The relationship between international payments and the real exchange rate—the “transfer problem”—is a classic question in international economics. We use new data on countries’ net external positions together with real exchange rate data to shed light on this question. We present a model yielding testable implications on the long-run co-movements of real exchange rates, external positions, relative GDP and terms of trade, and cross-country and time-series evidence on the subject. Countries with net external liabilities are found to have more depreciated real exchange rates, with the main channel of transmission working through the relative price of nontraded goods.
Recent years have witnessed an increase in the frequency of currency and balance of payments crises in developing countries. More important, the crises have become more virulent, have caused widespread disruption to other developing countries, and have even had repercussions on advanced economies. To predict crises, their causes must be clearly understood. Two competing strands of theories are reviewed in this paper. The first focuses on the consequences of such policies as excessive credit growth in provoking depletion of foreign exchange reserves and making a devaluation enevitable. The second emphasizes the trade-offs between internal and external balance that the policymaker faces in defending a peg.
We examine the evolution of the net external asset positions of Central and Eastern Europe (CEEC) countries over the past decade, with a strong emphasis on the composition of their international balance sheets. We assess the extent of their international financial integration, compared with the advanced economies and other emerging markets, and highlight the salient features of their external capital structure in terms of the relative importance of FDI, portfolio equity, and external debt. In addition, we briefly describe the country and currency composition of their external liabilities. Finally, we explore the implications of the accumulated stock of external liabilities for future trade and current account balances.
This paper revisits the usefulness of econometric monetary analysis in low-income countries in a case study on Rwanda, an interesting case given its floating exchange rate and reliance on indirect monetary policy instruments on the one hand, and its somewhat typical data and institutional shortcomings on the other hand. The findings are generally encouraging for the use of econometric models for monetary analysis in low-income countries. Notwithstanding substantial qualifications, time series and structural models of the money multiplier and money demand yield results that are statistically and economically reasonable enough to usefully inform policymaking.
Exchange rate analysis lies at the center of the IMF's surveillance mandate and policy advice, as well as in the design of IMF-supported programs, and IMF staff are called upon to analyze a wide variety of exchange rate issues in various member countries, both small and large, from the least economically developed to the most advanced, and from those whose currencies circulate only locally to those whose currencies are of global importance. Each year, IMF staff produce dozens of studies on exchange rate issues, some published by the IMF, others in various professional journals or books. This book aims to give a flavor of the topics the IMF staff typically examine under the broad rubric of exchange rate analysis, encompassing several topics: determination and impact of the real exchange rate, assessing competitiveness and the equilibrium real exchange rate in specific countries or country groups, and considerations in the choice of exchange rate regime.
What are fiscal policy rules? What are the principal benefits and drawbacks associated with various fiscal rules, particularly compared with alternative approaches to fiscal adjustment? Can fiscal rules contribute to long-run sustainability and welfare without sacrificing short-run stabilization? If so, what characteristics of fiscal rules make this contribution most effective? And in what circumstances and contexts, if any should the IMF encourage its member countries to adopt fiscal rules? This paper seeks to identify sensible fiscal policy rules that can succeed, if chosen by a member country, as an alternative to descretionary fiscal rules.
We present a novel and comprehensive dataset of bilateral gross and net external positions in various financial instruments for the main advanced and emerging economies and regions, designed to improve our understanding of cross-border financial linkages. The data show no strong correspondence between country or region pairs with the largest gross versus net external positions, and the importance of international financial centers, including offshore centers, in intermediating financial flows. We also highlight some important data gaps in completing a network of cross-border holdings, related to the limited available information on the size and geographical pattern of external claims and liabilities of offshore centers, oil exporters, and other mostly emerging markets.
This working paper overviews the challenges posed by resource revenues management and the policy prescriptions to meet them, and focuses on the Public Financial Management (PFM) framework and reforms that resource-producing countries should adopt. The paper outlines a PFM framework and reform path that take into account the institutional diversity of resource-producing countries. In the short term, the proposed reforms highlights the tools that could be implemented even where the PFM system is rather basic, while over the medium and long term they aim at converging with best international PFM practices.
