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Reda Cherif and Fuad Hasanov
A universal testing and isolation policy is the most viable way to vanquish a pandemic. Its implementation requires: (i) an epidemiological rather than clinical approach to testing, sacrificing accuracy for scalability, convenience and speed; and (ii) state intervention to ramp up production, similar to True Industrial Policy (TIP), on a global level to achieve a scale and speed the market alone would fail to provide. We sketch a strategy to tackle market failures and implement smart testing, especially in densely populated areas. The estimated cost of testing is dwarfed by its return, mitigating the economic fallout of the pandemic.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on cross-country differences in savings rates in advanced European countries. It explores a range of demographic, fiscal and financial factors that could explain why household savings are low in Portugal compared to its peers. Portugal’s household saving rate is lower than those of the average European country. This difference can be explained by Portugal’s lower disposable income, lower financial net wealth, higher old-age dependency ratio, higher government spending on pensions and on social protection benefits, and higher homeownership ratio, as suggested by a comparison against another 14 European countries conducted with the aid of panel regressions. Other factors that could underlie Portugal’s low household saving are the country’s lower education levels, fertility rate, and private pension coverage. Many of these factors are not amenable to simple or direct policy interventions, although some policy initiatives aimed at higher level objectives, such as promoting economic growth, could have positive side effects on household saving. More specific policy options to boost household saving include measures to promote private occupational and personal plans, including some changes in taxation, and developing incentives to work past age 65.
Sophia Chen
I study whether firms' reliance on intangible assets is an important determinant of financing constraints. I construct new measures of firm-level physical and intangible assets using accounting information on U.S. public firms. I find that firms with a higher share of intangible assets in total assets start smaller, grow faster, and have higher Tobin’s q. Asset tangibility predicts firm dynamics and Tobin’s q up to 30 years but has diminishing predicative power. I develop a model of endogenous financial constraints in which firm size and value are limited by the enforceability of financial contracts. Asset tangibility matters because physical and intangible assets differ in their residual value when the contract is repudiated. This mechanism is qualitatively important to explain stylized facts of firm dynamics and Tobin’s q.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Technology is generating a global convergence. A "big bang" of information—and education as well—is improving human lives. And with global interconnectivity growing by leaps and bounds, we are all witness to a rapid spread of information and ideas. But, as we have seen from the prolonged global financial crisis, our interconnectedness carries grave risks as well as benefits. This issue of F&D looks at different aspects of interconnectedness, globally and in Asia. • Brookings VP Kemal Devis presents the three fundamental trends in the global economy affecting the balance between east and west in "World Economy: Convergence, Interdependence, and Divergence." • In "Financial Regionalism," Akihiro Kawai and Domenico Lombardi tell us how regional arrangements are helping global financial stability. • In "Migration Meets Slow Growth," Migration Policy Institute president Demetrios Papademetriou examines how the global movement of workers will change as the economic crisis continues in advanced economies. • "Caught in the Web" explains new ways of looking at financial interconnections in a globalized world. • IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde provides her take on the benefits of integration and the risks of fragmentation in "Straight Talk." Also in this issue, we take a closer look at interconnectedness across Asia as we explore how trade across the region is affected by China's falling trade surplus, how India and China might learn from each others' success, and what Myanmar's reintegration into the global economy means for its people. F&D's People in Economics series profiles Justin Yifu Lin, first developing country World Bank economist, and the Back to Basics series explains the origins and evolution of money.
International Monetary Fund
The paper is an account of Finland’s unexpected upcoming deceleration in the economy at the end of 2011 and later. The deleveraging of the financial sector and the debt crisis made the nation fear an inevitable recession. To sustain this vulnerable situation, due attention was given to short-term growth and long-term challenges. Banks were encouraged to build up capitals and toughen bank decrees. Plans were made to multiply labor power and productivity. At the end of the paper, the Board welcomed the commitment of the state in improving and safeguarding the financial sector.
International Monetary Fund
Austria’s recession had limited effects on unemployment. Investment declined sharply but consumption helped cushion the recession, supported by tax cuts and various labor market measures together with large increases in real wages. Austria’s fiscal position has weakened significantly in recent years, although to a lesser extent than the euro area average. The authorities’ plan to embark on a decisive fiscal consolidation path is welcomed. They recognized, however, that reducing the share of foreign exchange loans, while providing continued financing to central and southeastern Europe, will be challenging.
Mr. Christopher W. Crowe
The recent housing bust has reignited interest in psychological theories of speculative excess (Shiller, 2007). I investigate this issue by identifying a segment of the U.S. population-evangelical protestants-that may be less prone to speculative motives, and uncover a significant negative relationship between their population share and house price volatility. Evangelicals' focus on Biblical prophecy could account for this difference, since it may enable them to interpret otherwise negative events as containing positive news, dampening the response of house prices to shocks. I provide evidence for this channel using a popular internet measure of "prophetic activity" and a 9/11 event study. I also analyze survey data covering religious beliefs and asset holding, and find that 'end times' beliefs are associated with a one-third decline in net worth, consistent with these beliefs providing a form of psychic insurance (Scheve and Stasavage, 2006a and 2006b) that reduces asset demand.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx
Mr. Robert P Flood
This paper examines sources of economic growth in East Asia. The conventional growth-accounting approach to estimating the sources of economic growth requires unrealistically strong assumptions about either competitiveness of factor markets or the form of the underlying aggregate production function. The paper outlines a new approach utilizing nonparametric derivative estimation techniques that does not require imposing these restrictive assumptions. The results for East Asian countries show that output elasticities of capital and labor tend to be different from the income shares of these factors. The paper also explores the compensating potential of private intergenerational transfers.