Davide Furceri, Michael Ganslmeier, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, and Naihan Yang
While the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting all countries, output losses vary considerably across countries. We provide a first analysis of robust determinants of observed initial output losses using model-averaging techniques—Weighted Average Least Squares and Bayesian Model Averaging. The results suggest that countries that experienced larger output losses are those with lower GDP per capita, more stringent containment measures, higher deaths per capita, higher tourism dependence, more liberalized financial markets, higher pre-crisis growth, lower fiscal stimulus, higher ethnic and religious fractionalization and more democratic regimes. With respect to the first factor, lower resilience of poorer countries reflects the higher economic costs of containment measures and deaths in such countries and less effective fiscal and monetary policy stimulus.
France is among the countries most affected by the global pandemic, both in terms of health and economic impact. Output is expected to have declined by around 9 percent in 2020. The authorities put in place a large emergency fiscal package to address the crisis, focused on preserving jobs and providing liquidity for households and firms, supplemented by additional stimulus measures to support the economic recovery in 2021 and beyond. The banking sector entered the crisis with comfortable buffers and, together with the support of the ECB’s accommodative monetary policy, facilitated the provision of credit to the economy. The increased leverage, however, poses solvency risks to the corporate sector. A partial recovery with GDP growth at about 5½ percent is expected in 2021. Risks to the outlook are large, dominated by the virus dynamics and, together with other risks, tilted somewhat to the downside.
Using zip code-level data and nonparametric estimation, I present eight stylized facts on the US housing market in the COVID-19 era. Some aggregate results are: (1) growth rate of median housing price during the four months (April-August 2020) since the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented monetary easing has accelerated faster than any four-month period in the lead-up to the 2007-09 global financial crisis; (2) the increase in housing demand in response to lower mortgage interest rates displays a structural break since March 2020 (housing demand has increased by much more than before). These results indicate either the existence of “fear of missing out” or COVID-induced fundamental changes in household behavior. In terms of distributional evidence, I find that the increase of housing demand seems more pronounced among the two ends of the income distribution, possibly reflecting relaxed liquidity constraints at the lower end and speculative demand at the higher end. I also find that the developments in housing price, demand, and supply since April 2020 are similar across urban, suburban, and rural areas. The paper highlights some potential unintended consequences of COVID-fighting policies and calls for further studies of the driving forces of the empirical findings.
Nicoletta Batini, Francesco Lamperti, and Andrea Roventini
The COVID-19 lockdowns have brought about the need of large fiscal responses in all European countries. However, countries across Europe are differently equipped to respond to the shock due to differences in economic conditions and fiscal space. We build on the model by Berger et al. (2019) to compare gains from alternative mechanisms of EU fiscal integration in the presence of moral hazard. We show that any EU response strategy to the COVID-19 crisis excluding mutual financial support to member countries lacks credibility. Some form of fiscal risk sharing is indeed better than none, especially in presence of increasing sovereign default risk of some EU member countries. The moral hazard created by risk sharing can be hedged by introducing some form of fiscal delegation to Brussels. The desirable level of delegation, however, depends on its costs. When these are low, risk sharing and delegation are substitutes and it is optimal to opt for high delegation and low risk sharing. On the contrary, when delegation costs are high, centralization and risk sharing are complements and both are needed. Proposed arrangements at the EU level in response to the COVID-19 shock seem to reflect these basic insights by rotating around a combination of fiscal risk sharing and delegation in the form of fiscal spending conditionality.