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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.
Ms. Natasha X Che
This paper presents a set of collaborative filtering algorithms that produce product recommendations to diversify and optimize a country's export structure in support of sustainable long-term growth. The recommendation system is able to accurately predict the historical trends in export content and structure for high-growth countries, such as China, India, Poland, and Chile, over 20-year spans. As a contemporary case study, the system is applied to Paraguay, to create recommendations for the country's export diversification strategy.
Marijn A. Bolhuis and Brett Rayner
We leverage insights from machine learning to optimize the tradeoff between bias and variance when estimating economic models using pooled datasets. Specifically, we develop a simple algorithm that estimates the similarity of economic structures across countries and selects the optimal pool of countries to maximize out-of-sample prediction accuracy of a model. We apply the new alogrithm by nowcasting output growth with a panel of 102 countries and are able to significantly improve forecast accuracy relative to alternative pools. The algortihm improves nowcast performance for advanced economies, as well as emerging market and developing economies, suggesting that machine learning techniques using pooled data could be an important macro tool for many countries.
Ms. Ghada Fayad, Chengyu Huang, Yoko Shibuya, and Peng Zhao
This paper applies state-of-the-art deep learning techniques to develop the first sentiment index measuring member countries’ reception of IMF policy advice at the time of Article IV Consultations. This paper finds that while authorities of member countries largely agree with Fund advice, there is variation across country size, external openness, policy sectors and their assessed riskiness, political systems, and commodity export intensity. The paper also looks at how sentiment changes during and after a financial arrangement or program with the Fund, as well as when a country receives IMF technical assistance. The results shed light on key aspects on Fund surveillance while redefining how the IMF can view its relevance, value added, and traction with its member countries.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues explores ways for strengthening the current fiscal framework in Suriname and considers options for a new fiscal anchor. The paper provides an overview of mineral natural resources and their importance for the budget. It also lays out the current framework for fiscal planning and budget execution in Suriname and discusses the analytical underpinnings of modernizing it to make it more robust. The paper also presents estimates of long-term sustainability benchmarks based on the IMF’s policy toolkit for resource-rich developing countries. Suriname’s fiscal framework can be strengthened through a fiscal anchor rooted in the non-resource primary balance. Given the size of fiscal adjustment required to bring the non-resource primary balance in line with the long-term sustainability benchmark, a substantial transition period is needed to implement it. The IMF Staff’s adjustment scenario—designed to put public debt on the downward path—closes the current gap by less than half, implying that adjustment would need to continue beyond the 5-year horizon.
International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & and Review Department
"The first data and statistics strategy for the Fund comes at a critical time. A fast-changing data landscape, new data needs for evolving surveillance priorities, and persisting data weaknesses across the membership pose challenges and opportunities for the Fund and its members. The challenges emerging from the digital revolution include an unprecedented amount of new data and measurement questions on growth, productivity, inflation, and welfare. Newly available granular and high-frequency (big) data offer the potential for more timely detection of vulnerabilities. In the wake of the crisis, Fund surveillance requires greater cross-country data comparability; staff and authorities face the complexity of integrating new data sources and closing data gaps, while working to address the weaknesses noted by the IEO Report (Behind the Scenes with Data at the IMF) in 2016. The overarching strategy is to move toward an ecosystem of data and statistics that enables the Fund and its members to better meet the evolving data needs in a digital world. It integrates Fund-wide work streams on data provision to the Fund for surveillance purposes, international statistical standards, capacity development, and data management under a common institutional objective. It seeks seamless access and sharing of data within the Fund, enabling cloud-based data dissemination to support data provision by member countries (e.g., the “global data commons”), closing data gaps with new sources including Big Data, and improving assessments of data adequacy for surveillance to help better prioritize capacity development. The Fund also will work with policymakers to understand the implications of the digital economy and digital data for the macroeconomic statistics, including new measures of welfare beyond GDP."
International Monetary Fund. Communications Department

Abstract

Address at the Bank of England Twentieth Anniversary Conference London, U.K. September 29, 2017 International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde delivered this address at the Bank of England conference, “Independence—20 Years On” in London, U.K., on September 29, 2017.

Mr. Andrew J Tiffin
Macroeconomic analysis in Lebanon presents a distinct challenge. For example, long delays in the publication of GDP data mean that our analysis often relies on proxy variables, and resembles an extended version of the “nowcasting” challenge familiar to many central banks. Addressing this problem—and mindful of the pitfalls of extracting information from a large number of correlated proxies—we explore some recent techniques from the machine learning literature. We focus on two popular techniques (Elastic Net regression and Random Forests) and provide an estimation procedure that is intuitively familiar and well suited to the challenging features of Lebanon’s data.
Mr. S. Nuri Erbas and Chera L. Sayers
Knightian uncertainty (ambiguity) implies presence of uninsurable risks. Institutional quality may be a good indicator of Knightian uncertainty. This paper correlates non-life insurance penetration in 70 countries with income level, financial sector depth, country risk, a measure of cost of insurance, and the World Bank governance indexes. We find that institutional quality-transparency-uncertainty nexus is the dominant determinant of insurability across countries, surpassing the explanatory power of income level. Institutional quality, as it reflects on the level of uncertainty, is the deeper determinant of insurability. Insurability is lower when governance is weaker.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
This paper focuses on official intervention on the forward exchange market. The purpose is to provide a straightforward account of the theory of intervention and to use it to discuss the problems raised. The forward exchange market may be conveniently treated in terms of stocks rather than of flows; that is, the forward exchange rate is taken as reconciling the desires of market participants with respect to the holding—rather than the changing—of forward exchange positions. Official intervention in the forward exchange market can be analysed by regarding the authorities either as part of the market or as distinct from it. Official swap transactions are frequently undertaken not on the open market but by direct arrangement with foreign monetary authorities or with commercial banks. The substantial rise to be expected in the forward premium would, of course, have an adverse effect on the foreign balance, which might be unwelcome from a cyclical standpoint though it would probably merely involve a diminution in the improvement that would otherwise have occurred as a result of the recession.