Francisco Arizala, Mr. Matthieu Bellon, Ms. Margaux MacDonald, Mr. Montfort Mlachila, and Mustafa Yenice
After close to two decades of strong economic activity, overall growth in sub-Saharan Africa decelerated markedly in 2015–16 as the largest economies experienced negative or flat growth. Regional growth started recovering in 2017, but the question remains of how trends in the economies stuck in low gear will spill over to the countries that have maintained robust growth. This note illuminates the discussion by identifying growth spillover channels. The focus is on trade, banking, financial, remittance, investment, fiscal, and security channels, which are the most prominent and most likely to transmit growth trends across borders. In addition to bringing together findings from a broad array of existing research, the note identifies countries that are the most likely sources of regional spillovers and those that are most likely to be impacted, and provides estimates for the size of these channels. It finds that intraregional trade and remittance flows are an important channel for growth spillovers, while banking channels are less important but will remain a risk going forward. Finally, the note documents other important spillover channels through financial markets contagion, revenue-sharing arrangements in fiscal unions, commodity-pricing policies, corporate investment, and forced migration. The main takeaway is that the level of interdependence among sub-Saharan countries is higher than is generally assumed. Consequently, there is a need for additional emphasis on regional surveillance and spillover analysis, along with traditional bilateral surveillance.
This paper investigates the channels through which remittances affect macroeconomic volatility in African countries using a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model augmented with financial frictions. Empirical results indicate that remittances—as a share of GDP—have a significant smoothing impact on output volatility but their impact on consumption volatility is somewhat small. Furthermore, remittances are found to absorb a substantial amount of GDP shocks in these countries. An investigation of the theoretical channels shows that the stabilization impact of remittances essentially hinges on two channels: (i) the size of the negative wealth effect on labor supply induced by remittances and, (ii) the strength of financial frictions and the ability of remittances to alleviate these frictions.