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Mr. Thomas Baunsgaard, Steven A. Symansky, and Mr. Carlo Cottarelli

This paper discusses how to enhance automatic stabilizers without increasing the size of government. We distinguish between permanent changes in the parameters of the tax and expenditure system (e.g., changes in tax progressivity) that will enhance the traditional automatic stabilizer, and temporary changes triggered by certain economic developments (e.g., tax measures targeted at credit and liquidity constrained households, triggered during a severe downturn). We argue that, with some exceptions, the latter are preferable as they can be implemented with lower disruptions in other fiscal policy goals (e.g., economic efficiency). Moreover, countries should also avoid introducing procyclicality as a result of fiscal rules, as these would offset the effect of existing automatic stabilizers.

Benjamin Jones, Mr. Michael Keen, and Mr. Carlo Cottarelli

Negotiations toward a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change have come to a critical point, and domestic climate policies are being developed, as the world seeks to recover from the deepest economic crisis for decades and looks for new sources of sustainable growth. This position paper considers the challenge posed by these two policy imperatives: how to exit from the crisis while developing an effective response to climate change. Blending the objectives of a sustained recovery and effective climate policies presents both challenges and opportunities. Although there are potential “win-win” spending measures conducive to both, the more fundamental linkages and synergies lie in the broader strategies adopted toward each other. Greater climate resilience can promote macroeconomic stability and alleviate poverty; and carbon pricing, essential for mitigation, can contribute to the strengthening of fiscal positions that is expected to be needed in many countries. There are, nevertheless, also difficult trade-offs to face, notably in the somewhat greater caution now warranted in moving to more aggressive emissions pricing. However, the simple policy guidelines for addressing climate issues remain fundamentally unchanged; the need to deploy a range of regulatory, spending, and emissions pricing measures.

John Brondolo

The global financial and economic crisis presents major challenges for tax agencies. With the economic downturn, tax agencies are encountering emerging compliance problems and greater demands for taxpayer support in the face of prospective budget cuts. To help address these challenges, this paper encourages tax agencies to develop a tax compliance strategy for the crisis by (1) expanding assistance to taxpayers, (2) refocusing enforcement on emerging compliance risks, (3) enacting legislative reforms that facilitate tax administration, and (4) improving communication programs. In each of these areas, the paper identifies specific measures to underpin the strategy, drawing on practices from leading tax agencies and experiences from IMF technical assistance. The paper also highlights emerging tax compliance issues in the financial sector.

Greetje Everaert, Ms. Manal Fouad, Mr. Edouard Martin, and Ricardo Velloso

This paper discusses appropriate methods for disclosing fiscal risks from exogenous shocks and the realization of explicit or implicit contingent obligations of the government. Expanding on previous guidance prepared prior to the crisis, the note focuses on fiscal risks emerging from recent public interventions in the financial sector. Information on fiscal risks and its public reporting leads to a better understanding of the true state of the public finances. Thus, it helps policymakers design and gets public support for, appropriate responses to the realization of various contingencies. More specifically, in the context of the unfolding global financial crisis, a wide range of public sector interventions have been in support of the financial system. Although these interventions have been necessary, they have generated further fiscal risks. Comprehensive reporting would help governments to define a management strategy of the assets and liabilities that they have taken on their balance sheet and to prepare exit strategies for reducing their presence in the financial sector and eventually withdrawing support.

Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo, Steve Symansky, and Mr. Martin Schindler

This paper provides background information for policymakers on fiscal multipliers, including quantitative estimates. The fiscal multiplier is the ratio of a change in output to an exogenous change in the fiscal deficit with respect to their respective baselines. The size of the multiplier is larger if: leakages are few; the monetary conditions are accommodative; and the country’s fiscal position after the stimulus is sustainable. Fiscal expansions can be contractionary if they decrease consumers’ and investors’ confidence, especially if the fiscal expansion raises, or reinforces, fiscal sustainability concerns. Fiscal multipliers have been calculated for some countries but should be carefully re-examined considering the current events. The degree of financial market development has an ambiguous effect on multipliers, depending on how the degree of financial development affects liquidity constraints, and the government’s ability to finance the fiscal deficit. The past research on multiplier estimates can provide guidance in developing multiplier estimates, but judgment, based on current conditions, is important.

