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.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the growth, structural transformation, and export diversification in Benin. Although Benin has delivered high economic growth over recent years, it faces critical challenges regarding export diversification and domestic production. Benin’s competitiveness is impaired by structural bottlenecks. Low and stagnant productivity in the agriculture sector is perhaps a primary cause of the limited poverty reduction in rural areas. Policies to promote structural transformation and diversification should focus on addressing weaknesses that hinder entry into new lines of economic activity. Further progress on strengthening the business climate, addressing electricity shortages, and increasing human capital could provide significant benefits.
Leandro Medina, Mr. Andrew W Jonelis, and Mehmet Cangul
The multiple indicator-multiple cause (MIMIC) method is a well-established tool for measuring informal economic activity. However, it has been criticized because GDP is used both as a cause and indicator variable. To address this issue, this paper applies for the first time the light intensity approach (instead of GDP). It also uses the Predictive Mean Matching (PMM) method to estimate the size of the informal economy for Sub-Saharan African countries over 24 years. Results suggest that informal economy in Sub-Saharan Africa remains among the largest in the world, although this share has been very gradually declining. It also finds significant heterogeneity, with informality ranging from a low of 20 to 25 percent in Mauritius, South Africa and Namibia to a high of 50 to 65 percent in Benin, Tanzania and Nigeria.
International Working Group on External Debt Statistics
This issue of Finance & Development examines the good and bad sides of globalization. Sebastian Mallaby notes that after decades of increasing cross-border movements of capital, goods, and people, only migration continues apace. Capital flows have collapsed, and trade has stagnated. However, rather than a sign of retreat, trade and finance may be resetting to a more sustainable level consistent with continued globalization. IMF Chief Economist Maurice Obstfeld takes a closer look at trade. Ismaila Dieng profiles Leonard Wantchekon, a former activist who plans to train the next generation of African economists. Wantchekon, now a professor at Princeton University, is one of the few African economists teaching at a top US university. His research, which has received considerable attention from development economists, focuses on the political and historical roots of economic development in Africa.
I study the link between ethnic diversity, democracy, and corruption. In a static model, I show that contrary to conventional wisdom, corruption might emerge as a negative externality of democracy. This occurs through ethnicity, which appears as a rent-extracting technology in a democratic society. Extending the model into a dynamic framework, I find that this technology of extraction operates only at the early stage of democracy. Its impact tends to phase out as democracy matures. In other words, the model predicts that democracy exhibits a threshold effect on corruption.
This Selected Issues paper and Statistical Appendix analyzes sources of economic growth in Benin. It concludes that the policies implemented since the early 1990s paved the way for higher growth rate by raising total factor productivity as well as capital accumulation. The paper examines the cotton sector reform in Benin and the subsidies by major producing countries. It also analyzes recent trends in Benin’s external competitiveness, and conducts an analysis of the equilibrium exchange rate to assess whether the movements in the real effective exchange rate in Benin were consistent with the underlying macroeconomic fundamentals.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The rationale for IMF lending to Russia has been widely questioned, as have the record of earlier programs and the use made of previous IMF loans. In the following article, John Odling-Smee, Director of the IMF’s European II Department, explains that the resumed lending was fully justified to support Russia’s most recent economic policies.
Considering the need to broaden the tax base and to increase tax revenue in an efficient, equitable, and cost-effective manner, this paper analyzes presumptive taxation methods and their application in sub-Saharan Africa. Presumptive taxation involves simple techniques to capture income that frequently escapes conventional taxation. Presumptive taxation methods could be used more intensively in sub-Saharan Africa, and presumptive taxes on imports, withholding schemes, and graduated business license fees are most effective in raising additional tax revenue in a way commensurate with efficiency, equity, and administrative expediency. Also, intensified presumptive taxation will need stronger institutional capacity in tax administration.