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Miss Estelle X Liu
The latest advancement in financial technology has posed unprecedented challenges for incumbent banks. This paper analyzes the implications of these challenges on bank competitveness, and explores the factors that could support digital advancement in banks. The analysis shows that the traditionally leading role of banks in advancing financial technology has diminished in recent years, and suggests that onoing efforts to catch up to the digital frontier could lead to a more concentrated banking industry, as smaller and less tech-savvy banks struggle to survive. Cross-country evidence has suggested that banks in high-income economies appear to have been the digital leaders, likely benefiting from a sound digital infrastructure, a strong legal and business environment, and healthy competition. Nonetheless, some digital leaders may fall behind in the coming years in adopting newer technologies due to entrenched consumer behavior favoring older technologies, less active fintech and bigtech companies, and weak bank balance sheets.
Emmanouil Kitsios, João Tovar Jalles, and Ms. Genevieve Verdier
How can governments reduce the prevalence of cross-border tax fraud? This paper argues that the use of digital technologies offers an opportunity to reduce fraud and increase government revenue. Using data on intra-EU and world trade transactions, we present evidence that (i) cross-border trade tax fraud is non-trivial and prevalent in many countries; (ii) such fraud can be alleviated by the use of digital technologies at the border; and (iii) potential revenue gains of digitalization from reducing trade fraud could be substantial. Halving the distance to the digitalization frontier could raise revenues by over 1.5 percent of GDP in low-income developing countries.
Rasmané Ouedraogo and Mr. Amadou N Sy
This paper studies the effect of digitalization on the perception of corruption and trust in tax officials in Africa. Using individual-level data from Afrobarometer surveys and several indices of digitalization, we find that an increase in digital adoption is associated with a reduction in the perception of corruption and an increase in trust in tax officials. Exploiting the exogeneous deployment of submarine cables at the local level, the paper provides evidence of a negative impact of the use of Internet on the perception of corruption. Yet, the paper shows that the dampening effect of digitalization on corruption is hindered in countries where the government has a pattern of intentionally shutting down the Internet, while countries that successfully promote information and communication technology (ICT) enjoy a more amplified effect.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper assesses Cyprus’s export competitiveness and understands factors that could explain export developments, particularly in the services sector. Although Cyprus has been able to leverage its strategic location to diversity its markets for goods exports, as a small island economy, opportunities for diversifying its products mix is more limited. Services exports have performed better in the post-crisis period buoyed by the recovery in Europe and the impact of technological advances on global Information and Communication Technologies-enabled trade. Policies to support greater market diversification, enhance competition and efficiency and strengthen technological adoption would help exports growth. Studies have established the relationship between price and cost competitiveness with trade performance. Cyprus has performed reasonably well with strong service exports over the past few years, aided by improvements in cost competitiveness and a recovery in the European export markets. Policymakers should exploit opportunities brought by the digital transformation while addressing the accompanied risks.
Ms. Longmei Zhang and Ms. Sally Chen
China’s digital economy has expanded rapidly in recent years. While average digitalization of the economy remains lower than in advanced economies, digitalization is already high in certain regions and sectors, in particular e-commerce and fintech, and costal regions. Such transformation has boosted productivity growth, with varying impact on employment across sectors. Going forward, digitalization will continue to reshape the Chinese economy by improving efficiency, softening though not reversing, the downward trend of potential growth as the economy matures. The government should play a vital role in maximizing the benefits of digitalization while minimizing related risks, such as potential labor disruption, privacy infringement, emerging oligopolies, and financial risks.
International Monetary Fund
"Capacity development (CD) is one of the Fund’s three core activities and has grown in importance in recent years. It supports member countries’ efforts to build the institutions and capacity necessary to formulate and implement sound economic policies, thereby complementing the Fund’s surveillance and lending mandates. Member countries, partners, and external commentators give the Fund high marks for the quality of its CD. At the same time, efforts need to continue to strengthen Fund CD to serve members’ current and evolving needs. The 2018 CD Strategy Review examines progress under the Fund’s 2013 CD Strategy and proposes a CD strategy for the next five years. It notes substantial progress in addressing the 2013 recommendations, which included strengthening the CD governance structure, enhancing the prioritization processes, clarifying the funding model, strengthening monitoring and evaluation, promoting greater integration of TA and training, exploiting new technologies for delivery, and leveraging CD as outreach. However, background work for this review also pointed to the need to strengthen the CD framework further. The review builds upon the existing CD strategy, focusing on two mutually reinforcing objectives. First, the impact of Fund CD needs to be increased by further strengthening integration with the Fund’s policy advice and lending operations, while continuing to make progress in framing CD through comprehensive strategies tailored to each member’s needs, capacity, and conditions, focusing on implementation and outcomes. Stronger coordination between CD and the Fund’s other core functions will better connect CD with countries’ risks and vulnerabilities and ensure surveillance and lending integrate lessons from CD more effectively. Second, the efficiency of CD needs to be increased by improving CD processes and systems. This will enhance transparency and strengthen the basis for strategic decision making. Five specific areas of recommendations support the strategy. Likewise, they mitigate institutional risks stemming from the Fund’s CD activities. They include clearer roles and responsibilities for key internal and external stakeholders in the CD process; continued strengthening of prioritization and monitoring; better tailoring and modernization of CD delivery with a focus on implementation of TA recommendations; greater internal consultation and sharing of CD information; and further progress in external coordination, communication, and dissemination of information (Annex I)."
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

