This paper re-examines the stock-flow discrepancies of government debt and deficits and correlation with fiscal transparency. Applying the fully integrated relationship between financial stocks and flows allows for a more refined analysis of the deterministic components that make up the ‘stock-flow’ residual. Using partial measures of these stock-flow residuals, several empirical studies have found them to be significantly correlated with fiscaltransparency, inflation, fiscal rules, and banking crisis. Using fully integrated public finance data from the IMF Government Finance Statistics Yearbook for a sample of 22 countries, the findings in this paper suggest that stock-flow residuals have a significantly smaller magnitude than previously assumed and are, in fact, not correlated with fiscal transparency. A stronger determinant of fiscal transparency scores appears to be the actual reporting of fiscal data covering general government, especially a full financial balance sheet.
This proposed SDN surveys the various accounting stratagems which governments have used to meet fiscal targets—thereby sidestepping the need for true adjustment—and suggests remedial actions to limit this type of fiscal non-transparency. Types of creative accounting covered includes, for instance, currency swaps to hide a debt build-up (as in Greece in 2001–07), sale and leaseback of government property (for example, in the United States), assumption of long-term pension obligations in exchange for short-term revenue (Argentina, Hungary, and other Eastern European countries), use of public-private partnerships to defer the recognition of investment spending (for instance, Portugal), and reliance on non-cash compensation (such as pension rights) to reduce measured wage bills (in the United States, United Kingdom, etc.) As is evident from the examples given, these fiscal tricks have recently come under increased international scrutiny, highlighting the importance of good fiscal reporting, accounting, and transparency in general, for avoiding unpleasant surprises, ensuring government accountability, and containing fiscal vulnerabilities.
This Selected Issues paper on Papua New Guinea reports that although economic cycles have generally paralleled the many mineral sector booms and busts, the downward trend in growth rates may reflect other factors. Papua New Guinea’s economy is dominated by a large labor-intensive agricultural sector and a capital-intensive oil and minerals sector. The formal sector consists of enclave extractive industries, cash crop production, and a small, import-substituting manufacturing sector. The importance of the agriculture sector is about the same as at independence, reflecting structural impediments that have deterred more rapid growth.
This Selected Issues paper for Indonesia reports that following the major cleanup of the banking sector after the crisis, banks’ performance has improved as net interest margins and profitability have increased. Public and external debt ratios have declined and international reserves have risen, reducing domestic and external vulnerabilities. Indonesia stands out as having experienced a slower recovery in investment and exports than other countries hit by the Asian crisis. Recognizing the challenge, the government has adopted a sound medium-term strategy focused on boosting economic growth.
This study examines the nature of the growth process in the ASEAN countries, and particularly whether it has been generated primarily by more inputs or by productivity gains. It uses internationally comparable data and explores an alternative method for estimating the capital and labor factor shares. The results, contradicting some previous studies, indicate a very impressive growth rate of TFP in Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, a relatively strong rate for Indonesia, and a negative rate for the Philippines. This study argues that the results of previous studies were driven mainly by the fact that they relied on national accounts data for measures of various variables and, in particular, the factor income shares of capital and labor.
This paper examines the different arguments raised by the studies that addressed the East Asian growth experience. The original arguments presented in this paper are all on the negative side, highlighting problems associated with some of the possible explanations for the East Asian miracle. The paper concentrates mainly on four dimensions of the debate about the East Asian growth experience: (i) The nature of economic growth intensive or extensive?; (ii) The role of public policy and of selective interventions; (iii) The role of high investment rates and a strong export orientation as possible engines of growth; and (iv) The importance of the initial conditions and their relevance for policy.