We propose a fiscal rule that fulfills a specific debt reduction objective while maintaining significant fiscal flexibility-two overarching concerns in Israel. Not unlike the Swiss "debt brake," the rule incorporates an error-correction mechanism (ECM) through which departure from the debt objective affects binding medium-run expenditure ceilings. Two variants of our ECM rule are shown to be superior to a comparable deficit rule in terms of attaining the debt objective and allowing for fiscal stabilization while supporting medium-term expenditure planning. Given its relative sophistication, a proper implementation of the ECM rule requires supportive fiscal institutions, including independent input and assessment.
The real effective exchange rate of the dollar is close to its minimum level for the past 4decades (as of September 2008). At the same time, however, the U.S. trade and currentaccount deficits remain large and, absent a significant correction in coming years, wouldcontribute to a further accumulation of U.S. external liabilities. The paper discusses thetension between these two aspects of the dollar assessment, and what factors can helpreconcile them. It focuses in particular on the terms of trade, adjustment lags, andmeasurement issues related to both the real effective exchange rate and the current accountbalance.
This paper studies whether compliance with the Basel Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision (BCPs) improves bank soundness. The authors find a significant and positive relationship between bank soundness (measured with Moody's financial strength ratings) and compliance with principles related to information provision2. Specifically, countries that require banks to regularly and accurately report their financial data to regulators and market participants have sounder banks. This relationship is robust to controlling for broad indexes of institutional quality, macroeconomic variables, sovereign ratings, and reverse causality. Measuring soundness through Z-scores yields similar results. These findings emphasize the importance of transparency in making supervisory processes effective and strengthening market discipline. Countries aiming to upgrade banking regulation and supervision should consider giving priority to information provision over other elements of the core principles.
This note documents and assesses the role of small financial centers in the international financial system using a newly-assembled dataset. It presents estimates of the foreign asset and liability positions for a number of the most important small financial centers, and places these into context by calculating the importance of these locations in the global aggregate of cross-border investment positions. It also reports some information on bilateral cross-border investment patterns, highlighting which countries engage in financial trade with small financial centers.
Although Europe in the aggregate is a not a major contributor to global current account imbalances, its trade and financial linkages with the rest of the world mean that it will still be affected by a shift in the current configuration of external deficits and surpluses. We assess the macroeconomic impact on Europe of global current account adjustment under alternative scenarios, emphasizing both trade and financial channels. Finally, we consider heterogeneous exposure across individual European economies to external adjustment shocks.
The deterioration in the U.S. net external position in recent years has been much smaller than the extensive net borrowing associated with large current account deficits would have suggested. This paper examines the sources of discrepancies between net borrowing and accumulation of net liabilities for the U.S. economy over the past 25 years. In particular, it highlights and quantifies the role played by net capital gains on the U.S. external portfolio and 'residual adjustments' in explaining this discrepancy. It discusses whether these 'residual adjustments' are likely to be originating from measurement errors in external assets and liabilities, financial flows, or capital gains, and explores the implications of these conjectures for the U.S. financial account and external position.
After widening substantially in the period preceding the global financial crisis, current account imbalances across the world have contracted to a significant extent. This paper analyzes the factors underlying this process of external adjustment. It finds that countries whose pre-crisis current account balances were in excess of what could be explained by economic fundamentals have experienced the largest contractions in their external balance. External adjustment in deficit countries was achieved primarily through demand compression, rather than expenditure switching. Changes in other investment flows were the main channel of financial account adjustment, with official external assistance and ECB liquidity cushioning the exit of private capital flows for some countries.
