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International Monetary Fund

Abstract

This paper reviews major issues and developments in the trade area and outlines the challenges governments face as they seek to liberalize trade in the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations and address new trade issues. In industrial countries, the reorientation of policies was most apparent in steps taken to liberalize financial markets and foreign direct investment, privatize public enterprises, and deregulate services, particularly in the transportation and communication sectors. Among developing countries, a growing number recognized the merits of outward, market-oriented policies and took steps to liberalize their trade regimes and open their economies to international competition. By and large, the increased focus on market principles in industrial countries did not carry over to trade and industrial policies or, most notable, to the agricultural sector. Despite strong growth performance in 1983–1989, little progress was made in rolling back the protective barriers that had risen during the preceding recessionary period; protection persists in agriculture and declining sectors and has spread to newer high-tech areas.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

The food price spikes have prevented millions of people from escaping extreme poverty. The record prices in 2008 kept or pushed 105 million people below the poverty line in the short run. They hit urban poor and female-headed households hardest. While food prices dropped sharply in 2009 with the financial crisis, they quickly rebounded and by early 2011 were almost back to 2008 levels. Sudden, unexpected increases in food prices impose particularly severe hardship on many households because they need time to adjust to higher prices. The large, initial impact on poverty of a rise in food prices tends to decline over time as production increases and the income of the poor in rural areas rises, but it is usually not large enough to offset the initial negative impact on poverty in the short run.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

Even temporarily high food prices affect the long-term development of children. Conditions of early life (from conception to two years) provide the foundations for adult human capital. Vicious interactions between malnutrition,1 poor health, and impaired cognitive development set children on lower development paths and lead to irreversible changes.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

The global recovery shows signs of stalling amid deteriorating financial conditions. Global growth slowed to 3.9 percent in 2011 and is projected to decline further to 3.5 percent in 2012. The strongest slowdown is being felt in advanced economies, but the worsening external environment and some weakening in internal demand is expected to lead to lower growth in emerging and developing countries as well. This outlook is subject to downside risks, such as a much larger and more protracted bank deleveraging in the Euro Area or a hard landing among key emerging market countries. Against these broad developments, food, fuel, and other commodity prices have eased somewhat from their peaks in mid-2011; where high commodity prices had become a concern for broader price stability, this price decline has provided policy makers with greater flexibility to ease monetary policy.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

Trade is an excellent buffer for domestic fluctuations in food supply. There is no global food shortage: the problem is regional or local—one of moving food, often across borders, from surplus production areas to deficit ones—coupled with affordability. World output of a given food commodity is far less variable than output in individual countries. Thus increased trade integration holds considerable potential to stabilize food prices, boost returns to farmers, and reduce the prices faced by consumers.

International Monetary Fund

Abstract

Official development assistance (ODA) has strengthened remarkably over the past decade, despite the disruptions of the global financial crisis centered in high-income countries. Net ODA reported to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rose from 0.22 percent of donors’ gross national income (GNI) in 2000 to 0.32 percent in 2010 and reached a record high of $127.3 billion in 2010 (at 2009 prices), very close to the target set at the Group of Eight Gleneagles Summit in 2005. And among the 15 European Union (EU) member countries that committed to raising ODA to 0.51 percent of GNI by 2010, 8 countries reached the goal and another 4 countries made significant progress toward it. There is some evidence that international coordination, notably the commitments made at Gleneagles, contributed to the rise in aid disbursements (Kharas 2010). Nevertheless, aid remains well short of the goal of 0.7 percent of GNI set by the United Nations some 40 years ago and substantially below various estimates (Atisophon and others 2011) of annual disbursements required to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Further, a key concern is that it may take several years before the full impact of the global financial crisis on aid flows becomes apparent. This is underscored by the just-released (April 2012) preliminary OECD data indicating that ODA disbursements declined by 2.7 percent in 2011 (at 2010 prices), as fiscal consolidation in several DAC countries has cut into their aid budgets.

Garry J. Schinasi and Ms. Monica Hargraves

Abstract

Beginning in the late 1970s, and extending to the present, a large number of industrial countries initiated a process of financial deregulation and liberalization. The gains from this have been substantial, including increased access to credit markets by households and enterprises, higher rates of remuneration on deposits, and a more market-determined allocation of resources. Major economic sectors have been affected by this process and the responses of these sectors have contributed to important economic developments in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Michael J. Artis

Abstract

This paper analyzes the short-term forecasts for industrial and developing countries produced by the IMF and published twice a year in the World Economic Outlook. For the industrial country group, the forecasts for output growth and inflation are satisfactory and pass most conventional tests in forecasting economic developments, although forecast accuracy has not improved over time, and predicting the turning points of the business cycle remains a weakness. For the developing countries, the task of forecasting movements in economic activity is even more difficult and the conventional measures of forecast accuracy are less satisfactory than for the industrial countries. [JEL: E17, E37, F17, F47]