Miscellaneous Knowledge Notes

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  • Publication
    Exploring Two Years of Labor Market Policy Responses to COVID‑19: A Global Effort to Protect Workers and Jobs
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2023-01) Kamran, Mareeha; Mujica, Ingrid; Fonteñez, María Belén; Newhouse, David; Rodriguez-Alas, Claudia; Weber, Michael
    To mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries have responded with an unprecedented number of social protection and jobs interventions. This brief is based on the COVID-19 social protection and jobs policy inventory and provides information on over 3,400 labor market policies in the inventory launched or announced between January 2020 and January 2022.
  • Publication
    Drivers of Public Debt in East Asia and Pacific Economies
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-12-16) Islamaj, Ergys; Samano, Agustin
    Public debt in developing East Asia and Pacific (EAP) economies has increased markedly since the recession in 2020 induced by COVID-19 pandemic. This brief uses standard debt dynamic accounting decomposition to quantify the main drivers of debt accumulation in developing EAP countries since 2000. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, larger primary deficits have been the main drivers of the increase in the ratio of public debt to GDP in most developing EAP economies. While strong GDP growth and, to a certain extent, inflation have helped deflate public-debt-to-GDP ratios during the past two decades, they have, on average, been more muted since the COVID-19 shock.
  • Publication
    Vietnam Macro Monitoring
    (World Bank, 2022-12) World Bank
    This brief discusses the economic development of Vietnam for the month of December 2022.The two drivers of economic growth, exports and domestic demand, are moderating. Softer external demand has weighed on Vietnam’s exports. The post-covid consumption rebound also appears to be fading and tighter domestic financial conditions and rising inflation could affect domestic demand going forward. Reflecting weaker external demand, growth of industrial production moderated to 5.3 percent (y/y) in November, the lowest rate since February 2022. CPI inflation reached 4.4 percent (y/y) in November, compared to 4.3 percent recorded a month earlier, with food and housing being two major contributors. Credit growth fell from 16.5 percent (y/y) in October to 15.0 percent (y/y) in November as domestic financial conditions tightened after the State Bank of Vietnam raised key policy interest rates in September and October. The Vietnamese dong gained slightly in value in November 2022 although the dong’s appreciation is one of the smallest compared to major currencies and currencies of its neighbors. As of end November, the national budget registered a 12.1 billion surplus (about 3 percent of GDP). With global financing conditions expected to remain tight and weakening external demand, Vietnamese monetary authorities could consider allowing further flexibility in the exchange rate to absorb changes in the external environment. Fiscal and monetary policy coordination will be critical to ensure price stability in light of accelerating domestic core inflation. A more prudent and prioritized expenditure strategy could focus on ensuring investments in human capital and resilient and green infrastructure to help bolster economic potential and resilience.
  • Publication
    High-Frequency Phone Survey (HFPS) - Phase 2: Sampling Design, Weighting, and Estimation
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-12) World Bank; United Nations Development Programme
    After implementing Phase 1 of the High-Frequency Phone Survey (HFPS) project in Latin America and The Caribbean (LAC) in 2020, the World Bank conducted Phase 2 in 2021 to continue to assess the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on households. This new phase, conducted in partnership with the UNDP LAC Chief Economist office, included two waves. Wave 1 covered 24 countries and Wave 2 covered 22 countries. Of these countries, 13 participated in Phase 1 and the rest joined in Phase 2. This document describes the sampling design, weighting and the right procedure to estimate indicators for the LAC HFPS Phase 2 surveys.
  • Publication
    Public Services and COVID-19 - Reflections from the Pacific: Sustainable Wage Bills
    (Washington, DC, 2022-12) World Bank
    The purpose of this note is to identify good practice in public sector management drawn from Pacific Island public service experiences of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. These experiences were brought together through a World Bank engagement with Pacific Island countries in 2021 and 2022. The engagement identified five core aspects of Pacific Island public service management in response to COVID-19: trust, preparation, adaptable system settings, adaptable operating models, and sustainable wage bills. This first note in the series of five focuses on the importance of trust. The primary audience is public service leaders in Pacific Islands. The note will also be of interest to anyone working on designing and leading public sector management systems through rapid change, uncertainty and crises.
