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Rasmané Ouedraogo and Mr. David Stenzel
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have led to a rise in gender-based violence. In this paper, we explore the economic consequences of violence against women in sub-Saharan Africa using large demographic and health survey data collected pre-pandemic. Relying on a two-stage least square method to address endogeneity, we find that an increase in the share of women subject to violence by 1 percentage point can reduce economic activities (as proxied by nightlights) by up to 8 percent. This economic cost results from a significant drop in female employment. Our results also show that violence against women is more detrimental to economic development in countries without protective laws against domestic violence, in natural resource rich countries, in countries where women are deprived of decision-making power and during economic downturns. Beyond the moral imperative, the findings highlight the importance of combating violence against women from an economic standpoint, particularly by reinforcing laws against domestic violence and strengthening women’s decision-making power.
Mr. Kamil Dybczak and Ms. Mercedes Garcia-Escribano
This paper discusses the short- and medium-term fiscal implications of government wage bill spending. Working with a sample of 137 advanced, emerging and low-income countries, we use a panel VAR approach to identify differences in the dynamic behavior of revenues, nonwage expenditures, and the overall fiscal balance in response to changes in the wage bill. We show that the interaction between wage bill changes and these three fiscal items is alike and varies overtime. Higher wage bill spending does not revert in the medium term, but the initial worsening of the fiscal balance associated with it, though it persists, eventually halves as revenues increase while non-wage spending remains broadly unchanged. We also show that countries differ in how these three fiscal variables behave following wage bill changes and seek to explain this variation by a set of country characteristics, including the level of development, access to natural resources and public indebtedness levels.
Mr. Futoshi Narita and Rujun Yin
Timely data availability is a long-standing challenge in policy-making and analysis for low-income developing countries. This paper explores the use of Google Trends’ data to narrow such information gaps and finds that online search frequencies about a country significantly correlate with macroeconomic variables (e.g., real GDP, inflation, capital flows), conditional on other covariates. The correlation with real GDP is stronger than that of nighttime lights, whereas the opposite is found for emerging market economies. The search frequencies also improve out-of-sample forecasting performance albeit slightly, demonstrating their potential to facilitate timely assessments of economic conditions in low-income developing countries.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office

Abstract

This evaluation assesses the IMF’s work on countries in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS), addressing both (i) its engagement through surveillance, lending, and capacity development and (ii) the frameworks and procedures for its engagement. It finds that the IMF has provided unique and essential services to FCS to restore macroeconomic stability and rebuild core macroeconomic institutions as prerequisites for state building, playing a role in which no other institution can take its place. In this critical role, it is broadly acknowledged to have had a high impact. While the IMF has provided relatively little direct financing, it has catalyzed donor support through its assessment of a country’s economic policies and prospects. Notwithstanding this positive assessment, the IMF’s overall approach to its FCS work seems to have been conflicted. Not only has it failed consistently to make hard choices necessary to achieve full impact from its engagement in countries where success requires patient and dedicated attention over the long haul, but past efforts have not been sufficiently bold or adequately sustained, and the staff has tended to revert to treating fragile states using IMF-wide norms, rather than as countries needing special attention. The report proposes six recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the IMF’s FCS work: (i) to issue a statement of high-level commitment to FCS work for IMFC endorsement; (ii) to create an effective institutional mechanism with the mandate and authority to coordinate and champion such work; (iii) to develop comprehensive strategies for individual FCS; (iv) to adapt its lending toolkit to deliver more sustained financial support to FCS; (v) to take practical steps to increase the impact of its capacity development support to FCS; and (vi) to take steps to incentivize high-quality and experienced staff to work on individual FCS and find pragmatic ways of increasing field presence in high risk locations.

International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
In the December 2013 IMF Research Bulletin, the Research Summaries look at “Reforming Dual Labor Markets in Advanced Economies” (Giovanni Ganelli) and “Rating Through-The-Cycle: What Does the Concept Imply for Rating Stability Accuracy” (John Kiff, Michael Kisser, and Liliana Schumacher). The Q&A discusses Seven Questions on Financial Crises (Stijn Claessens, M. Ayhan Kose, Luc Laeven, and Fabián Valencia). This issue also includes a listing of recent IMF Working Papers and IMF Staff Discussion Notes, as well as Recommended Readings from the IMF Bookstore. The top-viewed articles from recent of issues of “IMF Economic Review” are featured.
International Monetary Fund
This supplement provides background information on various aspects of capacity development (CD) for the main Board paper, The Fund’s Capacity Development Strategy—Better Policies through Stronger Institutions. It is divided into nine notes or sections, each focused on a different topic covered in the main paper. Section A explores the importance of institutions for growth, and the role the Fund can play in building institutions. Section B presents stylized facts about how the landscape for CD has changed since the late 1990s. Section C discusses the difficulties of analyzing CD data because of measurement issues. Section D provides a longer-term perspective on how Fund CD has responded to member needs. Section E contains information on previous efforts to prioritize CD, assesses Regional Strategy Notes (RSNs) and country pages, and suggests ways to strengthen RSNs, including by using the Fund’s surveillance products. Section F compares the technical assistance (TA) funding model proposed in the 2011