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Ms. Kate Phylaktis and Mahmood Pradhan

We need to understand more deeply a number of critical issues that confront the World Bank and its member countries before we can transform knowledge into effective actions

Maros Ivanic and Will Martin

Cracks in the System: World Economy Under Stress" explores the rapidly changing institutional and policymaking landscape around a financial crisis that now threatens a deep and prolonged global recession. The lead article looks at how the world got into the mess and what to do about it, both now and over the medium term. Other articles review options for changing the rules of world finance, examine the case for modernizing the way countries coordinate their policies, and try to draw some lessons from past financial crises. The "other crisis" of high food and fuel prices is also assessed, as the effects extend past the mid-2008 price peak. "People in Economics" profiles Robert Shiller; "Picture This" illustrates how middle-income economies can reach high-income status; "Back to Basics" looks at all the components that make up gross national product; and "Country Focus" spotlights Saudi Arabia.

Shlomo Reutlinger

This paper elaborates the introduction of surveillance that gave the IMF broader responsibilities with respect to oversight of its members’ policies than existed under the par value system. The IMF’s purview has been broadened under the new system but, by the same token, its members are no longer obliged to seek its concurrence in changes in exchange rates. The continuing volatility of exchange rates, and their prolonged divergence from levels that appear to be sustainable over time, have been matters of growing concern.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Africa's Middle-Class Motor finds growing evidence that a recent resurgence in the continent's economic well-being has staying power. In his overview article, Harvard professor Calestous Juma says the emphasis for too long has been on eradicating poverty through aid rather than promoting prosperity through improved infrastructure, education, entrepreneurship, and trade. That is now changing: there is a growing emphasis on policies that produce a middle class. The new African middle class may not have the buying power of a Western middle class but it demands enough goods and services to support stronger economic growth, which, as IMF African Department head Antoinette Sayeh points out, in turn helps the poorest members of society. Oxford University economist Paul Collier discusses a crucial component of Africa's needed infrastructure: railways. It is a continent eminently suited to rail, development of which has been held back more by political than economic reasons. But even as sub-Saharan African thrives, its largest and most important economy, South Africa, has had an anemic performance in recent years. We also profile Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's colorful economic czar. "Picture This" mines current trends to predict what Africa will look like a half century from now and "Data Spotlight" looks at increased regional trade in Africa. Elsewhere, Cornell Professor Eswar Prasad, examines a global role reversal in which emerging, not advanced, economies are displaying resilience in the face of the global economic crisis. The University of Queensland's John Quiggin, who wrote Zombie Economics, examines whether it makes sense in many cases to sell public enterprises. Economists Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago and Rodney Ramcharan of the U.S. Federal Reserve find clues to current asset booms and busts in the behavior of U.S. farmland prices a century ago.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

The global economic environment continued to provide little stimulus for SSA in 2003.2 While world economic growth increased from 3 percent in 2002 to 3.8 percent last year, world import demand did not keep pace and expanded by only 3.2 percent in the advanced economies, where most SSA exports are marketed. In addition, the external terms of trade for the region as a whole were largely unchanged, improving by about 2 percent for the oil exporters and declining by a similar amount for the non-oil economies. Some non-oil exporters received a boost to their terms of trade from stronger commodity prices, especially cotton (up 37 percent), groundnuts (up 30 percent), and robusta coffee (up 25 percent). However, despite these price increases, most key commodity prices remain very low relative to historical averages. On the positive side, world inflation remained low, helping contain inflation in SSA countries with exchange rate pegs. In addition, lower world interest rates kept domestic interest rates in SSA lower than would otherwise have been.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

Six basic themes emerge from the 2003 outturn: (i) average growth in the region remains far below the 7 percent estimated to be needed for the region as a whole to reach the MDGs on income-based poverty; (ii) growth experiences continue to be diverse, and some countries appear to be on a path of relatively strong sustainable growth; (iii) domestic policies matter—countries facing the same external environment are having very different growth experiences; (iv) conflict, civil strife, drought, and poor policies continue to be the causes of the worst growth experiences; (v) net exports have not been the source of economic growth, except in the oil exporting countries; and (vi) the achievement of growth rates sufficient to significantly reduce poverty will require higher rates of investment, which, in the absence of higher rates of national savings, will need to be financed through larger official and private capital flows.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

The outlook for 2004 is relatively upbeat. Economic growth rates will rise, inflation rates is expected to fall, investment and savings rates are projected to increase, external current account balances will be largely unchanged, and net international reserves coverage will stabilize. This improvement will be supported by a general reduction in fiscal deficits and a further tightening of monetary policy.

International Monetary Fund

Kenya’s strong economic performance in recent years with real GDP growth of 6 percent on average over 2004–07 has been stalled by a series of exogenous but temporary shocks that hit the economy in 2008. The staff report highlights Kenya's request for Disbursement under the Rapid-Access Component of the Exogenous Shocks Facility. Monetary policy has been eased to support economic activity and fiscal policy focused on reprioritizing expenditure. Structural policies have focused on improving the food distribution mechanism for better access to staples for an estimated 10 million food-deficient Kenyans.

International Monetary Fund

This paper discusses key findings of the Sixth Review Under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) for the United Republic of Tanzania. All end-June 2009 quantitative performance/assessment criteria were met. Good progress has been achieved with structural reforms. The Executive Board approved the Fifth Review of the PSI and a 12-month arrangement under the high access component of the Exogenous Shocks Facility in the amount of SDR 218.79 million (110 percent of quota) on May 29, 2009.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

The IMF is helping low-income countries hit by high food prices take appropriate policy action while providing financial assistance to some of the worst-affected nations, Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.