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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

In a press release issued on July 28, the IMF announced it has approved a 17-month Stand-By credit for Russia equivalent to SDR 3.3 billion (about $4.5 billion) to support the government’s 1999–2000 economic program. There will be seven equal disbursements of SDR 471.4 million (about $640 million), with the first installment to be released immediately. Subsequent installments will depend on quarterly reviews being completed and performance criteria and structural benchmarks beingmet. At the conclusion of the IMF Executive Board meeting, IMF First Deputy Managing Director Stanley Fischer made the following statement.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department

Abstract

The Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions has been published by the IMF since 1950. It draws on information available to the IMF from a number of sources, including that provided in the course of official staff visits to member countries, and has been prepared in close consultation with national authorities.

Mr. Valerio Crispolti, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Jun I Kim, Ms. Kazuko Shirono, and Mr. George C. Tsibouris

Abstract

Low-income countries routinely experience exogenous disturbances—sharp swings in the terms of trade, export demand, natural disasters, and volatile financial flows—that contribute to higher volatility in aggregate output and consumption compared with other countries. Assessing Reserve Adequacy in Low-Income Countries presents the findings of an analysis of a range of external shocks faced by these countries, beginning with a discussion of the impact of external shocks on macroeconomic growth, volatility, and welfare. Although sound macroeconomic and prudential policy frameworks are the first line of defense for limiting vulnerability, international reserves constitute the main form of self-insurance against such shocks. The evidence suggests that low-income countries with reserve coverage above three months of imports were better able to smooth consumption and absorption in the face of external shocks compared with those with lower reserve holdings. The analysis also points to the importance of country characteristics and vulnerabilities in assessing reserve adequacy.

Benn Steil, Anat Admati, Martin Hellwig, Robin Jeffrey, and Assa Doron

Two years ago, citizens in the Arab world—fired by their ideals and visions of a better life—ignited a social movement that inspired people around the globe. In Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen—the so-called Arab countries in transition—people embraced change, ushering in a new era. This issue of F&D looks at the difficulties of this transition, focusing on long-standing forces that shape the region’s economy and offering options for moving ahead to achieve strong, inclusive growth. • Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, maps out an agenda for modernizing and diversifying the region’s economies in “Toward Prosperity for All.” • In “Freedom and Bread Go Together,” Marwan Muasher addresses the intersection of economic progress and political change. • Vali Nasr, in a Point of View column, underscores the vital role small and medium-sized enterprises play in a successful democratic transition. Elsewhere in this issue, we look at how surging oil and gas production in the United States could shake up global energy markets; the effect of uncertainty on economic growth; and Mexico’s competitiveness rebound. F&D's People in Economics series profiles Christina Romer, former chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers and an architect of the U.S. stimulus package; and the latest installment in our Back to Basics series explains how structural policies help to both stabilize and strengthen economies.

ANTONIO FATÁS and ANDREW K. ROSE

This paper is an empirical study of fiscal policy in countries with extreme monetary regimes. We study members of multilateral currency unions, dollarized countries that officially use the money of another country, and countries using currency boards. We find that belonging to an international common currency area is not associated with fiscal discipline; if anything, spending and taxes are higher inside currency unions. This effect is especially pronounced for dollarized countries that unilaterally adopt the currency of another country. Currency boards are associated with fiscal restraint.