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Antoine Berthou, John Jong-Hyun Chung, Kalina Manova, and Charlotte Sandoz
We examine the gains from globalization in the presence of firm heterogeneity and potential resource misallocation. We show theoretically that without distortions, bilateral and export liberalizations increase aggregate welfare and productivity, while import liberalization has ambiguous effects. Resource misallocation can either amplify, dampen or reverse the gains from trade. Using model-consistent measures and unique new data on 14 European countries and 20 industries in 1998-2011, we empirically establish that exogenous shocks to export demand and import competition both generate large aggregate productivity gains. Guided by theory, we provide evidence consistent with these effects operating through reallocations across firms in the presence of distortions: (i) Both export and import expansion increase average firm productivity, but the former also shifts activity towards more productive firms, while the latter acts in reverse; (ii) Both export and import exposure raise the productivity threshold for survival, but this cut-off is not a sufficient statistic for aggregate productivity; (iii) Efficient institutions, factor and product markets amplify the gains from import competition but dampen those from export access.
Mr. JaeBin Ahn, Mr. Romain A Duval, and Can Sever
While there is growing evidence of persistent or even permanent output losses from financial crises, the causes remain unclear. One candidate is intangible capital – a rising driver of economic growth that, being non-pledgeable as collateral, is vulnerable to financial frictions. By sheltering intangible investment from financial shocks, counter-cyclical macroeconomic policy could strengthen longer-term growth, particularly so where strong product market competition prevents firms from self-financing their investments through rents. Using a rich cross-country firm-level dataset and exploiting heterogeneity in firm-level exposure to the sharp and unforeseen tightening of credit conditions around September 2008, we find strong support for these theoretical predictions. The quantitative implications are large, highlighting a powerful stabilizing role for macroeconomic policy through the intangible investment channel, and its complementarity with pro-competition product market deregulation.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.


After strong growth in 2017 and early 2018, global economic activity slowed notably in the second half of last year, reflecting a confluence of factors affecting major economies. China’s growth declined following a combination of needed regulatory tightening to rein in shadow banking and an increase in trade tensions with the United States. The euro area economy lost more momentum than expected as consumer and business confidence weakened and car production in Germany was disrupted by the introduction of new emission standards; investment dropped in Italy as sovereign spreads widened; and external demand, especially from emerging Asia, softened. Elsewhere, natural disasters hurt activity in Japan. Trade tensions increasingly took a toll on business confidence and, so, financial market sentiment worsened, with financial conditions tightening for vulnerable emerging markets in the spring of 2018 and then in advanced economies later in the year, weighing on global demand. Conditions have eased in 2019 as the US Federal Reserve signaled a more accommodative monetary policy stance and markets became more optimistic about a US–China trade deal, but they remain slightly more restrictive than in the fall.

Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, Mr. Maelan Le Goff, and Mr. Raju J Singh
This paper contributes to the literature by looking at the possible relevance of the structure of the financial system—whether financial intermediation is performed through banks or markets—for macroeconomic volatility, against the backdrop of increased policy attention on strengthening growth resilience. With low-income countries (LICs) being the most vulnerable to large and frequent terms of trade shocks, the paper focuses on a sample of 38 LICs over the period 1978-2012 and finds that banking sector development acts as a shock-absorber in poor countries, dampening the transmission of terms of trade shocks to growth volatility. Expanding the sample to 121 developing countries confirms this result, although this role of shock-absorber fades away as economies grow richer. Stock market development, by contrast, appears neither to be a shock-absorber nor a shock-amplifier for most economies. These findings are consistent across a range of econometric estimators, including fixed effect, system GMM and local projection estimates.
Mr. Olumuyiwa S Adedeji, Mr. Sohaib Shahid, and Ling Zhu
This paper examines real and financial linkages between Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. Growth spillovers from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain are found to be sizeable and statistically significant, but those to other GCC countries are not found to be significant. Equity market movements in Saudi Arabia are found to have significant implications for other GCC countries, while there is no evidence of co-movements in bonds markets. These findings suggest some degree of interdependence among GCC countries.