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International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, and & Review Department

This note presents key results from the surveys of country authorities, IMF Executive Directors (EDs), and mission chiefs (MCs) to inform the Comprehensive Surveillance Review (CSR). Key takeaways and cross-cutting themes that emerge are Trends, Policy Challenges, Surveillance Priorities, Surveillance modalities and Traction.

International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, and & Review Department

Ensuring economic sustainability is key to achieving the IMF’s surveillance mandate of maintaining present and prospective balance of payments and domestic stability, assuring orderly exchange arrangements, and promoting a stable system of exchange rates. A good understanding of issues related to economic sustainability is thus essential for the IMF to provide effective surveillance and policy advice, while it requires a broad perspective and a long time horizon. With respect to the IMF’s surveillance mandate, the principle of macro-criticality, which guides the IMF’s engagement with its members, is sufficiently flexible and broad, allowing the IMF to cover issues related to economic sustainability. At the same time, given the wide range of issues that are related to economic sustainability, IMF surveillance needs to be selective and focused, with the choice of issues made on a case-by-case basis, considering country circumstances. It also needs to leverage the expertise of other institutions when necessary. The IMF and other institutions have advanced work to enhance analytical frameworks and indicators related to economic sustainability, and this should continue.

Tsikata Tsidi M.

The preponderance of evidence from the empirical literature on aid effectiveness suggests that development aid has not had a significant impact on growth in recipient countries. However, there is some evidence that aid has had positive effects when the policy environment has been conducive to growth. Regarding the relationship between aid and the main channels through which its impact on growth could flow—investment and domestic saving—the evidence is mixed, with some indication that aid has had a positive impact where adjustment efforts have been sustained.

Mr. Ravi Balakrishnan, Sandra Lizarazo, Marika Santoro, Frederik G. Toscani, and Mr. Mauricio Vargas

Over the past decades, inequality has risen not just in advanced economies but also in many emerging market and developing economies, becoming one of the key global policy challenges. And throughout the 20th century, Latin America was associated with some of the world’s highest levels of inequality. Yet something interesting happened in the first decade and a half of the 21st century. Latin America was the only region in the World to have experienced significant declines in inequality in that period. Poverty also fell in Latin America, although this was replicated in other regions, and Latin America started from a relatively low base. Starting around 2014, however, and even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, poverty and inequality gains had already slowed in Latin America and, in some cases, gone into reverse. And the COVID-19 shock, which is still playing out, is likely to dramatically worsen short-term poverty and inequality dynamics. Against this background, this departmental paper investigates the link between commodity prices, and poverty and inequality developments in Latin America.

Mr. Niko A Hobdari, Vina Nguyen, Mr. Salvatore Dell'Erba, and Mr. Edgardo Ruggiero
Fiscal decentralization is becoming a pressing issue in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, reflecting demands for a greater local voice in spending decisions and efforts to strengthen social cohesion. Against this backdrop, this paper seeks to distill the lessons for an effective fiscal decentralization reform, focusing on the macroeconomic aspects. The main findings for sub-Saharan African countries that have decentralized, based on an empirical analysis and four case studies (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda), are as follows: • Determinants and effectiveness: Empirical results suggest that (1) the major driving forces behind fiscal decentralization in sub-Saharan Africa include efforts to defuse ethnic conflicts, the initial level of income, and the urban-ization rate, whereas strength of democracy is not an important determi-nant for decentralization; and (2) decentralization in sub-Saharan Africa is associated with higher growth in the presence of stronger institutions. • Spending assignments: The allocation of spending across levels of gov-ernment in the four case studies is broadly consistent with best practice. However, in Uganda, unlike in the other three case studies, subnational governments have little flexibility to make spending decisions as a result of a deconcentrated rather than a devolved system of government. • Own revenue: The assignment of taxing powers is broadly in line with best practice in the four case studies, with the bulk of subnational revenue coming from property taxes and from fees for local services. However, own revenues are a very small fraction of subnational spending, reflecting weak cadaster systems and a high level of informality in the economy.