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George Hayduke

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  1. By Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund Fourth Arab Fiscal Forum, Dubai February 9, 2019 Good morning—Sabah Al-Khair! I am delighted to be back in Dubai, this city of tomorrow, where you—its economic leaders—are dedicated to realizing the vision of a better tomorrow. This vision is predicated on prosperity that is shared by all, benefiting the poor and the middle class, citizens and immigrants alike; and opportunities that are open to all, including women. It is a vision of fairness over cronyism and partiality, and of trust that government policy is oriented toward the common good. This is a big vision. But as Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum once said “The bigger your vision, the bigger your achievement will be…we cannot let fear keep us small. We have to be brave to be big." As you know so well, fiscal policy plays a vital role in creating and nurturing this vision of sustainable and inclusive growth—especially as encapsulated in the Sustainable Development Goals. This is because we need fiscal space for spending on health, education, social protection, and public investment—all key priorities in this region. This is why I wanted to come back to the Arab Fiscal Forum—my fourth time now. In past years, I talked in detail about fiscal policy—the spending and revenue measures needed to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. This year, I want to go one level deeper—into the foundations of fiscal policy and good fiscal management. Because without a stable foundation, even the best policies can flounder. Without a stable foundation, fiscal policy will lack credibility. In this vein, I will address two key pillars of good fiscal management: (i) strong fiscal frameworks; and (ii) good governance and transparency. Prelude: Global and regional context Before I do this, let me say a few words about the broader economic context bearing on fiscal policy in the region. Unfortunately, the region has yet to fully recover from the global financial crisis and other big economic dislocations over the past decade. Among oil importers, growth has picked up, but it is still below pre-crisis levels. Fiscal deficits remain high, and public debt has risen rapidly—from 64 percent of GDP in 2008 to 85 percent of GDP a decade later. Public debt now exceeds 90 percent of GDP in nearly half of these countries. The oil exporters have not fully recovered from the dramatic oil price shock of 2014. Modest growth continues, but the outlook is highly uncertain—reflecting in part the need for countries to shift rapidly toward renewable energy over the new few decades, in line with the Paris Agreement. With revenues down, fiscal deficits are only slowly declining—despite significant reforms on both the spending and revenue sides, including the introduction of VAT and excise taxes. This has led to a sharp increase in public debt—from 13 percent of GDP in 2013 to 33 percent in 2018. At this juncture, the global expansion is weakening, and risks are rising. Just a few weeks ago, we released our revised forecasts. We now think that the global economy will grow by 3.5 percent this year, 0.2 percentage points below what we expected in October. And risks are up, given escalating trade tensions and tightening financial conditions. Unsurprisingly, a weaker global environment has knock-on effects on the region through a variety of channels—trade, remittances, capital flows, commodity prices, and financing conditions. The bottom line: the economic path ahead for the region is challenging. This makes the task of fiscal policy that much harder, which in turn makes it even more important to build strong foundations to anchor fiscal policy. 1. Fiscal Frameworks The first building block of this foundation is a good fiscal framework. By this I mean the set of laws, institutional arrangements, and procedures needed to achieve a country’s fiscal policy objectives. Such a framework allows governments to map out budgets over the medium term in a way that reflects clear, consistent, and credible goals. There is scope to improve fiscal frameworks in this region. Some of the weaknesses are short-termism and insufficient credibility. On short-termism: given that inclusive and sustainable growth is an inherently medium-term goal, fiscal policy needs a medium-term orientation. Focusing on the immediate horizon makes it harder to implement critical but longer-term reforms in such areas as tackling high public wage bills, designing effective social protection systems, and getting rid of harmful fuel subsidies. Short-termism implies that fiscal policy amplifies rather than tames the waves of booms and busts—making it more difficult to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth. Turning to fiscal credibility: I am referring to such factors as large amounts of spending kept off-budget and poor risk management. Across the region, it is common for sovereign wealth funds to directly finance projects, bypassing the normal budget process. And state-owned enterprises in some countries have high levels of borrowing—again, outside of the budget. Addressing these fiscal risks would not only enhance budget credibility and transparency but would help keep a lid on corruption. Budgetary credibility also calls for better risk management, with a more comprehensive budget based on realistic forecasts. The good news is that numerous countries are already strengthening their fiscal frameworks—many with IMF assistance. Just to give some examples: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Sudan, Qatar, and Lebanon have all set up macro-fiscal units—a useful first step in strengthening the fiscal framework. Algeria has recently adopted a new budget law with a strong medium-term orientation, and Bahrain has introduced a fiscal program designed to achieve balance