Overcoming Barriers to Reform: On Incentive-Compatible International Assistance


Wolfgang Mayer ; Alex Mourmouras

Publication Date:

September 1, 2007

Electronic Access:

Free Download. Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this PDF file

Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF.The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate


International financial assistance (loans and grants) can potentially raise recipients' welfare in two ways, by affecting a direct resource transfer and by facilitating efficiency-enhancing reforms. In practice, barriers to reform limit the potential of assistance to deliver these two dividends. In this paper, we analyze assistance programs designed to ensure that recipient governments voluntarily adopt reforms and overcome barriers associated with: (i) the reaction of special interests to the prospect of reform; (ii) the possibility of default and political instability in the recipient country; and (iii) adverse selection and moral hazard. Reform barriers raise the cost of incentive-compatible assistance and may result either in no assistance being forthcoming or assistance that ensures repayment but not the implementation of reforms. Critical to the choice of assistance programs is the size of the rent accruing to special interests in the absence of reform and the limited liability rents needed to ensure that repayment terms do not threaten the country's political stability. Optimal assistance contracts feature flexible repayment terms related to real economic growth in recipient countries.


Working Paper No. 2007/231



Publication Date:

September 1, 2007



Stock No:




Please address any questions about this title to publications@imf.org