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International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
A 9-month Staff Monitored Program (SMP) combined with a disbursement under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF) of 50 percent of quota (about US$174 million) was approved on March 30, 2021 to address BOP challenges and build a track record towards an upper credit tranche financial arrangement. This followed a disbursement under the RCF in November 2020 of 15 percent of quota (about US$52 million), which was the first-ever financial disbursement from the Fund to South Sudan. Progress has continued in implementing the revitalized peace agreement of 2018: following the formation of a unity government in February 2020 and the appointment of state governors in June 2020, the national parliament was sworn into office in August 2021. The humanitarian situation remains dire, with about 60 percent of the population facing high levels of acute food insecurity.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.

Abstract

The global recovery continues but the momentum has weakened, hobbled by the pandemic. Fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant, the recorded global COVID-19 death toll has risen close to 5 million and health risks abound, holding back a full return to normalcy. Pandemic outbreaks in critical links of global supply chains have resulted in longer-than-expected supply disruptions, further feeding inflation in many countries. Overall, risks to economic prospects have increased, and policy trade-offs have become more complex.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

As in other regions in the world, countries in MENAP and CCA regions are exposed to tightening in global financing conditions and ongoing global trade tensions. The former has already begun to impact several emerging market economies in MENAP and could have more severe implications should financial market sentiment suddenly deteriorate. Escalating global trade tensions will have a limited direct and immediate impact on these regions but could impart significant strains over time through negative effects on trading partners and through market confidence effects.

International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on the Russian state’s footprint in the economy. Available cross-country employment data suggests that the Russian state's is relatively large, like that of Scandinavian countries. In sectors where the state's share is high, economic concentration is larger, but concentration is large even in sectors where the state's share is low. Existing policies to protect and promote competition, including in state procurement, need to be strengthened. The IMF Staff estimates suggest that the state represented about one third of Russia’s value added (VA) in 2016, smaller than in the mainstream narrative but nonetheless large. The Russian state represents close to 40 percent of formal sector activity and 50 percent of formal sector employment. State-owned-enterprises (SOE) are present in most sectors of activity. The state’s share in VA was approximated by its share in sales for market activities, and by employment for nonmarket activities. SOEs appear to underperform relative to non-state firms in a variety of economic activities.
Nidhaleddine Ben Cheikh, Samy Ben Naceur, Mr. Oussama Kanaan, and Christophe Rault
Our paper examines the effect of oil price changes on Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) stock markets using nonlinear smooth transition regression (STR) models. Contrary to conventional wisdom, our empirical results reveal that GCC stock markets do not have similar sensitivities to oil price changes. We document the presence of stock market returns’ asymmetric reactions in some GCC countries, but not for others. In Kuwait’s case, negative oil price changes exert larger impacts on stock returns than positive oil price changes. When considering the asymmetry with respect to the magnitude of oil price variation, we find that Oman’s and Qatar’s stock markets are more sensitive to large oil price changes than to small ones. Our results highlight the importance of economic stabilization and reform policies that can potentially reduce the sensitivity of stock returns to oil price changes, especially with regard to the existence of asymmetric behavior.
Romain Bouis, Mr. Romain A Duval, and Johannes Eugster
The paper investigates the economic effects of major product market reforms in some of the historically most protected non-manufacturing industries. It relies on a unique mapping between new annual data on reform shocks and sector-level outcomes for five network industries (electricity and gas, land transport, air transport, postal services, and telecommunications) in twenty-six countries spanning over three decades. The use of a threedimensional panel and careful instrumentation of reform shocks using external instruments enables us to control for economy-wide macroeconomic shocks and address possible sources of omitted variable bias more broadly. Using a local projection method, we find that major reductions in barriers to entry yield large increases in output and labor productivity over a five-year horizon, concomitant with a relative price decline. By contrast, there is only a weak positive effect on sectoral employment, and investment is essentially unaffected, suggesting that output gains from reform primarily reflect higher total