Abstract

Growth in the first half of 2018 was softer than in 2017, especially in advanced economies. In contrast, growth remained robust in emerging market economies and broadly in line with expectations. After rising to 6.9 percent in 2017, growth in China continued to be strong into the first half of 2018 but has likely slowed since, given the latest high-frequency indicators, including weakening investment growth. In Japan, after exceeding potential for two years, growth dropped into negative territory in the first quarter of 2018 before rebounding sharply in the second quarter. In India, growth continues to recover steadily after the disruptions related to demonetization and the rollout of the goods and services tax in the last fiscal year.1 And in ASEAN-4 economies (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand), growth generally lost momentum in the first half of 2018, except in Thailand.

International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.

Abstract

This report discusses fiscal trends in policies aimed at reducing fiscal vulnerabilities and boosting medium-term growth, recent fiscal developments and the fiscal outlook in advanced economies, emerging markets, and low-income developing countries; recent trends in government debt and analysis of changes in fiscal balances, revenue, and spending; potential fiscal risks; and growth from the fiscal policies. It also describes how digitalization can help governments improve implementation of current policy and widen the range of policy options, and opportunities and risks for fiscal policy, including improvements in policy implementation, the design of future policy, and how digitalization can create opportunities for fraud and increase government vulnerabilities.

Abstract

Digitization promises to reshape fiscal policy by transforming how governments collect, process, share, and act on information. More and higher-quality information can improve not only policy design for tax and spending, but also systems for their management, including tax administration and compliance, delivery of public services, administration of social programs, public financial management, and more. Countries must chart their own paths to effectively balance the potential benefits against the risks and challenges, including institutional and capacity constraints, privacy concerns, and new avenues for fraud and evasion. Support for this book and the conference on which it is based was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “Click Download on the top right corner for your free copy..."

Mr. Martin D. Cerisola and Mr. Jorge A Chan-Lau
This paper assesses productivity trends in Canada vis-a-vis the United States from two perspectives. The first one is based on estimates of total factor productivity. The second one decomposes productivity growth into two sources: investment-specific technical change, associated with improvements in the quality of the capital stock, and neutral technical change, associated with the organization of productive activities. The results indicate that investment-specific technical change is the major underlying cause of the pickup in productivity in Canada and the narrowing of the productivity gap with the United States.