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Mr. Serhan Cevik and Vibha Nanda
Fiscal sustainability remains a paramount challenge for small economies with high debt and greater vulnerability to climate change. This paper applies the model-based sustainability test for fiscal policy in a panel of 16 Caribbean countries during the period 1980–2018. The results indicate that the coefficient on lagged government debt is positive and statistically significant, implying that fiscal policy in the Caribbean takes corrective actions to counteract an increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio. Nonlinear estimations, however, show that the quadratic debt parameter is negative, which indicates that fiscal policy response is not adequate to ensure sustainability at higher levels of debt. We also find that the fiscal stance tends to be countercyclical on average during the sample period. These empirical results confirm that maintaining prudent fiscal policies and implementing growth-enhancing structural reforms are necessary to build fiscal buffers and ensure debt sustainability with high probability even when negative shocks occur over the long term.
Ms. Magda E. Kandil
The paper investigates asymmetry in the allocation of aggregate demand shocks between real output growth and price inflation over the business cycle in a sample of fifteen Caribbean countries. In most countries, the evidence indicates the existence of structural constraints, implying that positive demand shocks feed predominantly into prices while negative demand shocks mainly affect output. The high variability of aggregate demand in Caribbean countries, frequently exposed to shocks that are exacerbated by pro-cyclical policy stance, tends to create an upward bias on inflation and a downward bias on real output growth, on average, over time. The analysis highlights the benefits of eliminating structural rigidities responsible for asymmetric real and inflationary effects and points to the dangers of procyclical macroeconomic policies that exacerbate the adverse effects of demand variability.
Ms. Nita Thacker, Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia, and Mr. Roberto Perrelli
After earlier success, growth performance in most Caribbean countries has been disappointing since the early 1990s. With slower growth, output has fallen behind that of relevant comparator countries. This paper analyzes the growth experience of the Caribbean countries from a cross country perspective. Three findings stand out. First, the slowdown in growth is explained more by a decline in productivity rather than a lack of investment. Second, tourism has been a significant contributor to higher growth (through both capital accumulation and productivity) and lower output volatility, and in many countries there is scope for further expansion of this sector. Third, the small size and the fact that most of these countries are islands have limited growth. Policies aimed at improving productivity, further development of the tourism sector, and regional integration could pay dividends in terms of higher growth in the region.
Mr. Paul Cashin
This paper identifies and describes key features of Caribbean business cycles during the period 1963-2003. In particular, the chronologies in the Caribbean classical cycle (expansions and contractions in the level of output) and growth cycle (periods of above-trend and below-trend rates of economic growth) are identified. It is found that Caribbean classical cycles are longer-lived than those of developed countries and non-Caribbean developing countries. While there are large asymmetries in the duration and amplitude of phases in the Caribbean classical cycle, on both measures the Caribbean growth cycle is much more symmetric. Further, there is some evidence of synchronization among the classical cycles of Caribbean countries, and stronger evidence of synchronization of Caribbean growth cycles.