Selected Issues Papers

IMF Selected Issues Papers are prepared by IMF staff as background documentation for periodic consultations with member countries.

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June 5, 2023

Social Spending and Outcomes in Madagascar: Republic of Madagascar

Description: The paper examines Madagascar's education, health, and social assistance spending and outcomes. Government spending on education is relatively low compared to peers, and the quality of education has deteriorated. The paper recommends allocating more resources to the sector, ensuring transparent and merit-based teacher recruitment mechanisms, and strengthening teacher training and incentives. Health spending is also low, and the health system faces challenges in malnutrition, immunization, and service delivery. Additional domestic resources and large-scale structural reforms are needed. Social safety net programs have limited coverage and low spending, and expanding them should be a top priority to reduce poverty and support vulnerable populations.

June 5, 2023

Informality and Growth in Madagascar: Republic of Madagascar

Description: This chapter investigates the link between informality and growth in Madagascar and aims for a better understanding of the informal sector. It provides an analysis of the characteristics of informal production units and informal employment. Findings suggest that informality is a key feature of economic activity in Madagascar, and that informal production units are the main driver of employment with a deep concentration around self-employment. Overall, informality is associated with a lack of awareness of administrative procedures and the complexity and cost of tax and regulatory measures. The informal sector’s Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth is more stable and higher on average than the formal sector TFP.

May 18, 2023

JGB Yield Curve and Macro-Financial Stability: ow Would a Steeper JGB Yield Curve Affect Bank Profitability? Japan

Description: Given that there is exceptionally high uncertainty around the domestic inflation outlook, allowing for greater flexibility in long-term Japanese Government Bond (JGB) yields by the Bank of Japan (BoJ) could be considered going forward. Against this background, this study empirically finds that a steeper JGB yield curve helps improve banks’ profitability, especially after a year lag, and the overall impact hinges on macroeconomic and financial market responses. A steeper JGB yield curve could also have spillovers on global yields. Financial sector policies to mitigate short-term vulnerabilities in case the JGB yield curve steepens could be considered, including by further strengthening engagement with financial institutions with relatively high exposure to interest rate movements, to better harness the benefits in the medium term.

May 18, 2023

Structural Barriers to Wage Income Growth in Japan: Japan

Description: Stagnant income growth has limited Japan’s growth potential and reflation efforts. This paper dissects the wage dynamics of different labor groups and identifies the structural barriers to income growth. Although average income growth has been weak due to the rise of part-time workers and their declining hours, real wages per hour have risen across all labor groups, with the most gain seen among part-time and female workers. The weak income growth is largely driven by structural factors, including disincentives for second earners in the social security system, pension policies, and more broadly the dual labor market structure. Policies to address these structural barriers are key to boost income growth in Japan.

May 18, 2023

The Financial Impact of Carbon Taxation on Corporates: Japan

Description: Japan’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 will likely require substantial carbon pricing. Corporates appear to be able to absorb a sharp increase in carbon taxes on average, but there is a substantial weak tail of firms that could face financial stress. The analysis underscores the need to align the private sector and public policies with Japan’s climate targets to ensure a smooth transition to net zero.

May 18, 2023

Options to Strengthen the Social Safety Net in Japan: Japan

Description: Japan’s unemployment rate remains relatively low compared to other OECD countries. However, Japan’s poverty rate among the working-age population is one of the higher ones among OECD countries. The public assistance program in Japan does not provide adequate income support for the working poor and creates inherent work disincentives. In this context, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) warrants consideration to strengthen the social safety net and relieve poverty of the working poor in Japan. This paper provides an overview of the theoretical and practical issues of EITC, aiming to support its potential introduction in Japan.

May 18, 2023

Drivers of Corporate Cash Holdings in Japan: Japan

Description: In Japan, corporate savings have risen since 2000 in line with profits. A large share of the additional savings was kept as cash holdings (i.e., cash and short-term investments) rather than used for investment. Building on a rich literature, this paper identifies two additional drivers of corporate cash holdings using financial data of public and private Japanese firms. First, a higher share of intangible capital is associated with more cash holdings. This indicates the presence of financial frictions as intangible capital is not easily collateralizable. Such financial friction could be alleviated by shifting towards cash flow-based lending that is prevalent in the United States (US). Second, corporate tax cuts are associated with more cash holdings while having no significant effect on investment. Given the significant fiscal cost, the efficiency of corporate tax cuts should be re-evaluated.

May 18, 2023

A New Growth Engine for Japan: Women in STEM Fields; Japan

Description: Despite recent improvements in female labor force participation, women remain underrepresented in STEM fields in Japan. Given the close link between STEM workers and innovation, encouraging women to pursue STEM careers could boost growth potential. Using a calibrated endogenous growth model with STEM talent, this paper quantifies the potential gains from eliminating barriers to STEM fields among women. The findings suggest that bridging the gender gap in STEM fields can boost TFP growth by 20 percent and consumption-equivalent welfare by 4 percent in Japan.

April 26, 2023

Revamping the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) Fiscal Framework

Description: This paper aims to provide a broad perspective on the WAEMU fiscal framework. Based on backward looking exercises and forward looking scenarios, it shows that (i) repeated fiscal slippages and historically large stock flow adjustments contributed to the surge in the WAEMU public debt, and (ii) stock flow adjustments can have significant effects on the WAEMU debt dynamics going forward. This paper also discusses that it is essential and urgent to reintroduce the fiscal rules and the Convergence Pact and to enhance the rules. Revamping the fiscal rules should focus on introducing a correction mechanism (which could contain surges in debt in the future) and an escape clause (which would enhance fiscal discipline and predictability), as well as capturing the extensive extra-budgetary and below-the-line operations and strengthening the enforcement mechanism. Any consideration to changing the fiscal deficit target should also encompass addressing extra-budgetary and below-the-line transactions (for example by changing the definition of the deficit). It is not appropriate to increase the debt ceiling.

April 20, 2023

Kosovo’s Electricity Sector Challenges and Opportunities: Republic of Kosovo

Description: Since the start of the war in Ukraine, electricity prices in Europe have increased and become more volatile. This coupled with unreliable domestic electricity supply has led to significant stress for Kosovo’s energy sector and budget. This paper presents several scenarios characterized by alternative assumptions for European electricity prices and domestic electricity production in 2023 in order to gauge their potential impact on the budget and the economy. It also discusses the medium-term benefits, including in terms of increased energy security and reduced emissions and pollution, of diversifying domestic electricity generation away from lignite.

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