Norway: Selected Issues

Norway: Selected Issues

Abstract

Norway: Selected Issues

The Transition from Oil and Gas1

As offshore investment drops from its peak and oil prices retreat from their high in 2014, the Norwegian economy is going through a transition away from oil dependence. This chapter first takes a historical perspective, studying the implications of the oil boom of the 2000s on industry structure and economy-wide productivity. It then examines the progress with the ongoing transition thus far both in the real sector and the labor market, bearing in mind the short time span that has passed. Finally, policies that may be helpful in facilitating a smooth adjustment are discussed.

A. Consequences of the Oil Boom

1. Norway’s economy has grown increasingly focused on oil and gas. Exports of crude oil and gas accounted for about 57 percent of total goods exports in 2013. An index of export diversification—with higher value implying less diversified—shows that Norway’s export structure has become increasingly concentrated since the oil discovery in the early 1970s, in contrast to the broad trends in other advanced commodity exporters such as Australia, Canada and Chile. Although the employment share of the oil and gas extraction sector is small at about 1 percent, this sector has provided rapidly increasing demand for mainland goods and services in terms of investment, intermediate consumption and wage costs, totaling 13 percent of mainland GDP in 2014 (IMF, 2015a). In addition, government income from oil-related revenue is high, at above 10 percent of GDP or 25 percent of total revenue.

A01ufig1

Export Diversification

(Index)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

Sources: IMF Export Diversification Database and Fund staff calculations.Note: Higher value of the index implies lower diversification.

2. The sound fiscal framework provides considerable but incomplete insulation from “Dutch disease” pressures. The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) and the fiscal rule together comprise a mechanism that delinks the earning and use of oil revenue, which helps insulate the fiscal budget from oil revenue fluctuations due to e.g. changes in oil prices (National Budget, 2016). However, insulation is not complete, as indicated by, for example, the rapidly increasing common-currency unit labor costs relative to trading partners, which have only been reversed somewhat recently due to depreciation of the krone exchange rate

A01ufig2

Real Effective Exchange Rates

(Index: January 1995=100)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

Sources: IMF Information Notice System and Fund staff calculations.

3. The paper starts by examining the consequences of the oil boom during the 2000s for the Norwegian economy. Specifically, this section explores how the industrial structure has evolved in response to the boom in the oil-related sector and the associated implications, including for aggregate productivity growth and the mainland economy’s sensitivity to oil price developments. A backward-looking perspective is useful for drawing inferences about the future.

4. Theory predicts that a boom in the oil-related sector would lead to resource movement and spending effects. Corden and Neary (1982) presented a theoretical framework to study the “Dutch disease” mechanism in a small open economy with two traded goods sectors—e.g. oil-related and traditional/manufacturing—and a nontradables sector, e.g. services. The effects of a boom in the oil-related sector can be split in two. First, there will be a resource movement effect, by which resources will move from the rest of the economy to the oil-related sector as a result of high oil prices increasing the returns to factors of production in oil-related activity. Second, there will be a spending effect, by which higher income will boost the demand for services, resulting in higher employment in this sector. Thus, the theoretical implication of an oil boom for the traditional goods sector is unambiguously lower output/employment (relative to the outcome in the absence of a boom), whereas output/employment in the nontradables sector could be higher or lower depending on whether the resource movement effect or the spending effect dominates (see also Nordbo and Stensland, 2015). Both effects would lead to an increase in the relative price of services, i.e. a real appreciation of the exchange rate.

5. For analytical purposes, the Norwegian economy is roughly segmented into three sectors corresponding to those in the Corden-Neary framework. Given the extensive oil dependence of the mainland economy, it is difficult to precisely delineate the oil-related activity in the mainland economy using the standard industry classification. For example, Prestmo and others (2015) estimated that over 200,000 mainland jobs spanning a wide range of industries could be based on deliveries to the continental shelf.2 In our analysis, the “oil-related” sector consists of the oil and gas extraction industry (including services incidental to oil and gas if separately defined) and the manufacturing industries with close links to oil and gas (i.e. machinery and equipment, shipbuilding).3 The “traditional” sector consists of the remainder of manufacturing as well as agriculture and fishing, and the “nontradables” sector corresponds to business services.

