In this paper we analyze the dynamics among past major pandemics, economic growth, inequality, and social unrest. We provide evidence that past major pandemics, even though much smaller in scale than COVID-19, have led to a significant increase in social unrest by reducing output and increasing inequality. We also find that higher social unrest, in turn, is associated with lower ourput and higher inequality, pointing to a vicious cycle. Our results suggest that without policy measures, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely increase inequality, trigger social unrest, and lower future output in the years to come.
This paper uses the strategy and data of Blanchard and Perotti (BP) to identify fiscal shocks and estimate fiscal multipliers for the United States. With these results, it computes the cumulative multiplier of Ramey and Zubairy (2018), now common in the literature. It finds that, contrary to the peak and through multipliers reported by BP, the cumulative tax multiplier is much larger than the cumulative spending one. Hence, the conclusions depend on the definition of multiplier. This methodology is also used to estimate the effects of fiscal shocks on economic activity in eight Latin American countries. The results suggest that the fiscal multipliers vary significantly across countries, and in some cases multipliers are larger than previously estimated.
Leandro Medina, Carlos Caceres, and Ms. Ana Corbacho
In recent years, many countries have adopted Fiscal Responsibility Laws to strengthen fiscal institutions and promote fiscal discipline in a credible, predictable and transparent manner. Still, results on the effectiveness of these laws remain tentative. In this paper, we test empirically whether fiscal performance, measured as the level of primary fiscal balances and their volatility, indeed improved after the implementation of Fiscal Responsibility Laws in a sample of Latin American and advanced economies. We show that traditional econometric approaches, which rely on the use of dummies in time series or panel regressions, yield biased estimates. In contrast, our empirical strategy recognizes that, a priori, the timing of the effect of these laws on fiscal performance is unknown, while controlling for the impact of the business and commodity cycles on fiscal outcomes. Overall, we find limited empirical evidence in support of the view that Fiscal Responsibility Laws have had a distinguishable effect on fiscal performance. However, Fiscal Responsibility Laws could still have other positive effects on the conduct of fiscal policy not analyzed here, for instance, through enhanced transparency and guidance in the budget process and lower risk premia.
This paper investigates the sensitivity of Colombian GDP growth to the surroundingmacroeconomic environment. We estimate a Bayesian VAR model with informative steady-statepriors for the Colombian economy using quarterly data from 1995 to 2007. A variancedecomposition shows that world GDP growth and government spending are the most importantfactors, explaining roughly 17 and 16 percent of the variance in Colombian GDP growthrespectively. The model, which is shown to forecast well out-of-sample, can also be used toanalyse alternative scenarios. Generating both endogenous and conditional forecasts, we showthat the impact on Colombian GDP growth of a substantial downturn in world GDP growthwould be non-negligible but still a mild decline by historical standards.
Does macroeconomic data transparency-as signaled by subscription to the IMF's Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS)-help reduce borrowing costs in private capital markets? This question is examined using detailed data on new issues of sovereign foreign currency-denominated (U.S. dollar, yen, and euro) bonds for several emerging market economies. Panel econometric estimates indicate that spreads on new bond issues declined by about 75 basis points following SDDS subscription.