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John Spray
I develop a model of firm-to-firm search and matching to show that the impact of falling trade costs on firm sourcing decisions and consumer welfare depends on the relative size of search externalities in domestic and international markets. These externalities can be positive if firms share information about potential matches, or negative if the market is congested. Using unique firm-to-firm transaction-level data from Uganda, I document empirical evidence consistent with positive externalities in international markets and negative externalities in domestic markets. I then build a dynamic quantitative version of the model and show that, in Uganda, a 25% reduction in trade costs led to a 3.7% increase in consumer welfare, 12% of which was due to search externalities.
Kodjovi M. Eklou and Mamour Fall
Do discretionary spending cuts and tax increases hurt social well-being? To answer this question, we combine subjective well-being data covering over half a million of individuals across 13 European countries, with macroeconomic data on fiscal consolidations. We find that fiscal consolidations reduce individual well-being in the short run, especially when they are based on spending cuts. In addition, we show that accompanying monetary and exchange rate policies (disinflation, depreciations and the liberalization of capital flows) mitigate the well-being cost of fiscal consolidations. Finally, we investigate the well-being consequences of the two well-knowns expansionary fiscal consolidations episodes taking place in the 80s (in Denmark and Ireland). We find that even expansionary fiscal consolidations can have well-being costs. Our results may therefore shed some light on why some governments may choose to consolidate through taxes even at the cost of economic growth. Indeed, if spending cuts are to generate a large well-being loss, they can trigger an opposition and protest against a fiscal consolidation plan and hence making it politically costly.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This technical assistance mission report underlines efforts to estimate the economic and revenue contributions of the international financial services industry in the Cook Islands. This report discusses the data and methodology used and presents the results. One matter that has been raised is that international companies are exempt from all taxes in the Cook Islands. The economic contribution of the international financial services industry can be measured by the value added of resident institutional units engaged, directly or indirectly, in the production of international financial services in the Cook Islands. The production of international financial services generates income which is distributed to the various agents or groups of agents who use that income to acquire goods and services for consumption now or later. The international financial services industry also contributes indirectly to gross domestic product through two channels. The first channel is through the goods and services that the industry purchases from other suppliers, such as electricity, accounting services, telecommunications, etc.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper examines the stability of the financial sector in Botswana. The financial system has grown rapidly over the years, but there is still substantial scope for expansion. Banks, institutional investors, and the Botswana Stock Exchange have grown steadily over the years based on political and economic stability, savings from diamond exports, and fiscal surpluses. Botswana’s financial stability framework could benefit from upgrading. Data gaps and incomplete information on cross-border capital flows and growing interconnection with the nonbank financial sector may entail risks. In this regard, close cooperation among regulators and proper assessment of macro-financial risks associated with banks’ large exposures will contribute to more effective financial system supervision.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon’s economy. Output growth in Lebanon has fallen sharply since the onset of the Syrian crisis and is too low to accommodate new job seekers, or to address the needs of Lebanon’s more vulnerable population. Moreover, low growth is taking a toll on public debt dynamics, raising the prospect of higher borrowing costs and constrained social and investment spending—both are much needed to improve the quality of public spending and direct it toward more useful and productive uses. The authorities have presented an ambitious proposal to the international community, which centers on a multiyear effort to stimulate growth and employment through a targeted series of investment initiatives.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper aims to determine how much of the economic slowdown of Albania is owing to cyclical conditions and how much to a reduction in potential growth. The analysis shows that average growth in 2009–14 dropped by 3.2 percentage points relative to 1997–2008, of which 2.8 percentage points are due to lower potential growth. Albania has significant potential to improve its export competitiveness. However, Albania’s competitiveness has shown narrow improvements over the past five years, with weak productivity growth and continued concentration in low-skilled labor-intensive sectors with limited value added. This paper also explores the factors underpinning Albania’s relatively low level of general government revenues.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper considers the case of Poland to analyze global financial spillovers to emerging market (EM) sovereign bond markets. Foreign holdings of Polish government bonds have increased substantially over the last decade. Although foreign participation in local-currency sovereign bond markets provides an additional source of financing and reduces sovereign yields, it has also given rise to concerns about increased sensitivity to shifts in market sentiment. The analysis in this paper suggests that foreign participation plays an important role in transmitting global financial shocks to local-currency sovereign bond markets by increasing yield volatility and, beyond a certain threshold, amplifying these spillovers.
Juha Tervala and Mr. Giovanni Ganelli
This paper studies tariff-tax reforms in a calibrated two-region global New Keynesian model composed of a developing and an advanced region. In our baseline calibration, a revenue-neutral reform that lowers tariffs in developing countries can reduce domestic welfare. The reason is that the increase in developing countries welfare due to higher output is dominated by the welfare losses stemming from the deterioration of the terms of trade. On the other hand, the reform increases output and welfare in the advanced countries and in the world as a whole. The effects that we highlight have not been studied in previous contributions to the literature, which typically looks at tariff-tax reforms using a small open economy framework. Nominal rigidities have important implications for adjustment dynamics in our model. In the case of a "point-for-point" reform, for example, price stickiness implies that the international dynamics of output is reversed compared to a revenue neutral reform.