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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

This paper examines some dimensions of the problem of income inequality. The conventional approach to income inequality is to define the problem in purely relative terms. A familiar technique for this purpose is to measure inequality by the extent to which the income share of groups of individuals or households differs from their population share. The paper examines the problem in terms of income shares of the lowest 40 percent, the middle 40 percent, and the top 20 percent of households ordinally ranked by income.

CARMEN M. REINHART and PETER WICKHAM

Primary commodities still account for the bulk of exports in many developing countries. However, real commodity prices have been declining almost continuously since the early 1980s. The appropriate policy response to a terms of trade shock depends importantly on whether the shock is perceived to be temporary or permanent. Our results indicate that the recent weakness in commodity prices is mostly secular, stressing the need for commodity exporting countries to concentrate on export diversification and other structural policies. There is, however, scope for stabilization funds and the use of hedging strategies, since the evidence also suggests commodity prices have become more volatile.

Bruce Fitzgerald

This paper reviews the World Bank lending for structural adjustment. The World Bank has always stressed the need to use limited investable resources efficiently. It has attempted to identify investment priorities in recipient countries and lent for projects that promised a high rate of return. The Bank’s Operational Manual defines structural adjustment lending as nonproject lending to support programs of policy and institutional change necessary to modify the structure of an economy so that it can maintain both its growth rate and the viability of its balance of payments in the medium term.

Norman K. Humphreys

Abstract

Access Limits. A member’s access limits to the Fund’s financial resources is set as a percentage of a member’s quota (q.v.). These limits are subject to periodic review, usually annually, by the Executive Board (q.v.), taking into account the Fund’s liquidity (q.v.), and the demand for its resources (q.v.) by members. The following access limits, which may be exceeded in exceptional cases, were in effect at the end of September 1998 (as a percent of a member’s quota):

Mr. Benedict J. Clements, Mr. David Coady, Ms. Stefania Fabrizio, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Trevor Serge Coleridge Alleyne, and Mr. Carlo A Sdralevich

Abstract

Energy subsidies are aimed at protecting consumers, however, subsidies aggravate fiscal imbalances, crowd out priority public spending, and depress private investment, including in the energy sector. This book provides the most comprehensive estimates of energy subsidies currently available for 176 countries and an analysis of “how to do” energy subsidy reform, drawing on insights from 22 country case studies undertaken by the IMF staff and analyses carried out by other institutions.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper highlights that the 1980 Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the IMF affirmed the willingness of the IMF to evolve, under its charter, to meet new circumstances; but in some ways there was a departure from the past. Two substantive problems dominated the Meeting: the persistence of high inflation as a worldwide problem and the large payments deficits engulfing the non-oil developing countries. There was general agreement that these were the immediate threats to international monetary stability.