6. There is some evidence that resources reallocated toward the oil-related and nontradables sectors during the oil boom (Figure 1). Comparing the pre-boom (1990–2002) to the boom period (2003–11), industry-level data from the OECD structural database point to a clear pick-up in the growth rates of both employment and capital stock in the nontradables sectors during the boom period, whereas they both declined in the traditional sector, in line with predictions from the Corden-Neary framework.4 However, developments in the oil-related sector were rather mixed; while oil-related investment accelerated during the boom, the growth in oil-related employment seemed to have slowed in contrast to theoretical predictions. Nonetheless, the latter may reflect the narrow definition of the oil-related sector, i.e. not including industries with indirect deliveries to the offshore economy.

7. This reallocation also happened in other commodity exporters to varying degrees. IMF (2015b) performed a similar analysis for Australia, Canada, and Chile using industry-level data from the EU/World KLEMS database. In all three countries, there was a clear increase in the growth rates of both capital and labor in the extractive sector during the boom period. In Canada, the growth patterns of employment and investment in the manufacturing and nontradables sectors are also consistent with model-based predictions. However, the pace of capital accumulation in Australia’s manufacturing sector picked up during the boom period reflecting in part strong demand from Asian export markets. Chile’s manufacturing employment growth increased during the boom while capital accumulation slowed in nontradables. In sum, the Dutch disease mechanism seems to play out in varying ways in these three commodity exporters and Norway.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Reallocation of Labor and Capital

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

8. Resource reallocation during the oil boom contributed to lowering productivity growth (Figure 2). Following Dabla-Norris and others (2015), growth in economy-wide total factor productivity (TFP) can be decomposed into within-sector and between-sector effects.5 The within-sector effect reflects the contribution of within-sector productivity growth to aggregate productivity growth, whereas the between-sector effect captures the productivity impact of resource reallocation across sectors. Industry-level data from the OECD indicates that aggregate TFP growth turned negative in Norway during the oil boom while having been relatively strong during the previous decade. The decomposition suggests that the within-sector effect contributed about two-thirds of the decline in TFP during the boom period. A marked decline in nontradables productivity appears to be the key driver, although TFP also declined in the traditional and oil-related sectors, the latter partly reflecting declining production due to maturing fields and time-to-build between investment and production phases. Sectoral reallocation contributed the remaining one third to the TFP decline. However, this productivity-hampering impact of reallocation was also present even before the oil boom materialized. In addition, one aspect not captured in this simple analysis is the possible productivity spillovers from the oil-related to other sectors, as has been found for Norway in Bjornland and Thorsrud (2014).

Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Decomposition of Productivity Growth

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

9. In addition to resource reallocation, there is evidence of deepening oil dependence in the mainland economy, including in traditional industries. The economy’s input-output table can be used to trace how much intermediate input various industries supply to the oil sector, as well as how important the input to the oil sector is in an industry’s total intermediate consumption. We take the latter as a rough measure of the degree of oil dependence for a given industry. We calculate this measure for all mainland industries using Norway’s input-output tables for the pre-boom (mid-1990s) and boom (mid-2000s) periods. The calculation suggests that a number of mainland industries are increasingly dependent on the oil sector. Take the machinery and equipment rental industry, for example. Its supply to oil and gas activity accounted for over a quarter of its total intermediate consumption during the boom period, increasing from only 10 percent in the mid-1990s. Overall, oil dependence increased in two thirds of the industries considered.

Oil Dependence of Selected Industries

article image
Sources: OECD input-output database and Fund staff calculations.

Measured as input to oil sector as percentage of total intermediate consumption

Includes shipbuilding

10. Growing oil dependence makes the mainland economy more susceptible to oil price fluctuations than in the past (Box 1). A panel regression analysis of 32 mainland manufacturing and services industries over the 1978–2015 period was conducted using the difference-in-difference approach (Box 1). The analysis suggests that for the post-2000 period, industries that are more dependent on the oil sector tended to experience higher real value added growth when oil prices were higher, while this effect was not present in the earlier years.6 A corollary of this finding is that during the oil boom, rising oil prices allowed for a strong expansion of oil-dependent industries at the expense of other industries, causing the mainland economy to be increasingly focused on supplying oil and gas activity. If the effect also works in reverse, oil-dependent industries would be expected to suffer more relative to the rest of the economy at the current juncture as oil prices decline.

