International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
“In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, a coordinated international response is needed to deal with weaknesses in the world economy and the new risks in the outlook,” IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler said in a statement issued on October 5. He added that “the IMF, its 183 member countries, and the international community more generally will need to respond with sound policies to reduce the likelihood of a sustained slowdown and make sure we are ready to deal with a deeper and longer downturn if it does emerge—thereby limiting the disruption and attendant human costs.” Excerpts from Köhler’s statement follow.
Mr. Yehenew Endegnanew, Ms. Therese Turner-Jones, and Charles Amo Yartey
This paper examines the empirical link between fiscal policy and the current account focusing on microstates defined as countries with a population of less than 2 million between 1970 and 2009. The paper employs panel regression and panel vector autoregression (VAR) on 155 countries of which 42 are microstates. Panel regression results show that a percentage point improvement in the fiscal balance improves the current account balance by 0.4 percentage points of GDP. The real effective exchange rate has no significant impact on the current account in microstates but the coefficient is significant in the global sample. Panel VAR results show that an increase in government consumption results in real exchange appreciation but the effect on the current account after an initial deterioration dies out quicker in microstates than in the global sample. The result implies that fiscal policy has little effect on the current account in microstates beyond its direct impact on imports. Overall, the results suggest that the weak relative price effects make the effect of fiscal adjustment on the current account much more difficult in microstates.
Using a new fiscal dataset for small states, this paper analyzes the link between country size, government size, debt, and economic performance. It finds that on average small states have larger governments and higher public debt. Although there are intrinsic factors that explain why governments are bigger in small states, those with smaller governments and lower public debt tend to grow faster and are less vulnerable. Large fiscal adjustments, primarily through expenditure restraint, can underpin growth, although sometimes other elements can also impact. Since better governance is associated with lower debt, fiscal adjustment should be supported by governance improvements.