Increasing emphasis has been placed on the need for an effective lender of last resort for sovereign states and on procedures for sovereign debt restructuring to help cope with global financial crises. Where private creditors use short-term debt to check sovereign debtor’s moral hazard, there is the risk of self-fulfilling crises. In this context, we conclude that the proposal of the Meltzer Commission—for unconditional financial support, but only to states that pre-qualify—could be the source of increased instability. After discussing analogies with private sector arrangements, we compare the operations of the existing Paris Club with proposed Chapter 11 style procedures.
This paper proposes a quantitative assessment of the welfare effects arising from the Common Monetary Area (CMA) and an array of broader grouping among Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. Model simulations suggest that (i) participating in the CMA benefits all members; (ii) joining the CMA individually is beneficial for all SADC members except Angola, Mauritius and Tanzania; (iii) creating a symmetric CMA-wide monetary union with a regional central bank carries some costs in terms of foregone anti-inflationary credibility; and (iv) SADC-wide symmetric monetary union continues to be beneficial for all except Mauritius, although the gains for existing CMA members are likely to be limited.
This paper develops a full-fledged cost-benefit analysis of monetary integration, and applies it to the currency unions actively pursued in Africa. The benefits of monetary union come from a more credible monetary policy, while the costs derive from real shock asymmetries and fiscal disparities. The model is calibrated using African data. Simulations indicate that the proposed EAC, ECOWAS, and SADC monetary unions bring about net benefits to some potential members, but modest net gains and sometimes net losses for others. Strengthening domestic macroeconomic frameworks is shown to provide some of the same improvements as monetary integration, reducing the latter’s relative attractiveness.
We develop a multicountry model in which governments aim at excessive spending in order to serve the narrow interests of the group in power. This puts pressure on the monetary authorities to extract seigniorage, and thus affects the incentives countries would have to participate in a monetary union. This feature, ignored by the monetary union literature for Europe, is potentially important in Africa. We calibrate the model to data for West Africa and use it to assess proposed ECOWAS monetary unions. We conclude that monetary union with Nigeria would not be in the interests of other ECOWAS countries, unless it were accompanied by effective discipline over Nigeria''s fiscal policies.
Inflation targeting (IT) serves as monetary policy framework in several advanced economies, where it has enhanced policy transparency and accountability. The paper considers its wider applicability to developing countries. The prerequisites for a successful IT framework are identified as an ability to carry out an independent monetary policy (free of fiscal dominance or commitment to another nominal anchor, like the exchange rate) and a quantitative framework linking policy instruments to inflation. These prerequisites are largely absent among developing countries, though several of them could with some further institutional changes and an overriding commitment to low inflation make use of an IT framework.
This paper looks at theoretical and empirical issues associated with the operation of fiscal stabilizers within an economy. It argues that such stabilizers operate most effectively at a national, rather than local, level. As differing cycles across regions tend to offset each other for the country as a whole, national fiscal stabilizers are not associated with the same increase in future tax liabilities for the region as local ones. Accordingly, the negative impact from the Ricardian effects associated with these tax liabilities is smaller. Empirical work on data across Canadian provinces indicates that local stabilizers are only 1/3 to ½ as effective as national stabilizers that create no future tax liability.
This paper reviews the experience of fiscal adjustment undertaken in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) countries since the entry into force of the 1994 treaty establishing the framework for a regional convergence of national fiscal policies. We propose a measure of the structural deficit that corrects for movements of both the business cycle and terms of trade. Though the fiscal deficit worsened in 1998-2001 in some countries because of terms of trade deterioration and unfavorable movements in the business cycle, convergence stalled even when corrected for these factors. Meeting fiscal deficit targets in the future will be facilitated by a favorable external environment but, in any case, will require a higher revenue ratio and downward pressure on government wages as shares of GDP.