Growing Oil Dependence of Mainland Economy

This box investigates the extent to which oil prices affect the mainland economy using a difference-in-difference approach. In particular, we ask whether mainland industries that are more dependent on supplying the oil and gas sector experience higher real value added growth when oil prices are high. Oil dependence is measured in two ways, i.e. as the percentage of the industry’s input to the oil sector in its total use or in total intermediate consumption. These measures are calculated from Norway’s input-output table for 2013. The most oil-dependent mainland industries include repair services of computers and personal goods, machinery and equipment, repair and installation of machinery and equipment, and fabricated metal products, among others.

Oil Dependence, Top Ten Industries

article image
Sources: Statistics Norway’s 2013 input-output table and Fund staff calculations.

The empirical strategy is similar to that in Dell’Ariccia and others (2008)’ work on banking crises and involves estimating the following specification:

yit=αi+βPoilt*Oildepi+φSharei,t1+μt+ɛit

where yit, the growth rate of real value added in industry i in time t, is regressed on an interaction term equal to the product of the price of oil in time t and a measure of oil dependence for industry i. The regression also includes the lagged value added share of industry i to account for “convergence” effects, (i.e. the tendency of larger industries to experience slower growth), as well as a full set of industry and year fixed effects. A positive and significant β would indicate that oil price developments have larger impact on industries that are more dependent on supplying the offshore sector. The model is estimated using Statistics Norway’s data for 32 mainland industries (including both manufacturing and services) over 1978Q1–2015Q4.

Results suggest that mainland industries are increasingly sensitive to oil price fluctuations through their growing oil dependence. The coefficient on the interaction term is positive and significant for the post-2000 period using either measure of oil dependence, indicating that higher oil prices are associated with more rapid expansion of industries that are more reliant on the oil sector. For example, using Model 1’s coefficient, a 10 percent increase in oil prices is associated with a 7 percent increase in real value added for an industry with oil dependence at the 25th percentile, compared to over 18 percent for an industry with oil dependence at the 75th percentile. However, this differentiated effect is not statistically significant in pre-2000 data, which could be interpreted as reflecting two possibilities. First, the oil boom may have changed the relationship between oil prices and the non-oil economy, i.e. there may be nonlinear effects. Second, the structure of the economy may have evolved (in terms of tightening their links to oil production during the oil boom of the 2000s) such that the 2013 input-output table is not an accurate description of past structure.

Impact of Oil Prices on Oil Dependent Industries

article image
Source: Fund staff estimates. Notes: Dependent variable is industry real value added growth. Models 1 and 2 use two measures of oil dependence (input to oil as % of total use and as % of total intermediate consumption, respectively). Industry and year fixed effects are included. Sample consists of 32 industries over 1978-2015 (quarterly frequency). Robust standard errors in brackets. Statistical significance ** 5%.

B. An Economy in Transition

11. While oil sector activity has been declining, a sustained pick up in the share of the traditional goods sector has yet to occur (Figure 3). The transition from oil and gas is a gradual process, and more time would be required before a credible assessment can be made of its progress. The preliminary data show an ongoing marked decline in oil-related production and investment, whereas activity in the traditional goods sector is holding up but not sufficiently to pick up the slack. The divergent performance is perhaps most pronounced within manufacturing between oil-related industries (i.e. machinery and equipment, ships, boats and oil platforms) and nonoil industries.7 Overall, although the real value added share of the oil-related sector has shrunk from over 36 percent on average during 2000–13 to about 29 percent during 2014–15, much of this appears to have been picked up by the business services sector. The traditional goods-producing sector remains a relatively small part of the economy, with value added share at a little over 7 percent and hours worked share declining to 11 percent.

Share in Total Economy

(percent)

article image
Sources: Statistics Norway and Fund staff calculations.

