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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

This Selected Issues paper focuses on the Baltic model, Baltic–Nordic links, and convergence. The Baltic countries form a distinct group within a tightly integrated Nordic–Baltic region. They are following similar approaches to economic policy, broadly in line with those of Northern European and the Anglo-Saxon countries. Their macroeconomic policies are generally robust. The paper examines the possible causes of the creditless recoveries in the Baltic countries. It characterizes their experience in comparison with other episodes of creditless recoveries in both advanced and emerging market economies, and also investigates demand and supply constraints to credit expansion in the Baltics.

Uwe Deichmann and Indermit Gill

Cracks in the System: World Economy Under Stress" explores the rapidly changing institutional and policymaking landscape around a financial crisis that now threatens a deep and prolonged global recession. The lead article looks at how the world got into the mess and what to do about it, both now and over the medium term. Other articles review options for changing the rules of world finance, examine the case for modernizing the way countries coordinate their policies, and try to draw some lessons from past financial crises. The "other crisis" of high food and fuel prices is also assessed, as the effects extend past the mid-2008 price peak. "People in Economics" profiles Robert Shiller; "Picture This" illustrates how middle-income economies can reach high-income status; "Back to Basics" looks at all the components that make up gross national product; and "Country Focus" spotlights Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Mohsin S. Khan, Mr. Stanley Fischer, and Mr. Ernesto Hernández-Catá
This paper examines the experience of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to answer the question of whether the region is at a turning point in its economic fortunes. The improvement in growth reflects in part a rise in the utilization of existing capacity. To be sustained, however, a high rate of growth will require an increase in investment rates and/or an increase in total factor productivity—i.e., an improvement in the technological, political, administrative and economic factors that raise the rate of return on both capital and labor. The close link between investment and growth in developing countries over the long term is evident in the empirical growth literature. For developing countries in general, the elasticity of growth with respect to the investment/GDP ratio has been found to lie within the range of 0.3–0.5. Although increasing investment is crucial, action is also needed in many complementary areas in order to raise productivity and growth.
International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper analyzes Kazakhstan's recent trends in the fiscal position of general government; the fiscal and oil price vulnerabilities; the fiscal framework; and tax administration. The paper also describes the development of activity in capital markets, the growth of pension funds, and examines the trade movements, exchange rate, and presents an evaluation of external competitiveness of the country. It also provides a statistical appendix report for the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Mr. Ernesto Hernández-Catá

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.