International macroeconomic policy coordination is generally considered to be made less likely—and less profitable—by the presence of uncertainty about how the economy works. The present paper provides a counter-example, in which increased uncertainty about portfolio preference of investors makes coordination of monetary policy more beneficial. In particular, in the absence of coordination monetary authorities may respond to financial market uncertainty by not fully accommodating demands for increased liquidity, for fear of bringing about exchange rate depreciation. Coordinated monetary expansion would minimize this danger. A theoretical model incorporating an equity market is developed, and the stock market crash of October 1987 is discussed in the light of its implications for monetary policy coordination.
The coexistence of urban and rural poverty and migration to cities is studied in a dual economy model where the acquisition of skills is costly and involves migration to urban areas. In this model, both the distribution of innate abilities and the distribution of wealth matter for the migration decision, and costs of backmigration may produce an urban poverty trap if unemployment lowers household wealth below the cost of skills acquisition.
A broad set of possible determinants of private saving behavior is examined, using data for a large sample of industrial and developing countries. Both time-series and cross-section estimates are obtained. Results suggest that there is a partial offset on private saving of changes in public saving and (for developing countries) in foreign saving, that demographics and growth are important determinants of private saving rates, and that interest rates and terms of trade have positive, but less robust, effects. Increases in per capita GDP seem to increase saving at low income levels (relative to the United States) but decrease it at higher ones.
Could a West African monetary union (either of the non-CFA countries, or all ECOWAS members) be an effective "agency of restraint" on fiscal policies? We discuss how monetary union could affect fiscal discipline and the arguments for explicit fiscal restraints considered in the European Monetary Union literature, and their applicability to West Africa. The empirical evidence, EMU literature, and CFA experience suggest that monetary union could create the temptation for fiscal profligacy through prospects of a bailout, or costs diluted through the membership. Thus, a West African monetary union could promote fiscal discipline only if the hands of the fiscal authorities are also tied by a strong set of fiscal restraints.
Since the early 1980s, well over 100 countries have experienced systemic bank insolvencies. An important innovation among the resulting policies for reestablishing bank soundness has been the reliance on market-based instruments and policies, in contrast to the largely non-market-oriented approach taken in the 1930s during the last big wave of banking crises. This paper surveys and assesses market-based policy instruments employed to overcome systemic bank problems. Considerations regarding the design and mix of instruments as well as cost-sharing arrangements are shown to be key aspects of effective bank restructuring. Selected country examples are used to illustrate best practices.
Evaluation of policy rules using empirical macroeconomic models is usually done on the assumption that the rules are perfectly credible. However, there are usually circumstances that cause the authorities to abandon any given rule. The public's expectations reflect this possibility. In the paper, credibility is assumed to depend on the probability that the authorities will abandon a rule because the resulting utility exceeds that from maintaining the rule. Simulations of a disinflation policy leading to price stability are presented. Its credibility varies over time, depending on the paths for output and inflation.
The paper considers the issue of whether a supranational fiscal policy in Europe is needed, and, if so, what responsibilities it should undertake. The literature on endogenous growth and the principle of subsidiarity suggest that such a policy should be limited to externalities or economies of scale not captured at the national level. These may include spending on research and development and transportation or knowledge networks, and harmonization of social security designed to enhance labor mobility. EU-wide stabilization policy or enhanced EU redistribution does not seem justified, however.
Cotton production in West and Central Africa (WCA) has contributed to growth and poverty reduction. Recently, the objective of poverty alleviation has been adversely impacted by the downward pressures on world prices (exacerbated by subsidies by major cotton producers outside Africa). Several countries in WCA are undergoing reforms in the cotton sector to stimulate greater market competition and raise the share of the international price going to farmers. While these efforts would help to improve rural income irrespective of the world market situation, they would be more powerful in combination with a reduction in other countries’ subsidies in this sector.
Globalization has become the focus for a wide range of protests against various features of the world economy. This paper aims to give a concise summary of the economic dimensions of globalization, while leaving to one side other aspects—such as cultural, environmental, or political ones—that are beyond the scope of the IMF. Periods of increased globalization have tended to be associated with technological innovations that reduce transportation and communications costs and with generally rising standards of living. Moreover, countries that have embraced openness to the rest of the world have done better than those that have not. Nevertheless, globalization may also be associated with increased inequality and volatility, which may justify strengthening domestic safety nets and financial supervision and regulation, and enhancing international economic policy coordination. The IMF helps to ensure economic gains from globalization by encouraging trade liberalization, reducing countries’ vulnerability to crises, lending to them when they are in difficulty, and assisting them in putting in place structural reforms that help reduce poverty.
