By Jane Harrigan, Hamed El-Said (eds.)
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Additional info for Aid and Power in the Arab World: World Bank and IMF Policy-Based Lending in the Middle East and North Africa
Hence, IMF programmes seem to clearly coincide with debt problems and the need to save foreign reserves. Along with the two economic variables, signing a peace treaty with Israel and improving democracy also increase the likelihood of reaching an agreement with the IMF. The existence of political business cycle also plays its part in that we have found that MENA 32 Aid and Power in the Arab World governments are more likely to enter into an agreement with the IMF in the year after the legislative election.
A second general explanation of outliers might be the fact that in some instances the signing of an IMF agreement might be delayed despite the existence of predictive events. A typical example might be Egypt where our model incorrectly predicted agreements in 1985 and 1986 yet failed to predict the 1987 agreement. The fact that Egypt’s IMF programme in the mid-1970s sparked serious food riots, as well as Egypt’s access to generous assistance from the USA in times of economic need, might explain why there was a delay in reaching another IMF agreement.
The only economic variables in the supplemented model that have the predicted sign and are significant are the change in foreign reserves and total debt service – a decline in reserves or a high debt service ratio are good predictors of an IMF programme. This finding can be further supported by the fact that 20 out of 28 IMF programmes in MENA were accompanied by a Paris Club debt relief or reschedule agreement. Hence, IMF programmes seem to clearly coincide with debt problems and the need to save foreign reserves.