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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

This Selected Issues paper analyzes the unconventional energy boom in North America, and its macroeconomic implications and challenges for Canada. The unconventional energy boom has had significant positive effects on Canada’s economic activity and has the potential to contribute even more in the future with the appropriate extension of infrastructure capacity. The findings suggest that although limited exports capacity would result in output losses over the medium term, the potential output gains from a full market access of Canada’s energy products could reach about 2 percent of GDP over a 10-year horizon.

International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
This Technical Assistance report reviews South Africa’s tax system and also examines the fiscal regime with a view to generating a sustainable revenue contribution from mining and petroleum in future. Mining has historically been the mainstay of the South African economy. Mineral exports remain the principal contributor to foreign exchange earnings on the current account. South Africa is not yet a significant producer of crude oil or natural gas. Oil and gas exploration nevertheless shows promise. Taxation is far from top of the list in current challenges facing the development of extractive industries in South Africa. The national goal of economic and social transformation in favor of Historically Disadvantaged South Africans has major impact on the mining sector.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper for Chile assesses the impact of the global financial crisis on Chilean banks. It provides a framework for analyzing government measures aimed at reducing systemic risk. The analysis suggests that Chilean banks are resilient to global and regional shocks. However, even in the absence of direct exposures with other countries in the region, there may be risk spillovers from other banks in the region and in advanced economies. The paper also presents options for further strengthening Chile’s fiscal framework.
Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo
The paper concludes that world copper prices play an important role in short-term fluctuations and probably influence long-term growth of the Chilean economy. While many mechanisms may be at work, investment seems to play a major role. In a copper price boom, the higher copper price and associated capital inflows create upward pressure on the real exchange rate. The appreciation of the Chilean peso during the first part of the copper cycle contributes to lower inflation, which could partly explain why real wages grow more rapidly in this part of the cycle.
Gabriel Di Bella and Mr. Martin D. Cerisola
By the end of 2007, Chile's total factor productivity was lower than ten years earlier, a performance that contrasted sharply with the previous decade, when productivity grew by a cumulative 30 percent. This paper assesses productivity trends in Chile, by decomposing productivity into investment-specific technological change (associated with improvements in the quality of capital) and neutral technological change (related to the organization of productive activities). It concludes that investment-specific technological improvements have contributed significantly to long-term growth in Chile, in line with trends observed in other net commodity exporters, while neutral technological change has been slow.
Fred Hirsch

1. The major fluctuations in gold production in this century can be explained in substantial part by economic influences. Outside South Africa, where the combined output of all other gold producing countries now accounts for only about one fourth of the world total (excluding Russian output), the dominant influence has been the movement in the general level of world prices in relation to the international gold price. Response to this relative price influence in South Africa has been far weaker and has been subject to long time lags, with the main impact on investment decisions. In the medium term, movements in relative prices have influenced the profitability of South African gold output with less marked effects on the level of output. New discoveries of gold in South Africa have been important since World War II; economic influences have played some part in the pace of their exploitation. The underlying influence on South African gold output has been its relatively high productivity in relation to other South African industries, even after the almost continuously adverse movement in the “real,” or relative, gold price in terms of domestic currency since 1950 and in terms of U.S. dollars since the mid-1930’s.

Bension Varon

The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, took place in Caracas from June 20 to August 31,1974. The conference failed, at least in the sense that none of the most important issues raised were settled, and no agreements were signed. Does this failure matter very much? Why did the failure occur and will later international conferences be able to produce better results?