If there is one fact I think sums up the problems of the Middle East and North Africa, it is that the non-oil exports of the whole region, are $365 billion, about the same as the exports of Belgium, a country of 11 million people, compared with the 400 million people who make up the Arab world. This is a crucial indicator of the nature and size of the structural adjustment problem the Arab countries in transition face.
Using our estimated neutral interest rates we find that current policy rates are close to their neutral level in several countries (Chile, Colombia, and Peru). For Brazil and Mexico we find that monetary policies remain stimulative (with actual interest rates below neutral). For other countries in the region our analysis suggests that Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Uruguay have lower interest rates than their neutral level. However, these results should be viewed with caution given data limitations and weaker monetary policy transmissions.
The sharp and persistent rise in unemployment in advanced economies since the 2008-09 financial crisis is a hotly debated policy issue. Rightly so: High persistent unemployment has major human and economic costs, from loss of morale to loss of skills. More broadly, it seems to undermine the very fabric of society. An IMF conference explores how to revive labor markets.
Without good fiscal information, governments can’t understand the fiscal risks they face or make good budget decisions. Fiscal transparency—the public availability of timely, reliable, and relevant data on the past, present, and future state of the public finances—is thus to the foundation of effective fiscal management.