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IMF-Supported Adjustment Programs: Welfare Implications and the Catalytic Effect

  • Carlos de Resende

The author studies the welfare implications of adjustment programs supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He uses a model where an endogenous borrowing constraint, set up by international lenders who will never lend more than a debt ceiling, forces the borrowing economy to always choose repayment over default. The immediate potential welfare cost of joining a program is driven by IMF conditionality: to be able to borrow from the IMF, the country has to submit to limits on the consumption of public goods. The benefits derive from the additional borrowing from the IMF (at a lower interest rate) and/or through a "catalytic effect" on private loans, which facilitates consumption smoothing over time. Simulations of the dynamic model in two institutional environments -- with and without the IMF -- are compared. Results indicate that when conditionality forces the country to save more, at a cost that does not prevent it from joining an IMF program, the resulting lower probability of default can induce private lenders to relax their borrowing constraints. Based on a calibration of the model for the Brazilian economy, the overall welfare gains associated with IMF programs are relatively small.

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Paper provided by Bank of Canada in its series Staff Working Papers with number 07-22.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bca:bocawp:07-22
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