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Alberto Cavallo, Ms. Prachi Mishra, Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo, Joel Alcedo, and Bricklin Dwyer
We study e-commerce across 47 economies and 26 industries during the COVID-19 pandemic using aggregated and anonymized transaction-level data from Mastercard, scaled to represent total consumer spending. The share of online transactions in total consumption increased more in economies with higher pre-pandemic e-commerce shares, exacerbating the digital divide across economies. Overall, the latest data suggest that these spikes in online spending shares are dissipating at the aggregate level, though there is variation across industries. In particular, the share of online spending in professional services and recreation has fallen below its pre-pandemic trend, but we observe a longer-lasting shift to digital in retail and restaurants.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This 2021 Article IV Consultation discusses that the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and related containment measures have severely affected the economy in the Republic of Palau. The economic contraction is estimated to have deepened in FY2021, and a gradual recovery is expected in FY2022 as tourism activities resume. While Palau’s public debt remains sustainable, the economic fallout of the pandemic and the cost of the fiscal response have led to a sharp deterioration of the fiscal position and a rapid increase in public debt. The high share of concessional loans from multilateral creditors in Palau’s external debt is an important risk-mitigating factor. Palau is vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. Economic policies should focus on supporting the recovery, rebuilding fiscal resilience, and supporting sustainable growth post pandemic. The paper also recommends accelerating structural and financial sector reforms to help lift medium-term growth and promote a more resilient economy post pandemic, including through investment in climate resilient infrastructure and diversification within and outside the tourism sector.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
As other emerging economies reliant on tourism (about 25 percent total contribution of tourism-related industries in GDP and employment), Croatia has been hit hard by the pandemic and two devastating earthquakes, leading the economy to contract by 8.0 percent in 2020. Vaccinations have been rolled out to about 38 percent of the population (end-June 2021). Staff projects growth to bounce back to 5.4 percent in 2021, driven by a rebound in the services sector and investment, aided by fiscal and monetary policies, and bolstered by large EU grants over the medium-term.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
The Icelandic economy has been severely affected by the pandemic. Sharp tourism contraction and containment measures caused real GDP to plummet by 6.6 percent in 2020. A modest recovery will take hold in 2021. Recovery prospects in the tourism sector depend on control of the epidemic and progress in global and domestic vaccine distribution, spelling a challenging outlook with possibly deep medium-term scarring. Fiscal policy should continue to support the economy for now. Policy buffers accumulated over the last decade provided space for a large fiscal support and accommodated substantial automatic stabilizers. Additional stimulus is planned in 2021 to address still large slack in the economy, mitigate scarring, and provide confidence in the event of downside risks. Medium-term policies should ensure that public debt is firmly on a downward path, while limiting the drag on growth.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
A nascent recovery is underway in Thailand following the COVID-19 downturn. Ample policy buffers, underpinned by judicious management of public finances, allowed the authorities to implement a multipronged package of fiscal, monetary, and financial policies to mitigate the COVID-19 impact on households, businesses, and the financial system. This, together with rigorous containment measures, led to a successful flattening of the infection curve during most of 2020. Nevertheless, the pandemic has taken a large toll on the economy, potentially inducing long-term scarring and increasing inequality.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis is hitting ECCU economies hard. Tourism receipts (accounting for nearly 40 percent of GDP) have dried up, as tourist arrivals have come to a grinding halt. The authorities successfully contained the spread of the virus at the onset of the pandemic by largely closing the borders, but a reopening of the economies since the summer has led to a surge in COVID cases. The ECCU economy is projected to contract by 16 percent in 2020 and by a further near ½ percent in 2021. Fiscal positions have deteriorated sharply, and public debt is projected to reach near 90 percent of GDP in 2021 and remain at an elevated level for years to come. Headline indicators suggest the financial system is relatively sound with ample liquidity buffers, but nonperforming loans are expected to rise significantly. The outlook is clouded by exceptionally high risks, including from the uncertainty concerning the evolution of the pandemic.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Aruba managed to contain the pandemic in the first months of the outbreak but experienced a resurgence of new infections in the summer. The economic impact of COVID-19 is particularly severe given Aruba’s high dependency on tourism. While the authorities’ swift response has helped contain the human and economic damage, it could not avoid a severe GDP contraction.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region and those in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures to mitigate its spread and impact but continue to face an uncertain and difficult environment. Oil exporters were particularly hard hit by a “double-whammy” of the economic impact of lockdowns and the resulting sharp decline in oil demand and prices. Containing the health crisis, cushioning income losses, and expanding social spending remain immediate priorities. However, governments must also begin to lay the groundwork for recovery and rebuilding stronger, including by addressing legacies from the crisis and strengthening inclusion.