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International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper on Bulgaria investigates possible driving forces behind the investment boom based on cross-country evidence. The diagnosis of the drivers behind the investment boom is important as it is key to assessing Bulgaria’s economic prospects, vulnerabilities, and policy challenges. The available evidence is less than clear-cut, but broadly suggests that the investment boom reflects to a large extent a one-off reassessment of Bulgaria’s riskiness as an investment location. The paper also investigates why Bulgaria’s GDP growth rate did not respond more strongly to the investment boom.

IQBAL M. ZAIDI

WILLIAM. white, who joined the International Monetary Fund in 1948, spent his entire professional life in the Research Department. Present and past staff members, many of whom benefited from his advice, have asked that his contribution-to the work of the Fund should receive recognition in Staff Papers. This appreciation draws on excerpts from written recollections of some of his colleagues.

SELIM ELEKDAG, ALEJANDRO JUSTINIANO, and IVAN TCHAKAROV

This paper develops a small open economy model in which entrepreneurs partially finance investment using foreign currency-denominated debt subject to an external finance premium. We use Bayesian estimation techniques to evaluate the importance of balance sheet-related credit market frictions for emerging market countries by incorporating the financial accelerator mechanism. We obtain a sizable value for the external finance premium, which is tightly estimated away from zero. Our results support the inclusion of the financial accelerator in an otherwise standard model that—acting through balance sheets—magnifies the impact of shocks, thereby increasing real and financial volatility.

RATTAN J. BHATIA and DEENA R. KHATKHATE

Recent literature on economic development has focused considerable attention on the process of financial intermediation and its impact on growth.1 It has been argued that an increase in financial intermediation, as denoted by the ratio of financial assets of all kinds to gross national product (GNP), necessarily accompanies growth, although causal relationship has not always been explicitly postulated. Numerous empirical studies have analyzed cross-sectional and time-series data to support this argument.2 Based on the existence of this relationship, policy recommendations tend to be oriented toward encouraging financial savings by such means as higher real interest rates and expanding the financial network in the less developed countries. The main purpose of this paper is to find out how far financial intermediation has progressed with economic growth in selected African countries and whether it has been instrumental in generating development. In other words, an attempt is made to see whether financial intermediation is both a necessary and a sufficient condition for economic growth.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Africa's Middle-Class Motor finds growing evidence that a recent resurgence in the continent's economic well-being has staying power. In his overview article, Harvard professor Calestous Juma says the emphasis for too long has been on eradicating poverty through aid rather than promoting prosperity through improved infrastructure, education, entrepreneurship, and trade. That is now changing: there is a growing emphasis on policies that produce a middle class. The new African middle class may not have the buying power of a Western middle class but it demands enough goods and services to support stronger economic growth, which, as IMF African Department head Antoinette Sayeh points out, in turn helps the poorest members of society. Oxford University economist Paul Collier discusses a crucial component of Africa's needed infrastructure: railways. It is a continent eminently suited to rail, development of which has been held back more by political than economic reasons. But even as sub-Saharan African thrives, its largest and most important economy, South Africa, has had an anemic performance in recent years. We also profile Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's colorful economic czar. "Picture This" mines current trends to predict what Africa will look like a half century from now and "Data Spotlight" looks at increased regional trade in Africa. Elsewhere, Cornell Professor Eswar Prasad, examines a global role reversal in which emerging, not advanced, economies are displaying resilience in the face of the global economic crisis. The University of Queensland's John Quiggin, who wrote Zombie Economics, examines whether it makes sense in many cases to sell public enterprises. Economists Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago and Rodney Ramcharan of the U.S. Federal Reserve find clues to current asset booms and busts in the behavior of U.S. farmland prices a century ago.

International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper argues that for Ethiopia to continue sustaining robust growth, leveraging the transformation power of the private sector, especially entrepreneurs, is essential. Although Ethiopia’s public sector-led development strategy has delivered strong results over the past decade, it has been facing significant challenges in recent years. A model-based analysis of the country’s investment program indicates that, despite positive long-run growth effects, transition challenges and macroeconomic trade-offs are associated with different financing strategies. Heavy reliance on domestic bank borrowing may require substantial fiscal and macroeconomic adjustments as well as entail a sharp increase in inflation. External commercial borrowing, on the other hand, may ease these adjustments but at the cost of significant increases in debt to gross domestic product ratios. Comparing Ethiopia’s development experience—especially in terms of structural transformation and competitiveness—with that of selected Asian countries indicates differences which point to possible adjustments in Ethiopia’s development approach.
Mr. Stefano Giglio and Tiago Severo
We analyze an overlapping generations economy with financial frictions and accumulation of both physical and intangible capital. The key difference between them is that intangible capital cannot be used as collateral for borrowing. As intangibles become more important in production, financial frictions tighten and equilibrium interest rates decline, creating the conditions for the emergence of rational bubbles. We also analyze the question of dynamic efficiency, demonstrating that, in the presence of financial frictions, neither the interest rate test nor the test proposed by Abel et al. (1989) are appropriate. Finally we show that, in general, rational bubbles are not Pareto improving in our framework.
Woon Gyu Choi and Mr. David Cook
During periods of financial turmoil, increases in risk lead to higher default, foreclosure, and fire sales. This paper introduces a costly liquidation process for foreclosed collateral and endogenous recovery rates in a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of the financial accelerator. Consistent with empirical evidence, we find that recovery rates are pro-cyclical when collateral is costly to liquidate. Through links between recovery rates, risk premia, and default risk, the model generates an additional liquidity spiral, a feedback loop for the financial accelerator. We illustrate how collateral liquidation and monetary policy alter the impacts of a financial shock. We also show that a government subsidy on collateral liquidity and the endogenous accumulation of liquidity inventory help dampen the liquidity spiral by shoring up recovery rates.
Mr. F. Gulcin Ozkan and Ms. Filiz D Unsal
This paper develops a two-country DSGE model to investigate the transmission of a global financial crisis to a small open economy. We find that economies hit by a sudden stop arising from financial distress in the global economy are likely to face a more prolonged crisis than sudden stop episodes of domestic origin. Moreover, in contrast to the existing literature, our results suggest that the greater a country's trade integration with the rest of the world, the greater the response of its macroeconomic aggregates to a sudden stop of capital flows.