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Mr. Nicolas End, Mariam El Hamiani Khatat, and Rym Kolsi
In this paper, we argue that inflation targeting could be the future of Tunisia’s monetary policy. Monetary targeting has proven to be ineffective due to the composition of reserve money, structural liquidity deficit, and higher instability of the money multiplier after 2010. Exchange rate targeting is no longer feasible due to the level of international reserves, current account deficit, and inflation differentials with main trading partners. The Central Bank of Tunisia has already made important progress toward inflation targeting. The paper evidences the existence of increasingly effective interest rate transmission as well as the changing exchange rate passthrough to inflation with the gradual move toward further exchange rate flexibility.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper discusses Tunisia’s Fifth Review Under the Extended Fund Facility, and Requests for Waivers of Nonobservance and Modification of Performance Criteria, and for Rephasing of Access. This review focuses on stabilizing the economy ahead of the Fall 2019 elections. Civil service wage hikes and a pause in energy price hikes constitute departures from the policies agreed at the Fourth Review. The authorities will adjust their policy mix to correct for these slippages and keep the economy on a stabilization path, while maintaining social cohesion. Structural reforms should focus on enhancing the business climate and improving access to finance to boost private-sector led growth. The appointment of the members of the High Anti-Corruption Authority would help address corruption concerns. Socio-political tensions and deterioration in security are the main risks to the adjustment strategy. Higher oil prices, spillovers from conflicts in the region, a further slowing of EU growth, rising trade tensions, and shifts in investor sentiment could also jeopardize economic stability.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This paper discusses Tunisia’s Fourth Review Under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) Arrangement and Request for Modification of Performance Criteria (PCs). The recovery has proceeded broadly as expected in the Third Review, notwithstanding elevated socio-political tensions and a further increase in oil prices. Growth accelerated to 2.8 percent in the second quarter driven by agriculture and tourism. The authorities met all Quantitative PCs and implemented two out of the three Structural Benchmarks due for the Fourth Review, notably the competitive central bank foreign exchange auctions. The IMF staff supports the authorities’ request for completion of the Fourth Review under the EFF arrangement.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
The government has strengthened policy and reform implementation in recent months. All Quantitative Performance Criteria (QPCs) for end-March and three out of nine Structural Benchmarks (SBs) for the Third Review were met. One additional SB was implemented with delay. Growth picked up to 2.5 percent in the first quarter, and confidence has improved, albeit it continues to be affected by divisions in the coalition government, risks of security and migration spillovers from Libya, and higher international oil prices. Inflation has accelerated and weighs on the purchasing power notably of the less well-off, while international reserves remain below prudent levels.
Mr. Harald Finger and Ms. Daniela Gressani

The changing political landscape in the Arab world has created opportunities for economic transformation by tackling long-standing economic issues. Nevertheless, three years after the onset of political transition, implementing necessary economic policies has proven to be challenging. This paper lays out key elements of economic policy reform for Arab countries in transition.

The June issue of the IMF Research Bulletin looks at the role of IMF programs and capacity building in fostering structural reforms and the economics of Arab countries undergoing political transitions. The Q&A analyzes the neutral interest rate through the experiences of several Latin American countries. The Research Bulletin also includes its regular features: a listing of IMF Working Papers and Staff Discussion Notes, information on the forthcoming IMF Economic Review and the Fourteenth Jacques Polack Annual Research Conference, and recommended readings from IMF Publications.
Mr. Simon T Gray and Mr. Philippe D Karam
This paper documents the main themes covered in two seminars (December 2011 and September 2012) on monetary policy and implementation at the IMF—Middle East Center for Economics and Finance, and includes country case studies. Against the backdrop of the global financial crisis and swings in cross-border capital flows, operational frameworks have become more flexible, and liquidity management has impacted the relationship between the policy rate corridor and market rates. The balance sheet structure of central banks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) shows differences between oil exporters and others, while a few countries have exhibited notable changes since early 2011. Collateral now has a significant financial stability function. Although only one MENA country is part of the G20, implementation of the Basel III bank capital adequacy and liquidity rules will most likely impact banks’ way of doing business in MENA countries, even if indirectly.
Padamja Khandelwal and Agustin Roitman
Over the past two years, ongoing political transitions in many Arab countries have led to social unrest and an economic downturn. This paper examines comparable historical episodes of political instability to derive implications for the near- and medium-term economic outlook in the Arab countries in transition. In general, past episodes of political instability were characterized by a sharp deterioration in macroeconomic outcomes and a sluggish recovery over the medium term. Recent economic developments in the Arab countries in transition seem to be unfolding along similar lines, although the weak external environment and large fiscal vulnerabilities could result in a prolonged slump.
Ms. Prachi Mishra and Mr. Peter J Montiel
This paper surveys the evidence on the effectiveness of monetary transmission in low-income countries. It is hard to come away from this review with much confidence in the strength of monetary transmission in such countries. We distinguish between the "facts on the ground" and "methodological deficiencies" interpretations of the absence of evidence for strong monetary transmission. We suspect that "facts on the ground" are an important part of the story. If this conjecture is correct, the stabilization challenge in developing countries is acute indeed, and identifying the means of enhancing the effectiveness of monetary policy in such countries is an important challenge.