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Thorsten Beck, Mathilde Janfils, and Mr. Kangni R Kpodar
This paper uses data across 365 corridors to document time and country variation in remittance fees and explore factors predicting variation in remittance fees. We document a general reduction in such fees over the past decade although the goal of fees below 3 percent has not been met yet in many corridors. We identify both cost- and risk-based constraints and market structure as barriers to lower remittance fees. Higher transaction costs as result of a more rural population in the sending country and lower scale are associated with higher remittance fees. However, lower risks due to the stability of fixed exchange rates and Internet rather than cash payment are associated with lower remittance fees. Finally, remittance corridors dominated by banks and few players are characterized by higher fees.
Klaus-Peter Hellwig
I regress real GDP growth rates on the IMF’s growth forecasts and find that IMF forecasts behave similarly to those generated by overfitted models, placing too much weight on observable predictors and underestimating the forces of mean reversion. I identify several such variables that explain forecasts well but are not predictors of actual growth. I show that, at long horizons, IMF forecasts are little better than a forecasting rule that uses no information other than the historical global sample average growth rate (i.e., a constant). Given the large noise component in forecasts, particularly at longer horizons, the paper calls into question the usefulness of judgment-based medium and long-run forecasts for policy analysis, including for debt sustainability assessments, and points to statistical methods to improve forecast accuracy by taking into account the risk of overfitting.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

The External Sector Report presents a methodologically consistent assessment of the exchange rates, current accounts, reserves, capital flows, and external balance sheets of the world’s largest economies. The 2018 edition includes an analytical assessment of how trade costs and related policy barriers drive excess global imbalances.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
Outlook and risks. As Singapore prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in August, its economy continues to perform well. Despite the slow pace of the global recovery and a gradual decline in domestic credit growth and housing prices, projected economic growth of about 2.9 percent in 2015 is consistent with full employment and price stability. Growth is projected to slow down in the medium term, consistent with reduced reliance on foreign workers and rapid population aging. The authorities’ new growth model takes into account Singapore’s physical resource limits and aims to boost labor and land productivity. Risks to the baseline are tilted to the downside: Singapore’s highly open economy is exposed to external shocks, most notably slower global growth and the side effects from volatility in global financial markets. Domestic vulnerabilities, including elevated private indebtedness, can amplify the impact of external shocks. Policies. In January, in response to a decline in expected inflation and a more uncertain outlook for growth, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) reduced the pace of appreciation of the nominal effective exchange rate (NEER) band. The more benign near?to medium-term inflation outlook warrants the relative easing of monetary policy. The monetary policy framework is robust and flexible but rising domestic leverage and heightened global interest rate and exchange rate volatility warrant heightened vigilance in assessing the balance of forces between the various channels of monetary policy. Singapore continues to maintain high regulatory and supervisory standards. Recent macroprudential measures have contributed to smoothing the cycle for credit and house prices. The budget’s focus on boosting productivity, equality of opportunity, and inclusiveness is laudable, while the fiscal impulse is opportune given cyclical conditions. Restructuring and population aging. Building on Singapore’s success and faced with high income inequality and the physical limits of a city state, the authorities have re-engineered the country’s growth model to boost productivity while reducing reliance on foreign workers. The restructuring entails lower steady state growth and a shift in the functional distribution of income toward labor. Incentives provided for firms to increase productivity-enhancing investments and for Singaporeans to upgrade their skills should help ensure a successful transition. But slower potential growth and a lower share of profits in income could affect those investments, and gains in productivity could be realized only slowly. Flexibility in the application of foreign worker policies and continued review of incentives are warranted. The authorities are recalibrating fiscal policies with associated inter?and intra- generational impacts in order to proactively deal with Singapore’s rapid population aging, enhance inclusiveness and reduce inequality, while remaining true to the principles of individual responsibility and sound public finances.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.

Abstract

The sharp decline in oil and other commodity prices have adversely impacted sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, the region is projected to register another year of solid economic performance. In South Africa, however, growth is expected to remain lackluster, while in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone the Ebola outbreak continues to exact a heavy economic and social toll. This report also considers how sub-Saharan Africa can harness the demographic dividend from an unprecedented increase in the working age population, as well as the strength of the region's integration into global value chains.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The September 2007 issue of F&D looks at the growth of cities and the trend toward urbanization. Within the next year, for the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world's population will be living in urban rather than rural areas. What are the economic implications of this urban revolution? Economists generally agree that urbanization, if handled well, holds great promise for higher growth and a better quality of life. But as the lead article tells us, the flip side is also true: if handled poorly, urbanization could not only impede development but also give rise to slums. Other articles in this series look at poverty as an urban phenomenon in the developing world and the development of megacities and what this means for governance, funding, and the provision of services. Another group of articles discusses the challenge of rebalancing growth in China. 'People in Economics' profiles Harvard economist Robert Barro; 'Country Focus' looks at the challenges facing Mexico, and 'Back to Basics' takes a look at real exchange rates.
International Monetary Fund
The Board of Governors in a Resolution adopted on September 18 requested that the Executive Board reach agreement on a new quota formula, starting discussions soon after the Annual Meetings in Singapore. According to the Resolution, this work should be completed by the Annual Meetings in 2007, and no later than the IMFC Meeting in the Spring of 2008. The Resolution states that the new formula should provide a simpler and more transparent means of capturing members’ relative positions in the world economy. This new formula would provide the basis for a second round of ad hoc quota increases, as part of the program of quota and voice reform to be completed by the Annual Meetings in 2007, and no later than by the Annual Meetings of 2008. This paper explores key issues related to a new quota formula as background for an informal Board seminar. This seminar is the first opportunity for the Board to discuss the new formula since the adoption of the Resolution. The paper first reviews the broad considerations and principles that should guide the design of a new quota formula, taking as a starting point the roles of quotas in the Fund. The paper also considers more specific issues in that light, such as the selection of variables and possible functional forms for the new formula. In examining these issues, the paper draws on the extensive discussion of the quota formulas in recent years, taking up questions raised both within the Board and in other fora.
Mr. Jeffrey R. Franks, Miss Randa Sab, Ms. Valerie A Mercer-Blackman, and Roberto Benelli

Abstract

Following some historical background, this paper describes how corruption is manifested in Paraguay. The paper distinguishes between factors that explain the growth performance of Paraguay since 1960 (where corruption does not directly enter as a significant factor) and factors that explain the relative level of income of Paraguay in the past 40 or 50 years compared with other countries. It then illustrates how Paraguay's weak institutions may have led to long-term growth below its potential. Finally, the authors briefly consider how Paraguay could improve its institutions. To the extent that prudent policies and the willingness to consider the adoption of international best practices will exert pressure for change in Paraguay, a gradual improvement of institutional quality will ensue, which is necessary for sustained long-run growth.