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Mr. Gonzalo Salinas
The lack of a clear link between general economic fundamentals and export diversification indicators in the literature has fueled the believe that industrial policies are an absolute requisite to diversify exports. This paper, however, does find a strong statistical connection between horizontal policies and diversification by making two novel changes to traditional methodologies: using export categories that lead to diversification (for example, manufactures) as dependent variables, and using a gravity-equation regression setting. Proximity to other economies explains about a third of cross-country heterogeneity in targeted exports, and four fifths together with horizontal policies. Australia, Chile, and New Zealand emerge as new role models for diversification policies.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper proposes a simple nowcast model for an early assessment of the Salvadorian economy. The exercise is based on a bridge model, which is one of the many tools available for nowcasting. For El Salvador, the bridge model exploits information for the period 2005–17 from a large set of variables that are published earlier and at higher frequency than the variable of interest, in this case quarterly GDP. The estimated GDP growth rate in the 4th quarter of 2017 is 2.4 percent year-over-year, leading to an average GDP growth rate of 2.3 percent in 2017. This is in line with the GDP growth implied by the official statistics released two months later, in March 23, 2018.
Camila Casas, Mr. Federico J Diez, Ms. Gita Gopinath, and Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas
Most trade is invoiced in very few currencies. Despite this, the Mundell-Fleming benchmark and its variants focus on pricing in the producer’s currency or in local currency. We model instead a ‘dominant currency paradigm’ for small open economies characterized by three features: pricing in a dominant currency; pricing complementarities, and imported input use in production. Under this paradigm: (a) the terms-of-trade is stable; (b) dominant currency exchange rate pass-through into export and import prices is high regardless of destination or origin of goods; (c) exchange rate pass-through of non-dominant currencies is small; (d) expenditure switching occurs mostly via imports, driven by the dollar exchange rate while exports respond weakly, if at all; (e) strengthening of the dominant currency relative to non-dominant ones can negatively impact global trade; (f) optimal monetary policy targets deviations from the law of one price arising from dominant currency fluctuations, in addition to the inflation and output gap. Using data from Colombia we document strong support for the dominant currency paradigm.
Ms. Valerie Cerra and Martha Tesfaye Woldemichael
This paper investigates the determinants of sustained accelerations in goods and services exports. Strong predictors of export takeoffs include domestic and structural indicators such as lower macroeconomic uncertainty, improved quality of institutions, a depreciated exchange rate, and agricultural reforms. Lower tariffs, participation in global value chains and diversification also contribute to initiating export accelerations. The paper also finds heterogeneity, with somewhat different triggers for Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as for goods and services. Finally, despite the lack of a robust effect on output, export surges tend to be associated with lower post-acceleration unemployment and income inequality.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper assesses the potential output in El Salvador. Based on various filters and the production function approach, El Salvador’s potential growth is estimated at about 2 percent for 1999–2015, and the output gap is now virtually closed. Potential growth after the global financial crisis has fallen as a result of lower capital accumulation and total factor productivity (TFP). TFP growth depends on technological progress, as well as the institutional, regulatory, and legal environment in which businesses operate. From a cyclical perspective, the economy is assessed to be operating at potential and labor market conditions also appear to be broadly neutral. Strengthening capital and TFP growth going forward is critical to achieve the authorities’ goal of raising potential growth to 3 percent over the medium term. Structural reforms should prioritize mobilizing domestic savings to invest and build a higher capital stock, enhancing research and development/technological diffusion and competition in product and labor markets, strengthening institutions to secure property rights and reduce red tape, improving infrastructure, facilitating access to financing, and fostering human capital to boost TFP growth. Going forward, it is critical to undertake structural reforms to strengthen capital and TFP to raise potential growth.
Stephanie Medina Cas, Mr. Andrew J Swiston, and Mr. Luis D Barrot
This paper studies the potential for the export sector to play a more important role in promoting growth in Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic (CAPDR) through deeper intra-regional and global trade integration. CAPDR countries have enacted many free trade agreements and other regional integration initiatives in recent years, but this paper finds that their exports remain below the norm for countries of their size. Several indexes of outward orientation are constructed and suggest that the breadth of geographic trading relationships, depth of integration into global production chains, and degree of technological sophistication of exports in CAPDR are less conducive to higher exports and growth than in fast-growing, export-oriented economies. To boost exports and growth, CAPDR should implement policies to facilitate economic integration, particularly building a customs union, harmonizing trade rules, improving logistics and infrastructure, and enhancing regional cordination.
Mr. Shaun K. Roache
The economies of Central America share a close relationship with the United States, with considerable comovement of GDP growth over a long period of time. Trade, the financial sector, and remittance flows are all potential channels through which the U.S. cycle could affect the region. But just how dependent is growth in the region on the U.S.? Using the common cycles method of Vahid and Engle (1993), this paper suggests that the business cycle is dominated by the U.S.; region-specific growth drivers tend to be long-lasting shocks, rather than temporary fluctuations. The most cyclically sensitive countries include Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras.
International Monetary Fund
El Salvador has made major strides on several fronts since the peace accords of 1992. The near-term outlook has strengthened, although challenges remain. The authorities are intended to limit tax exemptions and subsidies, and raise priority of banking reforms this year. Discussions focused on policies to enhance growth and social progress within the framework of formal dollarization. IMF staff supported plans to consolidate financial stability through steps to strengthen the prudential and supervisory framework, deepen intermediation, and improve the safety net.