The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented shock to firms with adverse consequences for existing productive capacities. At the same time, digitalization has increasingly been touted as a key pathway for mitigating economic losses from the pandemic, and we expect firms facing digital constraints to be less resilient to supply shocks. This paper uses firm-level data to investigate whether digitally-enabled firms have been able to mitigate economic losses arising from the pandemic better than digitally-constrained firms in the Middle East and Central Asia region using a difference-in-differences approach. Controlling for demand conditions, we find that digitally-enabled firms faced a lower decline in sales by about 4 percentage points during the pandemic compared to digitally-constrained firms, suggesting that digitalization acted as a hedge during the pandemic. Against this backdrop, our results suggest that policymakers need to close the digital gap and accelerate firms’ digital transformation. This will be essential for economies to bounce back from the pandemic, and build the foundations for future resilience.
Vahram Stepanyan, Gohar Abajyan, Anta Ndoye, and Ms. Marwa Alnasaa
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a cornerstone of Arab economies, accounting for over 90 percent of all businesses and providing a major source of new job creation. Governments across the Arab World recognize the important role that SMEs can play in delivering higher and more inclusive growth. Many have rightly placed SME development at the center of growth and jobs strategies to meet the needs of young populations. Authorities have initiated policy interventions and schemes to support SME development. But progress so far has been patchy, and more comprehensive policy action is needed. Fostering vibrant and competitive SMEs that contribute to employment opportunities and high value-added output requires various stakeholders to deliver on a broad range of factors. Arab governments need a holistic policy approach that addresses the gaps in access to finance, creates an enabling business environment, and upgrades human capital and infrastructure. The approach should also promote an entrepreneurial mindset.
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
This Technical Note discusses the findings and recommendations made in the Financial Sector Assessment Program for Morocco in the area of macroprudential policy, which can play an important role in mitigating financial stability risks in Morocco. The institutional framework is sound, but could be further strengthened. The current institutional setup comprising the Systemic Risk Surveillance and Coordination Committee provides a good framework, but remaining gaps could undermine its ability and willingness to act. Bank Al-Maghrib has recently taken important steps to advance financial stability analysis and develop a macroprudential policy framework. A risk mapping framework is now in place, a Financial Stability Report is now produced, and stress testing has been fine-tuned.
This paper examines Côte d’Ivoire’s growth experience and argues that the development of a manufacturing export sector, lower income inequality, and prudent fiscal policy would strengthen the sustainability of growth. This paper aims to draw lessons for Côte d’Ivoire based on experience of other comparable countries that are now emerging market economies. The financial sector could trigger a shock to the economy or reinforce impact on the real sector of nonfinancial shocks. The current economic conditions in Côte d’Ivoire offer a favorable opportunity to resolve the financial status of public entities facing difficulties and for banks to raise their capital buffers to absorb a possible rise of nonperforming loans in event of a growth shock.
Mr. Calixte Ahokpossi, Pilar Garcia Martinez, and Laurent Kemoe
We estimate the latent factors that underlie the dynamics of the sovereign bond yield curve in Morocco during 2004–14 based on the Dynamic Nelson-Siegel model. On this basis, we explore the interaction between macroeconomic variables and the yield curve, which is of direct relevance to macroeconomic policy-making. In Morocco’s context, we find that tighter monetary policy increases short-end maturities, and that the impact is small and short-lived. Economic activity is also briefly but significantly impacted, suggesting that even under a pegged exchange rate, monetary policy autonomy and effectiveness can be increased through greater central bank independence. Fiscal improvements significantly lower yield levels. Policy conclusions are that improvement in the fiscal and monetary policy frameworks, as well as greater financial sector development and inclusion, could benefit Morocco and strengthen the transmission mechanisms and effectiveness of macroeconomic policies.
This enhanced review of Senegal’s financial sector is one of several pilot reviews called for by the Executive Board in May 2012. The purpose of the reviews is to go beyond the traditional surveillance focus on banking system soundness and solvency by analyzing in more depth the interplay between financial development, macroeconomic and financial stability, and effectiveness of macroeconomic policies in low-income countries. Senegal is a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union; a number of key macroeconomic and financial policies are designed and implemented at the union level. This study focuses on Senegal-specific issues. Another pilot study, to be prepared in the context of the next annual consultation on regional policies in early 2013, will focus on union-wide issues.
The 1988 Basel I Accord set the common requirements of bank capital to promote the soundness and stability of the international banking system. The agreement required banks to hold capital in proportion to their perceived credit risks, and this requirement may have caused a “credit crunch,” a significant reduction in the supply of credit. We investigate the direct link between the implementation of the Basel I Accord and lending activities, using a data set spanning annual observations covering 1989–2004 for banks in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. The results provide clear support for a significant increase in credit growth following the implementation of capital regulations, in general. Despite higher capital adequacy ratios, banks expanded credit and asset growth. Credit growth appears to be driven by demand fluctuations attributed to real growth, cost of borrowing, and exchange rate risk. Overall, the effects of macroeconomic variables, in contrast to capital adequacy, appear to be more dominant in determining credit growth, regardless of the capital adequacy ratio, and regardless of variation across banks by nationality, ownership, and listing.
The 2012 Article IV Consultation report for Senegal discusses the fourth review of the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) implementation and request for modification of an assessment criterion. Senegal’s growth has been sluggish in recent years, with implications for poverty reduction. The authorities’ policies since the last Article IV Consultation have been broadly in line with IMF recommendations. In the medium term, growth is expected to return gradually to about 5 percent a year. However, the economy remains exposed to substantial risks.
The degree of an economy’s monetization, which has an important implication on economic growth, can be affected by the conduct of monetary policy, financial sector reform, and episodes of financial crises. The paper finds that monetization--measured by the ratio of broad money to nominal GDP-- in low- to middle-income countries is significantly correlated with per-capita GDP, real interest rates, and financial sector reform. It suggests that maintaining an upward momentum in monetization can be an important policy objective, particularly for low-income countries, and that monetary and financial sector policies need to be conducive to enhancing monetization.