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International Monetary Fund

The 2012 Article IV Report on Ireland’s economy under the Extended Arrangement analyzes the banking crisis and Irish authorities’ steadfast efforts to restore stability. Public debt has been high, and the banking system has not served the financial needs of both households and the job-intensive small and medium enterprises (SME) sector. The crisis also created uncertainty for exports and investments. The Executive Board has identified steps needed to underpin a sustained economic recovery. Sustained financial sector reforms are recommended to restore sound credit and revive domestic demand.

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.
Mr. Romain A Duval, Davide Furceri, and João Tovar Jalles
This paper explores the short-term employment effect of deregulating job protection for regular workers and how it varies with prevailing business cycle conditions. We apply a local projection method to a newly constructed “narrative” dataset of major regular job protection reforms covering 26 advanced economies over the past four decades. The analysis relies on country-sector-level data, using as an identifying assumption the fact that stringent dismissal regulations are more binding in sectors that are characterized by a higher “natural” propensity to regularly adjust their workforce. We find that the responses of sectoral employment to large job protection deregulation shocks depend crucially on the state of the economy at the time of reform——they are positive in an expansion, but become negative in a recession. These findings are consistent with theory, and are robust to a broad range of robustness checks including an Instrumental Variable approach using political economy drivers of reforms as instruments. Our results provide a case for undertaking job protection reform in good times, or for designing it in ways that enhance its short-term impact.
Mr. Willy A Hoffmaister and Mr. Jens R Clausen
In the United States and a few European countries, inventory behavior is mainly the outcome of demand shocks: a standard buffer-stock model best characterizes these economies. But most European countries are described by a modified buffer-stock model where supply shocks dominate. In contrast to the United States, inventories boost growth with a one-year lag in Europe. Moreover, inventories provide limited information to improve growth forecasts particularly when a modified buffer-stock model characterizes inventory behavior.
Mr. Philippe Bracke
This paper analyzes the duration of house price upturns and downturns in the last 40 years for 19 OECD countries. I provide two sets of results, one pertaining to the average length and the other to the length distribution. On average, upturns are longer than downturns, but the difference disappears once the last house price boom is excluded. In terms of length distribution, upturns (but not downturns) are more likely to end as their duration increases. This duration dependence is consistent with a boom-bust view of house price dynamics, where booms represent departures from fundamentals that are increasingly difficult to sustain.
Carolina Correa-Caro, Leandro Medina, Mr. Marcos Poplawski Ribeiro, and Mr. Bennett W Sutton
Using financial statement data from the Thomson Reuter’s Worldscope database for 22,333 non-financial firms in 52 advanced and emerging economies, this paper examines how fiscal stimulus (i.e., changes in structural deficit) interacted with sectoral business cycle sensitivity affected corporate profitability during the recovery period of the global financial crisis (GFC). Using cross-sectional analyses, our findings indicate that corporate profitability improved significantly after the GFC fiscal stimulus, especially in manufacturing, utilities and retail sectors. Firm size and leverage are also found to be significant in explaining changes in corporate profitability.
Eric Monnet and Mr. Damien Puy
This paper assesses the strength of business cycle synchronization between 1950 and 2014 in a sample of 21 countries using a new quarterly dataset based on IMF archival data. Contrary to the common wisdom, we find that the globalization period is not associated with more output synchronization at the global level. The world business cycle was as strong during Bretton Woods (1950-1971) than during the Globalization period (1984-2006). Although globalization did not affect the average level of co-movement, trade and financial integration strongly affect the way countries co-move with the rest of the world. We find that financial integration de-synchronizes national outputs from the world cycle, although the magnitude of this effect depends crucially on the type of shocks hitting the world economy. This de-synchronizing effect has offset the synchronizing impact of other forces, such as increased trade integration.
Mr. Eswar S Prasad and Mr. Jeffery A. Gable
This paper provides some new empirical perspectives on the relationship between international trade and macroeconomic fluctuations in industrial economies. First, a comprehensive set of stylized facts concerning fluctuations in trade variables and their determinants are presented. A measure of the quantitative importance of international trade for the propagation of domestic business cycles is then constructed, focusing on the role of external trade as a catalyst for cyclical recoveries. Finally, structural vector autoregression models are used to characterize the joint dynamics of output, exchange rates, and trade variables in response to different types of macroeconomic shocks.
Mrs. Nina T Budina, Mr. Borja Gracia, Xingwei Hu, and Mr. Sergejs Saksonovs
This paper argues that asset price cycles have significant effects on fiscal outcomes. In particular, there is evidence of debt bias—the tendency of debt to increase over the cycle— that is significantly larger for house price cycles than stand-alone business cycles. Automatic stabilizers and discretionary fiscal policy generally respond to output fluctuations, whereas revenue increases due to house price booms are largely treated as permanent. Thus, neglecting the direct and indirect impact of asset prices on fiscal accounts encourages procyclical fiscal policies.
Jelle Barkema, Tryggvi Gudmundsson, and Mr. Mico Mrkaic
Estimates of output gaps continue to play a key role in assessments of the stance of business cycles. This paper uses three approaches to examine the historical record of output gap measurements and their use in surveillance within the IMF. Firstly, the historical record of global output gap estimates shows a firm negative skew, in line with previous regional studies, as well as frequent historical revisions to output gap estimates. Secondly, when looking at the co-movement of output gap estimates and realized measures of slack, a positive, but limited, association is found between the two. Thirdly, text analysis techniques are deployed to assess how estimates of output gaps are used in Fund surveillance. The results reveal no strong bearing of output gap estimates on the coverage of the concept or direction of policy advice. The results suggest the need for continued caution in relying on output gaps for real-time policymaking and policy assessment.