We examine the determinants of external crises, focusing on the role of foreign liabilities and their composition. Using a variety of statistical tools and comprehensive data spanning 1970-2011, we find that the ratio of net foreign liabilities (NFL) to GDP is a significant crisis predictor, and the more so when it exceeds 50 percent in absolute terms and 20 percent of the country-specific historical mean. This is primarily due to net external debt--the effect of net equity liabilities is weaker and net FDI liabilities seem if anything an offset factor. We also find that: i) breaking down net external debt into its gross asset and liability counterparts does not add significant explanatory power to crisis prediction; ii) the current account is a powerful predictor, either measured unconditionally or as deviations from conventionally estimated “norms” iii) foreign exchange reserves reduce the likelihood of crisis more than other foreign asset holdings; iv) a parsimonious probit containing those and a handful of other variables has good predictive performance in- and out-of-sample. The latter result stems largely from our focus on external crises stricto sensu.
We study how credit market deregulation and increased international financial openness have changed corporate borrowing. The evidence comes from a large panel of publicly traded firms in 38 countries over the period 1994-2002. Reforms are measured with a comprehensive new index that tracks six separate dimensions. We find that these transformations have increased leverage and lengthened debt maturity in advanced economies, as expected, suggesting that in these countries corporate credit markets have become deeper. In emerging economies, the picture is more mixed: more international openness has led to more leverage but shorter debt maturity. Financial sector reforms have reduced leverage, while their effects on debt maturity have differed depending on the type of reform. Importantly, the differential impact of openness and reforms on the leverage and debt maturity of firms in advanced and emerging market countries also emerges when we distinguish between firms that are potentially financially constrained and firms that are not. These findings suggest that in emerging economies fundamental institutional weaknesses make it difficult to secure the benefits of international financial openness and domestic financial reforms.
We examine whether the cross-country incidence and severity of the 2008-2009 global recession is systematically related to pre-crisis macroeconomic and financial factors. We find that the pre-crisis level of development, increases in the ratio of private credit to GDP, current account deficits, and openness to trade are helpful in understanding the intensity of the crisis. International risk sharing did little to shield domestic demand from the country-specific component of output declines, while those countries with large pre-crisis current account deficits saw domestic demand fall by much more than domestic output during the crisis.
Output gap estimates are subject to a wide range of uncertainty owing to data revisions and the difficulty in distinguishing between cycle and trend in real time. This is important given the central role in monetary policy of assessments of economic activity relative to capacity. We show that country desks tend to overestimate economic slack, especially during recessions, and that uncertainty in initial output gap estimates persists several years. Only a small share of output gap revisions is predictable ex ante based on characteristics like output dynamics, data quality, and policy frameworks. We also show that for a group of Latin American inflation targeters the prescriptions from typical monetary policy rules are subject to large changes due to output gap revisions. These revisions explain a sizable proportion of the deviation of inflation from target, suggesting this information is not accounted for in real-time policy decisions.
This paper employs newly constructed measures for productivity differentials, external imbalances, and commodity terms of trade to estimate a panel cointegrating relationship between real exchange rates and a set of fundamentals for a sample of 48 industrial countries and emerging markets. It finds evidence of a strong positive relation between the CPI-based real exchange rate and commodity terms of trade. The estimated impact of productivity growth differentials between traded and nontraded goods, while statistically significant, is small. Increases in net foreign assets and in government consumption tend to be associated with appreciating real exchange rates.
Capital account liberalization - orderly, properly sequence, and befitting the individual circumstances of countries- is an inevitable step for all countries wishing to realize the benefits of the globalized economy. This paper reviews the theories behind capital account liberalization and examines the dangers associated with free capital flows. The authors conclude that the dangers can be limited through a combination of sound macroeconomic and prudential policies.
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.
The paper examines the extent to which current account imbalances of euro area countries are related to intra-euro area factors and to external trade shocks. We argue that the traditional explanations for the rising imbalances are correct, but are incomplete. We uncover a large impact of declines in export competitiveness and asymmetric trade developments vis-à-vis the rest of the world –in particular vis-à-vis China, Central and Eastern Europe, and oil exporters- on the external balance of euro area debtor countries. While current account imbalances of euro area deficit countries vis-à-vis the rest of the world increased, they were financed mostly by intra-euro area capital inflows (in particular by the purchase of government and financial institutions’ securities, and cross-border interbank lending) which permitted external imbalances to grow over time.
