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Francesca G Caselli, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, Weicheng Lian, and Mr. Damiano Sandri
Using high-frequency proxies for economic activity over a large sample of countries, we show that the economic crisis during the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic was only partly due to government lockdowns. Economic activity also contracted because of voluntary social distancing in response to higher infections. We also show that lockdowns can substantially reduce COVID-19 infections, especially if they are introduced early in a country's epidemic. Despite involving short-term economic costs, lockdowns may thus pave the way to a faster recovery by containing the spread of the virus and reducing voluntary social distancing. Finally, we document that lockdowns entail decreasing marginal economic costs but increasing marginal benefits in reducing infections. This suggests that tight short-lived lockdowns are preferable to mild prolonged measures.
Mr. Giovanni Melina and Mr. Rafael A Portillo
We compare business cycle fluctuations in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Our main results are as follows: (i) African economies stand out by their macroeconomic volatility, which is is reflected in the volatility of output and other macro variables; (ii) inflation and output tend to be negatively correlated; (iii) unlike advanced economies and emerging markets (EMs), trade balances and current accounts are acyclical in SSA; (iv) the volatility of consumption and investment relative to GDP is larger than in other countries; (v) the cyclicality of consumption and investment is smaller than in advanced economies and EMs; (vi) there is little comovement between consumption and investment; (vii) consumption and investment are strongly positively correlated with imports.
Mr. Dong He, Wei Liao, and Tommy Wu
This paper investigates the synchronization of Hong Kong SAR’s economic growth with mainland China and the United States. This paper identifies trends of economic growth based on the permanent income hypothesis. Specifically, the paper confirms whether real consumption in Hong Kong SAR and mainland China satisfy the permanent income hypothesis, at least in a weak form. It then identifies the permanent and transitory components of income of each economy using a simple state-space model. It uses structural vector autoregression models to analyze how permanent and transitory shocks originating from mainland China and the United States affect the Hong Kong economy, and how such influences evolve over time. The paper’s main findings suggest that transitory shocks from the United States remain a major driving force behind Hong Kong SAR’s business cycle fluctuations. On the other hand, permanent shocks from mainland China have a larger impact on Hong Kong SAR’s trend growth.
Ahmat Jidoud
This paper investigates the channels through which remittances affect macroeconomic volatility in African countries using a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model augmented with financial frictions. Empirical results indicate that remittances—as a share of GDP—have a significant smoothing impact on output volatility but their impact on consumption volatility is somewhat small. Furthermore, remittances are found to absorb a substantial amount of GDP shocks in these countries. An investigation of the theoretical channels shows that the stabilization impact of remittances essentially hinges on two channels: (i) the size of the negative wealth effect on labor supply induced by remittances and, (ii) the strength of financial frictions and the ability of remittances to alleviate these frictions.
Mr. Vadim Khramov and Mr. John Ridings Lee
Existing economic indicators and indexes assess economic activity but no single indicator measures the general macro-economic performance of a nation, state, or region in a methodologically simple and intuitive way. This paper proposes a simple, yet informative metric called the Economic Performance Index (EPI). The EPI represents a step toward clarity, by combining data on inflation, unemployment, government deficit, and GDP growth into a single indicator. In contrast to other indexes, the EPI does not use complicated mathematical procedures but was designed for simplicity, making it easier for professionals and laypeople alike to understand and apply to the economy. To maximize ease of understanding, we adopt a descriptive grading system. In addition to a Raw EPI that gives equal weights to its components, we construct a Weighted EPI and show that both indexes perform similarly for U.S. data. To demonstrate the validity of the EPI, we conduct a review of U.S. history from 1790 to 2012. We show that the EPI reflects the major events in U.S. history, including wars, periods of economic prosperity and booms, along with economic depressions, recessions, and even panics. Furthermore, the EPI not only captures official recessions over the past century but also allows for measuring and comparing their relative severity. Even though the EPI is simple by its construction, we show that its dynamics are similar to those of the Chicago Fed National Activity Index (CFNAI) and The Conference Board Coincident Economic Index® (CEI).
International Monetary Fund
This paper provides additional detail for the framework discussed in “Enhancing Surveillance – Interconnectedness and Clusters” through theoretical and empirical analysis of linkages, including case studies of Saudi Arabia, the Asian supply chain, financial interconnectedness and cross-border policy dependence in banking, and the Sweden-Baltic connections. It also provides a detailed primer on network analysis.
Mr. Serhan Cevik
This paper investigates the empirical characteristics of business cycles and the extent of cyclical comovement in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, using various measures of synchronization for non-hydrocarbon GDP and constituents of aggregate demand during the period 1990-2010. By applying the Christiano-Fitzgerald asymmetric band-pass filter and a mean corrected concordance index, the paper identifies the degree of non-hydrocarbon business cycle synchronization?one of the main prerequisites for countries considering to establish a monetary union. The empirical results show low and heterogeneous synchronization in non-hydrocarbon business cycles across the GCC economies, and a decline in the degree of synchronicity in the 2000s, if Kuwait is excluded from the sample, partly because of divergent fiscal policies.
International Monetary Fund
This paper examines how durable goods and financial frictions shape the business cycle of a small open economy subject to shocks to trend and transitory shocks. In the data, nondurable consumption is not as volatile as income for both developed and emerging market economies. The simulation of the model implies that shocks to trend play a less important role than previously documented. Financial frictions improve the ability of the model to match some key business cycle properties of emerging economies. A countercyclical borrowing premium interacts with the nature of durable goods delivering highly volatile consumption and very countercyclical net exports.
Mr. Ayhan Kose, Mr. Marco Terrones, and Mr. Eswar S Prasad
This paper analyzes the evolution of volatility and cross-country comovement in output, consumption, and investment fluctuations using two distinct datasets. The results suggest that there has been a significant decline in the volatility of business cycle fluctuations and a slight increase in the degree of cyclical comovement among industrialized countries over time. However, for emerging market economies, financial globalization appears to have been associated, on average, with an increase in macroeconomic volatility as well as declines in the degree of comovement of output and consumption growth with their corresponding world aggregates.