This Selected Issues paper analyses the impact of a potential rebalancing of Icelandic residents’ investment portfolios as capital controls are lifted. It applies optimal portfolio theory to calculate the potential rebalancing toward foreign assets, and then makes an estimate of the cumulative impact on the balance of payments and international reserves. Conclusions for the authorities’ capital account liberalization strategy are drawn. This paper also measures the potential budgetary savings from improving the efficiency of public spending in health and education in Iceland. A Data Envelopment Analysis is used to estimate an efficiency frontier by comparing across Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries the transformation rates of public spending into valuable social outcomes.
'Restoring Hope: Reinvigorating the Millennium Development Goals' assesses how the world is doing in meeting the MDGs--international development targets that all UN member countries and many international organizations have set for 2015. Our lead article, 'Regaining Momentum,' says that while several of the MDGs are within reach, the global economic crisis has set back progress toward a number of the targets, especially those related to health. Developing countries will need the support of advanced economies in to get back on track. Economist Jagdish Bhagwati calls into question the premise of the MDGs and argues that they should be rethought. Philanthropist Melinda Gates gives us the good news that maternal health has been improving, though we are not yet on track to meet the MDG target on maternal mortality. Picture This takes a look at child mortality rates and finds a more sobering picture. In related stories, economists Arvind Panagariya and Rodney Ramcharan have different views on how important it is to fight inequality. This issue also examines the deterioration of fiscal positions in advanced economies--as a result of both the global financial crisis and the long-run health and pension costs of an aging population. 'How Grim a Fiscal Crisis?' argues that consolidation in advanced economies should focus on spending cuts, given the already high tax burdens in many countries. In 'A Hidden Fiscal Crisis,' economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff examines the serious budget issues in the United States. We also look at the expensive needs of a rapidly aging population in France, and steps China is taking to improve pensions and health care. People in Economics profiles Maria Ramos, the academic-turned-Treasury mandarin who had a central role in stabilizing the budget in South Africa. And the 'Back to Basics' feature discusses unemployment.
This 2010 Article IV Consultation discusses Czech Republic’s economic condition. The Czech economy’s fundamentals were strong prior to the global economic and financial crisis. However, owing to its highly open nature, the economy was hit by spillover effects. A downturn in the euro area depressed exports while investment declined owing to a drop in FDI and the tightening of banks’ lending standards. Monetary and fiscal easing provided helpful stimulus, thereby cushioning the economic downturn.
This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix provides a brief assessment of Cyprus’s external position and its composition in an international perspective. It discusses estimates of Cyprus’s external position based on partial International Investment Position data as well as on cumulative flows, and compares its level and composition with advanced Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies and with other accession countries. It finds that a precise assessment of Cyprus’s overall external position is hindered by the lack of data on nondebt stocks. The paper also analyzes aging and long-term fiscal sustainability in Cyprus.
This paper assesses key aspects of Bulgaria’s competitiveness. The behavior of a variety of a real exchange rate indicators and export performance is also examined in this study. The Balassa–Samuelson effect refers to the impact of differential productivity growth rates in the tradables and nontradables sectors on the real exchange rate. The following statistical data are also included in detail: total and private agricultural production, income accounts, labor force, employment and unemployment, monetary survey, foreign assets of the banking system, and so on.
The paper assesses key aspects of Bulgaria's competitiveness. The challenge is to stay on course and persist with policies that will maintain and strengthen competitiveness. Implementation of the ambitious reform policy with respect to the pension and health care systems is required. The reasons for and implications of low bank credit to the private sector in Bulgaria, and measures to facilitate prudent credit growth are discussed. The statistical data on the economic indices of Bulgaria are also presented in the paper.
This paper briefly describes the factors constraining the social protection policies in the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union (BRO). The analysis considers public spending in social programs, including generalized subsidies for goods and consumer services, pensions, unemployment-related and social benefits, and education and health care. The paper then lists policies that can help mitigate the worsening living standards of the poor and the vulnerable in a fiscally sustainable manner.
This Selected Issues paper on Hungary describes the main factors behind the evolution of output in Hungary since 1990, and examines Hungary’s future growth prospects with specific focus on the role that structural and macroeconomic policies can play in enhancing those prospects. In this paper, the shortfall in growth relative to the other advanced transition economies is attributed to relatively slow progress with macroeconomic stabilization, stalled structural reform between 1993 and mid-1995, and specific features in the design of Hungary’s reform program. The paper also analyzes debt dynamics in Hungary.
The paper assesses the government expenditure effects from changing demographics in the Asian “Tiger” economies through 2050. With some exceptions, their limited social insurance commitments initially suggest that aging populations may not adversely affect fiscal balances. Yet for all the Tigers, changing illness patterns and medical modernization may combine with demographics to intensify budgetary pressures. The paper notes the implications of the Tigers’ reliance on private sector pension and medical insurance systems; the need for an active public role; and the complications for fiscal analysis when private sector instruments are used, in a mandatory way, as public policy instruments.
Pursuant to the Treaty of Maastricht, members of the European Union (EU) intend to participate in the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), in part through convergence toward specified limits on the overall deficit and gross debt of general government. The paper argues that in several EU members, the financial imbalance of social security institutions may constitute an impediment to meeting these requirements. Given a constraint on further payroll tax increases, most countries will need to undertake major reform of public pension and health-care systems, to ensure adherence to the EMU fiscal criteria in the medium to long run.