This paper highlights the increased dispersion in net external positions in recent years, particularly among industrial countries. It provides a simple accounting framework that disentangles the factors driving the accumulation of external assets and liabilities (such as trade imbalances, investment income flows, and capital gains) for major external creditors and debtors. It also examines the factors driving the foreign asset portfolio of international investors, with a special focus on the weight of U.S. liabilities in the rest of the world's stock of external assets. Finally, it relates the empirical evidence to the current debate about the roles of portfolio balance effects and exchange rate adjustment in shaping the external adjustment process.
Under alternative assumptions on the likely developments in external financing of PCPE transition, and based on a multi-country, forward-looking model that includes a simplified PCPE block, we simulate the response of PCPEs to a transfer of capital from the industrial countries, and assess the potential implications for Western Europe over the next ten years. Real interest rates in Western Europe are likely to experience only mild upward pressure, and most macroeconomic aggregates are likely to change by substantially smaller magnitudes than typical over the business cycle.
Capital flows are closely monitored, but surprisingly little is known about the stocks of external assets and liabilities held by countries, especially in the developing world. This paper constructs estimates of foreign assets and liabilities and their equity and debt subcomponents for 66 industrial and developing countries for the period 1970-97. It explores the sensitivity of estimates of stock positions to the treatment of valuation effects not captured in balance of payments data. Finally, it characterizes the stylized facts of estimated stocks and asks whether there are trends in net foreign asset positions and differences in debt-equity ratios across countries.
The founders of the Bretton Woods System 60 years ago were primarily concerned with orderly exchange rate adjustment in a world economy that was characterized by widespread restrictions on international capital mobility. In contrast, the rapid pace of financial globalization during recent years poses new challenges for the international monetary system. In particular, large gross cross-holdings of foreign assets and liabilities mean that the valuation channel of exchange rate adjustment has grown in importance, relative to the traditional trade balance channel. Accordingly, this paper empirically explores some of the interconnections between financial globalization and exchange rate adjustment and discusses the policy implications.
The paper studies determinants and consequences of sharp reductions in current account imbalances (reversals) in low- and middle-income countries. It poses two questions: what triggers reversals, and what factors explain how costly reversals are? It finds that both domestic variables, such as the current account balance, openness to trade, and the level of reserves, and external variables, such as terms of trade shocks, U.S. real interest rates, and growth in industrial countries, seem to play important roles in explaining reversals in current account imbalances. It also finds some evidence that countries with a less appreciated real exchange rate, higher investment, and more openness before the reversal tend to grow faster after a reversal occurs.
International financial integration allows countries to become net creditors or net debtors with respect to the rest of the world. In this paper, we show that a small set of fundamentals-shifts in relative output levels, the stock of public debt and demographic factors-can do much to explain the evolution of net foreign asset positions. In addition, we highlight the role that "external wealth" plays in determining the behaviour of the trade balance, and we provide some evidence that a portfolio balance effect exists: real interest rate differentials are inversely related to net foreign asset positions.
In recent decades, the foreign assets and liabilities of advanced economies have grown rapidly relative to GDP, with the increase in gross cross-holdings far exceeding changes in the size of net positions. Moreover, the portfolio equity and FDI categories have grown in importance relative to international debt stocks. This paper describes the broad trends in international financial integration for a sample of industrial countries and seeks to explain the cross-country and time-series variation in the size of international balance sheets. It also examines the behavior of the rates of return on foreign assets and liabilities, relating them to "market" returns.
