Would digitalization at firm level strengthen firms’ resilience to shocks? And if so, could fiscal policy play any role to promote firm-level digitalization? This paper empirically explores answers to these questions. Based on a local projection method (using the Orbis data covering 1.8 million non-financial firms from 53 countries), we estimate the impacts of aggregate uncertainty shocks on firms’ sales, profit margin, and employment. The findings suggest that uncertainty shocks affect digitalized and less-digitalized firms very differently. Digitalized firms weather shocks better, with smaller drops in sales and profits, while less-digitalized ones are worse off, with long-lasting scars. Then we examine the impact of fiscal interventions to promote firms’ digitalization, using cross-country panel data (covering 64 countries). The result suggests that aligning the tax regime on digital services with general taxation principles and competitive procurement rules on digital products could effectively support the promotion of firm-level digitalization. Overall, our findings point that firm-level digitalization would help strengthen firms’ resilience to a shock, and fiscal interventions can play an important role to promote firm-level digitalization.
International Monetary Fund. Strategy, Policy, & Review Department, International Monetary Fund. Legal Dept., and International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.
The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved changes to the Fund’s financing assurances policy. The changes apply in situations of exceptionally high uncertainty, involving exogenous shocks that are beyond the control of country authorities and the reach of their economic policies, and which generate larger than usual tail risks. The changes adopted could enable the design of a Fund Upper Credit Tranche (UCT) program in situations of exceptionally high uncertainty, in particular by modifying the Fund’s financing assurances policies in two ways. The first change allows official bilateral creditors to provide an upfront credible assurance about delivering debt relief and/or financing with the delivery of a contingent second-stage element of debt relief and/or financing once the exceptionally high uncertainty has been resolved. This would help establish that medium-term viability is being restored. The second change extends the use of a capacity-to-repay assurances from official bilateral creditors/donors from emergency financing to a UCT arrangement context. This would help establish adequate safeguards. These changes and their application to any specific country case in a situation of exceptionally high uncertainty would require the Fund to weigh whether it is prepared to accept the enterprise risks that such arrangement would entail.