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International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Sweden entered the pandemic with substantial buffers and suffered a relatively shallow recession in 2020. The decline in output was moderated by substantial income and liquidity support as well as structural features of the economy. Sweden’s initial less stringent containment strategy seems to have altered the timing of the economic fallout, which intensified towards the middle of the year. This fallout has particularly impacted the youth and foreign-born. Economic recovery is projected over the next two years, but uncertainty has increased due to the new strains of the virus and slow vaccination.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
France is among the countries most affected by the global pandemic, both in terms of health and economic impact. Output is expected to have declined by around 9 percent in 2020. The authorities put in place a large emergency fiscal package to address the crisis, focused on preserving jobs and providing liquidity for households and firms, supplemented by additional stimulus measures to support the economic recovery in 2021 and beyond. The banking sector entered the crisis with comfortable buffers and, together with the support of the ECB’s accommodative monetary policy, facilitated the provision of credit to the economy. The increased leverage, however, poses solvency risks to the corporate sector. A partial recovery with GDP growth at about 5½ percent is expected in 2021. Risks to the outlook are large, dominated by the virus dynamics and, together with other risks, tilted somewhat to the downside.