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Michal Brzoza-Brzezina, Marcin Kolasa, and Krzysztof Makarski
We study the macroeconomic effects of the COVID-19 epidemic in a quantitative dynamic general equilibrium setup with nominal rigidities. We evaluate various containment policies and show that they allow to dramatically reduce the welfare cost of the disease. Then we investigate the role that monetary policy, in its capacity to manage aggregate demand, should play during the epidemic. According to our results, treating the observed output contraction as a standard recession leads to overly expansionary policy. Finally, we check how central banks should resolve the trade-off between stabilizing the economy and containing the epidemic. If no administrative restrictions are in place, the second motive prevails and, despite the deep recession, optimal monetary policy is in fact contractionary. Conversely, if sufficient containment measures are introduced, central bank interventions should be expansionary and help stabilize economic activity.
Philipp Engler, Nathalie Pouokam, Diego Rodriguez Guzman, and Mrs. Irina Yakadina
Voluntary and government-mandated lockdowns in response to COVID-19 have caused causing drastic reductions in economic activity around the world. We present a parsimonious two-country-SIR model with some degree of substitutability between home and foreign goods, and show that trading partners’ asynchronous entries into the global pandemic induce mutual welfare gains from trade. Those gains are realized through exchange rate adjustments that cause a temporary reallocation of production towards the economy with the lowest infection rate at any point in time. We show that international cooperation over containment policies that aim at optimizing global welfare further enhances the ability of countries to exploit trade opportunities to contain the spread of the pandemic. We characterize the Nash game of strategic choices of containment policies as a prisoners’ dilemma.
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.
Ms. Emilia M Jurzyk, Medha Madhu Nair, Nathalie Pouokam, Tahsin Saadi Sedik, Anthony Tan, and Mrs. Irina Yakadina
The COVID-19 pandemic risks exacerbating inequality in Asia. High frequency labor surveys show that the pandemic is having particularly adverse effects on younger workers, women and people that are more vulnerable. Pandemics have been shown to increase inequalities. As a result, income inequality, which was already high and rising in Asia before the pandemic, is likely to rise further over the medium term, unless policies succeed in breaking this historical pattern. Many Asian governments have implemented significant fiscal policy measures to mitigate the pandemic’s effect on the most vulnerable, with the impact depending on the initial coverage of safety nets, fiscal space, and degree of informality and digitalization. The paper includes model-based analysis which shows that policies targeted to where needs are greatest are effective in mitigating adverse distributional consequences and underpinning overall economic activity and virus containment.
Mr. Geoffrey J Bannister and Mr. Alex Mourmouras
We present estimates of welfare by country for 2007 and 2014 using the methodology of Jones and Klenow (2016) which incorporates consumption, leisure, mortality and inequality, and we extend the methodology to include environmental externalities. During the period of the global financial crisis welfare grew slightly more rapidly than income per capita, mainly due to improvements in life expectancy. This led to welfare convergence in most regions towards advanced country levels. Introducing environmental effects changes the welfare ranking for countries that rely heavily on natural resources, highlighting the importance of the natural resource base in welfare. This methodology could provide a theoretically consistent and tractable way of monitoring progress in several Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.
This Technical Assistance Report discusses the results of applying the value-added tax (VAT) gap estimation methodology of the Revenue Administration Gap Analysis Program (RA-GAP) to South Africa for the period 2007–12. It is found that the compliance gap is estimated to be between 5 percent and 10 percent of potential VAT revenues during the period 2007–12, and peaking in 2008 and 2009. The estimated compliance gap for VAT in South Africa between 2007 and 2012 is hump-shaped. The results also reveal that the level of the VAT policy gap in South Africa is low by international standards, owing to its simple VAT policy structure.