over the medium term. Mauritania, Morocco, Jordan, and Lebanon are making great progress with medium-term public investment planning and execution. Egypt now publishes a fiscal risk statement with its budget and produces an internal in-year budget risk assessment. The UAE too is rolling out a fiscal risk management project—with the IMF’s help—and will produce its first fiscal stress test this year. There is scope for further improvement. Perhaps the oil exporters could follow the example of other resource-rich countries such as Chile and Norway in using fiscal rules to protect key priorities such as social spending from commodity price volatility. Strong fiscal frameworks have other important benefits. They form the basis for sound debt management. They also allow for better coordination between fiscal and monetary policies, so that the two arms of macroeconomic management work together, not at cross purposes. 2. Good Governance and Transparency Let me now turn to the second pillar of good fiscal management—good governance and transparency. In this context, governance refers to the institutional frameworks and practices of the public sector. Strong institutions are crucial for legitimacy, for fostering a clearer understanding of policy objectives among citizens, enhancing their voice, and generating buy-in for fiscal policy. On the other hand, as many of you have said, weak institutions imply a weak policy foundation that could crack and crumble—because there is inadequate legitimacy and public accountability. Even worse, these cracks could also let corruption creep in. And you know so well, this is social poison—it feeds discord, disengagement, and disillusionment, especially among the young. The word corruption, after all, comes from Latin root for rotting, breaking apart—disintegration. And the word in Arabic, fasad, also connotes this idea of rotting or coming undone. Corruption is the great disruptor of fiscal policy. Without trust in the fairness of the tax system, it becomes harder to raise the revenue needed for critical spending on health, education, and social protection. And governments might be tempted to favor white elephant projects instead of investments in people and productive potential. Add this up, and we have a recipe for unsustainable fiscal policy combined with social discord. This a global issue—relevant for large and small countries, advanced and low-income economies, and the public and private sectors. Given this, it is no surprise that IMF research found that weak governance and corruption are associated with significantly lower growth, investment, FDI, and tax revenues—and higher inequality and exclusion. Specifically, we found that improving on an index of corruption and governance by moving from the bottom quarter to the mean is associated with an increase in the investment-to-GDP ratio of 1.5–2 percentage points and a bump up in annual GDP per capita growth by half a percentage point or more. [1] We will have more analysis in the upcoming Fiscal Monitor, which will be devoted to the topic of the fiscal costs of corruption and the role of fiscal institutions. What is the solution to weak governance and corruption? In the fiscal domain, it calls for heightened fiscal transparency—shining a light on all aspects of the budget and the public accounts. This would provide a more accurate picture of the fiscal position and prospects, the long-term costs and benefits of any policy changes, and the potential fiscal risks that might throw them off course. This region has some room for improvement here. We know that these kinds of reforms pay off. Take the case of Georgia, for example. Until 2003, it was seen as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. But after that, it reformed its institutions and cracked down on corruption. This, along with tax reform, led to immediate improvements. Tax revenues increased from 12 percent of GDP in 2003 to 25 percent of GDP in 2008, as taxpayers had greater faith in the fairness of the system. I should note that the IMF has been stepping up its engagement in the area of governance and corruption. Last year, we put in place a new framework predicated on a more systematic, evenhanded, effective, and candid engagement on these issues with member countries. We will be reaching out to leaders in this region to discuss how we can work together to implement this framework. With better governance, we can replace the “disintegration” of corruption with the “integration” of all into the productive economy. We can replace fasad with islah—reforms to set things right, to reconcile people with one another. Conclusion Let me wrap up. I have argued this morning that good fiscal policy requires good institutional foundations. And solid foundations in areas such as fiscal frameworks and governance give citizens confidence that fiscal policy serves the good of all, not just the wealthy or the well-connected. Let me end with some wise words attributed to the great Ibn Khaldun, “He who finds a new path is a pathfinder, even if the trail has to be found again by others; and he who walks far ahead of his contemporaries is a leader.” You are the pathfinders, the leaders, the visionaries. We hope that we can give useful guidance, but we look to you to find the right path to make this vision a reality. Thank you—shukran! [1] More specifically, those gains are associated with moving from the 25thpercentile to the 50th percentile in an index on corruption and governance. IMF Laying the foundations
  2. My cousin has 2 tickets for the 2019 SUPER BOWL, both box seats. He paid $2,500 for each ticket, but he didn't realize last year when he bought them, it was going to be the same day as his wedding. If you are interested, he is looking for someone to take his place...It's at the Church of Christ, in Beaumont at 3pm. Her name is Milli T. Gonzalez. she is 5'1, about 140lbs, she's a good cook too...She'll be the one in the white dress. GO RAMS!
