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Patrick Petit, Mario Mansour, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Fighting the obesity epidemic has so far proven a difficult challenge, given the diversity of natural and processed foods, the complexity of food supply chains, and the fact that targeting excessive caloric consumption is far trickier than reducing overall consumption (as for tobacco). Nevertheless, efforts to curb caloric intake are gearing up and the experience from tobacco control has drawn much attention on a potential role for excise taxes in fighting obesity. Many related questions have therefore been raised as part of the IMF’s capacity development work: Should excises on unhealthy food be used to fight obesity? If so, under what conditions? What are the product and market characteristics that would help identify the relevant tax bases and the rates at which to tax them? While acknowledging that the scientific evidence keeps evolving, this note summarizes the ongoing debate and practice on food excises and on their potential role as a policy tool to fight the obesity epidemic, with a view to assist policymakers in deciding whether to go forward, and if so, how.How to Apply Excise Taxes to Fight Obesity
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

The world economy and global trade are experiencing a broad-based cyclical upswing. Since October 2017, global growth outcomes and the outlook for 2018–19 have improved across all regions, reinforced by the expected positive near-term spillovers from tax policy changes in the United States. Accommodative global financial conditions, despite some tightening and market volatility in early February 2018, have been providing support to economic recovery. Higher commodity prices are contributing to an improved outlook for commodity exporters. The US and Canadian economies posted solid gains in 2017 and are expected to grow above potential in the near term. Despite the improved near-term outlook, however, medium-term prospects are tilted downwards. Growth prospects for advanced economies are subdued and many emerging market and developing economies are projected to grow in per capita terms more slowly than advanced economies, raising concerns about income convergence. While risks appear broadly balanced in the near term, they skew to the downside over the medium term, including a possible sharp tightening of financial conditions, waning popular support for global economic integration, growing trade tensions and risks of a shift toward protectionist policies, and geopolitical strains.

International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

The world economy and global trade are experiencing a broad-based cyclical upswing. Since October 2017, global growth outcomes and the outlook for 2018–19 have improved across all regions, reinforced by the expected positive near-term spillovers from tax policy changes in the United States. Accommodative global financial conditions, despite some tightening and market volatility in early February 2018, have been providing support to economic recovery. Higher commodity prices are contributing to an improved outlook for commodity exporters. The US and Canadian economies posted solid gains in 2017 and are expected to grow above potential in the near term. Despite the improved near-term outlook, however, medium-term prospects are tilted downwards. Growth prospects for advanced economies are subdued and many emerging market and developing economies are projected to grow in per capita terms more slowly than advanced economies, raising concerns about income convergence. While risks appear broadly balanced in the near term, they skew to the downside over the medium term, including a possible sharp tightening of financial conditions, waning popular support for global economic integration, growing trade tensions and risks of a shift toward protectionist policies, and geopolitical strains.

Xiaodan Ding and Metodij Hadzi-Vaskov
This study analyzes composition of goods trade in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) along four main dimensions: revealed comparative advantage, product complexity, sophistication, and diversification. After describing some key trade patterns over the last half century, it compares the findings for LAC with other regions. Second, the study investigates how infrastructure quality, education, and tariff levels affect export composition. Third, using an approach based on product proximity, it aims to predict changes in LAC’s future composition of exports. The study concludes that policies to upgrade human capital and infrastructure are essential for increasing LAC’s export share in high-skill products.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This paper discusses three important sectors of Belize economy: financial, sugar market, and energy. Belize’s banking system has continued to strengthen since the 2014 Article IV Consultation in June 2014. Despite recent improvements, some banks’ balance sheets are still weak and exposed to adverse macroeconomic developments. The sugar sector makes a very important contribution to Belize’s economy. The sector is estimated to account for about 4-5 percent of GDP, 9-10 percent of total exports, 8 percent of employment, and 5-6 percent of foreign exchange earnings. But the reform of EU sugar regime, scheduled to take full effect in 2017, will most likely cause a significant drop in the EU sugar price.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.

Abstract

The economic outlook for Latin America and the Caribbean remains very challenging. Regional growth is projected to decline for a fifth consecutive year in 2015, dipping below 1 percent. Weakness is concentrated among South America's commodity exporters, where falling global commodity prices have compounded country-specific challenges. Meanwhile, growth is projected to be steady or stronger for most of the Caribbean, Central America, and Mexico, supported by lower oil bills for importers and robust economic recovery in the United States. The analysis in this report examines core challenges facing the region: the impact of lower commodity prices on fiscal and external positions, the drivers of the slowdown in investment, and the role of economic diversification for longer-term growth prospects.

Ms. Dora M Iakova, Mr. Luis M. Cubeddu, Gustavo Adler, and Mr. Sebastian Sosa

Abstract

Over the past fifteen years countries in Latin America made tremendous progress in strengthening their economies and improving living standards. Although output fell temporarily during the global financial crisis, most economies staged a rapid recovery. However, economic activity across the region has been cooling off and the region is facing a more challenging period ahead. This book argues that Latin America can rise to the challenge, and policymakers in the region are already implementing reforms in education, energy, and other sectors. More is needed, and more is possible, in Latin America’s quest to continue to improve living standards.