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Mr. Jesus R Gonzalez-Garcia and Yuanchen Yang
This paper examines the effect of international trade on corporate market power in emerging market economies and developing countries, with a special focus on sub-Saharan Africa. The analysis is based on a large firm-level dataset, tariff data by sector and agreggate indicators of international trade for the period 2000-17. Greater trade liberalization and trade integration are associated with significant declines in market power, with the effect being more pronounced for firms in the manufacturing and ICT sectors, private sector firms, and firms with higher initial markups. Firms in sub-Saharan Africa tend to experience signficantly lower markups after allowing greater trade integration. The effects of trade liberalization on market power materializes over time, and there are significant complementarities between trade reforms and real sector reforms.
Aliona Cebotari and Karim Youssef
Natural disasters are a source of economic risks in many countries, especially in smaller and lower-income states, and ex-ante preparedness is needed to manage the risks. The paper discusses sovereign experience with disaster insurance as a key instrument to mitigate the risks; proposes ways to judge the adequacy of insurance; and considers ways to enhance its use by vulnerable countries. The paper especially aims to inform policy decisions on disaster insurance. Through simulations of natural disasters and various insurance options, we find that sovereign decisions on optimal risk transfer involve balancing trade-offs between growth and debt, based on government risk preferences and country risk exposure. The choice of optimal insurance for smaller countries turns out to be more constrained by cost considerations due to their higher exposure, likely resulting in underinsurance; donor grants could help them achieve a more optimal protection. We also find that optimal insurance packages are those that are least costly relative to expected payouts (i.e. have the lowest insurance multiple), which are also the packages that insure less severe (more frequent) disasters.
Ruud A. de Mooij and Mr. Shafik Hebous
Tax provisions favoring corporate debt over equity finance (“debt bias”) are widely recognized as a risk to financial stability. This paper explores whether and how thin-capitalization rules, which restrict interest deductibility beyond a certain amount, affect corporate debt ratios and mitigate financial stability risk. We find that rules targeted at related party borrowing (the majority of today’s rules) have no significant impact on debt bias—which relates to third-party borrowing. Also, these rules have no effect on broader indicators of firm financial distress. Rules applying to all debt, in contrast, turn out to be effective: the presence of such a rule reduces the debt-asset ratio in an average company by 5 percentage points; and they reduce the probability for a firm to be in financial distress by 5 percent. Debt ratios are found to be more responsive to thin capitalization rules in industries characterized by a high share of tangible assets.
Ms. Gabriela Inchauste, Mr. Bernardin Akitoby, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, and Mr. Sanjeev Gupta
We examine the short- and long-term movements of government spending relative to output in 51 countries. We find that in the short term, the main components of government spending increase with output in about half of the sample countries, with some variation across spending categories and countries. Further, we find that there is a long-term relationship between government spending and output (in line with "Wagner's law") for the majority of countries for at least one spending aggregate. In the short term, we find that power dispersion and government size typically dampen the positive response of government spending to output. Output volatility and financial risk, on the other hand, contribute to the procylicality of government spending.
Miss Randa Sab and Mr. Stephen C. Smith
In the growth literature, evidence on income convergence is mixed. In the development literature, health and education indicators are also often used. This study examines whether health and education levels are converging across countries and calculates their convergence speed, using data from 100 countries during 1970–96. A 3SLS procedure is used in a joint analysis of human capital convergence. The results confirm that investments in education and health are closely linked. We find unconditional convergence for life expectancy and infant survival, and enrollment rates, on average and by gender; and conditional convergence for all human capital indicators, including class size.
Mr. Louis Dicks-Mireaux, Mr. Miguel A Savastano, Mr. Adam Bennett, Ms. María Vicenta Carkovic S., Mr. Mauro Mecagni, Mr. James A John, and Ms. Susan M Schadler

Abstract

This paper is Part I of a two-volume study conducted as a part of the IMF's ongoing process of evaluating its lending facilities. It focuses on IMF-supported programs and macroeconomic performance during 1988-92, reflecting information available through the end of 1993. Part I provides an overview of the experiences during the arrangements reviewed: it describes the initial conditions faced in these countries, the adjustment strategies adopted, the degree to which programs were implemented, and the extent of sustained adjustment experienced.

Mr. Atish R. Ghosh and Mr. Jonathan David Ostry
Uncertainty about the export earnings accruing to a country (sometimes referred to as export instability) is an important source of macroeconomic uncertainty in many developing countries. Theory predicts that countries should react to increases in this form of uncertainty by increasing their level of savings. The resulting asset accumulations would then act as the country’s insurance against the greater riskiness in its income stream. The paper tests this implication for a large sample of developing countries. In general, the results suggest that developing countries have indeed responded to increases in export instability by building up precautionary savings balances.
Mr. Peter S. Heller and Mr. Alan A. Tait

Abstract

Many studies on International tax compaisons have been undertaken since the early 1970s. While controversial, such studies have facilitated more subtle comparisons of a country's tax performance than would be afforded by focusing on its simple tax ratio.