Posted on December 13, 2011 by iMFdirect
By Hugh Bredenkamp
Governments in low-income countries are having to deal with a lot of bad news these days. Slow growth in the advanced economies is dampening demand for their exports and affecting inflows of investment, aid, and remittances. Changes in credit conditions elsewhere influence the availability of trade finance. Volatility in commodity prices creates problems for both importers and exporters. Meanwhile, climactic and other natural disasters continue to occur at the local and regional level.
For low-income countries, the impact of these problems can be especially damaging. A surge in food prices can undo years of poverty reduction. A collapse in the price of a key export commodity can throw many people out of work and cause tax revenues to slip, just when expenditures on public services are needed most. For the poorest countries, events elsewhere can quickly affect employment, inflation, the budget, debt, and the balance of payments.
Filed under: Africa, concessional lending, Economic Crisis, IMF, International Monetary Fund, LICs, Low-income countries | Tagged: aid, buffers, CFIs, commodities, contingent financial instruments, credit, DFID, Ethiopia, food security, France, investment, LEAP, Malawi, poverty reduction, remittances, self-insurance, weather derivatives | 8 Comments »
Posted on September 9, 2009 by iMFdirect
By Antoinette Sayeh
Ensuring that sub-Saharan Africa emerges strongly from global recession will require both a sustained recovery in the global economy and sound domestic policies. The good news is that domestic policies are already supporting economic activity.
Many countries entered the crisis in much better shape than in the past. The region’s fiscal position was on average in balance in 2008, compared with big deficits in past cycles. Debt levels were also much lower than in the early 1990s, supported of course by recent debt relief initiatives. Inflation had been brought under control across most of the region. And, reflecting sounder and more open policies, countries had accumulated much larger buffers of foreign reserves—the median ratio of reserves to GDP was 14 percent last year, compared to about 5 percent in the early 1970s.
Nigerian market: many African economies are in better shape than during previous crises (photo: Reuters)
This favorable starting point gave many countries in the region a fair amount of breathing space. They were able to respond to the crisis by allowing fiscal deficits to rise and interest rates to fall, reaping the rewards of previous good policies. Countries with flexible exchange rates also let them adjust to the changing external environment. Such policy responses helped economies absorb some of the impact of the external shocks. Not all countries were able to take this route, however. Faced with large macroeconomic imbalances that pre-dated the global slowdown, a few countries had to tighten their fiscal or monetary policy stance.
Filed under: Africa, Economic Crisis, Financial Crisis, growth, LICs, Low-income countries, recession | Tagged: aid, automatic stabilizers, Botswana, concessional lending, fiscal policy, foreign reserves, infrastructure, Mauritius, MDGs, Tanzania | 3 Comments »