  3. The stench of their deceit is over powering...
  4. C- gal Curious indeed. The IMF rate is headed in the right direction: IMF Special Drawing Rights 1669.2449065 At this point who knows, but this egg has to hatch sometime. Thanks for the well wishes. I'm hanging in there and pushing the limit. I'm too ornery to believe everything the doctors say. I'm back on two feet (sorta) and ditched the cane about six months ago. My goal for November is to be back on my Mountain bike. A Joe Jost picked egg for you. 🍺
  5. Base currency is IQD. Rates as of 2018-08-31 11:00:00 UTC I receive this rate every day with the same date and time even though today is the 31st. While the rate [IQD/USD] that is posted will give you a heart attack (or at least palpitations), XE posts a different rate at the top of the page [1190.3697655 / 0.0008400751]. Both XE posted rates can't be correct but they can both be wrong. For the benefit of my heart health I wish the latter posting is correct. 😎 GH Top 85 Currencies Alphabetically Currency Unit - IQD per Unit - Units per IQD ALL Albanian Leke11.0226578880.0907222206DZD Algerian Dinars10.0903655690.0991044371 ARS Argentine Pesos35.0132138310.0285606458 AUD Australian Dollars868.877523340.0011509102 BSD Bahamian Dollars1190.42210760.0008400382 BHD Bahraini Dinars3166.01624350.0003158543 BDT Bangladeshi Taka14.2442351320.0702038397 BD Barbadian or Bajan Dollars595.211053780.0016800763 BMD Bermudian Dollars1190.42210760.0008400382 BOB Bolivian Bolivianos172.724612090.0057895629 BAM Bosnian Convertible Marka712.043314080.0014044089 BWP Botswana Pula112.059102080.0089238623 BRL Brazilian Real289.817540400.0034504468 GBP British Pounds1549.64709310.0006453082 BGN Bulgarian Leva712.043314080.0014044089 XOF CFA Francs2.12305940020.4710183803 XPF CFP Francs11.6702869560.0856876959 CAD Canadian Dollars921.364067830.0010853473 XAF Central African Francs2.12305940020.4710183803 CLP Chilean Pesos1.78264036830.5609656427 CNY Chinese Yuan Renminbi174.272112450.0057381527 COP Colombian Pesos0.39679035762.5202225329 CRC Costa Rican Colones2.10038928420.4761022195 HRK Croatian Kuna187.221127400.0053412775 CUP Cuban Pesos44.9215889650.0222610113 CZK Czech Koruny54.0932809490.0184865843DKK Danish Kroner186.754530670.0053546224DOP Dominican Pesos23.8744222380.0418858304XCD East Caribbean Dollars440.493942400.0022701788 EGP Egyptian Pounds66.4646696080.0150455875 ED Emirati Dirhams324.144889740.0030850402 EUR Euros1392.63567500.0007180629 FJD Fijian Dollars564.371538110.0017718824 XAU Gold Ounces1433779.68400.0000006975 GTQ Guatemalan Quetzales158.608813250.0063048199 HKD Hong Kong Dollars151.673236320.0065931210 HUF Hungarian Forint4.26905209660.2342440376 XDR IMF Special Drawing Rights1669.24490650.0005990733 ISK Icelandic Kronur11.1318907490.0898319991 INR Indian Rupees16.8155803870.0594686581 IDR Indonesian Rupiahs0.080876324012.364558009 IRR Iranian Rials0.028210833235.447375642 Currency Unit - IQD per Unit - Units per IQD IQD Iraqi Dinars 1.0000000000 (US) 1.0000000000 ILS Israeli New Shekels329.720115930.0030328753 JMD Jamaican Dollars8.71311439200.1147695250 JPY Japanese Yen10.6691576200.0937281120 JOD Jordanian Dinars1679.01566650.0005955871 KES Kenyan Shillings11.8294057840.0845350999 KWD Kuwaiti Dinars3930.31294430.0002544327 LBP Lebanese Pounds0.78966640631.2663575302 MYR Malaysian Ringgits289.491619360.0034543314 MUR Mauritian Rupees34.7534536370.0287741187 MXN Mexican Pesos62.6010119740.0159741827 MAD Moroccan Dirhams126.777114940.0078878589 NZD New Zealand Dollars792.850718510.0012612715 NGN Nigerian Nairas3.28853300160.3040869590 NOK Norwegian Kroner143.130898370.0069866116O MR Omani Rials3096.02628760.0003229947 PKR Pakistani Rupees9.67653750610.1033427504 PYG Paraguayan Guarani0.20608940004.8522631447 PEN Peruvian Soles361.477764590.0027664219 PHP Philippine Pisos22.2493366310.0449451602 XPT Platinum Ounces946280.958000.0000010568 PLN Polish Zlotych324.886893260.0030779943 QAR Qatari Rials327.039040540.0030577389 RON Romanian Lei299.874482690.0033347286 RUB Russian Rubles17.4893567380.0571776318 SAR Saudi Arabian Riyals317.445895350.0031501431 XAG Silver Ounces17466.9812990.0000572509 SGD Singapore Dollars871.649333720.0011472503 ZAR South African Rand81.5650925740.0122601467 KRW South Korean Won1.07350512780.9315279212 LKR Sri Lankan Rupees7.37151346200.1356573525 SEK Swedish Kronor130.674366300.0076526103 CHF Swiss Francs1226.92260060.0008150473 TWD Taiwan New Dollars38.7694146500.0257935285 THB Thai Baht36.4034872160.0274698958 TTD Trinidadian Dollars177.023606020.0056489641 TND Tunisian Dinars433.115271420.0023088542 TRY Turkish Lira178.787560090.0055932303 USD US Dollars1190.42210760.0008400382 UAH Ukrainian Hryvni42.3070409020.0236367276 UYU Uruguayan Pesos37.5886924000.0266037453 VND Vietnamese Dong0.051226781819.521038880 ZMW Zambian Kwacha117.445168650.0085146116
