Program conditionality and ownership are important considerations in the IMF''s current rethinking of program design. This paper contributes to the literature by developing a theory of program conditionality and ownership on the basis of Cumulative Prospect Theory. The policymaker may value a set of programs, each with fewer conditions, more than an extended program with as many conditions. This valuation bias is greater in ambiguity (Knightian uncertainty) than under uncertainty. If greater valuation of a program engenders more explicit and implicit ownership, then programs with fewer conditions may have a better chance of success. Less is more.
Import and export stability is examined under two alternative nominal exchange rate anchors, the U.S. dollar and the SDR. Stability under the two pegs depends critically on import and export elasticity with respect to exchange rates. The implications of import and export elasticity for an optimal currency basket are also explored. The elasticity estimates for the GCC countries suggest that the SDR peg may not outperform the dollar peg in improving external stability. Nevertheless, switching to some other nominal exchange rate anchor may improve external stability, a possibility that remains to be explored.
Institutional transparency makes future contingencies more easily predictable for investors. Greater transparency can be achieved through vertical and horizontal integration of policy rules, which may result in lower Knightian uncertainty (ambiguity). In a model based on cumulative prospect theory, for a given probability and payoff structure, expected return on investment is higher in more transparent countries; therefore, those countries attract more investment and grow faster than less transparent countries. Lower transparency may result in inherently higher volatility.
The recent Boskin Commission Report (1996) underscores a significant upward bias in CPI measurement in the United States. This may result in excessive cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of some entitlements in the federal budget because COLA is indexed to CPI. This paper presents some evidence that overall CPI may be biased against lower income elderly households, the primary beneficiaries of COLA. Although a downward adjustment in CPI resulting in an across-the-board cut in COLA of entitlements may yield significant budgetary savings, it may result in a deterioration in income distribution against lower income elderly households.
This paper argues that making affordable home mortgage loans available to a large cross section of the population will serve both the redistributive and growth-enhancing objectives of poverty reduction policies. The current state of housing and mortgage markets in selected Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia) is examined. The study evaluates Turkey and Mexico as middle-income comparator countries. Historical experience of the United States is also described. Simulations based on U.S. parameters provide some guide to the effects on economic growth of alleviating housing shortages by improving access to mortgage financing.
Ambiguity, as opposed to uncertainty, reflects lack of sufficient information about distribution and payoffs of infrequent events. Reforms are infrequent events, undertaken in ambiguous second-best environments where bad reform outcomes are feasible. A general case for the gradualist reform strategy is that it may pay to defer some reforms until relevant information about possible reform outcomes and associated probabilities is revealed, and ambiguity is reduced over time. Gradualism may dominate the big bang strategy, if some of the reforms in a reform sequence are not sure bets and waiting costs do not dominate reversal costs under some information sets forthcoming over time. The relation to Ellsberg''s Paradox is discussed. Some cases for and against gradualism are reviewed.
We compare the dollar peg to a dollar-euro basket peg as alternative exchange rate regimes for the incipient Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) currency union. Quantitative evidence suggests basket peg does not dominate dollar peg for improving external stability. However, as GCC exports and external financial assets become more diversified, a more flexible exchange policy may be necessary for competitiveness and stability. Pegging the prospective common GCC currency to a basket, like the dollar-euro basket, may provide a conservative transitional strategy toward a more flexible exchange rate policy.
Excess wages tax (EWT) is a tax-based incomes policy instrument introduced in many centrally-planned economies and still used in some FSU and Eastern European countries in transition. The main macroeconomic goal of EWT is to curb inflationary pressures by penalizing through taxation the “excessive” wage awards granted by enterprises in the course of wage and price liberalization. In this paper, effects of EWT on the behavior of a profit-maximizing enterprise under monopsony, its incidence on wages and profits, and its impact on inflation are analyzed. The effect of EWT on an enterprise that maximizes workers’ income is also examined with some observations on EWT’s impact on managerial behavior. Finally, recent experience with EWT is assessed and compared to that suggested by the model.
With cross-section data from 53 emerging and mature markets, we provide evidence that equity premium puzzle is a global phenomenon. In addition to risk aversion, equity premium may reflect ambiguity aversion. We explore the sources of equity premium using some pertinent fundamental independent variables, as well as the World Bank institutional quality indexes and other proxies for the degree of ambiguity in the sample countries. Some World Bank and other indexes are statistically significant, which indicates that a large part of equity premium may reflect investor aversion to ambiguities resulting from institutional weaknesses.
A reduction in the legal workweek may induce a degree of downward wage flexibility, while an employment subsidy to firms accommodates downward wage rigidity. It may be possible, therefore, to increase employment with a policy that combines a reduction in the workweek with an employment subsidy. In general, however, the long-run employment outcome is ambiguous, and a decline in output cannot be ruled out. More direct policy measures whose impact can be assessed with greater certainty—in particular, removing structural rigidities in the labor market—should be given priority to decrease long term unemployment.