The more advanced Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) face an evolving set of considerations in choosing their exchange rate policies. On the one hand, capital mobility is increasing, and this imposes additional constraints on fixed exchange rate regimes, while trend real appreciation makes the combination of low inflation and exchange rate stability problematic. On the other hand, the objectives of EU and eventual EMU membership make attractive a peg to the euro at some stage in the transition. The paper discusses these conflicting considerations, and considers the feasibility of an alternative monetary framework, inflation targeting.
The paper surveys the types of models producing multiple equilibria in financial markets. It argues that such models are consistent with observed phenomena, such as the greater volatility of financial asset prices than of macroeconomic fundamentals. Alternative explanations are compared with the stylized facts concerning capital flows, portfolio shifts, and exchange rate crises. Implications for crisis prediction and prevention are then discussed.
How can international monetary stability be promoted? This study looks at ways to bolster economic policies and coordination among the industrial countries serving as nominal anchors for the world economy. It also assesses the operation of monetary unions and common currency areas. The authors conclude that problems with the world monetary system reflect weaknesses outside the exchange rate arena, and that exchange rate commitements must be tailored to individual country characteristics.
This book, edited by Paul R. Masson, Thomas Krueger, and Bart G. Turtelboom, contains the proceedings of the seminar held in Washington, D.C. on March 17-18, 1997, cosponsored by the IMF and Fondation Camille Gutt. Conference participants discussed implications of European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) on exchange and financial markets, and consequently on the activities of market participants and private and official institutions. The five main themes of the seminar were the characteristics of the euro and its potential role as an international currency; EMU and international policy coordination; EMU and the relationship between the IMF and its EMU members; lessons of European monetary integration for the international monetary system; and the transitioin to EMU.
Several concepts of contagion are distinguished. It is argued that only models that admit of multiple equilibria are capable of producing true contagion. A simple balance of payments model is presented to illustrate that phenomenon, and some back-of-the-envelope calculations assess its relevance to the coincidence of emerging market crises in 1994–95 and in 1997.
This book, edited by Paul R. Mason, analyses the policy challenges that face the French economy in the second half of this decade, highlighting the need for structural changes to enhance the economy's flexibility. The authors argue that budgetary constraints will oblige France to address structural economic problems by reducing social benefits and cutting government expediture.
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) is the oldest customs union in the world, with significant opportunities ahead for creating higher economic growth and increased welfare benefits to the people of the region, by fulfilling its vision to become an economic community with a common market and monetary union. This volume describes policy options to address the barriers to equitable and sustainable development in the region and outlines a plan for deeper regional integration.
The success of European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) will depend on the stability of the euro. The monetary policy framework is yet to be decided, but is likely to involve either money or inflation targeting. Stochastic simulations compare the outcomes for major macroeconomic and financial variables pre- and post-EMU under both policy rules, as well as under an inflation targeting rule that includes output. Implications for the euro as a reserve currency are examined in the light of the expected returns and covariances among reserve currencies. The role of the exchange rate as an indicator and incentives for policy coordination with other major countries are also discussed.
The “hollowing-out,” or “two poles” hypothesis is tested in the context of a Markov chain model of exchange rate transitions. In particular, two versions of the hypothesis—that hard pegs are an absorbing state, or that fixes and floats form a closed set, with no transitions to intermediate regimes—are tested using two alternative classifications of regimes. While there is some support for the lack of exits from hard pegs (i.e., that they are an absorbing state), the data generally indicate that the intermediate cases will continue to constitute a sizable proportion of actual exchange rate regimes.
Copublished with the Brookings Institution, Washington D.C. and the Centre for Economic Policy Research, London, and edited by Ralph Bryant, David Currie, Jacob A. Frenkel, Paul Masson, and Richard Portes, this volume considers economic interdependence among well developed countries as well as between them and the developing regions of the world.