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International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper examines Germany’s growth record in 1992–2001 and analyzes how future performance might be enhanced. The paper focuses on the longer-term strains on the public finances. It reviews Germany’s external competitiveness, which deteriorated substantially in the wake of unification, and concludes that, by the beginning of the current decade, competitiveness had been largely restored. The paper also examines the recent slowdown in credit, which has gone beyond what might be expected on cyclical grounds.

International Monetary Fund

This paper discusses Romania’s fourth review under the Stand-By Arrangement and request for modification of performance criteria. The authorities are treating the arrangement as precautionary. Additional funds under the program are provided by the European Union. The economy grew by 2.5 percent in 2011, driven by an exceptional agricultural harvest and strong industrial output growth. Domestic demand strengthened as construction and retail sales started to recover, fuelled by higher real disposable incomes.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

Significant progress has been made in macroeconomic stabilization under two successive SBAs but the economic recovery remains fragile. Growth is expected to remain subdued in the near term and to only gradually recover over the medium term, with risks to the outlook mostly on the downside. With strong trade and financial sector linkages, Romania is exposed to the euro area crisis. Fiscal and external reserves provide a buffer and the banking sector remains well-capitalized. At the same time, the political situation has become more unsettling with three governments in 2012, uneasy cohabitation between the President and the governing coalition that has sought to remove him, and parliamentary elections to be held in the fall. The political uncertainty has contributed to accelerated exchange rate depreciation and higher financing costs, and has dented confidence.

International Monetary Fund

Over the past several years, implementation of IMF recommendations has been lacking not so much in intention as in pace and timing owing to political economy considerations and a strong social preference for publicly provided services. The discussions focused on how to foster a durable economic recovery while tackling long-standing threats to fiscal sustainability. The authorities were attentive to the possible adverse short-term effects of underlying fiscal adjustment on growth. The authorities acknowledged that containing health care spending growth would be a key challenge.

International Monetary Fund

The staff report for the 2004 Article IV Consultation on France highlights economic performance and near-term outlook and policies. On structural issues, a health care reform has established the key instruments to gain control over the system’s budget. Ongoing civil service reform and decentralization are providing the opportunity to realize efficiency gains. Pension and health care reforms have improved the long-term fiscal outlook against the background of the impending demographic shock, while ongoing reforms in product markets are likely to boost growth.

Patrick Petit, Mario Mansour, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Fighting the obesity epidemic has so far proven a difficult challenge, given the diversity of natural and processed foods, the complexity of food supply chains, and the fact that targeting excessive caloric consumption is far trickier than reducing overall consumption (as for tobacco). Nevertheless, efforts to curb caloric intake are gearing up and the experience from tobacco control has drawn much attention on a potential role for excise taxes in fighting obesity. Many related questions have therefore been raised as part of the IMF’s capacity development work: Should excises on unhealthy food be used to fight obesity? If so, under what conditions? What are the product and market characteristics that would help identify the relevant tax bases and the rates at which to tax them? While acknowledging that the scientific evidence keeps evolving, this note summarizes the ongoing debate and practice on food excises and on their potential role as a policy tool to fight the obesity epidemic, with a view to assist policymakers in deciding whether to go forward, and if so, how.How to Apply Excise Taxes to Fight Obesity
Mr. Markus Haacker
The paper provides an economic analysis of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the health sector i Southern Africa. It provides indicators for the scale of the impact, including estimates of tr. costs of various forms treatment. In anticipation of increasing numbers of patients with HIV/AIDS-related diseases, it is essential to expand the already strained health facilities ar to substantially increase the training of health personnel. While proposed reductions in the prices of antiretroviral therapies will considerably expand the range of those who can affor them, they will remain accessible to a minority of the population only.