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Mr. Alejandro Izquierdo, Ward Brown, Mr. Brian Ames, and Shatayanan Devarajan

Abstract

Poverty is a multidimensional problem that goes beyond economics to include, among other things, social, political, and cultural issues (see Box 1). Therefore, solutions to poverty cannot be based exclusively on economic policies, but require a comprehensive set of well-coordinated measures. Indeed, this is the foundation for the rationale underlying comprehensive poverty reduction strategies.1 So why focus on macroeconomic issues? Because economic growth is the single most important factor influencing poverty, and macroeconomic stability is essential for high and sustainable rates of growth.2 Hence, macroeconomic stability should be a key component of any poverty reduction strategy.

Mr. Alejandro Izquierdo, Ward Brown, Mr. Brian Ames, and Shatayanan Devarajan

Abstract

Economic growth is the single most important factor influencing poverty. Numerous statistical studies have found a strong association between national per capita income and national poverty indicators, using both income and nonincome measures of poverty.5 One recent study consisting of 80 countries covering four decades found that, on average, the income of the bottom one-fifth of the population rose one-for-one with the overall growth of the economy as defined by per capita GDP (Dollar and Kraay, 2000). Moreover, the study found that the effect of growth on the income of the poor was on average no different in poor countries than in rich countries, that the poverty–growth relationship had not changed in recent years, and that policy-induced growth was as good for the poor as it was for the overall population. Another study that looked at 143 growth episodes also found that the “growth effect” dominated, with the “distribution effect” being important in only a minority of cases (White and Anderson, forthcoming). These studies, however, establish association, but not causation. In fact, the causality could well go the other way. In such cases, poverty reduction could in fact be necessary to implement stable macroeconomic policies or to achieve higher growth.

Mr. Alejandro Izquierdo, Ward Brown, Mr. Brian Ames, and Shatayanan Devarajan

Abstract

Broadly speaking, two considerations underlie macroeconomic policy recommendations. First, there needs to be an assessment of the appropriate policy stance to adopt in a given set of circumstances (i.e., should fiscal and/or monetary policy be tightened or loosened?). Second, there is the choice of specific macroeconomic policy instruments that would be beneficial for a country to adopt (e.g., the use of a nominal anchor, a value-added tax (VAT), etc.). In practice, these two considerations are closely linked. Adjusting a policy stance is often done via the adoption of a new instrument (or the modification of an existing one). More important, both considerations are essential to efforts to enhance an economy’s stability.

Mr. Alejandro Izquierdo, Ward Brown, Mr. Brian Ames, and Shatayanan Devarajan

Abstract

Since the emphasis of this pamphlet is on the role of macroeconomic policy in supporting a country’s poverty reduction strategy, the discussion of macroeconomic policies in this section focuses on countries that have broadly achieved macroeconomic stability. Recent data indicate that many developing countries are presently in a state of macroeconomic stability (see Tables 1–3 at the end of this pamphlet). When formulating a country’s poverty reduction strategy, policymakers will need to assess and determine what is the most appropriate combination of key macroeconomic targets that would preserve macroeconomic stability in their particular circumstance. Three key issues are discussed in this section: (1) how to finance poverty-reducing spending in a way that doesn’t endanger macroeconomic stability; (2) what specific policies can be adopted to improve macroeconomic performance; and (3) policies to protect the poor from domestic and external shocks.

Zsoka Koczan and Mr. Thomas Helbling

Emerging Europe has undergone a major economic transformation over the past 25 years. Most countries experienced initial drops in output during transition, followed by recovery in the second half of the 1990s. The path of transition in the Western Balkans has however been particularly uneven. The effects of transition also seem to have been more traumatic and persistent in the Western Balkans, and nostalgia for the past appears to be more prevalent here than in other former communist regions. Such dissatisfaction has important implications for the political economy of further reforms. This paper aims to inform policy by complementing the analysis of standard macro-level measures of inequality and poverty with a household-level analysis of subjective perceptions of poverty. We find that many more people appear to feel poor than are classified as such using purely income-based measures. Uncertainty, in particular related to expectations of future income and vulnerability to shocks, appears to be a key driver behind this discrepancy.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

This paper highlights that the fight against worldwide inflation was the main theme of the Finance Ministers and central bank Governors from 138 member countries that participated in the 1979 Annual Meeting of the IMF’s Board of Governors in Belgrade in October 1979. Unlike the agenda for the 1978 Meeting, which contained a number of single issues, such as quota increases and special drawing rights allocations, requiring specific decisions and action, the 1979 Meeting was devoted principally to a wide-ranging discussion of the world’s economic problems.

Peter K. Cornelius and Mr. Adalbert Knöbl

The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Following are edited extracts of an address by IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus at the 1999 substantive session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva on July 5. The full text is available on the IMF’s website (http://www.imf.org).

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Para estar al corriente del pensamiento actual sobre el sistema financiero internacional, la política monetaria, el desarrollo económico, la reducción de la pobreza y otros temas cruciales, suscríbase a Finanzas y Desarrollo. Esta amena revista trimestral ofrece análisis profundos del personal técnico del FMI y destacados expertos internacionales sobre estas y otras cuestiones. Los artículos están dirigidos a un público no especializado que desea comprender mejor el funcionamiento de la economía mundial y las políticas y actividades del FMI.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
This paper highlights that despite unprecedented gains in living standards in some countries over the past few decades, poverty continues as a harsh reality in too much of the developing world. The causes lie in part with poor country governments that have not followed through on the policies and programs needed to accelerate growth and eradicate poverty. But they also reflect the uneven record of development assistance and protectionist trade policies and agricultural subsidies in industrial countries, which have dampened profitable investment and growth in the developing world.