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Mr. Paul Louis Ceriel Hilbers, Inci Otker-Robe, and Ceyla Pazarbaşioğlu

For policymakers around the world, finding ways to promote faster growth is a top priority. But what exactly do economists know and not know about growth? What direction should future research and policymaking take? This issue explores this topic, starting with a major World Bank study and research coming out of Harvard University that urges less reliance on simple formulas and the elusive search for best practices, and greater reliance on deeper economic analysis to identify each country's binding constraint(s) on growth. Other articles highlight IMF research on pinpointing effective levers for growth in developing countries and Africa's experience with growth accelerations. Also in the issue are pieces examining global economic imbalances, rapid credit growth in Eastern and Central Europe, and ways to boost productivity growth in Europe and Japan. In Straight Talk, Raghuram Rajan argues that if we want microfinance to become more than a fad, it has to follow the clear and unsentimental path of adding value and making money. Asian Development Bank's Haruhiko Kuroda sets out his vision for a new financial architecture in Asia. Finally, Picture This takes an in-depth look at global employment trends.

International Monetary Fund

The 2006 Article IV consultation underlies policy issues, including fiscal policy, monetary policy, and structural issues of the Republic of Croatia. Although bank restructuring and privatization have strengthened the financial sector, strong credit expansion and foreign exchange-induced credit risk have raised concerns. To address external vulnerabilities and reduce the burden of the large government on economic growth, Executive Directors recommended more ambitious fiscal consolidation than the authorities’ medium-term plans currently envisage. They stressed the urgency of restructuring the loss-making shipyards and removing impediments to privatization.

International Monetary Fund
This paper presents key findings of the Financial System Stability Assessment for the Republic of Croatia, including Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes on Banking Supervision, Payments Systems, Securities Regulation, Insurance Regulation, and Monetary and Financial Policy Transparency. The financial system of Croatia is now more resilient and seems better prepared to cope with moderate shocks. The larger banks are generally better capitalized, and their risk management capacity has improved. The economy, however, remains highly euroized and susceptible to shifts in residents’ sentiments toward the local currency.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper highlights key policy challenges for accelerating growth on a sustainable basis and reducing external and financial vulnerabilities in the Republic of Croatia. A significant reduction in public expenditure would be needed to simultaneously provide room for cutting taxes, boost growth, and lower the budget deficit to help narrow the current account deficit. The analysis finds that Croatian banks are not necessarily passing on the higher risk of foreign exchange-linked loans to unhedged clients by charging higher interest rates.
International Monetary Fund
The 2002 Financial Stability Assessment Program (FSAP) found that the Croatian financial system was resilient, but vulnerabilities remain. The authorities have been proactive in addressing macroeconomic and financial vulnerabilities associated with rapid credit growth and have also taken prudential measures on contingency planning with supervisory authorities of foreign banks coupled with efforts to enhance risk awareness and strengthen home-host coordination. The Croatian National Bank (CNB) has put in place an effective bank supervision framework. The assessment reflected a legal and regulatory framework together with banking supervision practices of the Croatian authorities.
Ms. Emilia M Jurzyk and Olena Havrylchyk
Using a combination of propensity score matching and difference-in-difference techniques we investigate the impact of foreign bank ownership on the performance and market power of acquired banks operating in Central and Eastern Europe. This approach allows us to control for selection bias as larger but less profitable banks were more likely to be acquired by foreign investors. We show that during three years after the takeover, banks have become more profitable due to cost minimization and better risk management. They have additionally gained market share, because they passed their lower cost of funds to borrowers in terms of lower lending rates. Previous studies failed to pick up the improvements in performance of takeover banks, because they did not account for the performance of financial institutions before acquisitions.
Mr. Daniel C Hardy and Philipp Hochreiter
A mechanism is proposed that aims to reduce the risk of a banking sector liquidity crisis—which is a quintessentially systemic event and thus the object of macroprudential policy—and moderate the effects of a crisis should one occur. The instrument would give banks more incentive to build up buffers of systemically liquid assets as a proportion of their total liabilities, yet these buffers would be usable in times of stress. The modalities of the instrument are considered with a view to making it effective, efficient, and robust.
Mr. Jerome Vandenbussche, Ms. Ursula Vogel, and Ms. Enrica Detragiache
Several countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe used a rich set of prudential instruments in response to last decade’s credit and housing boom and bust cycles. We collect detailed information on these policy measures in a comprehensive database covering 16 countries at a quarterly frequency. We use this database to investigate whether the policy measures had an impact on housing price inflation. Our evidence suggests that some—but not all—measures did have an impact. These measures were changes in the minimum CAR and non-standard liquidity measures (marginal reserve requirements on foreign funding, marginal reserve requirements linked to credit growth).
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.

IMF research summaries on global population aging and pension reform (by Mario Catalán) and on questions about decoupling (by M. Ayhan Kose); country study on the United States (by Koshy Mathai); listing of visiting scholars at the IMF during June–August 2008; listing of contents of Vol. 55 No. 3 of IMF Staff Papers; listing of recent IMF Working Papers; and a listing of recent external publications by IMF staff.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

04/211: Pakistan: Eighth Review Under the Three-Year Arrangement Under the PRGF and Request for Waivers and Modification of Performance Criteria