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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Korea’s economic strength testifies to its success in adapting to the changing global economic landscape by pursuing forward-looking and prudent policies. While near-term economic prospects are generally favorable, risks are mainly to the downside.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper reviews empirical evidence on the main determinants of the real bilateral exchange rate between the Canadian and the U.S. dollars, with particular emphasis on the role played by cyclical and longer-term economic factors. The paper aims to identify the nature of the shocks that have contributed to the recent downward trend in the Canadian dollar. The analysis shows that fluctuations in the real bilateral exchange rate can be explained reasonably well by its long-term fundamentals. The paper also analyzes inflation and the natural rate of unemployment in Canada.

Ms. Natalia T. Tamirisa, Mr. Alexander Lehmann, and Mr. Jaroslaw Wieczorek
This paper reviews the characteristics of international trade in services and of the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) framework, which was established to regulate it. Further liberalization of services trade in developing countries, as currently envisaged in the context of the WTO Doha Development Agenda, holds a number of potential benefits, such as underpinning the liberalization of goods trade, but it is also being resisted due to its potential adjustment costs. Two implications for IMF activities are examined: coherence among the three principal international economic institutions and sequencing with macroeconomic stabilization and regulatory reforms.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper examines the vulnerability of firms in Malta and investigates the effect of their balance sheets on investment in innovation. The results indicate that, while the financial health of medium and large firms has improved in recent years, vulnerabilities remain in the construction sector and for small and medium enterprises. Firms with weaker balance sheets tend to invest less in innovation, even during good times. Policy implications call for (1) accelerating the restructuring of corporate balance sheets of highly leveraged but viable firms, (2) improving the insolvency framework to allow a fast exit of nonviable companies, and (3) expanding corporate funding options for small and medium enterprises, including via nonbank financing alternatives.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This technical assistance mission report underlines efforts to estimate the economic and revenue contributions of the international financial services industry in the Cook Islands. This report discusses the data and methodology used and presents the results. One matter that has been raised is that international companies are exempt from all taxes in the Cook Islands. The economic contribution of the international financial services industry can be measured by the value added of resident institutional units engaged, directly or indirectly, in the production of international financial services in the Cook Islands. The production of international financial services generates income which is distributed to the various agents or groups of agents who use that income to acquire goods and services for consumption now or later. The international financial services industry also contributes indirectly to gross domestic product through two channels. The first channel is through the goods and services that the industry purchases from other suppliers, such as electricity, accounting services, telecommunications, etc.
Mr. Papa M N'Diaye
China is poised on the brink of a transition to a service-based economy. The Japanese experience of the 1980s provides several insights about the way to manage such a transition and the downsides to avoid. In particular Japan offers useful insights on (1) the limits to an export-oriented growth strategy; (2) the role of exchange rate, macroeconomic policies, and structural reforms in rebalancing the economy toward the nontradables sector; and (3) the risks associated with financial liberalization. The similarities between the Chinese economy today and the Japanese economy of the 1980s make these insights relevant for China. However, with the benefit of analyzing the Japanese experience and, given the important differences between the two economies, China should be able to successfully rebalance its growth pattern while avoiding the downsides encountered by Japan.
Fumiko Hayashi, Ms. Grace B Li, and Zhu Wang
This paper examines innovation, deregulation, and firm dynamics over the life cycle of the U.S. ATM and debit card industry. In doing so, we construct a dynamic equilibrium model to study how a major product innovation (introducing the new debit card function) interacted with banking deregulation drove the industry shakeout. Calibrating the model to a novel dataset on ATM network entry, exit, size, and product offerings shows that our theory fits the quantitative pattern of the industry well. The model also allows us to conduct counterfactual analyses to evaluate the respective roles that innovation and deregulation played in the industry evolution.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

A buoyant economic recovery is finally under way in the euro area. But anemic productivity growth and low labor utilization bode ill for Europe’s ability to deal with the challenge of population aging. Only through a concerted reform effort, especially designed to lift sagging productivity, will the euro area be able to make a transition to faster, yet sustainable, growth.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept

KEY ISSUES Outlook and risks. The outlook remains challenging from both a cyclical and structural standpoint. The hoped-for output recovery has not materialized—domestic demand remains sluggish and inflation low and external uncertainties have increased. More fundamentally, relatively weak non-manufacturing productivity has been accompanied by a heavy, and likely unsustainable, reliance on manufacturing exports for growth while also leaving the economy more exposed to external shocks, and the demographic headwinds from a rapidly aging population are beginning to build. Policy assessment. Building on the authorities’ recent monetary, fiscal, and other policy measures to stimulate demand, efforts should remain focused on shoring up economic momentum where the currently weak outlook could have a lasting impact on Korea’s growth well beyond the near term. Given asymmetric costs of the downside risk of low growth and inflation becoming entrenched the authorities should take additional pre- emptive stimulatory monetary and fiscal policy actions if clear signs of a recovery do not emerge soon. At the same time sustaining longer-term growth and reducing external imbalances call for structural reforms to address low service sector productivity, support a more dynamic corporate and SME sector, and remove barriers that lead to underutilized labor. Maintaining a flexible exchange rate is essential both as a buffer against external shocks and to facilitate adjustment toward domestic sources of growth and thereby reduce external imbalances.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

In 1980, India was the fifth largest economy in the world, while China was the ninth largest (in terms of GDP compared at purchasing power parity exchange rates). By 2001, China had leapt to second place, behind the United States, and India had moved into fourth place. Both countries have also witnessed sharp declines in poverty—jointly lifting some one-half billion people out of poverty over the past two decades. At a conference organized by the IMF and India’s National Council of Applied Economic Research in New Delhi, November 14-16, academics and public sector officials sought to identify the factors behind the two countries’ impressive track record over the past two decades. Kalpana Kochhar, Assistant Director in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department, presents the highlights of the conference.