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This article examines empirical evidence on the volatility and uncertainty of aid flows and their main policy implications. Aid is found to be more volatile than fiscal revenues—particularly in highly aid-dependent countries—and shortfalls in aid and domestic revenue tend to coincide. The article also finds that uncertainty about aid disbursements is large and that the information content of commitments made by donors is either very small or statistically insignificant. Specific policies and broader international efforts to cope with these features of aid are briefly discussed

Mrs. Sarwat Jahan and Ahmed Saber Mahmud

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. Prakash Loungani

The number of independent economies in the world has increased from about 75 at the end of World War II to nearly 200 today. Do they all need separate currencies and independent monetary policies? Economists suggest the answer is no and are busy matchmaking to see what currency unions may be desirable among the 200 economies. In an IMF Institute seminar on April 6, Robert Barro—drawing on his work with Alberto Alesina—discussed the benefits and costs to a country of joining a currency union.

Bassirou Sarr

The IMF and the World Council of Churches (WCC), the main international organization of Protestant churches, along with the World Bank, met to discuss the evolution of their mandates and their views on development, poverty, and social justice. Academics from various countries and disciplines, invited by the WCC, also attended the February 13-14 meeting in Geneva.

Josè M. Cartas

Prize or Penalty: When Sports Help Economies Score" looks at why countries vie to host the world's most costly sporting events. And, in a series of articles on "After the Crisis," we discuss why some countries were hit harder than others; how were shocks transmitted round the world, and whether protectionist pressures might intensify in 2010. As usual, we take on a number of hot topics, including housing prices, bankers' bonuses, Ponzi schemes, and inflation targeting. In "Picture This" we see that the number of hungry is on the rise, topping 1 billion. Our regular "People in Economics" column profiles Daron Acemoglu, the Turkish-born intellectual who won the American Economic Association's award in 2005 for the most influential U.S. economist under the age of 40. "Back to Basics" explains inflation; and "Data Spotlight" looks at how dollarization is declining in Latin America. Also includes articles by Nick Stern on climate change and Simon Johnson on bonuses and the "doomsday cycle


The past decade proved to be a period of considerable stress for non-oil developing countries. Throughout most of the 1970s, a combination of events caused the international economic environment to become less conducive to stable growth for this group of countries and made the problem of economic management in general—and of balance of payments adjustment in particular—much more difficult. The substantial fluctuations in the world market prices of primary commodities, the sharp increases in the price of energy products, the slowdown of economic activity in the industrial countries, and the rise in real interest rates toward the end of the period were all major contributors to a serious deterioration in the current account positions of most non-oil developing countries. At the same time, domestic developments in a number of economies also played a significant role in exacerbating payments disequilibrium. In many non-oil developing countries, inflationary demand-management policies—combined with rigid exchange rate policies and restrictions on trade and payments—resulted in domestic demand pressures and cumulative losses in international competitiveness that also gave rise to current account and overall balance of payments difficulties.