This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Slovakia remains among Europe’s stronger economies, with growth continuing to pick up in 2015, driven by strong domestic demand. A push to spend expiring European Union funds has underpinned rising investment while job creation and real wage growth have supported private consumption. Unemployment has fallen significantly since 2013, but is still about 11 percent overall, and is much higher for the long-term unemployed, youth, and women. The outlook is favorable with growth of 3–3.5 percent expected through the medium-term, reflecting sustained domestic demand as well as further contributions from the important export sector as substantial additional foreign auto sector investment is planned.
KEY ISSUES Context: Growth is benefiting from lower energy prices and euro depreciation, and the labor market is strong. The external position remains substantially stronger than implied by medium-term fundamentals as the current account surplus reached another historical high. The fiscal position is healthy, corporate and household balance sheets are sound. Low interest rates are compounding chronically weak bank profitability and hurting life insurers’ solvency. The population is aging fast despite record immigration, which will increasingly harm growth prospects after 2020. Policy priorities: Further progress is urgently needed to raise potential growth while generating beneficial spillovers to the rest of the euro area and lowering the large current account surplus: Step up investment addressing weaknesses in public infrastructure to strengthen potential output and domestic demand. To facilitate this process, put in place new institutions that enable better planning and coordination of public investment at the local level. Enhance competition to foster a more productive services sector. Reduce disincentives for women to work full time as a way to mitigate the adverse effects of an aging population on labor supply. Expand the macroprudential toolkit to better address potential future excesses in the housing sector. Ensure that life insurance companies maintain sufficient capital buffers to withstand a prolonged period of low interest rates.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the various transmission channels of the Syrian crisis—though quantification is hampered by the lack of reliable data—with focus on the impact on fiscal performance and labor markets; it also takes stock of international donor efforts to date. The paper also provides overviews of main effects on Lebanon’s economy, the expenditure pressures associated with the refugee presence, the impact on poverty and inequality, and the added strains on labor markets. A section of the paper describes the response by the international community to help Lebanon cope with the Syrian crisis. Absent additional international support, the needs of both refugees and affected Lebanese communities will not be met. Sound government policies—including implementation of a concerted policy framework to deal with refugee issues and a commitment to fiscal discipline—will send credible signals to donors and help mobilize budget support. Tackling the unprecedented refugee crisis requires strong international support. There has been a large international humanitarian response, but much more is needed.
This paper develops a general equilibrium model with unemployment and noncooperative wage determination to analyze the importance of incomplete markets when risk-averse agents are subject to idiosyncratic employment shocks. A version of the model calibrated to the U.S. shows that market incompleteness affects individual behavior and aggregate conditions: it reduces wages and unemployment but increases vacancies. Additionally, the model explains the average level of unemployment insurance observed in the U.S. A key mechanism is the joint influence of imperfect insurance and risk aversion in the wage bargaining. The paper also proposes a novel solution to solve this heterogeneous-agent model.
Belgium has effected a remarkable fiscal adjustment, best illustrated by the decline in its public debt. While benefiting from an appreciable decline in interest rates, most of the underlying consolidation reflected a considerable increase in the tax burden, one of the highest in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. This paper analyzes the social transfer system in Belgium. Belgium has a very accessible and equitable health care system. The system is characterized by high input levels and service volumes.
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.