Small States Confront Big Challenges with Natural Disasters and Climate Change

taozhangBy Tao Zhang

Versions in 中文 (Chinese), and Français (French)

Small states are far more vulnerable than other countries to natural disasters and climate change. On average, the annual cost of disasters for small states (economies with a population of less than 1.5 million) is more than four times that for larger countries, in relation to GDP. These countries—whether landlocked nations or small island states—need a range of approaches to deal with catastrophe, including not only better disaster response but also more focus on risk reduction and preparedness. (more…)

Capacity Development in Africa: the Faces behind the Numbers

By Carla Grasso CGrasso

Versions in:  عربي (Arabic),  中文 (Chinese), Français (French),  日本語 (Japanese), Português (Portuguese), Русский (Russian), and Español (Spanish)

If there’s one thing all economists can agree on, it’s the importance of numbers. Without good data, it is difficult to assess how an economy is performing and formulate smart policies that help improve lives. (more…)

By | April 7th, 2016|Africa, IMF, International Monetary Fund, technology|0 Comments

Building a Camaraderie of Central Bankers: How Monetary Policymakers in the Caucasus and Central Asia Can Learn From Each Other

Min ZhuBy Min Zhu

(Versions in 中文Русский)

The world’s central bankers are certainly in the news these days. Not a week goes by without the Fed, the European Central Bank or the Bank of Japan taking big and often unprecedented actions to fight deflation, preserve financial stability, or address mediocre growth. We tend to forget, however, that these are not the only central banks that are struggling to adapt their policies to changing circumstances in our connected world.

Take the Caucasus and Central Asia — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Central banking in these former Soviet republics rarely makes international headlines. But figuring out how best to design and run monetary policy is no less a challenge than in the United States or the euro zone.

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Sendai: A Tale of Natural Disaster, Resilience, and Recovery

I went to two areas around Sendai—the first was the Arahama Elementary School, site of a successful evacuation during the disaster. The school is still in its wrecked state—just as it was straight after the tsunami struck. Debris is strewn all over the grounds–a mangled mass of vehicles resembling more a scrap yard than a school. The corridors and classrooms inside are also in ruins.

Growing Institutions? Grow the People!

The current crisis in the eurozone also highlights the importance of coherent economic and political institutions at all levels of economic development. Weaknesses in national macroeconomic and statistical institutions in supposedly “advanced” countries were at the root of the crisis, especially in Greece. And the lack of supportive fiscal and regulatory institutions at the European level—which require making additional steps in political integration—is behind the markets’ continued anxiety surrounding the common European currency.

Convergence, Crisis, and Capacity Building in Emerging Europe

Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe has been through a lot. In two short decades, the region moved from a communist planned system to a market economy, and living standards have converged towards those in the West. It has also weathered major crises: first the break-up of the old Soviet system in the early 1990s, then the Russian financial crisis in 1998, and finally the recent global economic crisis. How did these countries do it? From the Baltic to the Balkans, the region’s resilience and flexibility are the result of hard work and adaptability. But more than anything, it is the strong institutions built over the last two decades that have enhanced the region’s ability to deal with the momentous challenges of the past, the present—and those to come.

A Spotlight on the IMF’s Technical Assistance

Of the three main pillars of the IMF’s work, technical assistance has been a sort of middle child; it doesn’t get the attention of the oldest and youngest children, yet in many ways is the glue that holds the family together. The other two pillars are well known: we lend money to countries in times of need and crisis, and conduct annual check-ups of their economies and financial systems, known as surveillance. As countries around the world cope with the global economic crisis, the IMF’s technical assistance is a vital part of the work that we do to help countries prevent, prepare for and resolve crises. A new strategy for technical assistance is under discussion at the IMF and there are five key areas we need to focus on: adapting to countries’ evolving needs, more cooperation with donors, new ways to deliver technical assistance, the importance of training, and a focus on results.

Resolve and Determination—How We Get Out of This Together

Coming in to the 2011 Annual Meetings of the IMF and World Bank this past weekend, I had warned of the dangerous new phase for the global economy and had called for bold and collective action. Coming out of the Meetings, I feel strongly that the global community is beginning to respond. Why? Three reasons: a shared sense of urgency, a shared diagnosis of the problems, and a shared sense that the steps needed in the period ahead are now coming into focus. So, looking ahead, follow through—by all concerned—is now even more important. That means taking action not in the years ahead, but in the weeks ahead. And, in that, we are all in this together and we can only get out of it together.

Heartbreak and Hardship—Finding a Way Out for Fragile States

War-torn Iraq, quake-ravaged Haiti, conflict-devastated Sierra Leone. So many countries around the world face the legacy of terrible hardships that have left them scarred and fragile. Some have questioned whether the IMF has a meaningful role to play in these countries, but they couldn’t be more wrong. A recent review found that the IMF has played an important positive role in fragile states. This doesn’t mean we always got it right. We can do better. There is plenty of scope to adapt how we engage in these countries; to be more flexible and deepen cooperation with other development partners. In this post, Dominique Desruelle discusses a few ideas that we’ll be exploring—and discussing with stakeholders—in the months ahead, including at a high-level public seminar in Washington later this month.

Raising Government Revenue in Africa: A Road out of Poverty

Governments in Africa have a prime objective—to reduce poverty. To improve living standards and create jobs, they need to provide their citizens with better health care, better education, more infrastructure. They need to build hospitals, schools, and to pay doctors, nurses, teachers. All this costs money, and how to pay for this—in a way that is both fair and efficient—is a major challenge. With limits to how much a government can receive as grants or borrow, raising tax revenues will be a crucial element for governments to deliver more of these essential services and, in turn, reduce poverty. Policymakers will have an opportunity to exchange views on the challenges of Revenue Mobilization in Sub-Saharan Africa at a conference in Nairobi this week. To help frame that conversation, here are some ideas about priority areas for action.

By | March 21st, 2011|Africa, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Low-income countries|6 Comments
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