Debt vulnerabilities in low-income countries have increased substantially in recent years. Since 2013, median government debt has risen by about 20 percentage points of gross domestic product and increasingly comes from non-concessional and private sources. As a result, in most low-income countries, interest payments are absorbing an increasing proportion of government revenues. The majority of low-income countries would be hard hit by a sudden weakening in trade or global financial conditions given high levels of external debt, lack of fiscal space, low foreign currency reserves, and undiversified exports. A proactive effort to identify and reduce debt-related vulnerabilities is a priority for many low-income countries. Policy makers should focus on mobilizing domestic resources, improving debt transparency, and strengthening debt management practices. These efforts should be complemented by measures to strengthen fiscal frameworks, improve the efficiency of public expenditures and public investment management, and develop domestic financial systems.
Inflation Expectations: Review and Evidence (March 2019)
This paper presents a comprehensive examination of the determination and evolution of inflation expectations, with a focus on emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs). The results suggest that long-term inflation expectations in EMDEs are not as well anchored as those in advanced economies, despite notable improvements over the past two decades. Indeed, in EMDEs, long-term inflation expectations are more sensitive to both domestic and global inflation shocks. However, EMDEs tend to be more successful in anchoring inflation expectations in the presence of an inflation targeting regime, high central bank transparency, strong trade integration, and a low level of public debt.
The fiscal position can affect fiscal multipliers through two channels. Through the Ricardian channel, households reduce consumption in anticipation of future fiscal adjustments when fiscal stimulus is implemented from a weak fiscal position. Through the interest rate channel, fiscal stimulus from a weak fiscal position heightens investors' concerns about sovereign credit risk, raises economy-wide borrowing cost, and reduces private domestic demand. The paper documents empirically the relevance of these two channels using an Interactive Panel Vector Auto Regression model. It finds that fiscal multipliers tend to be smaller when fiscal positions are weak than strong.
Inflation and Exchange Rate Pass-Through (March 2019)
The degree to which domestic prices adjust to exchange rate movements is key to understanding inflation dynamics, and hence to guiding monetary policy. However, the exchange rate pass-through to inflation varies considerably across countries and over time. By estimating structural factor-augmented vector-autoregressive models for 47 countries, this paper brings to light two fundamental factors accounting for these variations: the nature of the shock triggering currency movements and country-specific characteristics. The empirical results in this paper are three-fold. First, an empirical investigation demonstrates that different domestic and global shocks can be associated with widely different pass-through ratios. Second, country characteristics matter, including policy frameworks that govern monetary policy responses, as well as other structural features that affect an economy's sensitivity to currency fluctuations. Pass-through ratios tend to be lower in countries that combine flexible exchange rate regimes and credible inflation targets. Finally, the empirical results suggest that central bank independence can greatly facilitate the task of stabilizing inflation following large currency movements and allows fuller use of the exchange rate as a buffer against external shocks.
Global Inflation Synchronization (March 2019)
The paper studies the extent of global inflation synchronization using a dynamic factor model in a large set of countries over a half century. The authors' methodology allows them to account for differences across groups of countries (advanced economies and emerging market and developing economies) and to analyze commonalities in inflation synchronization across a wide range of inflation measures. The paper reports three major results. First, inflation movements have become increasingly synchronized internationally over time: a common global factor has accounted for about 22 percent of variation in national inflation rates since 2001. Second, inflation synchronization has also become more broad-based: while it was previously much more pronounced among advanced economies than among emerging market and developing economies, it has become substantial in both groups over the past two decades. In addition, inflation synchronization has become significant across all inflation measures since 2001, whereas it was previously prominent only for inflation measures that included mostly tradable goods.
Understanding Inflation in Emerging and Developing Economies (February 2019)
Emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) have experienced an extraordinary decline in inflation since the early 1970s. After peaking in 1974 at 17.3 percent, inflation in these economies declined to 3.5 percent in 2017. Despite a checkered history of managing inflation among many EMDEs, disinflation occurred across all regions. This paper presents a summary of a recent book, "Inflation in Emerging and Developing Economies: Evolution, Drivers, and Policies," that analyzes this remarkable achievement. The findings suggest that many EMDEs enjoy the benefits of stability-oriented and resilient monetary policy frameworks, including central bank transparency and independence. Such policy frameworks need to be complemented by strong macroeconomic and institutional arrangements. Inflation expectations are more weakly anchored in EMDEs than in advanced economies. In EMDEs that do not operate inflation targeting frameworks, exchange rate movements tend to have larger and more persistent effects on inflation.
Inflation: Concepts, Evolution, and Correlates (February 2019)
In the past four to five decades, inflation has fallen around the world, with median annual global consumer price inflation down from a peak of 16.6 percent in 1974 to 2.6 percent in 2017. This decline began in advanced economies in the mid-1980s and in emerging market and developing economies in the mid-1990s. By 2000, global inflation had stabilized at historically low levels. Lower inflation has been accompanied by reduced inflation volatility, especially in advanced economies. This improvement in inflation outcomes has stemmed in large part from structural economic changes, including improved monetary and fiscal policy frameworks as well as international trade and financial liberalization. Lower and more stable inflation has often been associated with better growth and development outcomes, partly by reducing uncertainty, fostering a more efficient allocation of resources, and helping preserve financial stability.
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2019