IMF Research Perspective (formerly published as IMF Research Bulletin) is a new, redesigned online newsletter covering updates on IMF research. In the inaugural issue of the newsletter, Hites Ahir interviews Valeria Cerra; and they discuss the economic environment 10 years after the global financial crisis. Research Summaries cover the rise of populism; economic reform; labor and technology; big data; and the relationship between happiness and productivity. Sweta C. Saxena was the guest editor for this inaugural issue.
Adalgiso Amendola, Mario di Serio, Matteo Fragetta, and Mr. Giovanni Melina
We build a factor-augmented interacted panel vector-autoregressive model of the Euro Area (EA) and estimate it with Bayesian methods to compute government spending multipliers. The multipliers are contingent on the overall monetary policy stance, captured by a shadow monetary policy rate. In the short run (one year), whether the fiscal shock occurs when the economy is at the effective lower bound (ELB) or in normal times does not seem to matter for the size of the multiplier. However, as the time horizon increases, multipliers diverge across the two regimes. In the medium run (three years), the average multiplier is about 1 in normal times and between 1.6 and 2.8 at the ELB, depending on the specification. The difference between the two multipliers is distributed largely away from zero. More generally, the multiplier is inversely correlated with the level of the shadow monetary policy rate. In addition, we verify that EA data lend support to the view that the multiplier is larger in periods of economic slack, and we show that the shadow rate and the state of the business cycle are autonomously correlated with its size. The econometric approach deals with several technical problems highlighted in the empirical macroeconomic literature, including the issues of fiscal foresight and limited information.
The link between monetary policy and asset price movements has been of perennial interest to policymakers. In this paper, we consider the potential case for preemptive monetary restrictions when asset price reversals can have serious effects on real output. First, we present some stylized facts on boom-bust dynamics in stock and property prices in developed economies. We then discuss the case for a preemptive monetary policy in the context of a stylized model. We find that the optimal policy depends on the economic conditions in a complex, nonlinear way and cannot be summarized by a simple policy rule of the type considered in the inflation-targeting literature.
Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Ms. Camelia Minoiu, and Luis-Felipe Zanna
We examine the cyclical properties of development aid using bilateral data for 22 donors and over 100 recipients during 1970?2005. We find that bilateral aid flows are on average procyclical with respect to business cycles in donor and recipient countries. However, they become countercyclical when recipient countries face large adverse shocks to the terms-of-trade or growth collapses-thus playing an important cushioning role. Aid outlays contract sharply during severe donor economic downturns; this effect is magnified by higher public debt levels. Additionally, bilateral aid flows are higher in the presence of IMF programs and are more countercyclical for recipient countries with stronger institutions.
Maria Antoinette Silgoner, Jesús Crespo-Cuaresma, and Gerhard Reitschuler
We study the smoothing impact of fiscal stabilizers (proxied by government expenditures or revenues) on business cycle volatility for a panel of EU countries in the period 1970-99. The results show that the business cycle volatility smoothing effect of fiscal stabilizers may revert at high levels. We present evidence that for government expenditure ratios exceeding an estimated value of about 38 percent, a further expansion in the size of the government could actually lead to an increase in cyclical volatility. This may call for a reconsideration of the use of fiscal stabilizers for business cycle smoothing.
Boom and bust phases in asset prices have become a pervasive feature of macroeconomic developments in many advanced economies. This paper studies fiscal policy during boom-bust phases in asset prices and draws several conclusions. First, expansions and contractions in economic activity during such boom-bust phases tend to be highly persistent, cyclical turning points are harder to forecast, and the margins of error for output gap estimates can be large. Second, conventional estimates of revenue elasticities seem not to allow an accurate assessment of the fiscal stance and of the strength of underlying fiscal positions during boom-bust phases. And third, boom-bust phases tend to exacerbate already existing procyclical policy biases, as well as political-economy biases, toward higher spending and public debt ratios.
This survey reviews a number of different fundamentals-based models for estimating default probabilities for firms and/or industries, and illustrates them with real applications by practitioners and policy making institutions. The models are especially useful when the firms analyzed do not have publicly traded securities or secondary market prices are unreliable because of low liquidity.
Mario di Serio, Matteo Fragetta, and Mr. Giovanni Melina
We compute government spending multipliers for the Euro Area (EA) contingent on the interestgrowth differential, the so-called r-g. Whether the fiscal shock occurs when r-g is positive or negative matters for the size of the multiplier. Median estimates vary conditional on the specification, but the difference between multipliers in the negative and positive r-g regimes differs systematically from zero with very high probability. Over the medium run (5 years), median cumulated multipliers range between 1.22 and 1.77 when r-g is negative, and between 0.51 and 1.26 when r-g is positive. We show that the results are not driven by the state of the business cycle, the monetary policy stance, or the level of government debt, and that the multiplier is inversely correlated with r-g. The calculations are based on the estimates of a factor-augmented interacted panel vector-autoregressive model. The econometric approach deals with several technical problems highlighted in the empirical macroeconomic literature, including the issues of fiscal foresight and limited information.