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International Monetary Fund

This paper examines Colombia’s 2002 Article IV Consultation and Request for Stand-By Arrangement. The economic situation worsened in the first half of 2002. Economic activity has remained sluggish, and the fiscal consolidation has gone off-track. Exacerbated by increased contagion from other countries in the region, concerns about fiscal solvency led to increased pressure on the peso from mid-year and a loss of external market access. Executive Directors have commended the new government’s swift and comprehensive action to face a difficult domestic and external situation.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Belgium’s economy is enjoying a robust expansion. Output growth has outpaced the euro area average since 2002 and reached 3 percent in 2006, its fastest pace since the start of the decade and well above its long-term trend. Sound economic policies have underpinned growth. Public finances have been in balance since the beginning of the decade, bringing about an unprecedented decline in the public debt burden (see Chart 1, top panel). Labor market reforms have helped more people find jobs. Nonetheless, the aging of the population and globalization make it increasingly evident that policies need to be strengthened further. With a new government taking office later this year, and a favorable macroeconomic environment, this is a good time to shift the pace of reforms into a higher gear.

International Monetary Fund

This paper discusses findings of the fourth review under an Extended Fund Facility Arrangement with Portugal. One year into the program, the authorities are making progress in reducing economic imbalances. The delicate balance between orderly deleveraging and improving competitiveness also remains in place. A turnaround in investor sentiment has nonetheless proved elusive, reflecting the formidable challenges that remain. Bank deposits remain stable and funding continues to be supported by euro system lending. Market sentiment has improved, although spreads remain high and volatile.

International Monetary Fund

This 2002 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy of France is facing a fast-approaching demographic turnaround—with the active population beginning to decline in 2007 and reducing annual per-capita-GDP growth by about half a percentage point for a few decades. In 2002, the general government budget deficit is expected to widen to 2.6 percent of GDP from 1.5 percent of GDP in 2001. The deterioration is in good part owing to the cyclical downswing but also to structural factors, in particular to the trend increase in social security spending.

International Monetary Fund

This 2004 Article IV Consultation highlights that during the recent upswing, growth in Belgium has been comparatively robust, propelled by strong household spending and supported by the global recovery as well as macroeconomic policies. Tax cuts and wage increases have sustained disposable income growth, while household savings resumed a declining trend amid improvements in the economic outlook and public finances. In the IMF staff’s view, economic growth is expected to continue at a healthy pace in 2005, driven by private consumption as well as a likely strengthening of corporate investment and employment growth.

International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper analyzes Portugal’s export performance in 2006 and assesses whether it might augur a sustained recovery. The paper examines the factors underlying the recent export rebound, and searches for signs of fundamental changes in structures of the export industries during the last decade. It highlights the importance of labor market flexibility. Using a four-country version of the IMF Global Economic Model, the paper attempts to illustrate the benefits of labor market reform to help close the competitiveness gap.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper first explains the recent increase in trend growth and then discusses how labor market and tax policies could best sustain it. This study calculates French trend growth estimating simultaneously a Cobb–Douglas production technology and total factor productivity. The main conclusion is that French trend growth indeed increased during the second half of the 1990s to an average annual rate of 2.1 percent, from 1.8 percent in 1993. This was not owing to a recovery of total factor productivity growth.
Kodjovi M. Eklou and Mamour Fall
Do discretionary spending cuts and tax increases hurt social well-being? To answer this question, we combine subjective well-being data covering over half a million of individuals across 13 European countries, with macroeconomic data on fiscal consolidations. We find that fiscal consolidations reduce individual well-being in the short run, especially when they are based on spending cuts. In addition, we show that accompanying monetary and exchange rate policies (disinflation, depreciations and the liberalization of capital flows) mitigate the well-being cost of fiscal consolidations. Finally, we investigate the well-being consequences of the two well-knowns expansionary fiscal consolidations episodes taking place in the 80s (in Denmark and Ireland). We find that even expansionary fiscal consolidations can have well-being costs. Our results may therefore shed some light on why some governments may choose to consolidate through taxes even at the cost of economic growth. Indeed, if spending cuts are to generate a large well-being loss, they can trigger an opposition and protest against a fiscal consolidation plan and hence making it politically costly.
Mr. Shekhar Aiyar and Mr. Rodney Ramcharan
How important is luck in determining labor market outcomes? We address this question using a new dataset of all international test cricketers who debuted between 1950 and 1985. We present evidence that a player’s debut performance is strongly affected by an exogenous source of variation: whether the debut series is played at home or abroad. This allows us to identify the role of luck - factors unrelated to ability - in shaping future career outcomes. We find that players lucky enough to debut at home perform significantly better on debut. Moreover, debut performance has a large and persistent impact on long run career outcomes. We also make headway in empirically distinguishing between competing explanations for why exogenous initial conditions exercise a persistent impact on career performance
International Monetary Fund

Based on the economic literature, various policy measures and institutions in the product and labor markets that increase growth and employment are studied. From a cross-country approach, this study finds a significant relationship between Vertical Fiscal Imbalances (VFIs) and fiscal performance in OECD countries. Different measures of vertical imbalance are used. To assess the impact of a vertical gap, a panel equation is estimated that is related to general government primary balance to vertical balance, spending decentralization, covariates, and interaction terms.