Western Hemisphere > Belize

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Abdullah Al-Hassan, Mary E. Burfisher, Mr. Julian T Chow, Ding Ding, Fabio Di Vittorio, Dmitriy Kovtun, Arnold McIntyre, Ms. Inci Ötker, Marika Santoro, Lulu Shui, and Karim Youssef
Deeper economic integration within the Caribbean has been a regional policy priority since the establishment of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the decision to create the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). Implementation of integration initiatives has, however, been slow, despite the stated commitment of political leaders. The “implementation deficit” has led to skepticism about completing the CSME and controversy regarding its benefits. This paper analyzes how Caribbean integration has evolved, discusses the obstacles to progress, and explores the potential benefits from greater integration. It argues that further economic integration through liberalization of trade and labor mobility can generate significant macroeconomic benefits, but slow progress in completing the institutional arrangements has hindered implementation of the essential components of the CSME and progress in economic integration. Advancing institutional integration through harmonization and rationalization of key institutions and processes can reduce the fixed costs of institutions, providing the needed scale and boost to regional integration. Greater cooperation in several functional policy areas where the region is facing common challenges can also provide low-hanging fruit, creating momentum toward full integration as the Community continues to address the obstacles to full economic integration.
Mr. Tamon Asonuma, Mr. Marcos d Chamon, Aitor Erce, and Akira Sasahara
Sovereign debt restructurings are associated with declines in GDP, investment, bank credit, and capital flows. The transmission channels and associated output and banking sector costs depend on whether the restructuring takes place preemptively, without missing payments to creditors, or whether it takes place after a default has occurred. Post-default restructurings are associated with larger declines in bank credit, an increase in lending interest rates, and a higher likelihood of triggering a banking crisis than pre-emptive restructurings. Our local projection estimates show large declines in GDP, investment, and credit amplified by severe sudden stops and transmitted through a “capital inflow-credit channel”.
Ahmed El-Ashram
The question of how scaling up public investment could affect fiscal and debt sustainability is key for countries needing to fill infrastructure gaps and build resilience. This paper proposes a bottom-up approach to assess large public investments that are potentially self-financing and reflect their impact in macro-fiscal projections that underpin the IMF’s Debt Sustainability Analysis Framework. Using the case of energy sector investments in Caribbean countries, the paper shows how to avoid biases against good projects that pay off over long horizons and ensure that transformative investments are not sacrificed to myopic assessments of debt sustainability risks. The approach is applicable to any macro-critical investment for which user fees can cover financing costs and which has the potential to raise growth without crowding-out.
International Monetary Fund
Correspondent banking relationships (CBRs), which facilitate global trade and economic activity, have been under pressure in several countries. So far, cross-border payments have remained stable and economic activity has been largely unaffected, despite a recent slight decrease in the number of CBRs. However, in a limited number of countries, financial fragilities have been accentuated as their cross-border flows are concentrated through fewer CBRs or maintained through alternative arrangements. These fragilities could undermine affected countries’ long-run growth and financial inclusion prospects by increasing costs of financial services and negatively affecting bank ratings.
Mr. Tamon Asonuma, Gerardo Peraza, Kristine Vitola, and Mr. Takahiro Tsuda
This paper examines the causes, processes, and outcomes of the two Belize sovereign debt restructurings in 2006–07 and in 2012–13 that occurred outside of an IMF-supported program. It finds that the motivation for the two debt restructurings differed, as the former was driven by external liquidity concerns while the latter was motivated by a substantial increase in the coupon rates and future fiscal solvency concerns. Despite differential treatment between residents and non-residents, both 2006–07 and 2012–13 debt exchanges were executed through collaborative engagement, due in part to the existence of a broad-based creditor committee and the authorities’ effective communication strategy. However, while providing temporary liquidity relief, neither of the debt restructurings properly addressed long-term debt sustainability concerns. Going forward, the success of the 2012–13 debt restructuring will still depend on the country’s ability to strengthen fiscal efforts and public debt management framework.
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.
International Monetary Fund
his paper reviews the recent application of the Fund’s policies and practices on sovereign debt restructuring. Specifically, the paper: • recaps in a holistic manner the various policies and practices that underpin the Fund's legal and policy framework for sovereign debt restructuring, including on debt sustainability, market access, financing assurances, arrears, private sector involvement (PSI), official sector involvement (OSI), and the use of legal instruments; • reviews how this framework has been applied in the context of Fund-supported programs and highlights the issues that have emerged in light of recent experience with debt restructuring; and • describes recent initiatives in various fora aimed at promoting orderly sovereign debt restructuring, highlighting differences with the Fund’s existing framework. Based on this stocktaking, the paper identifies issues that could be considered in further depth in follow-up work by staff to assess whether the Fund’s framework for debt restructuring should be adapted: • first, debt restructurings have often been too little and too late, thus failing to re-establish debt sustainability and market access in a durable way. Overcoming these problems likely requires action on several fronts, including (i) increased rigor and transparency of debt sustainability and market access assessments, (ii) exploring ways to prevent the use of Fund resources to simply bail out private creditors, and (iii) measures to alleviate the costs associated with restructurings; • second, while creditor participation has been adequate in recent restructurings, the current contractual, market-based approach to debt restructuring is becoming less potent in overcoming collective action problems, especially in pre-default cases. In response, consideration could be given to making the contractual framework more effective, including through the introduction of more robust aggregation clauses into international sovereign bonds bearing in mind the inter-creditor equity issues that such an approach may raise. The Fund may also consider ways to condition use of its financing more tightly to the resolution of collective action problems; • third, the growing role and changing composition of official lending call for a clearer framework for official sector involvement, especially with regard to non-Paris Club creditors, for which the modality for securing program financing commitments could be tightened; and • fourth, although the collaborative, good-faith approach to resolving external private arrears embedded in the lending into arrears (LIA) policy remains the most promising way to regain market access post-default, a review of the effectiveness of the LIA policy is in order in light of recent experience and the increased complexity of the creditor base. Consideration could also be given to extending the LIA policy to official arrears.
International Monetary Fund
The 2011 Article IV Consultation report concludes that Belize has weathered the financial crisis relatively well when compared with Caribbean Community peers. Executive Directors have commended the authorities for their macroeconomic management, which enabled Belize to weather the financial crisis. Although the near-term outlook is positive, challenges arise from the uncertain global environment, rising gross financing needs of the public sector, and the weak investment climate. Directors have emphasized the need to tighten further the fiscal stance and rebuild macroeconomic buffers.