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IMF Working Papers
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     ISSN (Print) 1018-5941
     Published by International Monetary Fund Homepage  [11 journals]
  • After the Boom–Commodity Prices and Economic Growth in Latin America
           and the Caribbean
    • Abstract: After skyrocketing over the past decade, commodity prices have remained stable or eased somewhat since mid-2011—and most projections suggest they are not likely to resume the upward trend observed in the last decade. This paper analyzes what this turn in the commodity price cycle may imply for output growth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The analysis suggests that growth in the years ahead for the average commodity exporter in the region could be significantly lower than during the commodity boom, even if commodity prices were to remain stable at their current still-high levels. Slower-than-expected growth in China represents a key downside risk. The results caution against trying to offset the current economic slowdown with demand-side stimulus and underscore the need for ambitious structural reforms to secure strong growth over the medium term.
      PubDate: 14 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • The Effects of Unconventional Monetary Policies on Bank Soundness
    • Abstract: Unconventional monetary policy is often assumed to benefit banks. However, we find little supporting evidence. Rather, we find some evidence for heightened medium-term risks. First, in an event study using a novel instrument for monetary policy surprises, we do not detect clear effects of monetary easing on bank stock valuation but find a deterioration of medium-term bank credit risk in the United States, the euro area, and the United Kingdom. Second, in panel regressions using U.S. banks’ balance sheet information, we show that bank profitability and risk taking are ambiguously affected, while balance sheet repair is delayed.
      PubDate: 13 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Global Imbalances and External Adjustment after the Crisis
    • Abstract: This paper has two objectives. First, it reviews the recent dynamics of global imbalances (both “flow” and “stock” imbalances), with a special focus on the shifting position of Latin America in the global distribution. Second, it examines the cross-country variation in external adjustment over 2008-2012. In particular, it shows how pre-crisis external imbalances have strong predictive power for post-crisis macroeconomic outcomes, allowing for variation across different exchange rate regimes. We emphasize that the bulk of external adjustment has taken the form of “expenditure reduction”, with “expenditure switching” only playing a limited role.
      PubDate: 12 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • How Solid Is Economic Growth in the East African Community?
    • Abstract: Is rapid economic growth experienced by the East African Community during the past decade built on solid foundations? To gain some clues, we use a variety of newly-collected and existing data sources to analyze the structural transformation of output and exports, as well as indicators of their quality and sophistication. The move from agriculture to a wide range of other sectors—bodes well for continued growth, as do gradual improvements in quality. Yet, no clear winners on the production side seem to have emerged, to embed a durable comparative advantage in international markets. These observations may instill a note of caution against projecting rapid growth into the distant future.
      PubDate: 12 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Do the Type of Sukuk and Choice of Shari'a Scholar Matter?
    • Abstract: Sukuk, the shari’a-compliant alternative mode of financing to conventional bonds, have expanded considerably over the last decade. We analyze the stock market reaction to two key features of this financial instrument: sukuk type and characteristics of the shari’a scholar certifying the issue. We use the event study methodology to measure abnormal returns for a sample of 131 sukuk from eight countries over the period 2006-2013 and find that Ijara sukuk structures exert a positive influence on the stock price of the issuing firm. We observe a similar positive impact from shari’a scholar reputation and proximity to issuer. Overall our results support the hypotheses that the type of sukuk and the choice of scholars hired to certify these securities matter for the market valuation of the issuing company.
      PubDate: 11 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Islamic Finance in Sub-Saharan Africa: Status and Prospects
    • Abstract: Islamic finance is a fast growing activity in world markets. This paper provides a survey on Islamic Finance in SSA. Ongoing activities include Islamic banking, sukuk issuances (to finance infrastructure projects), Takaful (insurance), and microfinance. While not yet significant in most Sub-Saharan countries, several features make Islamic finance instruments relevant to the region, in particular the ability to foster SMEs and micro-credit activtities. As a first step, policy makers could introduce Islamic financing windows within the conventional system and facilitate sukuk issuance to tap foreign investors. The entrance of full-fleged Islamic banks require addressing systemic issues, and adapting the crisis management and resolution frameworks. The IMF can play a role by sharing international experiences and providing advice on supervisory and regulatory frameworks as needed.
      PubDate: 11 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Public Investment as an Engine of Growth
    • Abstract: This paper looks at the empirical record whether big infrastructure and public capital drives have succeeded in accelerating economic growth in low-income countries. It looks at big long-lasting drives in public capital spending, as these were arguably clear and exogenous policy decisions. On average the evidence shows only a weak positive association between investment spending and growth and only in the same year, as lagged impacts are not significant. Furthermore, there is little evidence of long term positive impacts. Some individual countries may be exceptions to this general result, as for example Ethiopia in recent years, as high public investment has coincided with high GDP growth, but it is probably too early to draw definitive conclusions. The fact that the positive association is largely instantaneous argues for the importance of either reverse causality, as capital spending tends to be cut in slumps and increased in booms, or Keynesian demand effects, as spending boosts output in the short run. It argues against the importance of long term productivity effects, as these are triggered by the completed investments (which take several years) and not by the mere spending on the investments. In fact a slump in growth rather than a boom has followed many public capital drives of the past. Case studies indicate that public investment drives tend eventually to be financed by borrowing and have been plagued by poor analytics at the time investment projects were chosen, incentive problems and interest-group-infested investment choices. These observations suggest that the current public investment drives will be more likely to succeed if governments do not behave as in the past, and instead take analytical issues seriously and safeguard their decision process against interests that distort public investment decisions.
      PubDate: 11 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Friedman Redux: External Adjustment and Exchange Rate Flexibility
    • Abstract: Milton Friedman argued that flexible exchange rates would facilitate external adjustment. Recent studies find surprisingly little robust evidence that they do. We argue that this is because they use composite (or aggregate) exchange rate regime classifications, which often mask very heterogeneous bilateral relationships between countries. Constructing a novel dataset of bilateral exchange rate regimes that differentiates by the degree of exchange rate flexibility, as well as by direct and indirect exchange rate relationships, for 181 countries over 1980–2011, we find a significant and empirically robust relationship between exchange rate flexibility and the speed of external adjustment. Our results are supported by several “natural experiments” of exogenous changes in bilateral exchange rate regimes.
      PubDate: 08 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Capital Flow Deflection
    • Abstract: This paper focuses on the coordination problem among borrowing countries imposing controls on capital infl ows. In a simple model of capital flows and controls, we show that inflow restrictions distort international capital flows to other countries and that, in turn, such capital flow deflection may lead to a policy response. We then test the theory using data on inflow restrictions and gross capital inflows for a large sample of developing countries between 1995 and 2009. Our estimation yields strong evidence that capital controls deflect capital flows to other borrowing countries with similar economic characteristics. Notwithstanding these strong cross-border spillover effects, we do not find evidence of a policy response.
      PubDate: 08 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
  • Credit Quality in Developing Economies: Remittances to the Rescue?
    • Abstract: This paper analyzes the link between remittances inflows and nonperforming loans (NPLs) in a large sample of developing countries. Theoretical transmission channels include risk coping, exchange rate and growth impacts. Panel data estimates uncover the significant role of remittance inflows in reducing the size of NPLs in recipient economies. Econometric results also indicate a stronger marginal impact of remittances in a context of high macroeconomic instability, suggesting a significant effect of remittances on the likelihood of the private sector’s credit default during shocks. These results hold even after factoring in: (i) the endogeneity of remittance inflows and, (ii) the use of an alternative estimator (panel fractional logit) aimed at dealing with bounded dependent variables.
      PubDate: 08 Aug 2014 09:00:00 EST
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