The CFA franc zone has had one of the longest experiences with a fixed exchange rate for a convertible currency and regional integration of any group of developing countries. France, the anchor country, provides aid to support the zone. This paper asks whether the arrangements are more than just an aid substitute. The paper addresses this issue by evaluating the overall performance of the zone over the period 1960-2004. The analysis reveals that when the zone is hit by a negative shock, France increases its aid, thereby acting as a shock absorber. However, it also finds that the zone displays strong performance in two areas-price stability and fiscal policy. Thus the paper concludes that the arrangements are not an aid substitute; they have real macroeconomic value for the zone and complement aid.
Ms. Isabelle Mejean, Thierry Mayer, and Benjamin Nefussi
Economists interested in location choices usually focus their attention on investments abroad. This neglects the fact that multinational enterprises continue to invest domestically while undertaking foreign expansion. This paper compares investments at home and abroad. Our firm-level dataset shows an important home bias in productive investments. Part of this "excessive" domestic investment is explained by standard determinants of location choices. The interdependence between affiliates of the same industrial group however accounts for the lion's share of the home bias. Moreover, French firms' propensity to invest abroad is positively related to their productivity and the size of their intangible assets.
This paper uses the three-country duopoly model to examine the effects of lowered trade barriers when a new entrant joins a trading bloc. There are two firms—a small-country firm and a large-country firm within the bloc—and three markets—two within and one (new entrant’s) outside the bloc. The analysis generally shows greater gains for the small-country than for the large-country firm. The small-country firm will export more to the external country than the large-country firm. But if tariffs decline, the export share of the large-country firm will increase relative to the small-country firm’s, though profits will improve more for the latter.
An aggregate production function is estimated with recent cointegrating techniques that are particularly appropriate for estimating long-run relationships. The empirical results suggest that the growth of output in France has been spurred by increased trade integration within the European Community and by the accumulation not only of business sector capital—the only measure of capital included in most empirical studies—but also by the accumulation of government infrastructure capital, residential capital, and R&D capital. Calculations of potential output indicate that trade and capital—broadly defined—account for all of the growth in the French economy during the last two decades.
Mr. Ashok Vir Bhatia, Ms. Srobona Mitra, Anke Weber, Mr. Shekhar Aiyar, Luiza Antoun de Almeida, Cristina Cuervo, Mr. Andre O Santos, and Tryggvi Gudmundsson
This note weighs the merits of a capital market union (CMU) for Europe, identifies major obstacles in its path, and recommends a set of carefully targeted policy actions.
European capital markets are relatively small, resulting in strong bank-dependence, and are split sharply along national lines. Results include an uneven playing field in terms of corporate funding costs, the rationing out of collateral-constrained firms, and limited shock absorption. The benefits of integration center on expanding financial choice, ultimately to support capital formation and resilience. Capital market development and integration would support a healthy diversity in European finance. Proceeding methodically, the note identifies three key barriers to greater capital market integration in Europe: transparency, regulatory quality, and insolvency practices. Based on these findings, the note urges three policy priorities, focused on the three barriers. There is no roadblock—such steps should prove feasible without a new grand bargain.