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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

Despite significant improvements since the 2012–13 financial crisis, profitability of Cypriot banks remains low when compared with their regional peers. The ongoing digitalization provides further challenges for banks with additional costs for initial investments, changing customer preferences and increased competition from new entrants. Yet, it also offers opportunities for banks to update their operating platform and rationalize costs, thus improving profitability. This study seeks to understand the digital landscape in Cyprus, analyze prospects for improving efficiency and profitability and discuss policy implications.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper assesses Cyprus’s export competitiveness and understands factors that could explain export developments, particularly in the services sector. Although Cyprus has been able to leverage its strategic location to diversity its markets for goods exports, as a small island economy, opportunities for diversifying its products mix is more limited. Services exports have performed better in the post-crisis period buoyed by the recovery in Europe and the impact of technological advances on global Information and Communication Technologies-enabled trade. Policies to support greater market diversification, enhance competition and efficiency and strengthen technological adoption would help exports growth. Studies have established the relationship between price and cost competitiveness with trade performance. Cyprus has performed reasonably well with strong service exports over the past few years, aided by improvements in cost competitiveness and a recovery in the European export markets. Policymakers should exploit opportunities brought by the digital transformation while addressing the accompanied risks.
Ms. Yan M Sun, Ms. Pritha Mitra, and Mr. Alejandro Simone
This paper studies the factors behind pro-cyclical but widely varying construction shares (as a percent of GDP) across countries, with a strong focus on European countries. Using a dataset covering 48 countries (including advanced and emerging economies within and outside Europe) for 1990-2011, we find that country’s geography, demographics, and economic conditions are the key determinants of a norm around which actual construction shares revolve in a simple AR(1) and error-correction process. The empirical results show that in many European countries, construction shares overshoot relative to their norms before the recent global crisis, but they have fallen significantly since the crisis. Nevertheless, there is still room for further adjustment in construction shares in some countries which may weigh on economic recovery.
Jorge Alvarez and Claudia Berg
A large share of cross-country differences in productivity is explained by differences in agricultural productivity. Using a combination of sub-national agricultural statistics and geospatial datasets on crop-specific potential yields, we study the main drivers of this variation from a macroeconomic perspective. We find that differences in geographically-induced crop-specific comparative advantages can explain a substantial share of the variation in yields across the world. Data reveal substantial gaps between potential and observed yields in most countries. When decomposing these within country gaps, we find that crop selection gaps are on average larger than those induced by input usage alone. The results highlight the importance of understanding the interaction of geography and crop selection drivers in assessing aggregate agricultural productivity differences.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

03/10: “FDI to Africa: The Role of Price Stability and Currency Instability,” Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart

Mariya Brussevich, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Christine Kamunge, Pooja Karnane, Salma Khalid, and Ms. Kalpana Kochhar
New technologies?digitalization, artificial intelligence, and machine learning?are changing the way work gets done at an unprecedented rate. Helping people adapt to a fast-changing world of work and ameliorating its deleterious impacts will be the defining challenge of our time. What are the gender implications of this changing nature of work? How vulnerable are women’s jobs to risk of displacement by technology? What policies are needed to ensure that technological change supports a closing, and not a widening, of gender gaps? This SDN finds that women, on average, perform more routine tasks than men across all sectors and occupations?tasks that are most prone to automation. Given the current state of technology, we estimate that 26 million female jobs in 30 countries (28 OECD member countries, Cyprus, and Singapore) are at a high risk of being displaced by technology (i.e., facing higher than 70 percent likelihood of being automated) within the next two decades. Female workers face a higher risk of automation compared to male workers (11 percent of the female workforce, relative to 9 percent of the male workforce), albeit with significant heterogeneity across sectors and countries. Less well-educated and older female workers (aged 40 and above), as well as those in low-skill clerical, service, and sales positions are disproportionately exposed to automation. Extrapolating our results, we find that around 180 million female jobs are at high risk of being displaced globally. Policies are needed to endow women with required skills; close gender gaps in leadership positions; bridge digital gender divide (as ongoing digital transformation could confer greater flexibility in work, benefiting women); ease transitions for older and low-skilled female workers.