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International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
On May 1, 2020, the Executive Board approved an RFI (US$643 million, 67.3 percent of quota), to support the urgent needs of the Ecuadorean economy in the wake of COVID-19 crisis, and the authorities cancelled the three-year Extended Fund Facility arrangement (US$ 4.2 billion, 435 percent of quota). The macroeconomic situation has since deteriorated, prompting the authorities to request a 27-month EFF of SDR 4.615 billion (about US$6.5 billion, 661 percent of quota), to help restore macroeconomic stability, support the most vulnerable groups, and advance the structural reform agenda initiated under the previous EFF.
Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Veronika Penciakova, and Nick Sander
We estimate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business failures among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in seventeen countries using a large representative firm-level database. We use a simple model of firm cost-minimization and measure each firm’s liquidity shortfall during and after COVID-19. Our framework allows for a rich combination of sectoral and aggregate supply, productivity, and demand shocks. We estimate a large increase in the failure rate of SMEs under COVID-19 of nearly 9 percentage points, ab-sent government support. Accommodation & Food Services, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Education, and Other Services are among the most affected sectors. The jobs at risk due to COVID-19 related SME business failures represent 3.1 percent of private sector employment. Despite the large impact on business failures and employment, we estimate only moderate effects on the financial sector: the share of Non Performing Loans on bank balance sheets would increase by up to 11 percentage points, representing 0.3 percent of banks’ assets and resulting in a 0.75 percentage point decline in the common equity Tier-1 capital ratio. We evaluate the cost and effectiveness of various policy interventions. The fiscal cost of an intervention that narrowly targets at risk firms can be modest (0.54% of GDP). However, at a similar level of effectiveness, non-targeted subsidies can be substantially more expensive (1.82% of GDP). Our results have important implications for the severity of the COVID-19 recession, the design of policies, and the speed of the recovery.
Mr. Subir Lall and Mr. Li Zeng
Intangible investment is growing as a share of economic activity. We present a simple framework incorporating its distinguishing characteristic of generally greater scalability and lower marginal costs than tangible investment. We show evidence that this may have contributed to more elastic aggregate supply in recent years, which is consistent with lower inflation and a flattening of the Phillips curve. This framework also highlights the channels through which technological change, a large constituent of intangible investment, may be leading to wage stagnation and greater market concentration.
Cristian Alonso, Mr. Andrew Berg, Siddharth Kothari, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Sidra Rehman
This paper considers the implications for developing countries of a new wave of technological change that substitutes pervasively for labor. It makes simple and plausible assumptions: the AI revolution can be modeled as an increase in productivity of a distinct type of capital that substitutes closely with labor; and the only fundamental difference between the advanced and developing country is the level of TFP. This set-up is minimalist, but the resulting conclusions are powerful: improvements in the productivity of “robots” drive divergence, as advanced countries differentially benefit from their initially higher robot intensity, driven by their endogenously higher wages and stock of complementary traditional capital. In addition, capital—if internationally mobile—is pulled “uphill”, resulting in a transitional GDP decline in the developing country. In an extended model where robots substitute only for unskilled labor, the terms of trade, and hence GDP, may decline permanently for the country relatively well-endowed in unskilled labor.