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Hee Soo Kim, Carlos Chaverri, Emilio William Fernandez Corugedo, and Pedro Juarros
Central America is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to extreme climate events. The literature estimates the macroeconomic effects of climate events mainly using annual data, which might underestimate the true effects as these extreme events tend to be short-lived and generate government and family support in response. To overcome this limitation, this paper studies Central American countries’ macroeconomic impact of climatic disasters using high-frequency (monthly) data over the period 2000-2019. We identify extreme climate events by defining dummy variables related to storm and flood events reported in the EM-DAT (Emergency Events Database) and estimate country-specific VAR and panel VAR. The results suggest that a climatic disaster drops monthly economic activity in most countries in the region of around 0.5 to 1 percentage points on impact, with persistent effects on the level of GDP. We show that even as extreme climate events were relatively less severe under our sample period, quantitative effects are similar or larger than previously estimated for the region. In addition, remittances (transfers from family living abroad) increase for most countries in response to a extreme climate event, acting as a shock absorber. The results are robust to controlling for the severity of the climate events, for which we construct a monthly climate index measuring severity of weather indicators by following the spirit of the Actuaries Climate Index (ACI).
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Tajikistan successfully completed a 3-year ECF-supported program in May 2012 and needs to continue with ambitious reforms. While growth is robust, it is non-inclusive, leading to large-scale outmigration that makes Tajikistan the most remittance-dependent country in the world. The country remains the poorest of the eight in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) and stands next to last among the seven with rankings in the ease of doing business. Reliance on commodity imports, a narrow export base, and low buffers leave the economy vulnerable. Weak macroeconomic policy frameworks restrict the authorities’ ability to dampen shocks. State-directed lending and investment displace market-financed activity and create fiscal risks. Presidential elections are scheduled for November.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Guatemala has managed to keep infections and deaths moderate during the pandemic. The economic impact of COVID-19 has been mild given an early reopening of the economy, unprecedented policy support, and resilient remittances and exports. However, despite large-scale government interventions to support households, poverty and malnutrition have deteriorated following COVID-19 and the two major hurricanes battering Guatemala last November.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

Countries in the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (MENAP) region and those in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with swift and stringent measures to mitigate its spread and impact but continue to face an uncertain and difficult environment. Oil exporters were particularly hard hit by a “double-whammy” of the economic impact of lockdowns and the resulting sharp decline in oil demand and prices. Containing the health crisis, cushioning income losses, and expanding social spending remain immediate priorities. However, governments must also begin to lay the groundwork for recovery and rebuilding stronger, including by addressing legacies from the crisis and strengthening inclusion.

Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
Remitances are an important source of external financing in low- and middle-income countries. This paper uses the gravity model to analyze remittance flows in Russia and Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) countries. Standard gravity determinants, such as GDP in sending and recieiving countries, bilateral distance, existence of common borders and common official language, fit remittance flows well. Remittances also react to inflation and exchange rate movements in recipient countries to sustain their purchasing power. In line with the altruism hypothesis, remittances flow to countries with higher age dependency ratio. Remittances are countercyclical and help stabilize outputs in recipient countries. However, global shocks resulting in sharp output losses of sending countries would lead to large volatility and decline of remittance inflows in recipient countries. The results of the analysis can be used to assess the impact of the COVID-19 shock on projected remittance flows into CCA.
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
This technical advice provided by the staff of the IMF to the authorities of Afghanistan in response to their request for technical assistance (TA). The mission objectives were to assist the Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) in improving the quality of the balance of payments and international investment position (IIP) statistics. The mission took stock of recent improvements in the ESS compilation practices and commended the DAB’s Monetary Policy Department (MPD) for achieving most of the 2018 TA recommendations. Despite the progress achieved, major shortcomings remain to be addressed to enhance the policy relevance of external sector statistics (ESS) data. The highest priority should be given to the improvement of personal transfer’s coverage and the estimation of unrecorded personal transfers. Remittances through autonomous Money Service Providers and informal channels are not captured; although, there seems to be a large remittance channel. The inclusion of the opium economy will have significant impact in the national and international accounts.