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Francisco Roldán
Sovereign debt crises coincide with deep recessions. I propose a model of sovereign debt that rationalizes large contractions in economic activity via an aggregate-demand amplification mechanism. The mechanism also sheds new light on the response of consumption to sovereign risk, which I document in the context of the Eurozone crisis. By explicitly separating the decisions of households and the government, I examine the interaction between sovereign risk and precautionary savings. When a default is likely, households anticipate its negative consequences and cut consumption for self-insurance reasons. Such shortages in aggregate spending worsen economic conditions through nominal wage rigidities and boost default incentives, restarting the vicious cycle. I calibrate the model to Spain in the 2000s and find that about half of the output contraction is caused by default risk. More generally, sovereign risk exacerbates volatility in consumption over time and across agents, creating large and unequal welfare costs even if default does not materialize.
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. European Dept.
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.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses the economic performance of Denmark. Although Denmark has a longstanding track record of sound economic and social policies, economic performance has been relatively weak for an extended period. The economy continues to grow slowly. After recording 1.3 percent growth in 2014, the economy grew by 1.2 percent in 2015, driven mostly by private consumption on the back of rising employment and real incomes. However, relatively strong performance in the first half of the year was partly undone by flagging exports in the second half of the year. Denmark has consistently run current account surpluses in recent decades, mostly reflecting structurally high retirement savings in the context of its funded pension system.
Mr. Michael Keen
This paper sets out some tools for understanding the performance of the value added tax (VAT). Applying a decomposition of VAT revenues (as a share of GDP) to the universe of VATs over the last twenty years, it emerges that developments have been driven much less by changes in standard rates than by changes in ‘C-efficiency’ (an indicator of the departure of the VAT from a perfectly enforced tax levied at a uniform rate on all consumption). Decomposing C-efficiency into a ‘policy gap’ (in turn divided into effects of rate differentiation and exemption) and a ‘compliance’ gap (reflecting imperfect implementation), results pieced together for EU members suggest that the former are in almost all cases far larger than the latter, with rate differentiation and exemptions playing roles that differ quite widely across countries.
International Monetary Fund
The Selected Issues paper describes the nexus between household wealth, saving, and consumption, and provides estimates for the medium-term path of household saving and consumption. The paper also discusses to what extent the credit market frictions are holding back Ireland's economic recovery. Under current macroeconomic assumptions, the savings rate is expected to decline. Households have rapidly accumulated debt during boom times, and incomes and asset values have declined severely during the crisis. The Executive Board welcomes the country’s efforts toward economic recovery.
Mr. Marc G Quintyn and Sophia Gollwitzer
This paper tests the theoretical framework developed by North, Wallis and Weingast (2009) on the transition from closed to open access societies. They posit that societies need to go through three doorsteps: (i) the establishment of rule of law among elites; (ii) the adoption of perpetually existing organizations; and (iii) the political control of the military. We identify indicators reflecting these doorsteps and graphically test the correlation between them and a set of political and economic variables. Finally, through Identification through Heteroskedasticity we test these relationships econometrically. The paper broadly confirms the logic behind the doorsteps as necessary steps in the transition to open access societies. The doorsteps influence economic and political processes, as well as each other, with varying intensity. We also identify income inequality as a potentially important force leading to social change.
International Monetary Fund
This study focused on environmental tax measures, and on allocation, pricing, and taxation of Iceland’s major hydropower and geothermal resources. Measures to secure the tax base for the corporate income tax (CIT) are proposed. Taxation of the financial sector can be improved by a number of measures. The measures that increase fiscal levies on energy-intensive industries should be avoided. The proposals in this paper aim at efficiency and equity in the tax system rather than revenue growth.
International Monetary Fund
The Icelandic government has launched a review of the tax system, with a view to improving its income redistribution, growth orientation, and efficiency features, as well as increasing its revenue mobilization potential. It aims at minimizing detrimental effects on employment and growth, and at removing inconsistencies with international practices. The tax measures will boost the revenue potential in line with the government’s objectives while substantially increasing income redistribution. The Icelandic Corporate Index Tax would benefit from adopting financial accounting as the basis to determine taxable income.