The likely enlargement of euro-area membership will radically change the environment under which monetary policy will be made in the euro area. Within less than a decade, the number of member countries in the euro area could more than double, with the vast majority of accession countries being relatively small in economic terms, compared with current members. Absent reforms, such a significant but asymmetric expansion could impede the effectiveness of the institutional policymaking process of the European Central Bank (ECB) and be seen by some as resulting in the overrepresentation of small member countries in the ECB Council. The paper illustrates these issues, describes the principles on which reforms of the ECB statute could build, and discusses four specific institutional reform scenarios. The analysis coincides with the ECB Council being scheduled to present suggestions for reform by late 2002.
Josef Baumgartner, Göran Zettergren, and Mr. Ramana Ramaswamy
This paper derives a set of leading indicators of inflation for Sweden. It also discusses methodological and policy issues pertaining to the estimation of these indicators. The main findings are: (1) narrow money is the most powerful leading inflation indicator; (2) broad money and inflation expectations have significant predictive information on inflation; (3) the output gap, interest rates, and the credit aggregate have some predictive information on inflation, and this information is confined to a shorter time horizon than either the monetary aggregates or inflation expectations; and (4) implied forward rates have only weak predictive information on inflation.
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.
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.
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.
All types of recessions, on average, not just those associated with financial and political crises (as in Cerra and Saxena, AER 2008), lead to permanent output losses. These findings have far-reaching conceptual and policy implications. A new paradigm of the business cycle needs to account for shifts in trend output and the puzzling inconsistency of output dynamics with other cyclical components of production. The ‘output gap’ can be ill-conceived, poorly measured, and inconsistent over time. Persistent losses require more buffers and crisis-avoidance policies, affecting tradeoffs in prudential, macroeconomic, and reserve management policies. The frequency and depth of crises are key determinants of long-term growth and drive a new stylized model of economic development.
This 2004 Article IV Consultation highlights that the downturn experienced by the Swedish economy in 2002–03 was relatively mild, with growth remaining well above the European Union average. Expansionary fiscal policy in 2002 underpinned private consumption. Private investment, however, remained weak and activity decelerated when the impact of public sector stimulus waned in the first half of 2003. Economic activity is expected to pick up steadily in 2004–05 as the global recovery gathers pace. Adjusted for calendar effects, output is expected to rise by about 2 percent in 2004.