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Luiza Antoun de Almeida and Ms. Diva Singh
In recent years, we have observed an increase in low-income countries’ (LICs) access to international capital markets, especially after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). This paper investigates what factors—country-specific macroeconomic fundamentals and/or external variables—have contributed to the surge in external bond issuance by these LICs, which we refer to in our paper as ‘frontier economies’. Using data on public and publicly guaranteed (PPG) external bond issuance, outstanding PPG bond stock, as well as sovereign spreads, we employ panel data analysis to examine factors related to the increase in issuance by these economies as well as the reduction in their spreads over time. Our empirical study shows that both country-specific fundamentals (such as public debt, current account balance, level of reserves, quality of institutions) and external variables (such as US growth and the VIX index) play a role in explaining the increased amount of issuance and the decline in spreads of frontier economies’ sovereign bonds. The impact of some of these variables on issuance appears to reflect a country’s need to issue bonds for external financing (‘the supply side’ of bond issuance), while others appear to correlate more through their impact on investors’ appetite for a country’s debt (‘the demand side’). In addition, the impact of country-specific variables can also be affected by external factors such as global risk appetite. Our analysis of key factors that have contributed to increased market access for frontier economies over the past decade provides important information to gauge the prospects for their continued market access, and for other LICs to join this group by tapping international markets for the first time.
Hui Jin, La-Bhus Fah Jirasavetakul, and Baoping Shang
This paper, using Moldova as an example, presents a systematic approach to assess the efficiency and equity of public education spending, identify sources of inefficiencies and inequality, and formulate potential reform options. The analytical framework combines international benchmarking with country-specific analysis—such as microeconomic analysis based on household survey data—and can provide important insights into diagnosing and reforming education systems. The analysis finds significant scope to improve both efficiency and equity of the education sector in Moldova. Potential reform measures include further consolidating the oversized school network, reducing overstaffing, and better targeting government subsidies. The current remuneration policy could also be improved to attract high quality teachers and incentivize performance.
Mr. Ralph Chami, Ernst Ekkehard, Connel Fullenkamp, and Anne Oeking
We present cross-country evidence on the impact of remittances on labor market outcomes. Remittances appear to have a strong impact on both labor supply and labor demand in recipient countries. These effects are highly significant and greater in size than those of foreign direct investment or offcial development aid. On the supply side, remittances reduce labor force participation and increase informality of the labor market. In addition, male and female labor supply show significantly different sensitivities to remittances. On the demand side, remittances reduce overall unemployment but benefit mostly lower-wage, lowerproductivity nontradables industries at the expense of high-productivity, high-wage tradables sectors. As a consequence, even though inequality declines as a result of larger remittances, average wage and productivity growth declines, the latter more strongly than the former leading to an increase in the labor income share. In fragile states, in contrast, remittances impose a positive externality, possibly because the tradables sector tends to be underdeveloped. Our findings indicate that reforms to foster inclusive growth need to take into account the role of remittances in order to be successful.
Zidong An, Tayeb Ghazi, Nathalie Gonzalez Prieto, and Mr. Aomar Ibourk
This paper investigates the relationship between economic growth and job creation in developing economies with a focus on low and lower middle-income countries along two dimensions: growth patterns and short-run correlations. Analysis on growth patterns shows that regime changes are quite common in both economic growth and employment growth, yet they are not synchronized with each other. Okun’s Law—the short-run relationship between output and labor market—holds in half of the countries in our sample and shows considerable cross-country heterogeneity.
Mr. Slavi T Slavov
There are 13 countries in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) with floating exchange rate regimes, de jure. This paper uses the framework pioneered by Frankel and Wei (1994) and extended in Frankel and Wei (2008) to show that most of them have been tracking either the euro or the US dollar in recent years. Eight countries, all of them current or aspiring EU members, track the euro. Of the five countries keying on the US dollar in various degrees, all but one belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States. The paper shows that the extent to which each country’s currency tracks the euro (or the dollar) is correlated with the structure of its external trade and finance. However, some countries appear to track the EUR or USD to an extent which appears inconsistent with inflation targeting, trade or financial integration, or the extent of business cycle synchronization. The phenomenon is particularly pronounced among the countries in the CESEE euro bloc, which may be deliberately gravitating around the euro in anticipation of eventually joining the Euro Area.
Elsie Addo Awadzi
Sustainable public debt has gained renewed attention as countries implement fiscal consolidation measures in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Sound public debt policies and debt management practices require robust legal underpinnings. Complex legal issues however arise in the design of the legal framework, and tradeoffs are required in many instances. This paper analyzes key features of modern public debt management legal frameworks, drawing from examples in advanced, emerging, and frontier markets. It aims to provide guidance for countries that seek to review and strengthen their public debt management legal frameworks.
Mr. Serhan Cevik
Using a novel municipality-level panel dataset, this paper investigates the empirical characteristics of vertical fiscal imbalances (VFIs) in Moldova over the period 2005–13. The results show that the extent of variation in VFIs across 898 municipalities can be explained by the level of per capita income, fiscal capacity, and demographic characteristics, as well as the central government’s fiscal behavior that reflects fiscal constraints and policy preferences at the national level. Political affiliation does not appear to be a significant factor, and the results are inconclusive in terms of direction. While some model specifications show larger VFIs when the mayor of a municipality belongs to the same party ruling the central government, other models suggest better coordination and thus lower VFIs. Altogether, these findings underscore the need for well-coordinated reforms to create economies of scale, enhance revenue collection, and improve the composition of spending at the subnational level.