International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
Unemployment is low, inflation is well contained, and growth is set to accelerate. During the course of this administration, the economy is expected to enter the longest expansion in recorded U.S. history.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the Irish economy continues to grow at a rapid pace, well above the European Union average. Although headline data are distorted by the volatility of multinationals’ activity, the broad recovery of (modified) domestic demand (4 percent in 2017) underpins the expansion. Strong labor market performance brought the unemployment rate down to below 6 percent by April 2018. Although wage pressures emerged in some sectors, inflation remained subdued, mainly reflecting the pass-through of pound sterling depreciation. Public finances continued to improve on the back of strong output growth, while the public debt burden declined slightly to 68 percent of GDP. The outlook remains broadly positive but with externally-driven downside risks.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes investment slowdown in Denmark. The post-global financial crisis (GFC) weakness in Denmark’s aggregate investment cannot be fully explained by the output slowdown. The baseline accelerator model confirms that output slowdown played a role, but post-GFC investment has fallen beyond the level explained by output movements in most of the post-GFC period. Most recently, investment converged to the level explained by output movements. The augmented accelerator model suggests that additional factors, such as high leverage, weak competition, and elevated policy uncertainty, also had a significant impact. Panel regressions using a panel of advanced economies show that reduction in leverage and product market reforms can boost investment in the medium term. Well-designed policies are needed to boost private investment.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the Swiss economy has adjusted to the large cumulative exchange rate appreciation that took place since the global financial crisis. After a subdued start to 2017, GDP growth accelerated to 1.1 percent in 2017, and the positive momentum continued in Q1:2018, although at a slightly reduced pace. The improved external outlook, together with the depreciation since mid-2017, are expected to energize the economy and lift GDP growth to 2.25 percent in 2018, before it gradually moderates to 1.75 percent over the medium term. Inflation is expected to increase to the upper half of the target band in 2018–19, and to subsequently revert to the mid-point.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper discusses measures required to enhance nonhydrocarbon revenue to support fiscal consolidation in Qatar. Qatar depends heavily on the hydrocarbon sector for exports and revenue receipts. The authorities have embarked on fiscal consolidation, underpinned by cuts to current expenditures and enhanced efforts to raise additional revenue. Safeguarding Qatar’s wealth to ensure intergenerational equity and ensure adequate resources for the implementation of the second National Development Strategy would entail increased mobilization of nonhydrocarbon revenue in the near to medium term. Exploring other sources of tax revenue to diversify the government revenue structure and build a stable tax revenue base is also critical.
In this paper we provide short- and long-run tax buoyancy estimates for 107 countries
(distributed between advanced, emerging and low-income) for the period 1980–2014. By means
of Fully-Modified OLS and (Pooled) Mean Group estimators, we find that: i) for advanced
economies both long-run and short-run buoyancies are not different from one; ii) long run tax
buoyancy exceeds one in the case of CIT for advanced economies, PIT and SSC in emerging
markets, and TGS for low income countries, iii) in advanced countries (emerging market
economies) CIT (CIT and TGS) buoyancy is larger during contractions than during times of
economic expansions; iv) both trade openness and human capital increase buoyancy while
inflation and output volatility decrease it.
Risks to macroeconomic stability posed by excessive private leverage are significantly amplified by tax distortions. ‘Debt bias’ (tax provisions favoring finance by debt rather than equity) has increased leverage in both the household and corporate sectors, and is now widely recognized as a significant macroeconomic concern.
This paper presents new evidence of the extent of debt bias, including estimates for banks and non-bank financial institutions both before and after the global financial crisis. It presents policy options to alleviate debt bias, and assesses their effectiveness. The paper finds that thin capitalization rules restricting interest deductibility have only partially been able to address debt bias, but that an allowance for corporate equity has generally proved effective. The paper concludes that debt bias should feature prominently in countries’ tax reform plans in the coming years.
This Technical Assistance report lists key issues discussed between the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department (FAD) and the Davis Tax Committee regarding recommendations for tax reforms in the oil and gas sector in South Africa. It is suggested that the royalty should have a single flat rate, rather than the current variable rate formula. The 5 percent flat rate proposed in the FAD report is modest by international standards. For corporate tax purposes, the current immediate expensing of capital expenditure and the 100 percent and 50 percent uplifts for exploration and development expenditure are overly generous and will lead to both a revenue loss and a long delay before revenue is collected.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
KEY ISSUES Abenomics is gaining traction, but progress across the three arrows has been uneven and medium-term risks remain substantial. Inflation has risen, a consumption tax increase has been implemented, and there are signs of a transition to private-led growth. However, structural reforms have progressed slowly and a medium-term fiscal plan beyond 2015 is still to be articulated. Uncertainty is therefore high whether the recovery and exit from deflation will become self sustained under current policies. More forceful growth reforms are needed to overcome structural headwinds to raising growth and ending deflation The next round of structural reforms should lift labor supply, reduce labor market duality, enhance risk capital provision, and accelerate agricultural and services sector deregulation. Corporate governance reforms already underway could help reduce firms’ preference for large cash holdings. A concrete medium-term fiscal reform plan is urgently needed. Given very high levels of public debt, implementation of the second consumption tax increase is critical to establish a track record of fiscal discipline. Adoption of a concrete medium-term fiscal consolidation plan beyond 2015 would build confidence in the sustainability of public finances and allow more flexibility to respond to downside risks. Plans to lower the corporate tax rate have growth benefits, but should proceed in combination with measures to offset revenue losses and be consistent with plans to restore fiscal sustainability. Monetary policy is appropriately accommodative. With inflation and inflation expectations increasing, no further easing is needed at this point. In case downside risks to the inflation outlook materialize, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) should act swiftly through further and/or longer- dated asset purchases. Communication should focus on achieving 2 percent inflation in a stable manner aided by a more transparent presentation of the BoJ’s forecast and underlying assumptions. The financial sector remains stable. Portfolio rebalancing by financial institutions and investors is desirable but also raises new risks, including from greater overseas engagement. In regional banks, limited growth opportunities and low net interest margins could further undermine core profitability and weaken capital buffers. Supervisors should continue to be proactive in monitoring these risks. Japan’s external position is assessed as broadly in balance—compared to moderately undervalued last year—because of structural changes in the external sector, including from the offshoring of production and sustained high energy imports, which have become more apparent. Launching all three arrows will create benefits for the region and the global economy. Spillovers via the trade channel and capital flows are expected to increase in coming years with uncertain net effects—higher exports and capital outflows—in the short term. As long as Japan continues to proceed with i