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Alvin D.L. Hilaire

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mrs. Claire Liuksila, Mr. Henri Lorie, Mr. Walter Mahler, and Mr. Karim A. Nashashibi

Abstract

A strengthened fiscal position is at the core of most economic adjustment programs supported by IMF lending, especially for the poorer countries that draw on the IMF's structural adjustment facilities. This paper reviews developments in 23 countries and evaluates their experience with fiscal and structural adjustment, including their efforts to design social safety nets to cushion the effects of adjustment.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

The economy has experienced seven consecutive years of robust growth, buoyed by high commodity prices, foreign direct investment and expansion of private sector credit. As part of a strategy to sustain growth, reduce poverty and curtail dependence on imported oil, the authorities are pursuing the Amaila Falls Hydro-electric Project (AFHP), entailing investment of about 30 percent of GDP. However, steps by Parliament that delayed important approvals led the private sector partner to withdraw, which could delay the project while additional financing is sought. Meanwhile, public debt remains high�around 60 percent of GDP�limiting the room to finance inclusive growth.

International Monetary Fund
The Executive Board of the IMF has approved a disbursement of an amount equivalent to SDR 2.075 million under the Rapid Credit Facility for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to help the country manage the economic impact of Hurricane Tomas. The Board’s approval enables the immediate disbursement of the full amount. The late-October 2010 hurricane inflicted significant damage to agriculture, housing, and infrastructure. The initial assessment conducted by the government estimated the cost of damage at 5 percent of gross domestic product.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa’s remarks on the inauguration of East AFRITAC could not have been clearer or more emphatic. If Africa is to define its own economic destiny, it must strengthen its ability to design and implement sound economic policies. And policy ownership and capacity building are what the new regional technical assistance center, which opened October 24 in Dar es Salaam, is all about.
Mr. David M. Cheney

The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx

Ms. Yan M Sun
This paper examines a number of structural factors affecting the external debt sustainability of HIPC completion point countries. It shows that (i) while comparing favorably with other lowincome countries, the policy and institutional frameworks of completion point countries in general are still relatively weak, and their debt management practices remain inferior to international standards; and (ii) their export base remains narrow and fiscal revenue mobilization lags behind, even compared with many other low-income countries. Achieving and maintaining long-term debt sustainability in completion point countries will require continued structural reforms, timely donor support, and close monitoring of new borrowing in support of sound macroeconomic policies.
Maximilien Kaffo Melou, Mariusz A. Sumlinski, and Chris Geiregat
We analyse the debt dynamics in countries that benefited from the HIPC/MDRI debt relief initiatives with a view to applying a probabilistic approach to estimating future debt paths for those countries. We extend the probabilistic approach to public debt sustainability analysis (DSA) proposed by Celasun et al. (2006). This required addressing the twin challenges of a the time period that is too short to conduct country-by-country estimations and the presence, suggested by econometric evidence, of a break–point around 2006 in the dynamics of debt accumulation. To overcome the data limitations, we pool the data and estimate a panel VAR, thus taking advantage of the large cross–section. To account for the break–point, while applying a probabilistic approach to forecasting debt paths, we use the post–break–point information so as not to bias the forecasts of debt paths. As an illustration of the approach we apply the methodology to eight countries with different debt profiles.
Ms. Lisa Drakes, Ms. Chrystol Thomas, Roland Craigwell, and Kevin Greenidge
This paper addresses the issue of threshold effects between public debt and economic growth in the Caribbean. The main finding is that there exists a threshold debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of 55–56 percent. Moreover, the debt dynamics begin changing well before this threshold is reached. Specifically, at debt levels lower than 30 percent of GDP, increases in the debt-to-GDP ratio are associated with faster economic growth. However, as debt rises beyond 30 percent, the effects on economic growth diminishes rapidly and at debt levels reaching 55-56 percent of GDP, the growth impacts switch from positive to negative. Thus, beyond this threshold, debt becomes a drag on growth.
Mr. Serhan Cevik and Vibha Nanda
Fiscal sustainability remains a paramount challenge for small economies with high debt and greater vulnerability to climate change. This paper applies the model-based sustainability test for fiscal policy in a panel of 16 Caribbean countries during the period 1980–2018. The results indicate that the coefficient on lagged government debt is positive and statistically significant, implying that fiscal policy in the Caribbean takes corrective actions to counteract an increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio. Nonlinear estimations, however, show that the quadratic debt parameter is negative, which indicates that fiscal policy response is not adequate to ensure sustainability at higher levels of debt. We also find that the fiscal stance tends to be countercyclical on average during the sample period. These empirical results confirm that maintaining prudent fiscal policies and implementing growth-enhancing structural reforms are necessary to build fiscal buffers and ensure debt sustainability with high probability even when negative shocks occur over the long term.