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Gillian Tett, Robert Skidelsky, A Socio-Economic Miscellany, Anand Chandavarkar, and Mr. Jean-Pierre Chauffour

Climate Change: Stimulating a Green Recovery” looks at the global problem of climate change. With the world apparently on an economic recovery path, policymakers are looking at ways to limit the impact of climate change through broad international action. One of the challenges is to balance actions to mitigate climate change with measures to stimulate growth and prosperity. This issue of F&D also examines a variety of issues raised by the crisis—including the future of macroeconomics, explored by William White, former chief economist at the Bank for International Settlements, and the longer-term impact of the crisis on the United States, the world’s largest economy. Our “People in Economics” profile spotlights Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Laureate who “can’t get any respect at home.” We also look at the need for rebalancing growth in Asia, which is leading the world out of recession, and we interview five influential Asians on the region’s fragile rebound. We turn our “Straight Talk” column over to Barbara Stocking of Oxfam, who makes a forceful case for stepping up help to the most vulnerable around the world. “Data Spotlight” looks at trends in inflation, which has fallen into negative territory in some countries during the crisis, and in “Point-Counterpoint,” two experts discuss the pros and cons of remittances—funds repatriated by migrant workers to family and friends back home. “Back to Basics” gives a primer on international trade.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Enron has come to symbolize the use of aggressive accounting techniques to mask excessive leverage and weak earnings. Some segments of financial markets have been volatile since Enron’s collapse—the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history—and the full extent of the losses suffered by investors and financial institutions will not be known until the company’s complex operations are unwound.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

On March 15, the IMF, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank announced the joint publication of the first of a new series of quarterly releases of statistics for 176 developing and transition countries, in response to requests for dissemination of more timely external debt indicators. The statistics are hosted at and are also accessible through each agency’s website. The IMF’s website is Following is the text of News Brief 99/11.

Oscar L. Altman

This is the text of a speech delivered at a Conference on International Financing organized by the National Industrial Conference Board, New York, October 14, 1964.

Anne Y. Kester

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.

Mr. Burkhard Drees

Structured finance is one of the most innovative and rapidly growing areas of modern finance. Broadly defined, it refers to the repackaging of cash flows to transform the risk, return, and liquidity characteristics of financial portfolios. Structured financial instruments play a key role in transferring credit risk among financial institutions and between financial institutions and market participants in other sectors of the economy. But many financial supervisors and central bankers fear that some market participants may not fully understand the risks involved. They also question whether these instruments transfer risks to institutions best able to bear those risks or to those that are least regulated. To explore these issues, the IMF Institute hosted a high-level seminar on April 19-20 in Washington, D.C., where market practitioners, academics, policymakers, and regulators exchanged views with senior officials from more than 40 advanced and emerging market countries.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper analyzes economic growth in Iran. It uses a growth-accounting exercise to quantify the historical sources of growth over 1960–2002, including human capital accumulation and the contribution of Total Factor Productivity to growth. The paper presents an empirical study to quantify the role of several other contributing factors commonly discussed in the cross-country growth literature, including macroeconomic stability, financial development, trade openness, and the change in the terms of trade. The paper also examines issues in medium-term management of oil wealth in Iran.

Nathaniel Frank and Mr. Eduardo Ley

This paper modifies several assumptions in the probabilistic approach to fiscal sustainability proposed by Celasun, Debrun, and Ostry (2007). First, we allow for structural breaks in the vector autoregression model for the macroeconomic variables. Second, in the Monte-Carlo simulations, we draw directly from the empirical distribution of the shocks instead of drawing from a normal distribution, thus allowing for asymmetries and thick tails. Third, we circumvent the use of a fiscal reaction function by focusing attention instead on debt-stabilizing balances, to produce more “agnostic” debt projections. The paper illustrates how these methodological modifications have significant impacts on the results for specific country cases.

Alejandro Hajdenberg and Rafael Romeu

This paper extends the probabilistic debt sustainability analysis (DSA) developed by Celasun, Debrun, and Ostry (2006) to account explicitly for parameter estimation errors in the debt projection algorithm. This extension highlights public debt projection uncertainty resulting from both the intrinsic volatility of debt determinants and the inaccuracy of the parameter estimates of econometric models employed in the projections. The revised algorithm is applied to conduct a debt sustainability analysis of Uruguay. As part of this exercise, a restricted vector autoregression and a country-specific fiscal reaction function are employed. The resulting increase in the variance of the debt projections that account for the uncertainty of parameter estimates in the forecast is smaller than may have been anticipated, as the improved specification of the underlying econometric model reduces the variance of debt projections. Hence, more precise estimates of economic fundamentals and fiscal policy reaction allow for a feasible debt forecast with a more accurate depiction of its inherent forecast uncertainty.