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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

The Group of 20 was established in September 1999, as a new mechanism for ongoing consultation on matters pertaining to the international financial system. Paul Martin, Minister of Finance of Canada, was appointed by the Group of Seven as Chairman for a two-year term. In his statement to the Interim Committee during the 1999 Annual Meetings, Martin described the proposed functions and objectives of the new group. Following is an edited extract. The full text of Martin’s statement is available on the IMF’s website (www.imf.org).

International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper analyzes external shocks and business cycle fluctuations in Mexico. The paper examines the relative importance of U.S. demand shocks—and other foreign disturbances—in explaining Mexican output fluctuations. It identifies the dynamic response of Mexico’s output to those shocks. The paper investigates which U.S. variables are most relevant to explaining business cycles in Mexico. It analyses potential spillovers and channels of transmission underlying the linkages between the United States and Mexican economies, and focuses on one aspect of the development of the Mexican private mortgage market, the market for mortgage-backed securities.
Mr. Robert P Flood
This paper analyzes the issue of purchasing power parity using real effective exchange rate (REER) data for 20 industrial countries in the post-Bretton Woods period. The serial correlation-robust median-unbiased estimator yields a cross-country average of half-lives of deviations from parity of about eight years, with the REER of several countries displaying permanent deviations from parity. The paper analyzes integration of Africa into world trade. The high-yield spread as a predictor of real economic activity is also examined.
Mr. Don E. Schlagenhauf and Stefan C. Norrbin
Empirical research has been conducted on the various theories of the business cycle over many countries. However, very little research has attempted to undertake a multi-country disaggregate investigation into the sources of output change. This paper decomposes fluctuations in industry output in a particular country into: (1) a nation specific shock; (2) an industry specific shock; (3) a world shock; and (4) an idiosyncratic factor. Using a dynamic factor analysis-state-space approach, the paper finds that the nation-specific shock is the most important impulse.
Mr. Peter B. Kenen and Mr. Tamim Bayoumi
This paper looks at whether the aggregate ERM money supply has been a useful predictor of short-term changes in inflation and growth, and long-term trends in price levels among the core ERM countries. The evidence suggests that over the period since 1987, when there have been no realignments, the ERM money supply performs at least as well, and arguably better, than the individual national aggregates in predicting nominal aggregates such as inflation and the price level, while neither money supply is a good predictor of real activity.
Mr. Luca A Ricci
This paper shows that exchange rate variability promotes agglomeration of economic activity. Under flexible rates, firms located in large markets have lower variability of sales, reinforcing concentration of firms there. Empirical evidence on OECD countries demonstrates (1) that the negative effect of country size on variability of industrial production is stronger after the 1973 collapse of fixed rates and (2) for small (large) countries, exchange rates variability has a long-run negative (positive) effect on net inward FDI flows. Two implications arise: creating a currency area fosters agglomeration in the area, and a two-stage EMU may exacerbate the current uneven regional development.
Mr. Andre O Santos
We use the regime-switching econometric models in Hamilton (1989) and Filardo (1994) to study business cycles in Mexico. In particular, we characterize the ups and downs of economic activity in Mexico. As a proxy for economic activity, we use the Mexican quarterly industrial production index from the second quarter of 1972 to the third quarter of 1999. We allow the transition probabilities driving changes in economic activity to be a function of fiscal, financial, and external sector indicators. Our results show that recessions in Mexico are deeper and shorter than expansions.
Mr. Papa M N'Diaye, Mr. Dale F Gray, Ms. Natalia T. Tamirisa, Ms. Hiroko Oura, and Qianying Chen
The paper evaluates how increases in banks’ and nonfinancial corporates’ default risk are transmitted in the global economy, using in a vector autoregression model for 30 advanced and emerging economies for the period from January 1996 to December 2008. The results point to two-way causality between bank and corporate distress and to significant global macroeconomic and financial spillovers from either type of distress when it originates in a systemic economy. Corporate distress in advanced economies has a larger impact on economic growth in emerging economies than bank distress in advanced economies has. In contrast, activity in advanced economies is more vulnerable to bank distress than to corporate distress.
Fiorella De Fiore
This paper investigates the transmission of Israeli monetary policy since 1990. Two issues are addressed: the extent to which monetary policy exerts real effects, and the relative importance of different transmission channels. The impact of monetary restraints on aggregate industrial production is found to be small, although industrial sectors open to trade appear to suffer to a larger extent than closed sectors. Three transmission channels are analyzed by comparing the empirical evidence to that predicted by theory. While the credit and exchange rate channels may be important mechanisms of transmission, the interest rate channel finds weak support in the data.
Mr. Eduardo Borensztein and Ms. Carmen Reinhart
The “traditional structural approach” to the determination of real commodity prices has relied exclusively on demand factors as the fundamentals that explain the behavior of commodity prices. This framework, however, has been unable to explain the marked and sustained weakness in commodity prices during the 1980s and 1990s. This paper extends that framework in two important directions: First, it incorporates commodity supply in the analysis, capturing the impact on prices of the sharp increase in commodity exports of developing countries during the debt crisis of the 1980s. Second, we take a broader view of “world” demand that extends beyond the industrial countries and includes output developments in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (FSU). The empirical results support these extensions, as both the fit of the model improves substantially and, more importantly, its ability to forecast increases markedly.