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Abstract

Edited by Said El-Naggar, this book contains six papers presented at a seminar held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, under the sponsorship of the Arab Monetary Fund and the IMF. The papers address the issues of adjustment and development in the Arab World, including the role of the IMF and the World Bank, and include case studies on Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.

Abstract

This Selected Issues paper discusses the assessment of economic activity in Togo in absence of quarterly GDP series. Togo collects about 40 macroeconomic indicators monthly that span a wide range of sectors of the economy. The selection of the variables for the economic activity index is conducted by finding the combination of variables. The indicators are aggregated into an index using a methodology used by the Conference Board. Then an economic activity index is constructed that effectively replicates the historical growth rates of real GDP in Togo. The selected index minimizes the deviations between the growth rates of the indicator and actual real GDP growth over 2002–13.

Mr. George T. Abed and Mr. Hamid R Davoodi

Abstract

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region. Despite undertaking economic reforms in many countries, and having considerable success in avoiding crises and achieving macroeconomic stability, the region’s economic performance in the past 30 years has been below potential. This paper takes stock of the region’s relatively weak performance, explores the reasons for this out come, and proposes an agenda for urgent reforms.

Mr. George T. Abed and Mr. Hamid R Davoodi

Abstract

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region that includes countries with a common heritage, vastly different levels of per capita income, and a common set of challenges (see Box 1). Historically, dependence on oil wealth in many countries and a legacy of central planning in other countries have played major roles in shaping the region’s development strategies.

Mr. Adam Bennett

This paper analyzes why the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has lagged in growth and globalization. Despite attempts to spur recovery and initiate structural reforms, many countries in the region remain on a slow growth path, effectively sidelined from globalization and the benefits of closer economic integration with the rest of the world. The benefits from oil failed to generate a sustained growth dynamic or bring about greater regional economic integration. The paper highlights that the slowdown in economic reforms is a key factor for the economic depression in the MENA region.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
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. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Context. On June 7, 2013, the Executive Board approved a 24-month Stand-By Arrangement in an amount equivalent to 400 percent of quota (SDR 1.146 billion or about $1.75 billion). To date, SDR 573 million equivalent to $877 million has been disbursed. The pillars of the program are to: (i) achieve short-term macroeconomic stability; (ii) lay the foundation for stronger and more inclusive growth; and (iii) protect the most vulnerable. Background. Progress in the political transition is leading to increased donor support this year, including from regional partners. On the economic front, growth remains timid, headline inflation has increased, and rising external imbalances have continued to put pressure on foreign reserves. Program implementation has been satisfactory. All quantitative performance criteria have been met. On the structural reform agenda, the authorities have made up for some key delays in areas that include reforming public banks, setting up a household support program, and the tax administration modernization agenda. Program strategy. Prudent fiscal policy, tighter monetary policy, and greater exchange rate flexibility need to be sustained and intensified to contain high external and fiscal deficits, anchor inflationary expectations, and bolster the still lackluster investors’ confidence. Important steps have been taken to strengthen the financial system, notably with the design of public bank restructuring plans, but implementation will be key. Progress on structural reforms—in particular, to improve the business climate—is critical for improving the conditions for private sector-led and inclusive growth. Risks to program implementation are important. Main risks relate to regional and domestic security tensions, setbacks in the political transition, and weaker economic activity in major trading partners. The implementation of program policies will continue to be tested by a difficult social environment and opposition from vested interests. The completion of the fourth review will make SDR 143.25 million (about $220 million) available.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
This paper identifies policies to increase productivity in the East, reduce regional income disparities, and promote overall income convergence. Achieving this objective will require improving educational attainment and reducing skill mismatches in the East, scaling up public infrastructure to attract investment to less productive regions, and facilitating labor mobility. This paper also discusses female labor participation in Poland and the potential impact on bank profitability of the recently implemented bank asset tax. Poland’s population is aging, yet it has an important underused source of qualified labor—its women. For Poland to unleash its full economic potential, it needs to embrace the vital contribution that women can make to its economy.
Shahid Yusuf
Since the onset of the Arab Spring, economic uncertainty in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen (Arab Countries in Transition, ACTs) has slowed already sluggish growth; worsened unemployment, particularly of youth; undermined business confidence, affected tourist arrivals, and depressed domestic and foreign direct investment. Furthermore, political and social tensions have constrained reform efforts. Assessing policy options as presented in the voluminous literature on the Arab Spring and based on cross-country experience, this paper concludes that sustainable and inclusive growth calls for a two pronged approach: short term measures that revive growth momentum and partially allay popular concerns; complemented with efforts to adjust the public’s expectations and prepare the ground for structural reforms that will deliver the desired longer tem performance.