12. However, the weak krone is providing significant cushion for mainland businesses.

The depreciated exchange rate is not only temporarily boosting traditional goods exports; it is also improving the adaptability of firms in the oil-related sector. For example, a survey of oil service enterprises in Norges Bank’s regional network covering some 40,000 employees indicates that an increasing number of enterprises are reporting higher ability to replace the decline in oil-related turnover with sales in other markets. Oil service enterprises (e.g., in shipbuilding, maritime equipment) have been able to win contracts in alternative markets such as aquaculture and offshore wind power thanks to the improved cost competitiveness (Brander and others, 2016).

13. Meanwhile, labor is inevitably being released from oil-related sectors (Figure 4). Statistics Norway (2015) estimated that, in 2014, there were about 84,000 workers employed in the oil-related sector (not including mainland industries with indirect deliveries to the oil sector)—a 2.3 percent increase from 2013, compared to 6.5 and 10.9 percent in 2013 and 2012, respectively.8 Rising unemployment (4.8 percent in January—the highest level in a decade) continues to be concentrated mainly in the oil-related parts of the economy. The oil-producing region of Rogaland—home to the oil capital of Stavanger—is seeing a steep rise in unemployment from a lower-than-average level, and net migration to the region has also experienced a marked decline. Broken down by age and profession, oil-related employment fell mainly for the categories of “technicians and associate professionals” (e.g., engineers) and those in the 25–54 age group. Meanwhile, job vacancies have fallen significantly in the oil-related sector and wage growth slowed, although per hour pay still stands substantially higher than in other sectors.

14. Labor mobility across sectors and regions is crucial to reduce oil-related unemployment. Labor mobility is generally high in Norway even when compared to the Nordic neighbors with very flexible labor markets. For example, the probabilities of transitioning from unemployment to employment as well as from temporary to permanent employment are higher in Norway than in the other Nordic countries. Norway also ranks second only to Denmark in terms of occupational and workplace mobility (Nordic Council of Ministers, 2010). However, the extent to which this high mobility reflects Norwegian labor market institutions and policy or the relatively favorable economic conditions at the time of study is debatable. The incidence of long-term unemployment—albeit still well below OECD average—has increased steadily since 2012 (OECD, 2015). There is also evidence that the level of labor mobility is lower among Norwegians compared to other nationalities (Stambol, 2005; Roed and Schone, 2012).

Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Real Sector Developments

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

Figure 4.
Figure 4.

Labor Market Developments

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

15. One mechanism that could dampen the rise in unemployment is flexible labor supply by immigrants. Immigrants—mainly from Western Europe and other advanced economies—account for about 13 percent of oil-related sector employment, having increased from 5.5 percent in 2003 (Statistics Norway, 2015). Some foreign workers could—if faced with unemployment—choose to return to their home countries or to migrate to a third country where employment prospects are brighter. Recent data indicate that net immigration to Norway—although still positive—declined by 22 percent in 2015, driven by lower inflows but also increasing outflows.9 If this trend continues, however, Norway’s potential growth would be reduced, particularly given that the level of human capital among oil sector workers is distinctly higher than that in the rest of the economy.

A01ufig3

Net Migration

(Thousand)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

Sources: Statistics Norway and Fund staff calculations.

16. In a scenario of slow transition, unemployment would rise further and growth would stay weak for longer (Figure 5). The number of oil-related jobs that will eventually be lost in the ongoing downturn is highly uncertain. It has been reported that, to date, about 25,000 workers in oil-related industries have been dismissed (Prestmo and others, 2015). Others project a decline of 50,000 oil-related jobs until 2017 (Blomgren and others, 2016). For the purpose of a downside scenario in which the transition from oil dependence would be more prolonged than expected, a conservative estimate of 40,000 is assumed. It is then assumed that out of these 40,000 lost jobs, only a third would be replaced in 2016, and that it would take the next five years to replace all lost jobs. In such a scenario, unemployment would peak at 5.3 percent in 2016 (compared to 4.6 percent in the baseline forecast) and slowly decline thereafter, while growth would reach the trough at ½ percent in 2016 (compared to a recovery to 1¼ percent in the baseline).10 While the impact appears relatively benign, the experiment is highly stylized and does not take into account the possible negative spillovers to other sectors’ labor markets (e.g., labor released from the oil sector may displace jobs in other sectors). On the other hand, the flexible nature of Norway’s labor market may provide a cushion and mitigate the increase in unemployment.

