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Connel Fullenkamp, Mr. Thomas F. Cosimano, Michael T. Gapen, Mr. Ralph Chami, Mr. Peter J Montiel, and Mr. Adolfo Barajas

Abstract

Immigrant remittances are truly a force to be reckoned with in the global economy. These private, unrequited transfers of money from migrants to the family members they leave behind, often sent a few hundred dollars at a time, nonetheless add up to billions of dollars annually: US$114 billion in 2003, the last year for which complete data are available. This figure includes only remittances sent through official, measurable channels, and much more is believed to flow through informal channels. Consequently, remittances represent one of the largest international flows of financial resources.

Connel Fullenkamp, Mr. Thomas F. Cosimano, Michael T. Gapen, Mr. Ralph Chami, Mr. Peter J Montiel, and Mr. Adolfo Barajas

Abstract

The unique characteristics of remittances and their potential economic impact have attracted the attention of policymakers and researchers in recent years, as evidenced by a growing literature aimed at analyzing remittances and their consequences for individual countries. Three main features of remittances provide the impetus for embarking on a study of their macroeconomic impacts: the size of these flows relative to the size of the recipient economies, the likelihood that these flows will continue unabated into the future through continued globalization trends, and the fact that these flows are quite distinct from those of official aid or private capital, which are much better understood in the literature. These features suggest that remittances’ macroeconomic effects are likely to be substantial and sustained over time and may have unique implications for policymakers in recipient countries.

Connel Fullenkamp, Mr. Thomas F. Cosimano, Michael T. Gapen, Mr. Ralph Chami, Mr. Peter J Montiel, and Mr. Adolfo Barajas

Abstract

Given the findings of the previous chapter, the next logical step is to establish a new set of stylized facts about remittances derived from properly measured data. Because stylized facts identify the basic set of questions and issues to be explained, it is essential to begin with an accurate data set. Therefore, the chapter first undertakes a complete examination of the empirical characteristics of workers’ remittances,1 beginning with evidence on the growth of workers’ remittances over the past three decades and followed by regional and cross-country comparisons of remittance receipts. Then the chapter presents comparisons of workers’ remittances with other international balance of payments flows, with special emphasis on the volatilities of the various flows. Finally, the chapter examines evidence on the correlation of workers’ remittances with the most important macroeconomic variables. Wherever appropriate, the behavior of remittance flows to developing countries is emphasized.

International Monetary Fund
Barbados has a stable political system, and there is long-standing public consensus on key economic policies, including a fixed exchange rate with the U.S. dollar supported by prudent fiscal and wage policies. Owing to job creation mainly in the private sector, particularly construction, the unemployment rate continued to decline, reaching 9.8 percent at the end of 1999, 2 percentage points lower than a year before. The authorities' medium-term strategy aims at stabilizing and restructuring the economy to address ongoing trade liberalization.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper summarizes recent development in Barbados’s International Business and Financial Services (IBFS) sector and assesses the extent to which the loss of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs) pose a risk to its future. The contribution of the IBFS sector to the local economy has been relatively stable in recent years but its contribution to fiscal revenues has declined. The sector has displayed lower profitability since the global financial crisis. More recently, it suffered from two changes in Canadian tax legislation. Consequently, tax revenues have declined while other expenditures have largely offset such decline. The sector also faces some risks from the loss of CBRs that has affected most Caribbean countries.
Ms. Yan M Sun and Mr. Wendell A. Samuel
With a fixed peg to the U.S. dollar for more than three decades, the tourism-dependent Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) countries share a close economic relationship with the U.S. This paper analyzes the impact of the United States on ECCU business cycles and identifies possible transmission channels. Using two different approaches (the common trends and common cycles approach of Vahid and Engle (1993) and the standard VAR analysis), it finds that the ECCU economies are very sensitive to both temporary and permanent movements in the U.S. economy and that such linkages have strengthened over time. There is, however, less clear-cut evidence on the transmission channels. United States monetary policy does not appear to be an important channel of influence, while tourism is important for only one ECCU country.
Goohoon Kwon and Mr. Raphael A Espinoza
This paper assesses the extent of regional financial integration in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) by analyzing equity prices in the region and rigidity of external financing constraints. The results are presented in a cross-regional perspective. The Caribbean stock markets are not as well integrated as one would expect from the extent of cross-listing and importance of regional banking groups: price differentials of cross-listed stocks reach an average of 5 percent. Auto-Regressive models suggest that these price differentials are only slowly arbitraged away, with half-lives exceeding 7 worked days, even when looking only at large arbitrage opportunities (using a Threshold Auto-Regressive model). A speculative methodology using macroeconomic data seems to confirm these findings. A strong mean reversion of the current account (respectively regional trade imbalances) is interpreted, following Obstfeld and Taylor (2004), as a lack of ways to finance current account deficits, i.e. a lack of global (respectively regional) financial integration. The region appears to be much less integrated than the EU15 or the ASEAN+3 groups, although it fares well compared to other LDCs.
Connel Fullenkamp, Mr. Thomas F. Cosimano, Michael T. Gapen, Mr. Ralph Chami, Mr. Peter J Montiel, and Mr. Adolfo Barajas

Abstract

Understanding the motivations for remitting is necessary for analyzing the wider economic consequences of remittances, for at least two reasons. First, the amount that a migrant transfers to family members remaining at home at any given time depends, among other things, on the migrant’s underlying motivations to go abroad and to remit funds in the first place. The size and timing of remittance flows in turn determine their effects on economic activity in the receiving country. Second, the intended purpose of remittances affects the end uses of these funds, and the uses to which recipients put them is also an important determinant of their economic impact on the recipient economy.

Connel Fullenkamp, Mr. Thomas F. Cosimano, Michael T. Gapen, Mr. Ralph Chami, Mr. Peter J Montiel, and Mr. Adolfo Barajas

Abstract

Given the large size of aggregate remittance flows (billions of dollars annually), they should be expected to have significant macroeconomic effects on the economies that receive them. This paper directly addresses the two main issues of interest to policymakers with regard to remittances--how to manage their macroeconomic effects, and how to harness their development potential--by reporting the results of the first global study of the comprehensive macroeconomic effects of remittances on recipient economies. In broad terms, the findings of this paper tend to confirm the main benefit cited in the microeconomic literature: remittances improve households' welfare by lifting families out of poverty and insuring them against income shocks. The findings also yield a number of important caveats and policy considerations, however, that have largely been overlooked. The main challenge for policymakers in countries that receive significant flows of remittances is to design policies that promote remittances and increase their benefits while mitigating adverse side effects. Getting these policy prescriptions correct early on is imperative. Globalization and the aging of developed economy populations will ensure that demand for migrant workers remains robust for years to come. Hence, the volume of remittances likely will continue to grow, and with it, the challenge of unlocking the maximum societal benefit from these transfers.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

World Economic Outlook, October 1999 ($36.00; academic price: $25.00)