This paper examines the implications of elevated global food prices for inflation in select Central Asian economies - Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The findings suggest that global food inflation has significant short-run effects that build over time. Inflation outcomes simulated under alternative global wheat price assumptions underscore these vulnerabilities, and suggest that sustained administrative measures are unlikely to prove effective. In line with structural economic features, the interest rate channel of monetary policy is found to be limited, arguing for a broad policy strategy to control more expansive inflationary pressures. Looking ahead, measures to enhance supply responses, deepen domestic financial markets, develop adequate social safety nets, and increase central bank independence are warranted.
Mr. Gonzalo C Pastor Campos and Ms. Tatiana Damjanovic
This paper reviews the economic conditions in central Asia at the time of the Russian financial crisis of August 1998; the channels by which the crisis was transmitted to the central Asian region; and the policy responses. The paper concludes that, while real exchange rates of central Asian national currencies vis-à-vis the Russian ruble have returned to their pre-crisis levels following the nominal devaluations that ensued, other indicators of external competitiveness, such as unit labor cost indices, suggest the need for further surveillance in this area. Also, it is not yet clear if full exchange rate flexibility has been established in central Asia despite the protracted and costly exits from the nominal exchange rates in place at the time of the crisis. Finally, the debt-to-GDP ratios in central Asia, which grew rapidly between 1998 and 1999 in the context of large exchange rate adjustments, remain a challenge for the Tajik and Kyrgyz authorities, in particular.
In addition to transferring about 16 percent of GDP from exporters to importers, Uzbekistan’s quasi-fiscal multiple exchange rate regime generates identifiable welfare losses of 2-8 percent of GDP on import markets and up to 15 percent on export markets. These excess burdens have increased substantially with the growing difference of exchange rates. The welfare analysis allows some conclusions regarding the optimal reform strategy: (i) welfare losses will decline overproportionally as exchange rates unify; (ii) exchange rate unification should be supplemented by changing the explicit fiscal system; (iii) at a minimum, Uzbekistan would benefit from moving to an explicit fiscal regime.
Significant capital inflows were observed during the first half of 1995 in a number of FSU countries. This paper reviews the recent experience of those countries with significant inflows, examines policy responses in view of the current macroeconomic and institutional environment, discusses the use of monetary and prudential instruments to sterilize or discourage inflows, and reviews operational considerations for conducting sterilization operations.