Ireland entered the COVID pandemic with reduced vulnerabilities and high growth, especially in multinational enterprises (MNEs)-dominated sectors. The pandemic has had a highly asymmetric impact on the economy. The domestic sectors contracted by about 10 percent in 2020 and unemployment reached 30 percent at the peak of the first wave, while MNEs continued to grow strongly, driving overall GDP growth to 3.4 percent. A swift policy response has been effective in mitigating the crisis impact and protecting households and firms. The domestic sectors are expected to partially recover in 2021, with GDP growth projected at 4.6 percent. Downside risks stem from uncertainties surrounding new COVID variants, post-Brexit trade arrangements, and likely changes in international taxation.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The economy has continued to perform well, but trade tensions, uncertainty about the outcome of NAFTA negotiations and the impact of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Canada’s competitiveness are casting a shadow over the outlook.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the Irish economy continues to grow at a rapid pace, well above the European Union average. Although headline data are distorted by the volatility of multinationals’ activity, the broad recovery of (modified) domestic demand (4 percent in 2017) underpins the expansion. Strong labor market performance brought the unemployment rate down to below 6 percent by April 2018. Although wage pressures emerged in some sectors, inflation remained subdued, mainly reflecting the pass-through of pound sterling depreciation. Public finances continued to improve on the back of strong output growth, while the public debt burden declined slightly to 68 percent of GDP. The outlook remains broadly positive but with externally-driven downside risks.
This 2017 Article IV Consultation highlights Ireland’ continued position among the euro area’s top growth performers. Real GDP expanded by 5.2 percent in 2016, supported by a healthy expansion of private consumption and buoyant investment, including construction. Strong broad-based job creation brought unemployment down to 6.4 percent in May, its lowest level in a decade, while inflation remained low as the recent pickup in energy prices and upward pressure from services were partly offset by the impact of weakness in the British pound. The outlook remains positive, but with substantial, mainly externally driven, downside risks. Real GDP is projected to grow at 3.9 percent in 2017, propelled by strong domestic demand.
This report examines the experiences of four European countries that have had large house-price declines in recent years. In particular, it examines the experiences of Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain—four countries in which the house-price cycle has been especially large and that share a similar institutional environment (a common monetary policy and the EU’s institutional framework)—with a view to exploring how policies can best support economic recovery in the wake of a house-price bust. The paper draws on and synthesizes related Selected Issues papers that are being or have been drafted as part of the 2014 Article IV consultations with these countries. These countries’ experiences share similarities, but also important differences. Shocks to house prices, unemployment, and bank balance sheets were most severe in Ireland and Spain, reflecting in part a higher amplitude of residential construction. However, the boom- bust cycle has, together with other shocks, left all four countries facing significant output gaps, as well as elevated levels of private-sector debt that pose headwinds for growth. Promoting recovery following a house-price bust requires a multi-pronged strategy. Large house-price busts can leave countries facing wide output gaps, a highly indebted private sector, and weaker bank balance sheets. Addressing these problems simultaneously can be challenging, as efforts often involve trade-offs (e.g., faster deleveraging can widen output gaps). A careful and multi-pronged strategy is thus required to minimize trade-offs and accelerate sustainable recovery. Important progress has been made in this regard in all four countries.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
KEY ISSUESContext: With successful landmark elections in September 2014, Fiji took a decisive stride toward returning to democratic government for the first time since 2006. The successful elections are expected to solidify the recent improvements in relationships with traditional development partners, improve access to concessional development finance, and boost confidence in the economy. In terms of economic policy, the comfortable Parliamentary majority for the former interim Prime Minister�s party (FijiFirst) is expected to support continued economic reform momentum.Key issues and policy recommendations:� With the economy now growing above potential, near-term macroeconomic management needs to be carefully calibrated. The accommodative monetary policy in place since 2011 has stimulated economic activity. The Reserve Bank of Fiji should now tighten policy in order to moderate credit growth and curb excess liquidity.� Fiscal policy has been prudent and well focused in recent years, but the expansionary 2014 budget was a major departure from these welcome trends. Reversion to the prudent trend is strongly encouraged.� The authorities have accelerated economic reforms in recent years, for example in the sugar sector and pension schemes, but the key policy challenges remain to raise potential growth, reduce unemployment, improve financial inclusion, and increase resilience to shocks. Following the elections, continued structural reform momentum is needed to improve the business environment, address the infrastructure backlog, and raise the absorptive capacity to take full advantage of a potential increase in investments.
Ms. Elva Bova, Mr. Robert Dippelsman, Ms. Kara C Rideout, and Ms. Andrea Schaechter
When discussing debt reduction strategies, little attention has been given to the role of governments’ nonfinancial assets. This is in part because data are scarce. Drawing on various data sources, this paper looks at the size, composition, and management of state-owned nonfinancial assets across 32 economies, with particular focus on the advanced G-20 economies. We find that reported nonfinancial assets comprise mostly structures (such as roads and buildings) and,when valued, land. These assets have increased over time, mostly due to higher property and commodity prices, and are, in large part, owned by subnational governments. Many countries have launched reforms with a view to streamlining public administrations, but receipts and savings have been rather small so far. Governments tend to consider relatively small sets of assets to be disposable, though preferences could change in the future. A potential source for future revenues could be greater reliance on user charges, such as road tolls. In most cases, a first step for more effective asset management has to be the expansion and improvement of data compilation.
Canadian housing prices are higher than levels consistent with current fundamentals in some provinces. The empirical estimates suggest that a 10 percent decline in housing prices would lead to a 1¼ percent decline in private consumption. The high level of household leverage and housing prices could prove to be a source of vulnerability. The rebound in debt and housing prices after the crisis largely reflects the resilience of the financial system and the stronger economic recovery in Canada, as well as historically low interest rates.
This paper reviews economic developments in Iceland during 1990–96. It analyzes the origins of the current economic expansion associated with a swing in the current account and in emerging inflation pressure. Three driving forces are emphasized: the positive supply shock affecting the fisheries; the expansion of the power intensive industry; and brisk increases in real wages over the past two years (1995–96). The paper highlights that the main sources of upside risks comprise the likely construction of a new aluminum smelter.
This paper develops a political-economy model of the budget process focusing on the common pool problem of the public budget. We show that the externality arising from the fact that public spending tends to be targeted at individual groups in society while the tax burden is widely dispersed creates a bias towards excessive expenditures and debt. This bias can be reduced by introducing elements of centralization in the budget process, that is, institutional structures that strengthen a comprehensive view of the budget over the particularistic view of the spending ministers and the members of parliament. Using examples from EC countries, we show how budget processes lack or possess such elements. We then present empirical evidence supporting the claim that centralizing elements reduce the deficit bias. The last section concludes with models for reform of the budget process.