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Cristian Alonso, Mariya Brussevich, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Yuko Kinoshita, and Ms. Kalpana Kochhar
Unpaid work, such as caring for children, the elderly, and household chores represents a significant share of economic activity but is not counted as part of GDP. Women disproportionately shoulder the burden of unpaid work: on average, women do two more hours of unpaid work per day than men, with large differences across countries. While much unpaid care work is done entirely by choice, constraints imposed by cultural norms, labor market features or lack of public services, infrastructure, and family-friendly policies matter. This undermines female labor force participation and lowers economy-wide productivity. In this paper, we examine recent trends in unpaid work around the world using aggregate and individual-level data, explore potential drivers, and identify policies that can help reduce and redistribute unpaid work across genders. Conservative model-based estimates suggest that the gains from these policies could amount to up to 4 percent of GDP.
Mr. Seyed Reza Yousefi
This paper introduces concepts of public sector balance sheet (PSBS) strength, taking into account different aspects of what governments own in addition to what they owe. It develops measures of PSBS strength and investigates their macroeconomic implications. Empirical estimations show that in their pricing of sovereign bonds, financial markets account for government assets and net worth in addition to their liabilities. Furthermore, economies with stronger public sector balance sheets experience shallower recessions and recover faster in the aftermath of economic downturns. This faster return to growth can be explained by the greater space for countercyclical fiscal policy in countries with stronger balance sheets.
Mr. Adolfo Barajas, Mr. Ralph Chami, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, and Anne Oeking
Despite welfare and poverty-reducing benefits for recipient households, remittance inflows have been shown to entail macroeconomic challenges; producing Dutch Disease-type effects through their upward (appreciation) pressure on real exchange rates, reducing the quality of institutions, delaying fiscal adjustment, and ultimately having an indeterminate effect on long-run growth. The paper explores an additional challenge, for monetary policy. Although they expand bank balance sheets, providing a stable flow of interest-insensitive funding, remittances tend to increase banks’ holdings of liquid assets. This both reduces the need for an interbank market and severs the link between the policy rate and banks’ marginal costs of funds, thus shutting down a major transmission channel. We develop a stylized model based on asymmetric information and a lack of transparent borrowers and undertake econometric analysis providing evidence that increased remittance inflows are associated with a weaker transmission. As independent monetary policy becomes impaired, this result is consistent with earlier findings that recipient countries tend to favor fixed exchange rate regimes.
International Monetary Fund
The December 2015 IMF Research Bulletin features a sampling of key research from the IMF. The Research Summaries in this issue look at “The Impact of Deflation and Lowflation on Fiscal Aggregates (Nicolas End, Sampawende J.-A. Tapsoba, Gilbert Terrier, and Renaud Duplay); and “Oil Exporters at the Crossroads: It Is High Time to Diversify” (Reda Cherif and Fuad Hasanov). Mahvash Saeed Qureshi provides an overview of the fifth Lindau Meeting in Economics in “Meeting the Nobel Giants.” In the Q&A column on “Seven Questions on Financial Frictions and the Sources of the Business Cycle, Marzie Taheri Sanjani looks at the driving forces of the business cycle and macroeconomic models. The top-viewed articles in 2014 from the IMF Economic Review are highlighted, along with recent IMF Working Papers, Staff Discussion Notes, and IMF publications.
Reda Cherif and Fuad Hasanov
A key priority for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is to create a dynamic non-oil tradable sector to support sustainable growth. Since export diversification takes a long time, it has to start now. We argue that the failure to diversify away from oil stems mainly from market failures rather than government failures. To tackle market failures, the government needs to change the incentive structure for workers and firms. Experiences of oil exporters that managed to diversify suggest that a focus on competing in international markets and an emphasis on technological upgrade and climbing the “quality ladder” are crucial.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

This report seeks to help the IMF enhance its effectiveness by identifying major recurring issues from the IEO’s first 20 evaluations and assessing where they stand. The IMF’s core areas of responsibility are surveillance, lending, and capacity development. The aim of this report is to strengthen the follow-up process by focusing on key issues that recurred in IEO evaluations, rather than on specific recommendations on their implementation. The IEO believes that a framework of reviewing and monitoring recurring issues would be useful in establishing incentives for progress, strengthening the Board’s oversight, and providing learning opportunities for the IMF.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper on Iraq discusses medium-term projections for oil production and exports. Constraints to oil export volumes arise from export bottlenecks and technical production issues. Production is held back by technical challenges such as the need for water injection in the southern oil fields and limited supply of electricity, of which the oil industry is one of the main consumers. Export infrastructure has suffered during many years of decay owing to sanctions and wars. The Iraqi crude is priced as an average of a benchmark oil price for 15 or 30 days from the bill of lading.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
Libya faces a number of challenges to establishing a robust, efficient, and transparent public financial management system. There is a need to establish a clear macrofiscal policy framework. The Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) should be a financing fund system with clear and rigid inflow and outflow rules and should be based on clear and regulated investment criteria. Under the existing legal and regulatory framework, budget expenditures cannot exceed the initial ceilings specified in the annual budget law. This should be strictly enforced.