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Imports increase consumer choices, exert competitive pressures on domestic producers, and facilitate industrial restructuring. In studies of cross-country differences in external performance, imports have drawn considerably less attention than exports, and typically have been assigned a passive role. For example, Allard, et al (2005) found imports to be largely determined by final demand while competitiveness has been playing a minor role. However, the benefits of imports are well known: they increase the supply of goods and services available to meet final demand, enable a national economy to bring forward consumption and investment, offer an enlarged product variety, and facilitate the global division of labor. This chapter looks at the role of imports in restructuring the economies of the five southern euro area (SEA-5) countries—France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain—and, for the purpose of comparison, the euro area average and Germany.

International Monetary Fund

In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.

International Monetary Fund

The conceptual framework of this paper assumes that macroeconomic performance depends on the interplay between the economic environment and policies. Declining labor shares, wage moderation, and employment performance in Germany and the Netherlands have been presented. A number of policy changes are under way, but additional reforms may be needed to fully reap the benefits of the new economy. The tax reform package marks a radical and constructive shift in German tax policy, and the pension system requires a sea of change in public policy reforms.

Mr. Bulent Unel and Mr. Harm Zebregs
China's growth record since the start of its economic reforms in 1978 has been extraordinary. Yet, this impressive performance has been associated with an increasing regional income disparity. We use a recently developed nonparametric approach to analyze the variation in labor productivity growth across China's provinces. This approach imposes less structure on the data than the standard growth accounting framework and allows for a breakdown of labor productivity into capital deepening, efficiency gains, and technological progress. Like other studies before us, we do not find strong evidence of convergence in labor productivity across China's provinces during 1978-98. However, our results show that provinces converged in efficiency levels, while they diverged in capital deepening and technological progress.
Sangyup Choi, Davide Furceri, Yi Huang, and Mr. Prakash Loungani
We show that an increase in aggregate uncertainty—measured by stock market volatility—reduces productivity growth more in industries that depend heavily on external finance. This effect is larger during recessions, when financing constraints are more likely to be binding, than during expansions. Our statistical method—a difference-in-difference approach using productivity growth for 25 industries for 18 advanced economies over the period 1985-2010—mitigates concerns with omitted variable bias and reverse causality. The results are robust to the inclusion of other sources of interaction effects, such as financial development (Rajan and Zingales, 1998) and counter-cyclical fiscal policy (Aghion et al., 2014). The results also hold if economic policy uncertainty (Baker et al., 2015) is used instead of stock market volatility as the measure of aggregate uncertainty.
Diego A. Cerdeiro, Rui Mano, Johannes Eugster, Mr. Dirk V Muir, and Mr. Shanaka J Peiris
This paper proposes channels through which technological decoupling can affect global growth, and embeds these different layers in a global dynamic macroeconomic model. Multiple scenarios are considered that differ along two dimensions: (i) the coalition of countries (hubs) that initiate the decoupling, and (ii) whether non-hub countries are also forced to decouple via ‘preferential attachment’ – i.e. by aligning themselves with the hub they trade most with. All global technology hubs lose across scenarios, and losses are largest under preferential attachment. Smaller countries with relations that straddle multiple hubs generally lose, whereas those whose trade is heavily concentrated with one hub may gain due to reduced competition under some scenarios. Technological fragmentation can lead to losses in the order of 5 percent of GDP for many economies.
Christopher Freeman

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International Monetary Fund

This Selected Issues paper examines the role of information and communication technology (ICT) in the recent acceleration of labor productivity growth in the United States. The analysis reveals that the increase of total factor productivity (TFP) growth is a broad phenomenon that encompasses non-ICT producing sectors, consistent with the view that ICT is a “general purpose technology.” The paper investigates whether the productivity boom may have dampened employment in recent years. It also assesses the contribution of immigrants to the United State economy.