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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused dramatic loss of human life and major damage to the European economy, but thanks to an exceptionally strong policy response, potentially devastating outcomes have been avoided.

Mrs. Nujin Suphaphiphat and Hiroaki Miyamoto
While unemployment rates in Europe declined after the global financial crisis until 2018/19, the incidence of long-term unemployment, the share of people who have been unemployed for more than one year to the total unemployed, remained high. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic could aggravate the long-term unemployment. This paper explores factors associated with long-term unemployment in European countries, using panel of 25 European countries over the period 2000–18. We find that skill mismatches, labor market matching efficiency, and labor market policies are associated with the incidence of long-term unemployment. Among different types of active labor market policies, training and start-up incentives are found to be effective in reducing long-term unemployment.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2019 Article IV Consultation with the Republic of Croatia discusses that it experienced its fifth consecutive year of solid economic growth, once again driven largely by private consumption and tourism. Employment gains have been robust, wages have continued to rise, while import prices have helped to keep inflation muted. Increased absorption of European Union funds is likely to raise public investment in the coming years. In conjunction with continued strong consumption, the current account surplus is expected to decline, and turn into a moderate deficit, while economic growth moderates. Both public and external indebtedness are expected to continue their declining trajectories. The pace of fiscal consolidation in 2019 continued to slow, with the budget estimated to be close to balance. Contingent liabilities could also pressure budget balances in the coming years.
Agustin Velasquez and Svetlana Vtyurina
Hours worked vary widely across countries and over time. In this paper, we investigate the role played by taxation in explaining these differences for EU New Member States. By extending a standard growth model with novel data on consumption and labor taxes, we assess the evolution of trends in hours worked over the 1995-2017 period. We find that the inclusion of tax rates in the model significantly improves the tracking of hours. We also estimate the elasticity of hours (and its different margins) to quantify the deadweight loss introduced by consumption and labor taxes. We find that these taxes explain a large share of labor supply differences across EU New Member States and that the potential gains from policy actions are noteworthy.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Article IV Consultation highlights that the economic expansion continues, driven primarily by private consumption and exports of goods and services. Discussions primarily focused on increasing the economy’s flexibility and resilience. Fiscal performance has been strong, however, the materialization of contingent liabilities from government guarantees is likely to reduce the overall surplus. Low public and private investment, and continued emigration appear to weigh on medium-term growth prospects. Downside risks in the near-term stem could be due to possible changes in regional or global economic and financial conditions, and the further realization of contingent liabilities. The IMF staff advocated for a moderately faster fiscal adjustment. The report recommends accelerating the pace of debt reduction that would build fiscal space and help reduce downside risks. The Central Bank may need to address potentially tighter external conditions while continuing with strong bank supervision and macroprudential policies. Additional measures to prevent excessive household borrowing could be considered if needed.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses the first phase, to be constructed from 2015 to mid-2019, comprises a 41-kilometer section that is to provide an efficient and safe transport link between Podgorica and the poorest northern region in Montenegro. It runs through the mountainous terrain in the center of the country that is economically undeveloped. Due to its large cost (25 percent of 2017 GDP), the first phase of the highway has used up most of Montenegro’s fiscal space and will crowd out other productive spending. For the foreseeable future, the second and third parts of the highway could only be financed with concessional funds, because loans would destabilize the debt sustainability of Montenegro. The government’s main motivation for this large project is the need to improve connectivity, particularly to Europe through Serbia, boost tourism and trade, improve road safety, and strengthen national security. The highway is a part of Montenegro’s plans to integrate the Montenegrin transport network with those of neighboring countries.