Figure 5.
Figure 5.

Slow Transition Scenario

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

C. Policies to Facilitate the Transition

17. Wage formation will play an important role in facilitating labor movements and ensuring international competitiveness. Norway has a strong and effective collective bargaining system (Box 2), which has promoted wage growth in line with productivity gains and peaceful industrial relations. Since the beginning of the downturn, the social partners have demonstrated flexibility in the system by delivering historically low wage growth (i.e. 2.8 percent in 2015), expected to be even lower in 2016. The centrally-negotiated increment in 2015 was only 0.3 percent on average across industries (0.2 percent in manufacturing and 0.1 percent in the public sector). Low wage growth has complemented the competitive exchange rate in lowering Norway’s unit labor cost relative to trading partners, in addition to dampening domestic inflationary pressures and allowing monetary policy to stay accommodative. The wage setting model will continue to be tested in the coming years, particularly given high immigration and increasing service sector share which contribute to reducing union density and weakening coordination in wage determination (Productivity Commission, 2016). In addition, the compressed wage structure may limit the extent of labor reallocation across sectors.

A01ufig4

Decomposition of Annual Wage Growth

(Percent)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2016, 215; 10.5089/9781498345705.002.A001

Sources: Norwegian Technical Calculation Committee for Wage Settlements 2016 Report and Fund staff calculations.

18. Labor market policies can support the transition by improving the efficiency of the search and matching process. Workers in the oil-related sector (e.g., engineers) tend to be highly educated and mobile, and predominantly male in the 30-54 age group (Statistics Norway, 2015). Their energy-related expertise could be relatively easily transferred to other similar types of jobs. Thus, improving information available to the job seekers about economic prospects and job openings in different industries, as well as active labor market policies such as retraining can play an important role in helping the displaced oil workers find new employment. In addition, making unemployment benefits more activity-oriented, such as by introducing activity requirements and breakpoints, can help reduce reservation wages and encourage labor force participation (see also Productivity Commission, 2016).

19. Macroeconomic policies should also promote structural adjustment. Monetary policy should support demand and preserve price stability, thereby creating a favorable economic environment for private sector firms to thrive. Fiscal stimulus measures should focus on expanding the economy’s productive capacity while avoiding crowding out tradable goods and services production. The 2016 budget takes an important step in the right direction by proposing a tax reform agenda that promotes saving and investment and makes Norway’s tax system more internationally competitive. More generally, it is important that counter-cyclical policies not become counter-structural (Nicolaisen, 2016). In the medium term, a reconsideration of the fiscal framework along the lines of the fiscal rule commission’s recommendations would help better smooth spending of oil revenue and relieve “Dutch disease” pressures that may impede the necessary transition.11

20. Other policies would also help. Reducing the constraints to new housing construction particularly in big cities such as Oslo would help relieve pressures on housing prices and make it easier for people to move to areas where employment prospects are favorable. Over the longer term, investing in research and innovation—an area where Norway is lagging peers—and doing so efficiently would help attract resources to the “new economy” or “knowledge-based economy” that would ultimately replace natural resources (see also Productivity Commission, 2016).12

Collective Bargaining in Norway

The organizational structure of the collective bargaining system is centralized and hierarchic.1 Norway has approximately 90 national unions and four main confederations. More than 90 percent of the unionized workers are affiliated with one of those main confederations. The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) is the oldest and largest of the main confederations, and has a strong position in both the private and the public sector. National unions and confederations have their counterparts in a corresponding organizational structure on the employers’ side. The unionization rate has been stable and, at 52 percent, is lower than in the neighboring Nordic countries. However, unionization rates vary strongly between industries. Approximately 80 percent of all employees in the public sector are unionized, whereas the corresponding figure is 50 percent in private manufacturing industries and about one third in private services. Generally, there exists a tradition for cooperation and social dialogue between the government, trade unions, and employers’ associations.

