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Mr. Christian Mumssen, Yasemin Bal Gunduz, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, and Ms. Linda Kaltani
This paper studies the short and longer-term impact of IMF engagement in Low-Income Countries (LICs) over nearly three decades. In contrast to earlier studies, we focus on a sample composed exclusively of LICs and disentangle the different effects of IMF longer-term engagement and short-term financing using a propensity score matching approach to control for selection bias. Our results indicate that longer-term IMF support (at least five years of program engagement per decade) helped LICs sustain economic growth and boost resilience by building fiscal buffers. Interestingly, the size of IMF financing has no significant impact on economic growth, possibly pointing to the prominent role of IMF policy advice and institutional capacity building in the context of longer-term engagement. We also present evidence that the short-term IMF engagement through augmentations of existing programs or short-term and emergency facilities is positively associated with a wide range of macroeconomic outcomes. Notably, the IMF financial support has the greatest impact on short-term growth when LICs are faced with substantial macroeconomic imbalances or exogenous shocks.
Mr. Henry Mooney and Constance de Soyres
This paper develops new error assessment methods to evaluate the performance of debt sustainability analyses (DSAs) for low-income countries (LICs) from 2005-2015. We find some evidence of a bias towards optimism for public and external debt projections, which was most appreciable for LICs with the highest incomes, prospects for market access, and at ‘moderate’ risk of debt distress. This was often driven by overly-ambitious fiscal and/or growth forecasts, and projected ‘residuals’. When we control for unanticipated shocks, we find that biases remain evident, driven in part by optimism regarding government fiscal reaction functions and expected growth dividends from investment.
Shahid Yusuf
Since the onset of the Arab Spring, economic uncertainty in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen (Arab Countries in Transition, ACTs) has slowed already sluggish growth; worsened unemployment, particularly of youth; undermined business confidence, affected tourist arrivals, and depressed domestic and foreign direct investment. Furthermore, political and social tensions have constrained reform efforts. Assessing policy options as presented in the voluminous literature on the Arab Spring and based on cross-country experience, this paper concludes that sustainable and inclusive growth calls for a two pronged approach: short term measures that revive growth momentum and partially allay popular concerns; complemented with efforts to adjust the public’s expectations and prepare the ground for structural reforms that will deliver the desired longer tem performance.
Mario Mansour and Mr. Gregoire Rota Graziosi
We review the current state of the West African Economic and Monetary Union’s tax coordination framework, against the main objectives of the WAEMU Treaty of 1994: reduce distortions to intra-community trade, and mobilize domestic tax revenue. The process of tax coordination in WAEMU is one of the most advanced in the world—de jure at least—, but remains in many areas ineffective de facto. Nevertheless, the framework has, to some extent, succeeded in converging tax systems, particularly statutory tax rates, and may have contributed to improving revenue mobilisation. Important lessons can be drawn from the WAEMU experience, particularly in terms of whether coordination should take the form of harmonization through a top-down approach, or a softer approach of sharing best practice and limiting certain types of tax competition.
Ms. Valerie Cerra and Martha Tesfaye Woldemichael
This paper investigates the determinants of sustained accelerations in goods and services exports. Strong predictors of export takeoffs include domestic and structural indicators such as lower macroeconomic uncertainty, improved quality of institutions, a depreciated exchange rate, and agricultural reforms. Lower tariffs, participation in global value chains and diversification also contribute to initiating export accelerations. The paper also finds heterogeneity, with somewhat different triggers for Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as for goods and services. Finally, despite the lack of a robust effect on output, export surges tend to be associated with lower post-acceleration unemployment and income inequality.