  6. VA Releases National Suicide Data Report Analysis Part of VA’s Comprehensive Examination of More Than 55 Million Death Records WASHINGTON — Today the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released findings from its most recent analysis of Veteran suicide data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This report yields several important insights: Suicide rates increased for both Veterans and non-Veterans, underscoring the fact that suicide is a national public health concern that affects people everywhere. The average number of Veterans who died by suicide each day remained unchanged at 20. The suicide rate increased faster among Veterans who had not recently used Veterans Health Administration health care than among those who had. The report, known as “VA National Suicide Data Report 2005–2015,” is available at https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/Suicide-Prevention-Data.asp. The analysis is part of VA’s ongoing examination of more than 55 million civilian and Veteran death records that is being used to evaluate and improve VA’s Suicide Prevention Program. Data from this report were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Death Index and then linked to both VA and Department of Defense (DoD) data. VA is committed to publishing the most accurate suicide data possible. CDC has 2016 data, but VA works with both CDC and DoD to analyze millions of records and data sources to produce an analysis of suicide deaths for all known Veterans. This collaboration adds a layer of complexity to the analysis process thus making 2015 the most current year for which VA is able to publish complete Veteran suicide data. VA is working with CDC and DoD to innovate and refine the data analysis and plans to publish 2016 Veteran suicide data in fall 2018. The report includes suicide rates from 2005 to 2015 for both Veteran and non-Veteran populations segmented by age, race and gender, and analyzes Veteran rates based on service branch and era, suicide method and suicide risk factors. These data inform the ongoing work of VA and its partners to prevent suicide and expand the network of support for Veterans. “Suicide remains a top clinical priority,” said Acting VA Secretary Mr. Peter O’Rourke. “One life lost to suicide is one too many. Suicide is a serious public health concern in the Veteran population and across all communities nationwide. These data offer important insights to help VA to build effective networks of support, communication and care that reach Veterans where they live and thrive.” Suicide is a complex issue and is influenced by a multitude of intersecting factors that can increase or decrease suicide risk. The VA Suicide Prevention Program’s public health approach addresses the risk factors associated with suicidal behavior — such as a prior suicide attempt, stressful life events or the availability of lethal means — while promoting the protective factors that can offset risk — such as positive coping skills, feeling connected to other people and access to mental health care. Data form an integral part of VA’s public health strategy and enable VA to tailor research-backed suicide-prevention initiatives to reach diverse groups across the Veteran population. In the years since these data were captured, VA has undertaken substantial suicide-prevention efforts, including: Expansion of the Veterans Crisis Line Creation of new cross-sector partnerships Implementation of the Joint Action Plan for Supporting Veterans During Their Transition From Uniformed Service to Civilian Life Launch of SAVE online suicide prevention training Development of the forthcoming National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide Learn more about VA’s suicide-prevention resources and programs at www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/. Veterans who are in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, and those who know a Veteran in crisis, should call the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or send a text message to 838255. Reporters covering this issue are strongly encouraged to visit www.ReportingOnSuicide.org for important guidance on how to communicate about suicide.
  7. Always good to see you bring stability to the table C. 🍺
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