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Mr. Sohrab Rafiq
Korea’s stars tell of an economy saddled with a real neutral rate (r-star) that has declined significantly in recent decades and is currently below zero. This reflects a significant decline in trend growth, and two large financial crises that triggered significant shifts in the saving-investment balance. Larger fiscal deficits and frothy financial conditions since 2012 have helped offset rising demand for safer assets, preventing the neutral rate from falling further. Nonetheless, the fall in the neutral rate, coupled with its effects on asset returns, has complicated the task of monetary policy stabilization. Korea’s neutral rate is likely to remain low over the medium-term and could fall further, reflecting a structural savings-investment imbalance owing to declining productivity and a rotation in demographics increasing the demand for precautionary saving and convenience yield, and widening the capital risk premia. The COVID pandemic risks magnifying these trends.
Mr. Marco Arena, Gabriel Di Bella, Mr. Alfredo Cuevas, Mr. Borja Gracia, Vina Nguyen, and Alex Pienkowski
Estimates of the natural interest rate are often useful in the analysis of monetary and other macroeconomic policies. The topic gathered much attention following the great financial crisis and the Euro Area debt crisis due to the uncertainty regarding the timing of monetary policy normalization and the future path of interest rates. Using a sample of European countries (including several members of the Euro Area), this paper provides estimates of country-specific natural interest rates and some of their drivers between 2000 and 2019. In line with the literature, our findings suggest that natural interest rates declined during this period, and despite a rebound in the last few years of it, they have not recovered to their pre-crisis levels. The paper also discusses the implications of the decline in natural interest rates for monetary conditions and debt sustainability.
Ms. Wenjie Chen, Mr. Mico Mrkaic, and Mr. Malhar S Nabar
This paper takes stock of the global economic recovery a decade after the 2008 financial crisis. Output losses after the crisis appear to be persistent, irrespective of whether a country suffered a banking crisis in 2007–08. Sluggish investment was a key channel through which these losses registered, accompanied by long-lasting capital and total factor productivity shortfalls relative to precrisis trends. Policy choices preceding the crisis and in its immediate aftermath influenced postcrisis variation in output. Underscoring the importance of macroprudential policies and effective supervision, countries with greater financial vulnerabilities in the precrisis years suffered larger output losses after the crisis. Countries with stronger precrisis fiscal positions and those with more flexible exchange rate regimes experienced smaller losses. Unprecedented and exceptional policy actions taken after the crisis helped mitigate countries’ postcrisis output losses.
Mr. Bas B. Bakker, Marta Korczak, and Mr. Krzysztof Krogulski
In the last decade, over half of the EU countries in the euro area or with currencies pegged to the euro were hit by large risk premium shocks. Previous papers have focused on the impact of these shocks on demand. This paper, by contrast, focuses on the impact on supply. We show that risk premium shocks reduce the output level that maximizes profit. They also lead to unemployment surges, as firms are forced to cut costs when financing becomes expensive or is no longer available. As a result, all countries with risk premium shocks saw unemployment surge, even as euro area core countries managed to contain unemployment as firms hoarded labor during the downturn. Most striking, wage bills in euro area crisis countries and the Baltics declined even faster than GDP, whereas in core euro area countries wage shares actually increased.
Ms. Svetlana Cerovic, Mrs. Kerstin Gerling, Andrew Hodge, and Paulo Medas
This paper identifies leading indicators of fiscal crises based on a large sample of countries at different stages of development over 1970-2015. Our results are robust to different methodologies and sample periods. Previous literature on early warning sistems (EWS) for fiscal crises is scarce and based on small samples of advanced and emerging markets, raising doubts about the robustness of the results. Using a larger sample, our analysis shows that both nonfiscal (external and internal imbalances) and fiscal variables help predict crises among advanced and emerging economies. Our models performed well in out-of-sample forecasting and in predicting the most recent crises, a weakness of EWS in general. We also build EWS for low income countries, which had been overlooked in the literature.
IMF Research Perspective (formerly published as IMF Research Bulletin) is a new, redesigned online newsletter covering updates on IMF research. In the inaugural issue of the newsletter, Hites Ahir interviews Valeria Cerra; and they discuss the economic environment 10 years after the global financial crisis. Research Summaries cover the rise of populism; economic reform; labor and technology; big data; and the relationship between happiness and productivity. Sweta C. Saxena was the guest editor for this inaugural issue.
Ms. Alina Carare, Bertrand Candelon, Jean-Baptiste Hasse, and Jing Lu
This study expands the empirical specification of Cerra and Saxena (2008), and allows short-term output growth regimes to be determined by globalization. Relying on a non-linear dynamic panel representation, it reconciles the earlier results in the literature regarding the two opposite narratives of the effects of globalization on output growth. Countries experience higher growth, on average, the more open and integrated they are into the world. However, once they reach a certain globalization threshold (endogenously estimated), countries may also experience a new normal, persistently lower short-term output growth following a financial crisis. The benefits, as well as vulnerabilities, accrue earlier in the globalization process for low- and middle-income countries. To solely reap the globalization benefits on growth, sound policies should be in place to mitigate the negative effects stemming from increased vulnerabilities brought by globalization.