Middle East and Central Asia > Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of

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Oya Celasun, Jungjin Lee, Mr. Mico Mrkaic, and Mr. Allan Timmermann
This paper examines the performance of World Economic Outlook (WEO) growth forecasts for 2004-17. Short-term real GDP growth forecasts over that period exhibit little bias, and their accuracy is broadly similar to those of Consensus Economics forecasts. By contrast, two- to five-year ahead WEO growth forecasts in 2004-17 tend to be upward biased, and in up to half of countries less accurate than a naïve forecast given by the average growth rate in the recent past. The analysis suggests that a more efficient use of available information on internal and external factors—such as the estimated output gap, projected terms of trade, and the growth forecasts of major trading partners—can improve the accuracy of some economies’ growth forecasts.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Afghanistan is confronting the Covid-19 pandemic and its socioeconomic fallout amid rising insecurity. Supported by donors, the authorities boosted health and social spending to cushion the pandemic’s impact on the vulnerable. Policy measures kept the output contraction to 2 percent in 2020, but poverty rose and the fiscal deficit widened. Political uncertainty has risen as the peace talks between the government and Taliban stalled and the U.S., NATO, and allies announced the withdrawal of their troops by September. In a strong sign of support for Afghanistan’s development and reforms, donors pledged some US$12 billion civilian grants over 2021–24 at the Geneva conference in November 2020.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.


A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.