The effects of income and consumption taxation are examined in the context of models in which the growth process is driven by the accumulation of human and physical capital. The different channels through which these taxes affect economic growth are discussed, and it is shown that in general the taxation of factor incomes (human and physical capital) is growth-reducing. The effects of consumption taxation on growth depend crucially on the elasticity of labor supply, and therefore on the specification of the leisure activity. The paper also derives some implications for the optimal intertemporal choice of tax instruments.
This paper compares the experience with exchange-rate–based stabilization (ERBS) of four Western European countries with that of high-inflation developing countries. In general, the behavior of key macroeconomic variables—inflation, output, demand, the real exchange rate and the current account—in the four countries examined did not correspond to the pattern observed in developing countries, although some resemblance to this pattern could be found in Italy in 1987–92 and Greece in 1994–96. The experience with ERBS in Western Europe highlights the importance of incomes policy as an ingredient of a successful stabilization program and shows that the adoption of a looser anchor does not necessarily reduce the output cost of disinflation.
This paper examines the effects of taxation of human capital, physical capital and foreign assets in a multi-sector model of endogenous growth. It is shown that in general the growth rate is reduced by taxes on capital and labor (human capital) income. When the government faces no borrowing constraints and is able to commit to a given set of present and future taxes, it is shown that the optimal tax plan involves high taxation of both capital and labor in the short run. This allows the government to accumulate sufficient assets to finance spending without any recourse to distortionary taxation in the long run. When restrictions to government borrowing and lending are imposed, the model implies that human and physical capital should be taxed similarly.
In a large panel of countries, we find that less liquid countries are more likely to default on their external debt. Specifically, for given total external debt, the probability of a crisis increases with the proportion of short-term debt and debt service coming due and decreases with foreign exchange reserves. This correlation, however, is consistent with a standard model of optimal default and need not be ascribed to self-fulfilling creditor runs. Also, the correlation with short-term debt appears to be driven by joint endogeneity. The policy implications are discussed.
This paper studies determinants and effects of capital controls using a panel of 61 developed and developing countries. The results suggest that capital account restrictions are more likely to be in place in countries with low income, a large share of government, and where the central bank is not independent. Other determinants of controls include the exchange rate regime, current account imbalances and the degree of openness of the economy. We also find that capital controls and other foreign exchange restrictions are associated with higher inflation and lower real interest rates. We do not find any robust correlation between our measures of controls and the rate of growth, although there is evidence that countries with large black market premia grow more slowly.
This paper studies the fiscal restructuring of the first half of the 1990s in the major industrial countries. It presents and calibrates a simple model of the labor market and integrates it into a multi-country macroeconomic model that takes into account the effects of distortionary taxes. It then uses the resulting framework to simulate the effects of recent and prospective changes in fiscal policies in the group of seven major industrial countries. The analysis suggests that in the long run the impact on output is likely to be positive in those countries that relied relatively more on expenditure cuts or indirect tax increases (such as Canada, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom), while the effect of the fiscal restructuring on output is estimated to be negative in those countries that relied primarily on labor and capital taxes (Germany, Italy, and the United States).
Several European Union countries have recently implemented or are envisaging fiscal that operations improve budgetary figures but have no structural impact on government finances. This paper evaluates some of these measures using a balance sheet approach. In particular, it examines the degree to which reductions in government debt in EU countries has been accompanied by a decumulation of government assets. In the run-up to Maastricht (1997) it finds a strong correlation between changes in government liabilities and government assets, and larger declines in government assets in countries starting from higher public debt levels.
This paper investigates the economic impact of a coordinated reduction in military expenditures of 20 percent using a specially modified version of the MULTIMOD world economic model. Simulation results indicate that in developing countries the present value of consumption increases by 46 percent of 1992 GDP, compared to military expenditures cuts, in present value terms, of 33 percent of 1992 GDP. The gains reflect both the release of domestic resources and a positive international economic externality due to enhanced trade and lower world interest rates. Accordingly, the net debtor developing country gains exceed those of industrial countries. Examination of individual developing country economies confirms the significance of the external trade effect on the pattern and level of gains.
