Mr. Valerio Crispolti, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Jun I Kim, Ms. Kazuko Shirono, and Mr. George C. Tsibouris
Low-income countries routinely experience exogenous disturbances—sharp swings in the terms of trade, export demand, natural disasters, and volatile financial flows—that contribute to higher volatility in aggregate output and consumption compared with other countries. Assessing Reserve Adequacy in Low-Income Countries presents the findings of an analysis of a range of external shocks faced by these countries, beginning with a discussion of the impact of external shocks on macroeconomic growth, volatility, and welfare. Although sound macroeconomic and prudential policy frameworks are the first line of defense for limiting vulnerability, international reserves constitute the main form of self-insurance against such shocks. The evidence suggests that low-income countries with reserve coverage above three months of imports were better able to smooth consumption and absorption in the face of external shocks compared with those with lower reserve holdings. The analysis also points to the importance of country characteristics and vulnerabilities in assessing reserve adequacy.
This chapter discusses the changes that have taken place in the underlying structural relationships determining government expenditures between 1975 and 1986. The paper describes the methodological problems in analyzing the determinants of government expenditure patterns, and the issues involved in making cross-country expenditure comparisons, and the problems confronting country economists in assessing a country's expenditure profile. The Tait-Heller study concluded that the international expenditure comparison (IEC) framework provided a “starting point” for analysis. In many respects, this conclusion would still appear valid; if anything, the issues associated with using the IEC indices have become more rather than less complex. Data limitations also pose a limiting factor on the usefulness of an analysis of the IEC indices of a country, and even more strongly suggest its use only as complementary to more detailed sectoral and economic analyses of expenditure profiles. The results for the developing countries in the European region are almost identical to those observed in Africa, with the key exception being an increased priority for expenditure on social security and welfare and a decline in the priority attached to education.