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Mrs. Nujin Suphaphiphat and Hiroaki Miyamoto
While unemployment rates in Europe declined after the global financial crisis until 2018/19, the incidence of long-term unemployment, the share of people who have been unemployed for more than one year to the total unemployed, remained high. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic could aggravate the long-term unemployment. This paper explores factors associated with long-term unemployment in European countries, using panel of 25 European countries over the period 2000–18. We find that skill mismatches, labor market matching efficiency, and labor market policies are associated with the incidence of long-term unemployment. Among different types of active labor market policies, training and start-up incentives are found to be effective in reducing long-term unemployment.
Mr. Nadeem Ilahi, Mrs. Armine Khachatryan, William Lindquist, Ms. Nhu Nguyen, Ms. Faezeh Raei, and Jesmin Rahman
In the past 25 years, exports have contributed strongly to growth and economic convergence in many small open economies. However, the Western Balkan (WB) region, consisting of small emerging market economies, has not fully availed itself of this driver of growth and convergence. A lack of openness, reliance on low value products, and weak competitiveness largely explain the insignificant role of trade and exports in the region’s economic performance. This paper focuses on how the countries in the WB could lift exports through stronger integration with global value chains (GVCs) and broadening of services exports. The experience of countries that joined the European Union in or after 2004 shows that participation in GVCs can help small economies accelerate export and income growth. WB countries are not well integrated into Europe’s vibrant GVCs. Trade within the region is also limited—it tends to be bilateral and not cluster-like. Our analysis shows that by improving infrastructure and labor skills and adopting trade policies that ensure investor protection and harmonize regulations and legal provisions, the region can greatly enhance its engagement with GVCs. Services exports are an increasingly important part of global trade, and they offer an untapped source of growth. The magnitude of services exports from the WB region compares favorably with that of peers in Europe, particularly in travel services where several of these countries have a revealed comparative advantage. But there is significant room for growth in tourism exports and an untapped potential in business and information technology services exports that these countries can materialize through policy efforts that increase openness and enhance connectivity and labor skills. Serbia offers a good example of how decisive efforts, including education policies to ensure a sustained supply of skilled labor, can help information technology services exports to take off.
Agustin Velasquez and Svetlana Vtyurina
Hours worked vary widely across countries and over time. In this paper, we investigate the role played by taxation in explaining these differences for EU New Member States. By extending a standard growth model with novel data on consumption and labor taxes, we assess the evolution of trends in hours worked over the 1995-2017 period. We find that the inclusion of tax rates in the model significantly improves the tracking of hours. We also estimate the elasticity of hours (and its different margins) to quantify the deadweight loss introduced by consumption and labor taxes. We find that these taxes explain a large share of labor supply differences across EU New Member States and that the potential gains from policy actions are noteworthy.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper explores how intersectoral vulnerabilities and risks have shifted over 2001–17, and especially after the Global Financial Crisis. It analyzes financial positions at the sectoral levels deposit taking institutions and non-financial corporations, households, the public sector, and the Croatian National Bank by disaggregating them into instruments, currencies, and maturities. The paper has employed balance sheet analysis (BSA) to gauge cross-sectional exposures and risks. The BSA approach is a method to study an economy as a system of interlinked sectoral balance sheets. The policies to reduce the remaining vulnerabilities have also been discussed in the paper. Standard macroeconomic indicators demonstrate that Croatia’s overall external vulnerabilities have declined since 2010. However, the balance sheet matrix shows little improvement in reduction of important cross-sectoral dependencies and liabilities to the rest of the world over 2010–17. One of the recommendations made is to encourage deleveraging through specific policy options and strategies.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper discusses the first phase, to be constructed from 2015 to mid-2019, comprises a 41-kilometer section that is to provide an efficient and safe transport link between Podgorica and the poorest northern region in Montenegro. It runs through the mountainous terrain in the center of the country that is economically undeveloped. Due to its large cost (25 percent of 2017 GDP), the first phase of the highway has used up most of Montenegro’s fiscal space and will crowd out other productive spending. For the foreseeable future, the second and third parts of the highway could only be financed with concessional funds, because loans would destabilize the debt sustainability of Montenegro. The government’s main motivation for this large project is the need to improve connectivity, particularly to Europe through Serbia, boost tourism and trade, improve road safety, and strengthen national security. The highway is a part of Montenegro’s plans to integrate the Montenegrin transport network with those of neighboring countries.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This paper highlights Bulgaria’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) sector and to assess its performance in a regional perspective. A detailed and rich firm-level dataset of state-owned and private firms was compiled for this note to compare key performance indicators of SOEs to private firms in the same sector and to similar firms in Croatia and Romania for a regional comparison. In some network industries, such as energy, SOEs are heavily loss-making. Large amounts of debt have been piled up notably in the energy and transport sectors which, to the extent that it is classified outside the general government accounts, can pose significant risk to public finances in the form of contingent liabilities if the SOEs run into financial difficulties. SOE profitability and resource allocation efficiency largely lag private firms in the same sectors, even when isolating SOEs engaged in competitive market activities and hence classified outside of general government. Coupled with comparably poor output quality, these challenges have the potential to impair competitiveness and productivity across the economy.