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William F. Steel

This paper examines the policy implications of structural changes in financial markets. Domestic financial markets have become less segmented, and the major financial centers more integrated. At the same time, the structural changes in financial markets have improved efficiency by lowering intermediation costs, increasing the ability to hedge financial risks associated with currency, interest rate, and price volatility and opening up access to new sources of savings. The widespread application of computer and telecommunications technology to financial markets has permitted markets to process a significantly larger volume of transactions.

A. Javier Hamann and Mr. Alessandro Prati

This paper describes the importance of luck, timing, and political institutions in beating inflation. The paper highlights that countries experiencing high inflation typically make several disinflation attempts, some of which succeed only temporarily. If a country trying to stabilize prices and wages is unlucky enough to be exposed to severe external shocks—for example, a decline in demand for its exports—during its disinflation, the likelihood of failure is increased. A shock such as an increase in U.S. interest rates makes failure more likely for a country with an open capital account.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

To ensure high impact, technical assistance provided by IMF experts and consultants is being better integrated with the IMF’s economic monitoring and lending, as well as with country reform agendas.