Collective bargaining in Norway is highly coordinated, resulting in a compressed wage structure. The Norwegian model for wage formation—introduced in the 1960s—is characterized by the so-called “trend-setting industries model,” in which wage growth in industries that compete in the international market, e.g. manufacturing, establish a norm for the remainder of the labor market. The model establishes an anchor for wage increases in the public sector and domestic-oriented industries, ensuring strong links between wage and productivity growth as well as distributing gains resulting from productivity growth in the exposed private sector to the rest of the economy. The trend-setting industries model has recently faced challenges due to increased labor migration as well as high wage pressures in the oil-related part of the manufacturing sector. In December 2013, a government-appointment commission, including representatives of the social partners, nevertheless concluded that the trend-setting industries model is the best way to achieve beneficial socioeconomic results and therefore did not recommend any changes to wage formation.

Bargaining follows a two-tier system and takes place at central as well as local/enterprise levels. The so-called “tariff wages” are set first at the central level. Next, the tariff wages are supplemented by local wage adjustments—or “wage drift”—bargained at the local level. Wage drifts have on average contributed about 40 percent and 60 percent to total wage increases for blue collar and white collar workers, respectively, over 1995-2010. Since the 1990s, local bargaining has also been common in the public sector.

Collective agreements: National collective agreements predominate. The central-level organizations are invariably part of the agreements and industrial relations are regulated by basic agreements. Collective agreements are valid for a period of two years, and wage rates are renegotiated in the interim year. Approximately half of all private sector employees and two thirds of all employees are covered by a collective agreement. General application of minimum provisions of the collective agreements has been adopted in certain industries (e.g., construction, cleaning, and agriculture) where immigrant workers have less favorable wage and labor conditions than the standards.

1 The information in this Box is drawn from Nergaard (2014) and Barth and others (2015).

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1

Prepared by Giang Ho.

2

Including employment in oil-related exports industries, the figure would be higher.

3

Note that this is a narrow definition of the oil-related sector, which does not take into account the indirect deliveries to the oil sector from other industries.

4

Demand from the oil sector started to pick up in 2003 and continued strongly after the global financial crisis, thus we have defined the boom period to be 2003-2011 (the data series end in 2011).

5
The decomposition is based on the following specification:
tfpttfpt1=Σiωi,t1(tfpi,ttfpi,t1)+Σitfpi,t(ωi,tωi,t1)

in which i refers to the sectors (i.e. oil-related, traditional, and nontradables); tfpt and tfpi,t refer to economy-wide and sectoral TFP, respectively; and ωi,t is the share of real value added of sector i. The first term on the right side is the within-sector effect given by the weighted sum of TFP growth in each sector. The second term is the between-sector effect, capturing the effect of sectoral reallocation of real value added on aggregate TFP growth. Sectoral TFP is calculated as the Solow residual from a Cobb-Douglas production function with labor and capital as factors of production, where the labor share is computed at the sector level as the ratio between labor compensation and value added in the sector.

6

This finding is consistent with e.g. Akram and Mumtaz (2016), who find evidence that the correlation between oil prices and macroeconomic variables in Norway (e.g., the nominal effective exchange rate) has increased during the 2000s.

7

For example, in February 2016, production in machinery and equipment and ships, boats and oil platforms fell by 18.6 and 19.6 percent (y/y), respectively, while production of chemicals and pharmaceutical products increased by 6 percent.

8

Statistics Norway defines this sector to consist of oil and gas extraction, services incidental to oil and gas, pipeline and related services, and construction and installation of oil platforms.

9

However, it would also depend on the composition of the outflows, e.g. immigrants of Nordic background would be more likely to return home than those from Eastern Europe.

10

In estimating the growth impact, it is assumed that higher unemployment would subtract 1ppt from household consumption and private investment growth in 2016 and 0.5ppt for each year during 2017–21, using the estimated empirical relationship between employment and consumption/investment. Mainland exports would also be affected given lower investment.

11

See also Commission on Fiscal Rule (2015).

12

See also Chapter 2 of the Selected Issues Papers.

Norway: Selected Issues
Author: International Monetary Fund. European Dept.