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Mr. Mohamed A. El-Erian and Ms. Susan Fennell

Abstract

Coverage. The MENA region is defined to encompass the economies of the Arab League (Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Republic of Yemen), as well as the Islamic Republic of Iran and Israel.11 The region possesses abundant natural resources and, on average, enjoys a reasonable standard of living. However, individual countries exhibit a broad diversity of characteristics. They vary substantially in natural resources, economic and geographical size, population, and standards of living.

Mr. Charles Frederick Kramer, Alfred Steinherr, Mr. Eric V. Clifton, Padma Desai, Aasim M. Husain, Nicholas R. Lardy, Mr. Hassanali Mehran, and Jahangir Amuzegar

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. Thomas Helbling, Ms. Valerie A Mercer-Blackman, and Mr. Kevin C Cheng

Commodity Boom: How Long Will It Last?" asks how economies will fare after the record-high prices of key raw materials posted in recent months, which build on dramatic increases from their lows of 2000. The lead article warns that the impact on headline inflation levels might persist throughout 2008, even without further commodity price hikes. It urges policymakers to ensure efficient functioning of market forces at the global level, and to move swiftly to protect the poorest. Another article addresses the effects of climate change on agriculture, warning that farm production will fall dramatically-especially in developing countries-if steps are not taken to curb carbon emissions. Other articles on this theme argue that policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions need not hobble economies, and that financial markets can help address climate change. "People in Economics" profiles John Taylor; "Picture This" says the global energy system is on an increasingly unsustainable path; "Country Focus" spotlights South Africa; and "Straight Talk" examines early warnings provided by credit derivatives. Also in this issue, articles examine China's increasing economic engagement with Africa, and the outsourcing of service jobs to other countries.

MIGUEL SCHLOSS

A major portion of sub-Saharan Africa’s foreign exchange earnings are devoted to the procurement of petroleum. This situation could be ameliorated: a revamping of policies and practices in hydrocarbons procurement and distribution could yield savings in the region of an amount significantly greater than yearly net disbursements of World Bank loans and credits to all the continent combined.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

The financial turmoil that erupted in August 2007 and developed into possibly the worst financial shock since the end of World War II has slowed the global expansion. Economic activity in advanced economies decelerated sharply toward the end of the year as the crisis in the U.S. subprime mortgage market spread across a range of financial institutions and markets. The weakening of growth was most pronounced in the United States. Emerging market and developing countries have thus far been less affected and continue to grow at a rapid pace, owing to positive terms of trade movements from the increase in oil and commodity prices, strong productivity gains resulting from greater integration into the global economy, and improved policy frameworks that have underpinned sustained access to capital. Headline inflation has increased around the world, fueled by high oil and commodity prices; in many developing and emerging market countries, more generalized inflationary pressures are being sustained by strong growth in domestic demand (Figure 17).

Mr. Mohamed A. El-Erian and Ms. Susan Fennell

Abstract

The economy of the Middle East and North Africa improved considerably in 1996, and remained favorable in 1997. This paper, by Mohamed A. El-Erian and Susan Fennell, presents an assessment of the recent experience of the MENA economies and examines prospects for 1998 and beyond.

MANMOHAN S. KUMAR

The efficiency of the crude oil futures market and the forecasting accuracy of futures prices are investigated. The accuracy of forecasts using futures prices is compared with that of forecasts using alternative techniques, including time series and econometric models and judgmental forecasts. The predictive power of futures prices is further explored by comparing the forecasting accuracy of end–of–month prices with weekly and monthly averages, using different weighting schemes. Finally, the paper investigates whether forecasts using futures prices can be improved by incorporating information from other forecasting techniques. [JEL A10, C22, C52, E37]