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Mr. Erwin H Tiongson, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, and Mr. Sanjeev Gupta
Global food aid is considered a critical consumption smoothing mechanism in many countries. However, its record of stabilizing consumption has been mixed. This paper examines the cyclical properties of food aid with respect to food availability in recipient countries, with a view to assessing its impact on consumption in some 150 developing countries and transition economies, covering 1970 to 2000. The results show that global food aid has been allocated to countries most in need. Food aid has also been countercyclical within countries with the greatest need. However, for most countries, food aid is not countercyclical. The amount of food aid provided is also insufficient to mitigate contemporaneous shortfalls in consumption. The results are robust to various specifications and filtering techniques and have important implications for macroeconomic and fiscal management.
Leif E. Christoffersen

The vast majority of the world’s poorest live in rural areas. There is no simple solution to alleviating the conditions in which they live, and any efforts made depend both on national and international commitment to the policies chosen. This article, the third in a series, reviews the approach evolved by the Bank since 1973, which essentially concentrates on developing the productive potential of the rural poor.

John Nash and Donald Mitchell

This paper highlights that the current round of trade talks under the auspices of the World Trade Organization aims at better integrating developing countries—especially the small and poor ones—into the global trading system. For that reason, it was named the Doha Development Agenda when it was launched in late 2001. However, more than three years on, little progress has been made. It took a late July 2004 accord outlining “negotiating frameworks” in agriculture and industrial products just to keep the talks afloat.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Global food aid serves as a critical safety net for poor countries. But does food aid reach those who most need it when they most need it? And, more broadly, has it generally been effective in “smoothing” consumption patterns—that is, averting sharp changes in the overall availability offood? In a new IMF Working Paper, “Foreign Aid and Consumption Smoothing: Evidence from Global Food Aid,” Sanjeev Gupta, Benedict Clements, and Erwin R. Tiongson examine the cyclical properties offood aid and evaluate how successful it has been in helping the economies it targets.

Alan Berg

This paper highlights that the flow of IMF-related resources to member countries was maintained at a high level during 1979, amounting to the equivalent of SDR 6,917 million, compared with SDR 4,955 million in 1978. Some SDR 3.77 billion became available to non-oil developing countries in 1979. Repurchases in the General Resources Account by all members—at SDR 4.2 billion—exceeded their purchases of SDR 1.8 billion by an unprecedented SDR 2.4 billion. These large repurchases reflected the substantial improvement in the balance of payments of some industrial member countries that had large outstanding drawings.

Shlomo Reutlinger

This paper elaborates the introduction of surveillance that gave the IMF broader responsibilities with respect to oversight of its members’ policies than existed under the par value system. The IMF’s purview has been broadened under the new system but, by the same token, its members are no longer obliged to seek its concurrence in changes in exchange rates. The continuing volatility of exchange rates, and their prolonged divergence from levels that appear to be sustainable over time, have been matters of growing concern.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

The IMF is helping low-income countries hit by high food prices take appropriate policy action while providing financial assistance to some of the worst-affected nations, Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said.

International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper on Bangladesh underlies the export performance of readymade garment industry and inflation dynamics. Bangladesh has demonstrated that it is highly competitive in the world’s major garment markets. Inflation inertia, monetary factors, and exchange rate fluctuations are the main determinants of inflation in Bangladesh. Despite adoption of numerous tax policy measures during the past few years, policies implemented by the Bangladesh authorities have not been fully successful in lifting the revenue ratio to a level warranted by developmental objectives.

Robert O. Blake

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.