Dimitre Milkov, Mr. Rafael A Portillo, Mr. Plamen K Iossifov, and Mr. John Wakeman-Linn
Le secteur financier de la Communauté économique et monétaire de l’Afrique centrale (CEMAC) a été durement touché par la crise financière mondiale et par la récession mondiale qui s'en est suivie. Cette note examine la réaction des autorités des pays de la CEMAC à la crise et à la récession, et s'intéresse particulièrement aux incidences des politiques actuelles sur la viabilité des finances publiques de chaque pays, ainsi qu'à la viabilité de la position extérieure de la région et de son taux de couverture des réserves. Elle présente ensuite des recommandations de politique générale aux autorités des pays de la CEMAC, alors où celles-ci ajustent leur réaction à la crise mondiale.
Mika Saito, Christian Henn, Rob Gregory, and Mr. Brad J. McDonald
The pace of trade reforms waned from the mid-2000s as protectionist sentiment began to increase. With the onset of the global financial crisis, reform progress not only halted but began to reverse. As we show in this note, new trade restrictions have had—in the limited products they targeted—a strong negative impact on trade. The aggregate impact of new restrictions is modest, at about 0.25 percent of global trade, as most countries have resisted a widespread resort to protectionism. Looking ahead, however, in 2010 sustained high unemployment, uneven growth, and an unwinding of government stimulus measures suggest that protectionist pressures may rise. Gaps in World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments leave ample scope to further restrict trade, so unless all countries vigorously resist protectionism this could threaten the economic recovery and drag down future growth. Continuing and further enhancing the monitoring of all protectionist measures and maintaining the high-level political awareness of the associated macroeconomic risks will help. But the surest way to avoid such a downside scenario is to tighten multilateral trade commitments by completing the WTO Doha Round. This can be viewed as a key part of the exit strategy from the global economic crisis.
International Monetary Fund
This paper highlights the state of Public Finances Cross-Country Fiscal Monitor. This edition of the Cross-Country Fiscal Monitor provides an update of global fiscal developments and policy strategies, based on projections from the November 2009 WEO. These projections reflect the assessment of IMF staff of current country policies and initiatives expected during 2009–2014 Underlying fiscal trends in advanced economies are weaker than previously projected, however, lower expected costs of financial sector support in the United States mean that 2009 headline numbers are better. New estimates of needed medium-term fiscal adjustment in advanced economies. Fiscal policy will continue to provide substantial support to aggregate demand in most countries this year, but a tightening is projected to commence next year in G-20 emerging markets. Fiscal policy is projected to begin tightening in emerging G-20 economies next year, reflecting a combination of reduced anti-crisis spending and expected consolidation beyond the withdrawal of crisis-related stimulus in Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey, supported by a pick-up of growth. Higher commodity prices are also expected to contribute to lower overall deficit.
Dimitre Milkov, Mr. Rafael A Portillo, Mr. Plamen K Iossifov, and Mr. John Wakeman-Linn
The financial sector of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) has been seriously affected by the global financial crisis and resulting global recession. This note assesses the response of CEMAC governments to the global financial crisis and recession, with particular focus on the impact of current policies on each country’s fiscal sustainability as well as the region’s external sustainability and reserve coverage. The note then provides general policy advice to CEMAC governments as they refine their response to the global crisis.
International Monetary Fund
This paper discusses appropriate methods for disclosing fiscal risks from exogenous shocks and the realization of explicit or implicit contingent obligations of the government. Expanding on previous guidance prepared prior to the crisis, the note focuses on fiscal risks emerging from recent public interventions in the financial sector. Information on fiscal risks and its public reporting leads to a better understanding of the true state of the public finances. Thus, it helps policymakers design and gets public support for, appropriate responses to the realization of various contingencies. More specifically, in the context of the unfolding global financial crisis, a wide range of public sector interventions have been in support of the financial system. Although these interventions have been necessary, they have generated further fiscal risks. Comprehensive reporting would help governments to define a management strategy of the assets and liabilities that they have taken on their balance sheet and to prepare exit strategies for reducing their presence in the financial sector and eventually withdrawing support.