The paper provides a systematic analysis of bilateral, source and host factors driving portfolio equity investment across countries, using newly-released data on international equity holdings at the end of 2001. It develops a model that links bilateral equity holdings to bilateral trade in goods and services and finds that the data strongly support such a correlation. Larger bilateral positions are also associated with proxies for informational proximity. It further documents that the scale of aggregate foreign equity asset and liability holdings is larger for richer countries and countries with more developed stock markets.
The 18 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (APEC) encompass not only a wide geographic area but also broad differences in stages of economic development, including among them some of the fastest- growing economies in the world. Such rapid growth has been ficilitated by high levels of investment and trade, international linkages, and, in most APEC economies, macroeconomic policies that have sustained growth while not sparking excessive inflation. This study offers insights about how medium and long-term changes in real exchange rates have affected international (and intra-APEC) trade and investment in the region.
Recent years have witnessed a change in the composition of capital flows to developing countries, and FDI and equity flows have been playing an increasing role. In this paper we discuss the challenges for international macroeconomics that these developments pose and characterize stylized facts associated with the structure of external liabilities in developing countries, focusing in particular on FDI and equity stocks.
This paper examines the rationale for the imposition of fiscal rules as a way to reduce budgetary imbalances. It presents theoretical arguments for the existence of a “fiscal deficit bias” and the empirical evidence on the economic, political and institutional factors leading to this bias. In the context of these findings, it discusses the potential role of legal constraints on the level of key fiscal variables, and of reforms in budgetary procedures in enhancing fiscal discipline. It also evaluates proposals for budgetary reform in Italy.
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.
We construct estimates of external assets and liabilities for 145 countries for the period 1970-2004. We describe our estimation methods and present key features of the data at the country and the global level. We focus on trends in net and gross external positions, and the composition of international portfolios, distinguishing between foreign direct investment, portfolio equity investment, official reserves, and external debt. We document the increasing importance of equity financing and the improvement in the external position for emerging markets, and the differing pace of financial integration between advanced and developing economies. We also show the existence of a global discrepancy between estimated foreign assets and liabilities, and identify the asset categories that account for this discrepancy.
This paper examines the link between the net foreign asset position, the trade balance and the real exchange rate. In particular, it decomposes the impact of a country''s net foreign asset position ("external wealth") on its long-run real exchange rate into two mechanisms: the relation between external wealth and the trade balance; and, holding other determinants fixed, a relation between the trade balance and the real exchange rate. It also provides additional evidence that the relative price of nontradables is an important channel linking the trade balance and the real exchange rate.
This paper investigates the behavior of Korean trade flows during the last three decades and presents estimates of aggregate export and import equations. In particular, it considers different choices for scale and price variables and assesses the relative merits of these alternative specifications in terms of stability and forecasting performance. It also provides an assessment of the drastic change in the geographical destination of Korean exports during the 1990s.
Banking crises are usually followed by a decline in credit and growth. Is this because crises tend to take place during economic downturns, or do banking sector problems have independent negative effects on the economy? To answer this question we examine industrial sectors with differing needs for financing. If banking crises have an exogenous detrimental effect on real activity, then sectors more dependent on external finance should perform relatively worse during banking crises. The evidence in this paper supports this view. Additional support comes from the fact that sectors that predominantly have small firms, and thus are typically bank-dependent, also perform relatively worse during banking crises. The differential effects across sectors are stronger in developing countries, in countries with less access to foreign finance, and where banking crises have been more severe.
The paper studies the factors associated with the emergence of systemic banking crises in a large sample of developed and developing countries in 1980–94, using a multivariate logit econometric model. The results suggest that crises tend to erupt when the macroeconomic environment is weak, particularly when growth is low and inflation is high. Also, high real interest rates are clearly associated with systemic banking sector problems, and there is some evidence that vulnerability to balance of payments crises has played a role. Countries with an explicit deposit insurance scheme were particularly at risk, as were countries with weak law enforcement.
