This Selected Issues paper analyzes investment slowdown in Denmark. The post-global financial crisis (GFC) weakness in Denmark’s aggregate investment cannot be fully explained by the output slowdown. The baseline accelerator model confirms that output slowdown played a role, but post-GFC investment has fallen beyond the level explained by output movements in most of the post-GFC period. Most recently, investment converged to the level explained by output movements. The augmented accelerator model suggests that additional factors, such as high leverage, weak competition, and elevated policy uncertainty, also had a significant impact. Panel regressions using a panel of advanced economies show that reduction in leverage and product market reforms can boost investment in the medium term. Well-designed policies are needed to boost private investment.
This Selected Issues paper illustrates the recent evolution in Belgian housing prices. Belgian housing prices peaked at the end of 2013 after a persistent increase that was almost continuous for 30 years. The stabilization of prices, combined with policy changes on the fiscal and macro-prudential fronts, raises the question how housing prices are likely to evolve and how a price decline would affect the Belgian economy. The paper assesses the risk of a rapid price correction and the potential repercussions for the real economy. It also argues that an orderly and limited decline in housing prices—coupled with a marginal negative effect on the real economy—is the most plausible scenario.
S. M. Ali Abbas, Laura Blattner, Mark De Broeck, Ms. Asmaa A ElGanainy, and Malin Hu
We examine how the composition of public debt, broken down by currency, maturity, holder profile and marketability, has responded to major debt accumulation and consolidation episodes during 1900-2011. Covering thirteen advanced economies, we focus on debt structure shifts that occurred around the two World Wars and global economic downturns, and the subsequent debt consolidations. Notwithstanding data gaps, we are able to recover some broad common patterns. Episodes of large debt accumulation—essentially, large increases in debt supply— were typically absorbed by increases in short-term, foreign currency-denominated, and banking-system-held debt. However, this pattern did not hold during the debt build-ups starting in the 1980s and 1990s, which were compositionally skewed toward long-term local-currency debt. We attribute this change to higher structural demand for sovereign paper, linked to capital account liberalization in advanced economies, the emergence of a large contractual saving sector, and innovative sovereign debt products. With regard to debt consolidations, we find support for the financial repression-cum-inflation channel for post World War II debt reductions. However, the scope for a repeat of this strategy appears limited unless financial liberalization and globalization were materially rolled back or the current globally agreed monetary policy regime built around price stability abandoned. Neither are significant favorable structural demand shifts, as witnessed in the 1980s and 1990s, likely.
The October 2012 World Economic Outlook (WEO) assesses the prospects for the global recovery in light of such risks as the ongoing euro area crisis and the "fiscal cliff" facing U.S. policymakers. Reducing the risks to the medium-term outlook implies reducing public debt in the major advanced economies, and Chapter 3 explores 100 years of history of dealing with public debt overhangs. In emerging market and developing economies, activity has been slowed by policy tightening in response to capacity constraints, weaker demand from advanced economies, and country-specific factors, but policy improvements have raised these economies' resilience to shocks, an issue explored in depth in Chapter 4.
Despite growing interest among policymakers, there is no theory of independent fiscal institutions. The emerging literature on "fiscal councils" typically makes informal parallels with the theory of central bank independence, but a very simple formal example shows that such a shortcut is flawed. The paper then illustrates key features of a model of independent fiscal agencies, and in particular the need (1) to incorporate the intrinsically political nature of fiscal policy - which precludes credible delegation of instruments to unelected decisionmakers - and (2) to focus on characterizing "commitment technologies" likely to credibly increase fiscal discipline.
This paper documents and analyzes crisis-related changes in government debt issuance practices in the 16 euro zone countries and Denmark. Using a newly constructed database on primary market debt issuance during 2007-09, we find evidence of a shift away from pre-crisis standards of best funding practices competitive auctions of debt instruments with a fixed coupon, long maturity and local currency denomination (DLTF). Exploiting the cross-country panel data dimension of the data, we conclude that the crisis and related changes in the macroeconomic environment and investor sentiment can account for a significant proportion of the deviation. The negative effect of the crisis on DLTF debt issuance was especially pronounced in high deficit and high debt euro area countries, and has forced governments to assume additional risk.
The global financial crisis has forced government intervention in major financial institutions in Belgium. This 2008 Article IV Consultation discusses that the boom in energy and food prices in early 2008 caused inflation to spike to well above the euro area average. Executive Directors have commended the authorities for their prompt and decisive intervention as the Belgian banking sector began to face severe pressure in September 2008. Directors have also encouraged the authorities to allow fiscal stabilizers to operate fully, and welcomed the moderate discretionary stimulus.
This Selected Issues paper examines the strengthening of the external current account for the Netherlands. It reviews this issue, concluding that the change in corporate profitability in a new wage environment was a crucial element, alongside fiscal consolidation, in turning around the current account—which has now moved into strong surplus. The paper analyzes the performance of the financial sector. It also reviews the experience of a decade and a half in a de facto monetary union for the Netherlands.
This paper reviews Zaïre’s experience with hyperinflation during 1990-96 and develops an illustrative model based on a money demand function that includes government revenue as a determinant. Government revenue is itself subject to the “Tanzi effect,” in which inflation tends to lower revenue collections. The model is estimated over the 1990-96 period, and simulations are also presented. The paper concludes with a number of observations and policy recommendations for stopping hyperinflation in Zaïre.