit with medium-term challenges that need to be addressed. In contrast, other countries—Iraq, Libya, and Syria—are mired in conflicts with not only humanitarian but also economic consequences. And yet other countries, mostly oil importers, are making continued but uneven progress in advancing their economic agendas, often in tandem with political transitions and amidst difficult social conditions. In most of these countries, without extensive economic and structural reforms, economic prospects for the medium term remain insufficient to reduce high unemployment and improve living standards.

Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Raphael A Espinoza, and Mrs. Sarwat Jahan
This paper documents the expanding economic linkages between low-income countries (LICs) and a narrow group of "Emerging Market leaders" that have become major players in regional and global trade and financial flows. VAR models show that these linkages have increased the share of growth volatility that can be attributed to foreign shocks in LICs. Dynamic panel models further analyze the impact of LIC trade orientation and production structure on the sensitivity to foreign shocks. The empirical results demonstrate that the elasticity of growth to trading partners' growth is high for LICs in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia. However, for commodity-exporting LICs in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, terms of trade shocks and demand from the emerging market leaders are the main channels of transmission of foreign shocks.