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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.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
With the findings of a recent IMF staff study serving as a starting point, a panel of IMF staff and distinguished outside researchers on May 27 debated financial globalization’s benefits and risks. Panelists were Eswar Prasad (IMF Asia and Pacific Department), Shang-Jin Wei (IMF Research Department)—two of the study’s authors—and C. Fred Bergsten (Director, Institute for International Economics (IIE)), Jeffrey Frankel (Professor, Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University), and Daniel Tarullo (Professor, Georgetown University Law Center). Kenneth Rogoff (IMF Economic Counsellor and Director ofthe Research Department), also an author of the study, moderated. Participants suggested ways to contain the downsides of globalization; two of their recommendations—developing domestic financial sectors and strengthening institutions prior to liberalization—drew wide support.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

to the pandemic, including the emergency food aid program, is welcome, but more remains to be done. Specifically. the passage of the agreed FY2021 budget with high-quality revenue measures is key to addressing the COVID-19 crisis. It is also important to expeditiously finalize the comprehensive off-budget COVID-19 response plan with development partners. The authorities have taken measures to raise domestic revenue, including legislative approval of an excise tax on fuel and adoption of a resolution to channel all revenues acquired by two large state-owned entities

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

moderately food insecure, food aid was acyclical. And even in those countries where food aid was found to be both progressive and countercyclical, the quantities of food aid disbursed were woefully inadequate to cover the shortfall in supply. The authors concluded that, for global food aid to have the maximum positive impact, its quantity must be increased and its timing improved. For this to occur, the international donor community needs to pay attention to, and understand, the economic cycles of its aid recipients. Because food aid programs are sometimes hampered by

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, and Erwin R. Tiongson

and susceptibility to disease. The WHO (2002) identifies childhood and maternal undernutrition as major health risks in developing countries. In some regions undernutrition prevalence is as high as 51 percent. It is also estimated that some 27 percent of children under five years of age worldwide are underweight. A comprehensive evaluation of the effectiveness of global food aid in smoothing consumption in developing and transition economies has yet to be undertaken. While a number of studies have assessed the contribution of individual food aid programs

Sabina Bhatia

above the poverty line from slipping back into poverty. Providing for the poor How well did social safety nets do when they were most needed? In Thailand, Townsend contended, safety nets were in place during the crisis but did not target the most vulnerable. Similarly, Dercon’s study of rural Ethiopia found food aid programs insufficient to protect the poor from shocks. He argued for more attention to the development of credit and insurance markets. Other papers stressed the importance of protecting pro-poor spending during financial crises and having well

Donald Mitchell

countries to sustain large commercial food imports, and it seems unlikely that the large food aid programs of the 1950s and early 1960s will return. Surpluses mount among the major contributors, including the United States, the European Community, Japan, and Canada, but, at most, developing countries can expect food aid in times of domestic production shortfalls and not to supplement normal production. In the great majority of developing countries, grain consumption prospects depend heavily on domestic agriculture. In several large developing countries in which grain is