Luis Franjo, Nathalie Pouokam, and Francesco Turino
In this paper we build a model of occupational choice with informal production and progressive income taxation. We calibrate the model to the Brazilian economy to evaluate the impact of removing financial frictions on informality. We find that financial deepening leads to a drop in the size of the informal sector (from 37 percent to 22 percent of official GDP), to an increase in measured TFP (by 4 percent), to an increase in official GDP (by 27 percent), to a decrease in tax evasion (by 17 percent) and to an increase in fiscal revenues (by 15 percent). When assessing the response of this policy at different levels of financial development, we find a non-linear relationship between the credit-to-GDP ratio on the one hand, and either the size of the informal economy, or GDP per capita on the other hand. We test these features with cross-country data and find evidence in favor of both types of non-linearity. We also investigate changes in the income tax progressitivity as an alternative policy and find it to be more effective in countries with a medium to high level of financial markets development.
The global economy remains fragile at this time. While the recovery in advanced economies is softening, many emerging market and developing economies have experienced a significant economic slowdown, and some large countries show signs of distress. Global risk aversion has risen, and commodity prices have continued to fall since the April 2015 Fiscal Monitor. The weaker outlook and concerns about the ability of policymakers to provide an adequate and swift policy response have amplified downward risks and clouded global prospects. According to this issue of the Fiscal Monitor, the challenging environment calls for a comprehensive policy response to boost growth and reduce vulnerabilities. In particular, it is critical to identify policies that could lift productivity growth by promoting innovation. Fiscal policy can play an important role in stimulating innovation through its effects on research and development, entrepreneurship, and technology transfer.
Fiscal risks are abating somewhat but remain elevated. In advanced economies, recent policy moves have broadly stabilized public debt ratios, but medium-term prospects are still uncertain, and debt remains at historic highs. Fiscal vulnerabilities are rising in both emerging market economies and low-income countries, although in most cases from relatively moderate levels. Across country groups, fiscal policy should aim at rebuilding policy space while supporting the recovery and long-term growth prospects.
With growth weakening in many parts of the world and downside risks on the rise, fiscal consolidation remains challenging. However, considerable progress has been made in strengthening fiscal accounts following their sharp deterioration in 2008-09. This issue of the Fiscal Monitor takes stock of this progress, focusing on its size, composition, and implications for employment and social equity. The issue finds that most countries--and especially advanced economies--have made significant headway in rolling back fiscal deficits, but that efforts at controlling debt stocks are taking longer to yield results. The mix of revenue and expenditure policies employed by countries with sizable fiscal consolidation needs has differed, with advanced economies in general relying more on spending retrenchment than emerging markets and low-income countries. Both spending and revenue measures have important implications for employment and social equity, the issue finds, and these implications need to be taken into account if the large consolidation efforts underway are to be sustainable.
Despite progress in addressing key fiscal weaknesses in many countries, significant policy challenges remain in advanced, emerging, and low-income economies, and must be faced in an environment where downside risks to growth have increased. Many advanced economies face very large adjustment needs to reduce risks related to high debt ratios. The appropriate pace of adjustment in the short run will depend, for each country, on the intensity of the market pressure it confronts, the magnitude of the risks to growth it faces, and the credibility of its medium-term program. The euro area needs to sustain fiscal consolidation, minimize its growth fallout, and address concerns about the adequacy of crisis resolution mechanisms. In Japan and the United States, sufficiently detailed and ambitious plans to reduce deficits and debts are needed to prevent credibility from weakening. Meanwhile, many emerging economies need to make faster progress in strengthening fiscal fundamentals before cyclical factors or spillovers from advanced economies turn against them. Low-income countries also need to rebuild fiscal buffers, while addressing spending needs.