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Mr. Marcello M. Estevão and Issouf Samaké
The past several years of recession and slow recovery have raised much interest on the effect of fiscal stimulus on economic activity, even as high public debts in many countries would call for fiscal consolidation. To evaluate the delicate balance between stimulus and consolidation requires measuring the size of fiscal multipliers, which often depends on having quarterly data so that exogenous fiscal policy shocks can be identified. We estimate fiscal multipliers using a novel methodology for identifying fiscal shocks within a structural vector autoregressive approach using annual data while controling for debt feedback effects. The estimation focuses on regions with scarce quarterly data (mostly low-income countries), and uses results for advanced economies, emerging market countries, and other broad groupings for which alternative estimates are available to validate the methodology. Differently from advanced and emerging market economies, fiscal consolidation in low-income countries has only a small temporary negative effect on growth while raising medium-term output. Shifting the composition of public spending toward capital expenditure further supports long-run growth.
International Monetary Fund

Two years ago, citizens in the Arab world—fired by their ideals and visions of a better life—ignited a social movement that inspired people around the globe. In Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen—the so-called Arab countries in transition—people embraced change, ushering in a new era. This issue of F&D looks at the difficulties of this transition, focusing on long-standing forces that shape the region’s economy and offering options for moving ahead to achieve strong, inclusive growth. • Masood Ahmed, Director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, maps out an agenda for modernizing and diversifying the region’s economies in “Toward Prosperity for All.” • In “Freedom and Bread Go Together,” Marwan Muasher addresses the intersection of economic progress and political change. • Vali Nasr, in a Point of View column, underscores the vital role small and medium-sized enterprises play in a successful democratic transition. Elsewhere in this issue, we look at how surging oil and gas production in the United States could shake up global energy markets; the effect of uncertainty on economic growth; and Mexico’s competitiveness rebound. F&D's People in Economics series profiles Christina Romer, former chair of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers and an architect of the U.S. stimulus package; and the latest installment in our Back to Basics series explains how structural policies help to both stabilize and strengthen economies.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

The global trade negotiations and use of fiscal measures to stimulate savings in developing countries are discussed. The four main elements of the global trading system likely to be at issue in the new round include nondiscrimination and the distinction between border and nonborder measures. Capital markets in developing countries are small, and the scope for diversification of financial institutions and financial instruments or assets is limited. The distinction between border and nonborder measures is blurred in the increased international concern with so-called unfair trade practices.