  • Publication
    The Road Not Taken?: Responding to the Energy Price Shock in East Asia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-11-17) Pollitt, Hector; Islamaj, Ergys; Kitchlu, Rahul; Le, Duong Trung; Mattoo, Aaditya; Mattoo, Aaditya
    Several countries in East Asia have increased fossil fuel subsidies to keep consumer prices lower than currently high international prices. These subsidies are discouraging the shift in consumption away from fossil fuels, while high prices are encouraging investment in new fossil fuel infrastructure. Providing income transfers instead of price subsidies would encourage consumption of cleaner alternatives, while softening the welfare loss. And subsidizing investment in renewables would avert the risk of being locked in to fossil fuels. The total cost need not be higher than that of fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Publication
    Resource Misallocation and Distortions: Some Evidence from East Asia
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-11-03) de Nicola, Francesca
    Developing East Asia has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past few decades thanks to a combination of policies that fostered outward-oriented and labor-intensive growth, investments in basic human capital, and sound economic governance. However, slowing growth and shifting patterns in global trade, rapid technological change, and evolving country circumstances present challenges to sustaining past productivity growth and ensuring future growth. Thus, understanding the extent of misallocation and its drivers is an important step toward identifying the types of policies that can improve domestic productivity and the competitiveness of firms. This Research and Policy Brief reviews the evidence for East Asian countries and discusses the limitations of current approaches to measuring misallocation.
  • Publication
    Disaster Risk Financing: What it is and What it isn’t for Adaptive Social Protection In the Sahel - Debunking Myths About DRF in the Sahel
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-11) Lung, Felix
    Adaptive safety nets are cash transfer programs that can rapidly increase beneficiary coverage, or the cash amounts they provide in response to disasters. Disaster risk financing (DRF) provides a set of tools and instruments that can efficiently help finance the costs of such responses. In the West Sahel, where chronic food insecurity and vulnerability are high and safety net coverage, data availability, and government fiscal space often remain limited, some of the common approaches to DRF meet their limitations. This note draws out some of these limitations and suggests ways for policymakers to address them. Among these, it suggests that governments in the Sahel focus on building reliable social protection delivery systems before turning to DRF; design DRF strategies that account for continued external assistance; focus first on more frequent, lower severity shocks rather than the extreme ones; and start their DRF engagements with sectoral DRF strategies rather than comprehensive national ones that try to address all disaster risks, costs, and sectors.
  • Publication
    Vietnam Macro Monitoring
    (Washington, DC, 2022-11) World Bank
    This brief focuses on the economic development in Vietnam as of November 2022. Industrial production and retail sales moderated in October as both domestic and external demand slowed. Exports growth slowed to a 12-month low of 4.8 percent (y/y) as external demand weakened amid high inflation, tightening global financial conditions, and heightened global uncertainties. FDI commitment bounced back strongly thanks to a jump in greenfield investment in electricity, gas, and water supply while FDI disbursement maintained a robust growth. Despite falling fuel prices, CPI inflation increased from 3.9 percent (y/y) in September to 4.3 percent (y/y) in October, driven by faster rise in food prices, which account for 21.3 percent of the CPI basket. The economy faces strong headwinds. Slowing external demand and tightening global financial conditions are affecting the exchange rate. Rising inflation and tightening domestic financial conditions could affect domestic demand in the coming months. As US Fed is expected to continue raising interest rates, Vietnamese monetary authorities could consider allowing further flexibility in the exchange rate, including through a quicker pace of depreciation of the reference rate. This could be complemented with continued use of reference interest rates, especially if faster depreciation leads to higher inflation and inflation expectations rise. Given the persistence of exchange rate pressures, direct FX sales should be used judiciously to preserve the FX reserves. Fiscal and monetary policy coordination will be critical to ensure price stability in light of accelerating domestic core inflation. Moreover, recent banking sector volatility calls for increased vigilance and intensified supervision efforts.
  • Publication
    Targeting in Ultra-Poor Settings: Evidence from Six Countries in Rural Sahel
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-10-21) Schnitzer, Pascale; Guardia, Anne Della; Lake, Milli
    The main insights of this note are as follows: first, to significantly reduce poverty higher budgets for safety net interventions are needed, and expanding coverage is far more important than fine-tuning targeting methods. After geographical targeting, most PMT and CBT methods perform close to a random allocation of benefits when trying to identify food insecure households. While PMT consistently outperforms CBT in identifying households with the lowest consumption, differences are small when distances to the poverty line are considered. While non-beneficiaries experience significant indirect economic benefits from the program, there is mixed and limited evidence on social cohesion and fairness perceptions of targeting methods. Finally, costs are relatively minor as a share of total resources transferred. The policy note concludes with policy and research implications for contexts with high poverty rates, low inequality levels, and insufficient budgets.