We study the effects of electoral institutions on the size and composition of public expenditure in OECD and Latin American countries. We present a model emphasizing the distinction between purchases of goods and services, which are easier to target geographically, and transfers, which are easier to target across social groups. Voters have an incentive to elect representatives more prone to transfer spending in proportional systems. The model also predicts higher primary spending in proportional systems when the share of transfer spending is high. After defining rigorous measures of proportionality, we find considerable empirical support for our predictions.
This paper studies large reductions in current account deficits and exchange rate depreciations in low- and middle-income countries. It examines which factors help predict the occurrence of a reversal or a currency crisis, and how these events affect macroeconomic performance. Both domestic factors, such as the low reserves, and external factors, such as unfavorable terms of trade, are found to trigger reversals and currency crises. The two types of events are, however, distinct; an exchange rate crash is associated with a fall in output growth and a recovery thereafter, while for reversals there is no systematic evidence of a growth slowdown.
Do fiscal rules likely lead to fiscal adjustment, or do they encourage the use of ‘creative accounting’? This question is studied with a model in which fiscal rules are imposed on ‘measured’ fiscal variables, which can differ from ‘true’ variables because there is a margin for creative accounting. The probability of detecting creative accounting depends on its size and the transparency of the budget. The model studies the effects on fiscal policy of different rules, separating structural from cyclical effects, and examines how these effects depend on the underlying fiscal distortion and on the degree of transparency of the budget.
Staff Discussion Notes showcase the latest policy-related analysis and research being developed by individual IMF staff and are published to elicit comment and to further debate. These papers are generally brief and written in nontechnical language, and so are aimed at a broad audience interested in economic policy issues. This Web-only series replaced Staff Position Notes in January 2011.
The current crisis calls for two main sets of policy measures. First, measures to repair the financial system. Second, measures to increase demand and restore confidence. While some of these measures overlap, the focus of this note is on the second set of policies, and more specifically, given the limited room for monetary policy, on fiscal policy.
With asset values falling sharply in recent years, many companies around the world are under pressure to restore the solvency of their defined-benefit pension plans. Will this lead to higher contributions? Will higher contributions increase labor costs and reduce employment? Does this mechanism exacerbate economic downturns? What are the economic effects of pension fund regulation? This paper develops a theoretical model to address these questions. Although its scope is more general, the model captures the main institutional features of the pension system in the Netherlands, a country where the economic effects of the pension shock are widely debated.
Significant aging is projected for many high-saving emerging economies of East and Southeast Asia. By 2025, the share of the elderly in their populations will at least double in most of these countries. The share of the young will fall. Aging populations could adversely affect saving rates in these economies, particularly after 2025. For the world, one may observe that, initially, the Asian Tigers could become increasingly important for world savings, reflecting their increased weight in the world economy, their high saving and growth rates, and the aging of the industrial countries. After 2025, the aging of the Tigers may reinforce the tendency toward a declining world saving rate.
Foreign banks have greatly increased their presence in emerging market countries in recent years. This paper compares the performance of domestic banks and a long-established group of foreign banks during the recent crisis in Malaysia. We find that the sharpest differences are between banks mainly active in Asia (including all domestic and some foreign banks) and foreign banks not specialized in Asia. The latter group performed better than the rest during the crisis, maintaining higher profitability thanks to higher interest margins and lower nonperforming loans. Foreign banks did not abandon the local market during the crisis and received less government support than domestic institutions.
The brain drain from developing countries has been lamented for many years, but knowledge of the empirical magnitude of the phenomenon is scant owing to the lack of systematic data sources. This paper presents estimates of emigration rates from 61 developing countries to OECD countries for three educational categories constructed using 1990 U.S. Census data, Barro and Lee’s data set on educational attainment, and OECD migration data. Although still tentative in many respects, these estimates reveal a substantial brain drain from the Caribbean, Central America, and some African and Asian countries.