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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper assesses Cyprus’s export competitiveness and understands factors that could explain export developments, particularly in the services sector. Although Cyprus has been able to leverage its strategic location to diversity its markets for goods exports, as a small island economy, opportunities for diversifying its products mix is more limited. Services exports have performed better in the post-crisis period buoyed by the recovery in Europe and the impact of technological advances on global Information and Communication Technologies-enabled trade. Policies to support greater market diversification, enhance competition and efficiency and strengthen technological adoption would help exports growth. Studies have established the relationship between price and cost competitiveness with trade performance. Cyprus has performed reasonably well with strong service exports over the past few years, aided by improvements in cost competitiveness and a recovery in the European export markets. Policymakers should exploit opportunities brought by the digital transformation while addressing the accompanied risks.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses Portugal’s Ex-post Evaluation of Exceptional Access Under the 2011 Extended Arrangement. Portugal faced a sudden stop in financing in 2011. The authorities’ IMF-supported program aimed to address the problems that had made Portugal vulnerable to changes in market confidence. The evaluation concurs that the program’s “big decisions” were justified. The main lesson to be drawn from Portugal’s experience is that adjustment in the context of currency union membership is difficult. Further work is needed to flesh out the measures required to support internal devaluation and private sector deleveraging. Options for union-level conditionality would benefit from clarification.
Emilio Fernández Corugedo and Mrs. Esther Perez Ruiz
The EU Services Directive was adopted in 2006 to foster competition in services across Europe. However, progress in liberalizing services has fallen short of expectations due to the article 15 of the Directive, which allows countries to maintain pre-existing restrictions if judged necessary to protect the public interest. Through input output analysis, this paper finds important multiplier effects of greater efficiency services to the rest of the economy. A renewed impulse to the liberalization process could be given by enhancing the advocacy role of national competition authorities in interpreting the notion of public interest underpinning existing regulations.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This staff paper on euro area policy 2013 Article IV Consultation discusses economic development and policies. Severe market stresses have subsided, although private borrowing costs have remained too high in the periphery. In these economies, sovereign borrowing costs have declined from unsustainable levels. This has led to slightly lower private borrowing costs, spurring bond issuance among some banks, and firms. Capital flight has gradually eased, bank deposits have stabilized, and Target 2 imbalances have narrowed. This has contributed to some early repayment of official liquidity support by stronger banks, though largely from core countries. Still, periphery bank risks are significantly higher than in the core.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
The paper identifies France’s structural reforms that would yield the largest competitiveness gains based on macro-empirical evidence, and reviews signs of potential gains from a deregulation of the services sector. It is expected that completing deregulation in the services sector would benefit the entire French economy, by boosting productivity and exports. Econometric results have estimated the impact of reducing the labor taxation and labor market rigidities and of increasing innovation to the average level of other advanced countries.
Mrs. Esther Perez Ruiz and Mr. Uffe Mikkelsen
This paper investigates the asymmetries in trade spillovers from sector-specific technology shocks in China to selected euro area countries. We use a Ricardian-gravity trade model to estimate sectoral competitiveness in individual euro area countries. Simulations on the impact of productivity shocks in Chinese textiles and machinery suggest that the required adjustment in wages, prices, and factor re-allocation is widely heterogenous across euro area countries on accounts of their different specialization patterns. This raises the question of the distribution of gains and losses from external trade shocks.
Miss Roxana Mihet
This paper investigates the effects of national culture on firm risk-taking, using a comprehensive dataset covering 50,000 firms in 400 industries in 51 countries. Risk-taking is found to be higher for domestic firms in countries with low uncertainty aversion, low tolerance for hierarchical relationships, and high individualism. Domestic firms in such countries tend to take substantially more risk in industries which are more informationally opaque (e.g. finance, mining, IT). Risk-taking by foreign firms is best explained by the cultural norms of their country of origin. These cultural norms do not proxy for legal constraints, insurance safety nets, or economic development.
International Monetary Fund
The financial sector is mostly comprised of the banking sector, which largely provides insurance and asset management services. A large part of banking system assets relates to subsidiaries and branches of foreign banks. The banking sector poses risks by virtue of its size and concentration. The Cypriot banking system has weathered the crisis better than many other euro zone area countries. Significant headwinds for the overall banking system are expected, and the cooperative banks appear particularly vulnerable.
Mr. Ashoka Mody
This paper attempts to explain the recent rise and differentiation of sovereign spreads across the countries of the eurozone. Following the onset of the subprime crisis in July 2007, spreads rose but mainly on account of common global factors. The rescue of Bear Stearns in March 2008 marked a turning point. Countries thereafter were increasingly differentiated. Sovereign spreads of a eurozone country tended to rise when the prospects of its domestic financial sector worsened. It appears, therefore, that the rescue of Bear Stearns created a link between financial sector vulnerabilities and a larger contingent liability on public finances. Following the failure of Lehman Brothers, spreads also rose faster for countries with higher ratios of public debt-to-GDP. These transitional dynamics appear to have concluded with the nationalization of Anglo Irish: sovereign spreads throughout the eurozone jumped, with the jump emphasizing the differentiation by financial sector vulnerability and public debt levels. The results imply that, to varying degrees, countries may have moved to a new regime of weak economic outlook, financial sector fragilities, and strains on public finances.
Mr. Herman Z Bennett and Ziga Zarnic
The real effective exchange rate (REER) is the most commonly used measure for assessing international competitiveness. We develop a methodology to estimate the REER that incorporates two distinctive elements that are not considered in the current literature and apply it to the Mediterranean Quartet (MQ) of Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, whose common pattern of real appreciation has created concern in policy and academic circles. The two elements that we add to the existing literature are (i) product heterogeneity when identifying each country's international competitors and their weights and (ii) a comprehensive treatment of services exports. Our refined measure suggests a modest reduction in the observed REER gap between the MQ countries and the other euro area countries. In particular, considering product heterogeneity and services exports implies a lower real appreciation from 1998 to 2006 on the order of 2-3 percent for all MQ countries. These are difference-in-difference estimates relative to the results obtained for the rest of the euro area countries using the same methodology.