Pacific island countries are highly vulnerable to various natural disasters which are destructive, unpredictable and occur frequently. The frequency and scale of these shocks heightens the importance of medium-term economic and fiscal planning to minimize the adverse impact of disasters on economic development. This paper identifies the intensity of natural disasters for each country in the Pacific based on the distribution of damage and population affected by disasters, and estimates the impact of disasters on economic growth and international trade using a panel regression. The results show that “severe” disasters have a significant and negative impact on economic growth and lead to a deterioration of the fiscal and trade balance. We also find that the negative impact on growth is stronger for more intense disasters. Going further this paper proposes a simple and consistent method to adjust IMF staff’s economic projections and debt sustainability analysis for disaster shocks for the Pacific islands. Better incorporating the economic impact of natural disasters in the medium- and long-term economic planning would help policy makers improve fiscal policy decisions and to be better adapted and prepared for natural disasters.
Gail Cohen, João Tovar Jalles, Mr. Prakash Loungani, and Ricardo Marto
Recent discussions of the extent of decoupling between greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and
real gross domestic product (GDP) provide mixed evidence and have generated much debate.
We show that to get a clear picture of decoupling it is important to distinguish cycles from
trends: there is an Environmental Okun's Law (a cyclical relationship between emissions and
real GDP) that often obscures the trend relationship between emissions and real GDP. We show
that, once the cyclical relationship is accounted for, the trends show evidence of decoupling in
richer nations—particularly in European countries, but not yet in emerging markets. The picture
changes somewhat, however, if we take into consideration the effects of international trade, that
is, if we distinguish between production-based and consumption-based emissions. Once we add
in their net emission transfers, the evidence for decoupling among the richer countries gets
weaker. The good news is that countries with underlying policy frameworks more supportive of
renewable energy and supportive of climate change tend to have greater decoupling between
trend emissions and trend GDP, and for both production- and consumption-based emissions.
Ezequiel Cabezon, Ms. Leni Hunter, Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello, Kazuaki Washimi, and Mr. Yiqun Wu
Natural disasters and climate change are interrelated macro-critical issues affecting all
Pacific small states to varying degrees. In addition to their devastating human costs, these
events damage growth prospects and worsen countries’ fiscal positions. This is the first
cross-country IMF study assessing the impact of natural disasters on growth in the Pacific
islands as a group. A panel VAR analysis suggests that, for damage and losses equivalent to
1 percent of GDP, growth drops by 0.7 percentage point in the year of the disaster. We also
find that, during 1980-2014, trend growth was 0.7 percentage point lower than it would have
been without natural disasters. The paper also discusses a multi-pillar framework to enhance
resilience to natural disasters at the national, regional, and multilateral levels and the
importance of enhancing countries’ risk-management capacities. It highlights how this
approach can provide a more strategic and less ad hoc framework for strengthening both ex
ante and ex post resilience and what role the IMF can play.
This paper reviews the literature on the macroeconomic impact of natural disasters and presents the IMF’s role in assisting countries coping with natural catastrophes. Focusing on seven country cases, the paper describes the emergency financing, policy support, and technical assistance provided by the Fund to help governments put together a policy response or build a macro framework to lay the foundation for recovery and/or unlock other external financing. The literature and experience suggests there are ways to strengthen policy frameworks to increase resilience to natural disaster shocks, including identifying the risks and probability of natural disasters and integrating them more explicitly into macro frame-works, increasing flexibility within fiscal frameworks, and improving coordination amongst international partners ex post and ex ante.
Mr. Julian Di Giovanni, Mr. Jing Zhang, and Mr. Andrei A Levchenko
This paper evaluates the global welfare impact of China's trade integration and technological change in a quantitative Ricardian-Heckscher-Ohlin model implemented on 75 countries. We simulate two alternative productivity growth scenarios: a "balanced" one in which China's productivity grows at the same rate in each sector, and an "unbalanced" one in which China's comparative disadvantage sectors catch up disproportionately faster to the world productivity frontier. Contrary to a well-known conjecture (Samuelson, 2004), the large majority of countries in the sample, including the developed ones, experience an order of magnitude larger welfare gains when China's productivity growth is biased towards its comparative disadvantage sectors. We demonstrate both analytically and quantitatively that this finding is driven by the inherently multilateral nature of world trade. As a separate but related exercise we quantify the worldwide welfare gains from China's trade integration.
The global financial crisis unmasked Serbia’s unsustainable pre-crisis growth model. Looking back, the Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) provided effective insurance against a financial meltdown, initiated the needed re-balancing of the economy, but could not prevent large job losses. Looking ahead, the transition to a more sustainable growth model remains incomplete and fragile. The export-led recovery is expected to continue picking up steam, but labor market conditions will remain difficult. The current account deficit is expected to remain relatively high, requiring significant capital inflows to maintain external balance.