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International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues Paper on Belgium provides an overview of the extent of trade and financial openness of Belgium and the links to particular countries. With an export-to-GDP ratio of 79 percent, Belgium belongs to the most open economies in Europe and also globally. Its exports are highly concentrated with a share of three-fourths of total merchandise exports accounted for by the European Union, of which close to two-thirds go to Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

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.

International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
This technical note consists of five chapters focusing on various aspects of systemic risk analysis across the euro area financial system. The chapters cover bank profitability, balance sheet- and market-based interconnected analysis, contingent claims analysis, and a brief discussion of data gaps in the nonbank, non-insurance (NBNI) financial sector. The ongoing economic recovery will support euro area bank profitability in general, but it is unlikely to resolve the structural challenges faced by the least profitable banks despite some recent improvements. This is important because persistently weak bank profitability is a systemic financial stability concern. Empirical analysis of 109 major euro area banks over 2007–2016 reveals that real GDP growth and the NPL ratio are the most reliable determinants of profitability, after accounting for other factors. Although higher growth would raise profits, a large swath of banks with the weakest profitability would most likely continue to struggle even with a robust recovery. Therefore, banks should take advantage of the current upswing by resolutely addressing their NPL stocks—such a strategy holds the most promise for weak banks’ profitability prospects.
Ms. Helene Poirson Ward and Mr. Sebastian Weber
Can positive growth shocks from the faster-growing countries in Europe spill over to the slower growing countries, providing useful tailwinds to their recovery process? This study investigates the potential relevance of growth spillovers in the context of the crisis and the recovery process. Based on a VAR framework, our analysis suggests that the U.S. and Japan remain the key source of growth spillovers in this recovery, with France also playing an important role for the European crisis countries. Notwithstanding the current export-led cyclical upswing, Germany generates relatively small outward spillovers compared to other systemic countries, but likely plays a key role in transmitting and amplifying external growth shocks to the rest of Europe given its more direct exposure to foreign shocks compared to other European countries. Positive spillovers from Spain were important prior to the 2008 - 09 crisis, however Spain is generating negative spillovers in this recovery due to a depressed domestic demand. Negative spillovers from the European crisis countries appear limited, consistent with their modest size.
Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
This paper revisits the issue of cross-country spillovers from fiscal consolidations using an innovative empirical methodology. We find evidence in support of fiscal spillovers in 10 euro area countries. Fiscal consolidation in one country not only reduces domestic output (direct effect), but also the output of other member countries (indirect/spillover effect). Fiscal spillovers are larger for: (i) more closely located and economically integrated countries, and (ii) fiscal shocks originating from relatively larger countries. On average, 1 percent of GDP fiscal consolidation in 10 euro area countries reduces the combined output by 0.6 percent on impact, out of which half is driven by indirect effects from fiscal spillovers. The impact peters out and becomes insignificant over the medium-term. It is largely driven by tax measures, which have a relatively stronger effect on output compared to expenditure measures. The results are robust to alternative measures of bilateral links across countries.
Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Pietro Dallari, and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
We estimate a panel VAR model that captures cross-country, dynamic interlinkages for 10 euro area countries using quarterly data for the period 1999-2016. Our analysis suggests that fiscal spillovers are significant and tend to be larger for countries with close trade and financial links as well, as for fiscal shocks originating from larger countries. The current account appears to be the main channel of transmission, although strong trade integration among countries in the euro area and spillback effects tend to zero-out the net trade impact in some cases. A subsample analysis shows that the effects of fiscal policy have changed over time, with larger estimated domestic multipliers and spillovers between 2011 and 2014.
Ms. Li L Ong and Mr. Martin Cihak
The paper examines the scope for cross-border spillovers among major EU banks using information contained in the stock prices and financial statements of these banks. The results suggest that spillovers within domestic banking systems generally remain more likely, but the number of significant cross-border links is already larger than the number of significant links among domestic banks, adding a piece of empirical evidence supporting the need for strong cross-border supervisory cooperation within the EU.
Nina Biljanovska, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, and Martina Hengge
High levels of economic policy uncertainty in various parts of the world revamped the de-bate about its impact on economic activity. With increasingly stronger economic, financial,and political ties among countries, economic agents have more reasons to be vigilant of for-eign economic policy. Employing heterogeneous panel structural vector autoregressions, thispaper tests for spillovers from economic policy uncertainty on other countries' economic ac-tivity. Furthermore, using local projections, the paper zooms in on shocks originating in theUnited States, Europe, and China. Our results suggest that economic policy uncertainty re-duces growth in real output, private consumption, and private investment, and that spilloversfrom abroad account for about two-thirds of the negative effect. Moreover, uncertainty in theUnited States, Europe, and China reduces economic activity in the rest of the world, with theeffects being mostly felt in Europe and the Western Hemisphere.
Ms. Helene Poirson Ward and Jochen M. Schmittmann
For a sample of 83 financial institutions during 2003–2011, this paper attempts to answer three questions: first, what is the evolution of banks’ stock price exposure to country-level and global risk factors as approximated by equity indices; second, which bank-specific characteristics explain these risk exposures; third, are there clusters of banks with equity price linkages beyond market risk factors. The paper finds a rise in sensitivities to both country and global risk factors in 2011, although on average to levels still below those of the subprime crisis. The average sensitivity to European risk, specifically, has been steadily rising since 2008. Banks that are reliant on wholesale funding, have weaker capital levels and low valuations, and higher exposures to crisis countries are found to be the most vulnerable to shocks. The analysis of bank-to-bank linkages suggests that any “globalization” of the euro area crisis is likely to be channelled through U.K. and U.S. banks, with little evidence of direct spillover effects to other regions.
Mr. Christian H Ebeke and Kodjovi M. Eklou
This paper investigates the microeconomic origins of aggregate economic fluctuations in Europe. It examines the relevance of idiosyncratic shocks at the top 100 large firms (the granular shocks) in explaining aggregate macroeconomic fluctuations. The paper also assesses the strength of spillovers from large firms onto SMEs. Using firm-level data covering over 14 million firms and eight european countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain), we find that: (i) 40 percent of the variance in GDP in the sample can be explained by idiosyncratic shocks at large firms; (ii) positive granular shocks at large firms spill over to domestic SMEs’ output, especially if SMEs’ balance sheets are healthy and if SMEs belong to the services and manufacturing sectors.