Middle East and Central Asia > Iran, Islamic Republic of

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International Monetary Fund. Legal Dept.
This report provides a summary of the anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures in place in Italy as at the date of the onsite visit. It analyzes the level of compliance with the Financial Action Task Force recommendations and the level of effectiveness of Italy's AML/CFT system, and provides recommendations on how the system could be strengthened. Italy has a mature and sophisticated AML/CFT regime, with a correspondingly well-developed legal and institutional framework. Law enforcement agencies access, use, and develop good quality financial intelligence. Financial sector supervisors have been using a risk-based approach to varying degrees, but their supervisory tools could be improved.
International Monetary Fund
This paper studies the impact of the level and volatility of the commodity terms of trade on economic growth, as well as on the three main growth channels: total factor productivity, physical capital accumulation, and human capital acquisition. We use the standard system GMM approach as well as a cross-sectionally augmented version of the pooled mean group (CPMG) methodology of Pesaran et al. (1999) for estimation. The latter takes account of cross-country heterogeneity and cross-sectional dependence, while the former controls for biases associated with simultaneity and unobserved country-specific effects. Using both annual data for 1970-2007 and five-year non-overlapping observations, we find that while commodity terms of trade growth enhances real output per capita, volatility exerts a negative impact on economic growth operating mainly through lower accumulation of physical capital. Our results indicate that the negative growth effects of commodity terms of trade volatility offset the positive impact of commodity booms; and export diversification of primary commodity abundant countries contribute to faster growth. Therefore, we argue that volatility, rather than abundance per se, drives the "resource curse" paradox.
International Monetary Fund
This paper presents a detailed analysis of the average fiscal policy responses of oil producing countries (OPCs) to the recent oil price cycle. We find that OPCs worsened their non-oil primary balances substantially during 2003-2008 driven by an increase in primary spending. However, this trend was partially reversed when oil prices went down in 2009. We also find evidence that fiscal policy has been procyclical and has hence exacerbated the fluctuations in economic activity. In addition, we estimate that a small reduction in oil prices could lead to very large financing needs in the near future. Finally, we show that long-term fiscal sustainability positions in OPCs have worsened.
Mr. Jemma Dridi and Maher Hasan
This paper examines the impact of oil-related income, among other fundamentals, on the equilibrium real effective exchange rate (ERER) in Syria. After reviewing the evolution of the Syrian multiple exchange rate regime since 1960 and assessing alternative measures for the exchange rate, the paper analyzes the impact of oil-related income on the ERER in the context of a behavioral equilibrium exchange rate model. The analysis concludes that ERER appreciates with higher oil-related income, productivity and net foreign assets, but, at odds with the conventional wisdom, depreciates with higher government expenditures given that an increase in expenditures usually translates into higher imports and weaker current account position. In light of the projected real shocks associated with the depletion of oil and the change in other fundamentals in the context of the ongoing transition to a market economy, a more flexible regime would serve Syria better in the future.
Mr. Martin Cihak and Mr. Heiko Hesse
The relative financial strength of Islamic banks is assessed empirically based on evidence covering individual Islamic and commercial banks in 18 banking systems with a substantial presence of Islamic banking. We find that (i) small Islamic banks tend to be financially stronger than small commercial banks; (ii) large commercial banks tend to be financially stronger than large Islamic banks; and (iii) small Islamic banks tend to be financially stronger than large Islamic banks, which may reflect challenges of credit risk management in large Islamic banks. We also find that the market share of Islamic banks does not have a significant impact on the financial strength of other banks.
International Monetary Fund
This Selected Issues paper analyzes economic growth in Iran. It uses a growth-accounting exercise to quantify the historical sources of growth over 1960–2002, including human capital accumulation and the contribution of Total Factor Productivity to growth. The paper presents an empirical study to quantify the role of several other contributing factors commonly discussed in the cross-country growth literature, including macroeconomic stability, financial development, trade openness, and the change in the terms of trade. The paper also examines issues in medium-term management of oil wealth in Iran.
Ms. Dalia S Hakura
This paper analyzes the weak growth performance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during 1980-2000 using an empirical model of long-run growth. The relative importance of the factors affecting growth is shown to vary across 16 MENA countries. In GCC countries, where oil revenues are significant, large governments appear to have been a key factor stifling private-sector growth and impeding diversification. In other MENA countries poor institutional quality has held back growth. Political instability is also shown to have played a role. While the MENA region's growth differential with east Asia is explained well in the 1980s, this is less so in the 1990s.
Mr. George T. Abed and Mr. Hamid R Davoodi


The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is an economically diverse region. Despite undertaking economic reforms in many countries, and having considerable success in avoiding crises and achieving macroeconomic stability, the region’s economic performance in the past 30 years has been below potential. This paper takes stock of the region’s relatively weak performance, explores the reasons for this out come, and proposes an agenda for urgent reforms.

Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Benedict J. Clements, Mr. Kevin Fletcher, and Ms. Gabriela Inchauste
This paper discusses issues relating to the domestic pricing of petroleum in oil-producing countries. It finds that in most major oil-exporting countries, government policies keep domestic prices below free-market levels, resulting in implicit subsidies that equaled 3.0 percent of GDP, on average, in 1999. Moreover, the paper argues, these petroleum subsidies are inefficient and inequitable-entailing substantial opportunity costs in terms of forgone revenue or productive spending-and also procyclical, complicating macroeconomic management. Nonetheless, the elimination of petroleum subsidies is often politically difficult, although countervailing measures and publicity campaigns can help engender support for reform.
Mr. Jose Martelino, Mr. S. Nuri Erbas, Mr. Adnan Mazarei, Ms. Sena Eken, and Mr. Paul Cashin


This paper provides background information on the Lebanese economy, based on an analysis of the economic consequences of war, and discusses several issues that will be central to Lebanon's prospects for recovery