The economy rebounded strongly from the pandemic recession last year while prudent macroeconomic management maintained robust buffers. But the war in Ukraine and the international sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus have resulted in significant spillovers to Moldova, with implications yet to fully play out. At the outbreak of hostilities, FX market pressures triggered significant foreign currency interventions and bank deposit withdrawals, while dollarization has intensified. Moldova has received the highest per capita inflow of Ukrainian refugees (17 percent of the total population), of which about 100,000 refugees (4 percent of the total population) remain in Moldova. Driven by rising food and energy prices, inflation accelerated further above the target band.
The 2016–20 ECF/EFF helped rehabilitate Moldova’s banking sector, bolstering macro-financial stability. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, drought in 2020, and the ongoing surge in global energy prices, have slowed economic activity, intensified downside risks, and complicated policy making. While emergency financial assistance under a blended RCF/RFI (100 percent of quota) and SDR allocation (US$236 million) helped cushion the pandemic’s impact, Moldova remains among the poorest countries in Europe with long-standing governance and structural weaknesses inhibiting income convergence.
In recent years, we have observed an increase in low-income countries’ (LICs) access to international capital markets, especially after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). This paper investigates what factors—country-specific macroeconomic fundamentals and/or external variables—have contributed to the surge in external bond issuance by these LICs, which we refer to in our paper as ‘frontier economies’. Using data on public and publicly guaranteed (PPG) external bond issuance, outstanding PPG bond stock, as well as sovereign spreads, we employ panel data analysis to examine factors related to the increase in issuance by these economies as well as the reduction in their spreads over time. Our empirical study shows that both country-specific fundamentals (such as public debt, current account balance, level of reserves, quality of institutions) and external variables (such as US growth and the VIX index) play a role in explaining the increased amount of issuance and the decline in spreads of frontier economies’ sovereign bonds. The impact of some of these variables on issuance appears to reflect a country’s need to issue bonds for external financing (‘the supply side’ of bond issuance), while others appear to correlate more through their impact on investors’ appetite for a country’s debt (‘the demand side’). In addition, the impact of country-specific variables can also be affected by external factors such as global risk appetite. Our analysis of key factors that have contributed to increased market access for frontier economies over the past decade provides important information to gauge the prospects for their continued market access, and for other LICs to join this group by tapping international markets for the first time.
This paper discusses the Republic of Moldova’s IMF staff report for Request for Disbursement Under the Rapid Credit Facility and Purchase Under the Rapid Financing Instrument. The IMF support will help finance the health and macroeconomic stabilization measures, catalyze donor support, and shore up confidence in Moldova. While downside risks have intensified, public debt remains sustainable with low risk of distress. Beyond the immediate response, the authorities have reinforced their commitment to engage in a governance-focused arrangement with the IMF in the coming months. The IMF stands ready to support Moldova in addressing its immediate and medium-term policy challenges. The authorities’ policies aim at mitigating the economic and social impact of the crisis and supporting the recovery, while maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability. They have ramped-up spending to respond to urgent healthcare needs, provided temporary tax relief and subsidized credit schemes to protect employment and businesses, and strengthened social assistance and unemployment programs. The National Bank of Moldova is ensuring orderly exchange rate adjustment and preventing liquidity distress. Financial policies continue to focus on prudent restructuring of banks’ credit portfolios subject to maintaining loan classification and provisioning standards.
This Selected Issues paper provides a systematic assessment of Moldova’s governance and institutional frameworks. It follows guidelines approved by the IMF executive board, which were developed to deliver systematic and even-handed analysis on macroeconomically critical governance and institutional vulnerabilities. This paper also focuses on seven key areas for IMF engagement: corruption, rule of law, regulatory framework, fiscal governance, financial sector oversight, anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism, and central bank governance. The analysis is based on internationally comparable data, diagnosis from IMF technical assistance reports, as well as other expert assessments. Strengthening the judiciary and rule of law and accelerating state-owned enterprises (SOE) reform are clear priorities. The widespread nature of governance vulnerabilities and institutional weaknesses in Moldova, combined with capacity constraints, creates challenges for policy formulation and prioritization. Policy efforts should therefore focus on strengthening rule of law and reforming Moldova’s judiciary system, as well as building capacity and increasing the autonomy of key institutions. Steadfast SOE reform would foster competition, investment, and productivity, while reducing fiscal risks.