Andres Gonzalez, Mr. Etibar Jafarov, Diego Rodriguez Guzman, and Chris Walker
Bolivia has achieved noteworthy success over the past 15 years in raising incomes, reducing poverty, and maintaining macroeconomic stability by deploying commodity revenues to finance transfers, public investment, and state-led development, using an exchange rate peg as a policy anchor. However, with the end of the commodity boom in 2014, fiscal deficits have grown and reserves have fallen. One route to restoring long-run sustainability would be to combine fiscal consolidation with a switch to a floating exchange rate. However, a preference for maintaining the peg could be accommodated with adjustments elsewhere in the policy framework. Employing a detailed dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model of the Bolivian economy, this study assesses the long-run sustainability and relative benefits of alternative policy combinations, and calculates optimal adjustment paths for the transition from the present situation to the steady state. It concludes that continued adherence to a fixed-rate regime, while not optimal, is feasible, if supported by a larger fiscal effort.
International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, Review Department, and International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
Economic inclusion is the broad sharing of the benefits of, and the opportunities to participate in, economic growth. It embodies equitable outcomes related to financial well-being as well as opportunities in access to markets and resources, and protects the vulnerable. Economic inclusion is a high priority issue for the IMF. High inequality is negatively associated with macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth—core to the Fund’s mandate in promoting systemic, balance of payments, and domestic stability. Some macroeconomic policies and reforms may have adverse distributional implications, which in turn can undermine public support for reforms. And, interest in distributional issues and inequality has grown among the membership, increasing the demand for the Fund to work in these areas. While the IMF has long recognized the importance of inequality issues, it has adopted in the recent years a more systematic and structured approach. In this regard, a pilot initiative on inequality was launched in 2015, with the third wave of countries currently participating. Once this wave is concluded, staff proposes to incorporate the analysis of inequality-related issues into broader country work where relevant. This note provides an overview of good practices and resources available to staff. The note is consistent with the 2015 Guidance Note for Surveillance Under Article IV Consultations and draws also on the 2013 Guidance Note on Jobs and Growth Issues in Surveillance and Program Work. It provides examples of good practices with respect to coverage of inequality-related issues in country reports and lays out the resources available to country teams, both with respect to existing analytical work as well as the availability of data and tools. Coverage of inequality issues in staff reports should be selective and calibrated to the degree of macroeconomic significance. All teams should consider whether inequality issues are relevant, taking into account also the authorities’ priorities, but with no presumption that inequality will be covered everywhere or every year and in-depth coverage anticipated in only a limited number of cases any year. Staff should point to macroeconomic significance where it exists, with analysis focused on aspects with economic implications and specific policy advice limited to areas where there is Fund expertise.
This paper studies the impact of natural resource extraction in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) from a number of angles. First, we exploit a novel dataset on the universe of giant oil and gas discoveries in the region to trace out the cyclical response of macroeconomic variables to discoveries over the short- and medium-run. Second, we use non-stationary panel data techniques to look at the long-run (trend) relationship between GDP per capita and the value of oil and gas production—our results imply that the recent fall in prices could depress GDP per capita by several percentage points. Last, we use Bolivia, which discovered huge gas reserves in the late 1990s, as a case study to apply the cross-country results and to study the impact of discoveries at the subnational level.
This paper examines the impact of the new financial services law in Bolivia—including credit quotas and interest rate caps—on financial stability and inclusion. So far, credit to “targeted” sectors is growing as intended by the law but the increase in the average loan size of microfinance institutions and the declining number of borrowers point to potentially adverse effects of the interest rate caps on financial inclusion. Looking ahead, while the new law contains many good provisions, international experience suggests that promoting financial access through credit quota and interet rate caps is very challenging. Indeed, trying to meet the 2018 credit target for the productive sectors and social housing could imply the build up of significant financial stability risks. These will need careful monitoring and possible modifications to the credit quotas and interest rate caps.
Dollarization rates in the Caucasus and Central Asia (CCA) region are among the highest in the world, with adverse consequences for macroeconomic stability, monetary policy transmission, and financial sector development. Using dynamic panel data models, we find that foreign exchange deposits and loans in the CCA are mainly driven by volatile inflation and exchange rates, low financial depth, and asymmetric exchange rate policies biased toward depreciation. Although there is no unique formula for success, empirical studies and cross-country experiences suggest that credible monetary and exchange rate frameworks, low and stable inflation, and deep domestic financial markets are essential ingredients of any de-dollarization strategy. In implementation, policymakers need to consider proper sequencing of policies, effective communication as well as risks from potential financial disintermediation and instability, and/or capital flight.
Despite substantial debt relief to HIPC Initiative completion point countries, long-term debt sustainability remains a challenge. This paper examines a number of structural factors affecting external debt sustainability. It shows that in HIPC completion point countries (i) the export base broadly remains narrow; (ii) fiscal revenue mobilization lags behind in some countries; and (iii) policy and institutional frameworks are still relatively weak. Achieving and maintaining longterm debt sustainability in completion point countries will require continued structural reforms, timely donor support, and close monitoring of new non-concessional borrowing.
Studies of the impact of trade openness on growth are based either on cross-country analysis-which lacks transparency-or case studies-which lack statistical rigor. We apply transparent econometric methods drawn from the treatment evaluation literature to make the comparison between treated (i.e., open) and control (i.e., closed) countries explicit while remaining within a unified statistical framework. First, matching estimators highlight the rather far-fetched country comparisons underlying common cross-country results. When appropriately restricting the sample, we confirm a positive and significant effect of openness on growth. Second, we apply synthetic control methods-which account for endogeneity due to unobservable heterogeneity-to countries that liberalized their trade regime and we show that trade liberalization has often had a positive effect on growth.
This paper tests several explanations for financial dollarization (FD), with an emphasis on Latin America. The results provide evidence that FD is a rational response to inflation uncertainty. The paper builds on previous research by finding that an exchange rate policy biased towards currency depreciation and currency mismatches tends to contribute to high FD and that FD is highly persistent. These results suggest that countries with significant FD should encourage the use of domestic currency by maintaining macroeconomic stability; allowing more exchange rate flexibility and less bias towards currency depreciation; and adapting prudential regulations to ensure that costs associated with FD are fully internalized in financial contracts. At the same time, restoring confidence in the domestic currency may take many years of sound policies.