Many Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, like Benin, have scaled up public investment during the last decade. Such a strategy contributed to the improvement of infrastructure, but also to a build-up of debt vulnerabilities. Looking forward, the planned fiscal consolidation will result in some restraint of public spending, and, in particular, public investment. In this context, maintaining or even raising the region’s economic growth will require an offset by the private sector. The analysis draws lessons from countries that have successfully transitioned from public investment to private investment-led growth using a global sample starting in the mid-1980s. These lessons highlight policies that have been crucial in fostering a rebound of private investment in the wake of a contraction of public investment. The analytical framework proposed by Hausman, Rodrik and Velasco (2005) is used to identify and classify such policies. Finally, the paper analyses how the identified policies could help Benin achieving a smooth transition from public to private sector-led growth.
This Selected Issues paper discusses a growth-at-risk (GaR) model which is used to compute a distribution of expected GDP growth for Benin. The model predicts growth rates of ~6.7 percent for 2019 and a range of 6.4–6.8 percent in the medium-term (depending on the specification). Risks to future growth are assessed to be tilted to the downside. 2019 GDP growth is estimated around 6.7 percent, on average, across several specifications. The model considers external factors (world trade, global financial conditions, trade policy uncertainty, and US consumer sentiment), country-specific exposures to external factors (commodity terms of trade and trade-partner growth), and domestic factors (domestic financial conditions, fiscal policy, and the exchange rate). The analysis reveals that growth projections estimated both for the median and mode are slightly higher conditioned on 2018 data, yet when expectations about 2019 are considered using World Economic Outlook projections they fall. Overall, risks seem to be tilted to the downside. Medium term growth is estimated at between 6.4 and 6.8 percent. Risks to growth remain tilted to the downside, yet less skewed than in the short term.
We investigate the complex interactions between credit constraints, political instability, and capital accumulation using a novel approach based on Kiyotaki and Moore’s (1997) theoretical framework. Drawing on a unique firm-level data set from Middle-East and North Africa (MENA), empirical findings point to a large and significant effect of credit conditions on capital accumulation and suggest that continued political unrest worsens credit constraints. The results support the view that financial development measured by a relaxing of financial constraints is key to macroeconomic development.
Mr. Raphael A Espinoza, Mr. Oral Williams, and Mr. Ananthakrishnan Prasad
We investigate the extent of regional financial integration in the member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The limited volume data available suggests that regional integration is non-negligible. Bahrain and Kuwait investments especially are oriented towards the region. The development of stock markets in the region will also improve the extent of financial integration. Interest rate data shows that convergence exists and that interest rate differentials are relatively short-lived-especially compared to the ECCU, another emerging market region sharing a common currency. Equities data using cross-listed stocks confirms that stock markets are fairly integrated compared to other emerging market regions, although financial integration is hampered by market illiquidity.
Sustaining a high rate of economic growth is the major policy issue facing the Arab economies. A detailed analysis of growth, investment, and savings for the period 1971-96, including through a growth accounting exercise, shows that increasing long-run growth requires improvements in both investment and domestic savings. In the past, the Arab region’s growth was overly reliant on volatile external sources of funding, and total factor productivity growth was too low. The paper discusses the policy priorities to overcome the legacy of poor growth.