Middle East and Central Asia

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Juan Pablo Cuesta Aguirre and Mrs. Swarnali A Hannan
To shed light on the possible scarring effects from Covid-19, this paper studies the economic effects of five past pandemics using local projections on a sample of fifty-five countries over 1990-2019. The findings reveal that pandemics have detrimental medium-term effects on output, unemployment, poverty, and inequality. However, policies can go a long way toward alleviating suffering and fostering an inclusive recovery. The adverse output effects are limited for countries that provided relatively greater fiscal support. The increases in unemployment, poverty, and inequality are likewise lower for countries with relatively greater fiscal support and relatively stronger initial conditions (as defined by higher formality, family benefits, and health spending per capita).
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.

Abstract

A year into the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the race between vaccine and virus entered a new phase in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the path to recovery in 2021 is expected to be long and divergent. The outlook will vary significantly across countries, depending on the pandemic’s path, vaccine rollouts, underlying fragilities, exposure to tourism and contact-intensive sectors, and policy space and actions. 2021 will be the year of policies that continue saving lives and livelihoods and promote recovery, while balancing the need for debt sustainability and financial resilience. At the same time, policymakers must not lose sight of the transformational challenges to build forward better and accelerate the creation of more inclusive, resilient, sustainable, and green economies. Regional and international cooperation will be key complements to strong domestic policies.

Mr. Koshy Mathai, Mr. Christoph Duenwald, Ms. Anastasia Guscina, Rayah Al-Farah, Mr. Hatim Bukhari, Mr. Atif Chaudry, Moataz El-Said, Fozan Fareed, Mrs. Kerstin Gerling, Nghia-Piotr Le, Mr. Franto Ricka, Mr. Cesar Serra, Tetyana Sydorenko, Mr. Sébastien Walker, and Mr. Mohammed Zaher
This paper examines the role of social spending in improving socioeconomic outcomes in the Middle East and Central Asia. In particular, it addresses the following questions: (1) how large is social spending across the region? (2) how do countries in the region fare on socioeconomic outcomes? (3) how important is social spending as a determinant of these outcomes? and (4) how efficient is social spending in the region?
Mr. Koshy Mathai, Mr. Christoph Duenwald, Ms. Anastasia Guscina, Rayah Al-Farah, Mr. Hatim Bukhari, Mr. Atif Chaudry, Moataz El-Said, Fozan Fareed, Mrs. Kerstin Gerling, Nghia-Piotr Le, Mr. Franto Ricka, Mr. Cesar Serra, Tetyana Sydorenko, Mr. Sébastien Walker, and Mr. Mohammed Zaher
This paper examines the role of social spending in improving socioeconomic outcomes in the Middle East and Central Asia. In particular, it addresses the following questions: (1) how large is social spending across the region? (2) how do countries in the region fare on socioeconomic outcomes? (3) how important is social spending as a determinant of these outcomes? and (4) how efficient is social spending in the region?
Mr. Koshy Mathai, Mr. Christoph Duenwald, Ms. Anastasia Guscina, Rayah Al-Farah, Mr. Hatim Bukhari, Mr. Atif Chaudry, Moataz El-Said, Fozan Fareed, Mrs. Kerstin Gerling, Nghia-Piotr Le, Mr. Franto Ricka, Mr. Cesar Serra, Tetyana Sydorenko, Mr. Sébastien Walker, and Mr. Mohammed Zaher
This paper examines the role of social spending in improving socioeconomic outcomes in the Middle East and Central Asia. In particular, it addresses the following questions: (1) how large is social spending across the region? (2) how do countries in the region fare on socioeconomic outcomes? (3) how important is social spending as a determinant of these outcomes? and (4) how efficient is social spending in the region?
International Monetary Fund
The global coronavirus outbreak is a crisis like no other and poses daunting challenges for policymakers in many emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs), especially where the pandemic encounters weak public health systems, capacity constraints, and limited policy space to mitigate the outbreak’s repercussions. A severe economic impact in the first half of 2020 is inevitable. Medium-term projections are clouded by uncertainty regarding the pandemic’s magnitude and speed of propagation, as well as the longer-term impact of measures to contain the outbreak, such as travel bans and social distancing. However, most EMDEs are already suffering from disruptions to global value chains, lower foreign direct investment, capital outflows, tighter financing conditions, lower tourism and remittances receipts, and price pressures for some critical imports such as foods and medicines. Commodity exporters have to absorb, in addition, a sharp decline in export prices, notably for oil. Further, in most countries, the coronavirus outbreak is producing unanticipated health spending needs and revenue losses as activity slows. Coping with these challenges is especially difficult for countries with limited administrative capacity, tight external financing constraints and/or already high debt levels, and thus requires substantial support from the international community.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept., International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, &, and Review Department
This paper uses case studies to explore the nature and extent of past IMF engagement on social spending issues and to draw lessons for future engagement.