International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper highlights Republic of Armenia’s First Review Under the Stand-By-Arrangement. Armenia’s economic performance is strong with healthy growth, low inflation, a stable financial system, with increasing foreign reserves and higher revenues. Despite fiscal overperformance, it is key to maintain the reform momentum to strengthen revenue mobilization, including by completing reforms to property taxation. Implementation of the authorities’ reform agenda including efforts to improve governance by establishing a holistic anti-corruption framework, will bolster sustainable and inclusive growth. The monetary policy framework’s focus on price stability has served Armenia well. The authorities’ implementation of Basel III measures will raise the resilience of the financial system, while their plans to develop the capital market and improve access to finance are also welcome.
Mishel Ghassibe, Maximiliano Appendino, and Samir Elsadek Mahmoudi
This paper offers empirical evidence that greater financial inclusion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can promote higher economic growth and employment, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia regions. First, we show that countries with higher SME financial inclusion exhibit more effective monetary policy transmission and tax collection. Second, we find substantial employment and labor productivity growth gains at the firm level from access to credit, gains that are higher for SMEs. We also obtain evidence of a substantial positive impact on SME employment and labor productivity growth from improved credit bureau coverage and insolvency regimes. Finally, cross-country aggregate evidence confirms the employment and growth gains from SME financial inclusion, which appear larger in the Middle East and Central Asia than in other regions.
Ms. Li Liu, Mr. Ben Lockwood, Miguel Almunia, and Eddy H.F. Tam
Using administrative tax records for UK businesses, we document both bunching in annual turnover below the VAT registration threshold and persistent voluntary registration by almost half of the firms below the threshold. We develop a conceptual framework that can simultaneously explain these two apparently conflicting facts. The framework also predicts that higher intermediate input shares, lower product-market competition and a lower share of business to consumer (B2C) sales lead to voluntary registration. The predictions are exactly the opposite for bunching. We test the theory using linked VAT and corporation tax records from 2004-2014, finding empirical support for these predictions.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
In response to the Global Financial Crisis, the IMF launched many initiatives to strengthen financial surveillance and better advise member countries of vulnerabilities and risks. While these initiatives have not yet been tested by a major crisis, the efforts have delivered a substantial upgrade of the Fund’s financial surveillance, including giving the IMF clearer responsibilities over financial sector stability and cross-country spillovers; making periodic financial stability assessments mandatory for jurisdictions with systemically important financial sectors; invigorating efforts to integrate financial and macroeconomic analysis in bilateral and multilateral surveillance; enhancing cooperation with the Financial Stability Board and standard setting bodies to promote reforms and monitor agreed standards; and taking steps to recruit and train greater financial expertise.
While recognizing these achievements, this evaluation finds that the quality and impact of the IMF’s financial surveillance has been uneven. The expansion of products and activities has presented the Fund with difficult trade-offs between bilateral and multilateral surveillance; between countries with systemically important financial sectors and other member countries; and between financial surveillance and other activities. Moreover, resource constraints have slowed the needed build-up of financial and macrofinancial expertise. These are critical issues, given the IMF’s position as the only international financial institution with the mandate and ability to conduct financial and macrofinancial surveillance over the full range of countries as well as the global economy, and given that these issues are at the core of the IMF’s responsibilities.
Thus, to further strengthen financial surveillance, the evaluation recommends devoting greater resources to financial surveillance overall; further strengthening financial and macrofinancial analysis in Article IV surveillance; refining resource allocation for FSAPs; enhancing rigor and transparency in multilateral surveillance; intensifying efforts to be a global center of excellence on financial and macrofinancial research; and extending efforts to develop financial expertise among IMF staff.
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
The Armenian banking sector is recovering from the 2014 economic slowdown, aided by additional capital injected by shareholders, several mergers, and improved regulation and supervision. However, banks, including the largest ones, are vulnerable to external shocks because high levels of dollarization expose them to FX-related credit and liquidity risks. These risks can be mitigated with the adoption of a stressed debt service to income ratio limit, the gradual introduction of reserve requirements in foreign currency for liabilities denominated in foreign currency, and the adoption of the Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) and Net Stable Funding Ratio (NSFR) in domestic currency and in United States dollars (USD). The introduction of the capital surcharge for domestic systemically important banks is also needed.
As a companion piece to the Board paper on Structural Reforms and Macroeconomic Performance: Initial Considerations for the Fund, this paper presents a selection of case studies on the structural reform experiences of member countries. These papers update the Board on work since the Triennial Surveillance Review toward strengthening the Fund’s capacity to analyze and, where relevant, offer policy advice on macro-relevant structural issues. The paper builds on the already considerable analytical work underway across the Fund, setting out considerations to support a more strategic approach going forward.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes scope for further de-dollarization policies in Armenia. High financial dollarization makes Armenia more vulnerable to external shocks and limits its capacity to respond. The de-dollarization strategy is broad and comprehensive, and has achieved a reduction of deposit dollarization during the past few years. Additional efforts should focus on reducing inflation volatility and external imbalances, using prudential regulations to increase foreign currency liquidity in the banking system, and strengthening the monitoring of currency mismatches. International experience suggests, however, that further reductions in dollarization are likely to occur only gradually.