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R. Portes, A. Swoboda, W.M. Scammel, Robert Hormats, Bahram Nowzad, Philip Cagan, Frederick Ribe, Martin Feldstei, Lan Bovenberg, Sebastian Edward, Mr. Liaquat Ahamed, Anthony Lanyi, Susan Joeke, Masooma Habib, H.W. Arndt, and Robert Picciotto

This paper discusses the structural adjustment in low-income countries. In the first 20 months of its operations, the IMF’s structural adjustment facility (SAF) has provided concessional financial assistance to support the balance-of-payments adjustment efforts of 21 low-income member countries. Most SAF arrangements have supported policy reform programs that have also received support under other IMF facilities. The fundamental concept underlying the SAF is the notion that growth and adjustment are mutually reinforcing.

Mr. Rabah Arezki, Gregoire Rota-Graziosi, and Lemma W. Senbet

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This paper describes the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and suggests that it should enable HIPCs to exit from the debt-rescheduling process. It argues that implementation of the Initiative should eliminate debt as an impediment to economic development and growth and enable HIPC governments to focus on the difficult policies and reforms required to remove the remaining impediments to achieving sustainable development. The paper describes the implementation of the Initiative through the end of September 1998.

Ms. Jacqueline T Irving

Abstract

This pamphlet reports on how the enhanced Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) is meeting its aim of delivering faster, broader, and deeper debt relief to more HIPCs once these countries have shown a commitment to put the freed-up funds to work for the poor. The pamphlet also includes introductory sections that explain the rationale for the HIPC Initiative and describe how it works. A concluding section discusses the Initiative’s top challenge in the year ahead: to bring the remaining eligible countries to their decision points under the Initiative as fast and realistically as possible.

Ms. Jacqueline T Irving

Abstract

Many factors contribute to poverty. War, corruption, and destructive economic management are among the most pervasive. Others worsen poverty’s impact. Unsustainable debt is one such factor. Half of the 600 million people living in the 40 poorest, most debt-burdened countries struggle to survive on less than one dollar a day. They die earlier, have access to fewer schools and teachers, and are hungrier and sicker than their counterparts in other developing countries.

Mr. Roger Nord and Ms. Wenjie Chen
How does China’s new growth model affect sub-Saharan Africa? To address this question, this paper first looks at the growing ties between China and Africa; attempts to estimate more precisely the impact on growth through the trade channel; and finally draws some policy implications regarding whether this means an end of the Africa Rising narrative or merely the beginning of a new chapter.
International Monetary Fund
The Fourth Review Under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility and Requests for Waiver of Nonobservance of Performance Criteria for Rwanda are analyzed. The implementation of policies improved considerably in 2004, although economic performance has been adversely affected by exogenous shocks. Strong activity in construction, transport, and communication raised growth to 4 percent, despite major electricity shortages. Macroeconomic and structural policies will aim at enhancing private sector development and accelerating productivity-enhancing strategies. Fiscal policies will focus on supporting macroeconomic stability and improving the quality of spending through a sizable reallocation to priority areas.
Mr. Edward F Buffie, Mr. Stephen A. O'Connell, Ms. Catherine A Pattillo, and Mr. Christopher S Adam
Since the turn of the century, aid flows to Africa have increased on average and become more volatile. As a result, policymakers, particularly in post-stabilization countries where inflation has only recently been brought under control, have been increasingly preoccupied with how best to deploy the available instruments of monetary policy without yielding on hard-won inflation gains. We use a stochastic simulation model, in which private sector currency substitution effects play a central role, to examine the properties of alternative monetary and fiscal policy strategies in the face of volatile aid flows. We show that simple monetary rules, specifically an (unsterilized) exchange rate crawl and a 'reserve buffer plus float'-under which the authorities set a time-varying reserve target corresponding to the unspent portion of aid financing and allow the exchange rate to float freely once this reserve target is satisfied-have attractive properties relative to a range of alternative strategies including those involving heavy reliance on bond sterilization or a commitment to a 'pure' exchange rate float.
Mr. Calixte Ahokpossi
Financial intermediation is low in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) compared to other regions of the world. This paper examines the determinants of bank interest margins using a sample of 456 banks in 41 SSA countries. The results show that market concentration is positively associated with interest margins, but the impact depends on the level of efficiency of each bank. In particular, compared to inefficient banks, efficient ones increase their margins more in concentrated markets. This indicates that policies that promote competition and reduce market concentration would help lower interest margins in SSA. The results also show that bank-specific factors such as credit risk, liquidity risk, and bank equity are important determinants of interest margins. Finally, interest margins are sensitive to inflation, but not to economic growth or public or foreign ownership. There are regional differences within SSA regarding the level of interest margins even after controlling for other factors.