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   ISSN (Print) 1018-5941
   Published by International Monetary Fund Homepage  [11 journals]
  • Syria’s Conflict Economy
    • Abstract: Five years into the ongoing and tragic conflict, the paper analyzes how Syria’s economy and its people have been affected and outlines the challenges in rebuilding the economy. With extreme limitations on information, the findings of the paper are subject to an extraordinary degree of uncertainty. The key messages are: (1) that the devastating civil war has set the country back decades in terms of economic, social and human development. Syria’s GDP today is less than half of what it was before the war started and it could take two decades or more for Syria to return to its pre-conflict GDP levels; and that (2) while reconstructing damaged physical infrastructure will be a monumental task, rebuilding Syria’s human and social capital will be an even greater and lasting challenge.
      PubDate: 29 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • Income Polarization in the United States
    • Abstract: The paper uses a combination of micro-level datasets to document the rise of income polarization—what some have referred to as the “hollowing out” of the income distribution—in the United States, since the 1970s. While in the initial decades more middle-income households moved up, rather than down, the income ladder, since the turn of the current century, most of polarization has been towards lower incomes. This result is striking and in contrast with findings of other recent contributions. In addition, the paper finds evidence that, after conditioning on income and household characteristics, the marginal propensity to consume from permanent changes in income has somewhat fallen in recent years. We assess the potential impacts of these trends on private consumption. During 1998-2013, the rise in income polarization and lower marginal propensity to consume have suppressed the level of real consumption at the aggregate level, by about 3½ percent—equivalent to more than one year of consumption.
      PubDate: 28 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • What's Up with U.S. Wage Growth and Job Mobility?
    • Abstract: Since the global financial crisis, US wage growth has been sluggish. Drawing on individual earnings data from the 2000–15 Current Population Survey, I find that the drawn-out cyclical labor market repair—likely owing to low entry wages of new workers—slowed down real wage growth. There are, however, also signs of structural changes in the labor market affecting wages: for full-time, full-employed workers, the Wage-Phillips curve—the empirical relationship between wage growth and the unemployment rate—has become horizontal after 2008. Similarly, job-turnover rates have continued to decline. Job-to-job transitions—associated with higher wage growth—have slowed across all skill and age groups and beyond what local labor market conditions would imply. This raises concerns about the allocative ability of the labor market to adjust to changing economic conditions.
      PubDate: 28 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • Monetary Policy Implementation and Volatility Transmission along the Yield
           Curve : The Case of Kenya
    • Abstract: This paper analyzes the degree to which volatility in interbank interest rates leads to volatility in financial instruments with longer maturities (e.g., T-bills) in Kenya since 2012, year in which the monetary policy framework switched to a forward-looking approach, relative to seven other inflation targeting (IT) countries (Ghana, Hungary, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, and Uganda). Kenya shows strong volatility transmission and high persistence similar to other countries in transition to a more forward-looking monetary policy framework. These results emphasize the importance of a strong commitment to an interbank rate as an operational target and suggest that the central bank could reduce uncertainty in short-term yields significantly by smoothing out the overnight interest rates around the policy rate.
      PubDate: 20 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • The Impact of Product Market Reforms on Firm Productivity in Italy
    • Abstract: This paper examines the role of removing obstacles to competition in product markets in raising growth and productivity. Using firm-level data from Italy during 2003–13 and OECD measures of product market regulation, we estimate the effect of deregulation in network sectors on value added and productivity of firms in these sectors, as well as firms using these intermediates in their production processes. We find evidence of a significant positive impact. These effects are more pronounced in Italian provinces with more efficient public administration, underscoring the complementarities of advancing public administration and product market reforms simultaneously.
      PubDate: 15 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • Women’s Opportunities and Challenges in Sub-Saharan African Job
    • Abstract: As labor market data is scarce in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), this paper uses household survey data to analyze the determinants of the gender gap in the labor market and its welfare implications for five SSA countries in multinomial logit models with propensity score matching method. The analysis confirms that education opens up opportunities for women to escape agricultural feminization and engage in formal wage employment, but these opportunities diminish when women marry—a disadvantage increasingly relevant when countries develop and urbanization progresses. Opening a household enterprise offers women an alternative avenue to escape low-paid jobs in agriculture, but the increase in per capita income is lower than male-owned household enterprises. These findings underline that improving women’s education needs to be supported by measures to allow married women to keep their jobs in the wage sector.
      PubDate: 13 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • The Impact of Trade Agreements : New Approach, New Insights
    • Abstract: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has reinvigorated research on the ex-ante impact of trade agreements. The results from these ex-ante models are subject to considerable uncertainties, and needs to be complimented by ex-post studies. The paper fills this gap in recent literature by employing synthetic control methods (SCM) – currently extremely popular in micro and macro studies – to understand the impact of trade agreements in the period 1983–1995 for 104 country pairs. The key advantage of using SCM to address selection bias – one of the persisting issues in trade literature – is that it allows the effect of unobserved confounder to vary with time, as opposed to traditional econometric methods that can deal with time-invariant unobserved country characteristics. Using SCM approach, the paper finds that trade agreements can generate substantial gains, on average an increase of exports by 80 percentage points over ten years. The export gains are higher when emerging markets have trade agreements with advanced markets. The paper shows that all the countries in NAFTA have substantially gained due to NAFTA. Finally, there is some evidence that trade agreements can potentially lead to slight import diversion, but not export diversion.
      PubDate: 10 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • The Short-Term Impact of Product Market Reforms : A cross-country
           firm-level analysis
    • Abstract: This paper analyzes the effects of product market reforms in the short and medium term across 10 regulated industries and 18 advanced economies for the period 1998-2013 using internationally comparable firm-level data based on Orbis. It provides four key insights. First, product market reforms have positive effects on capital, output and employment and their effects increase over time. After two years, they raise capital by 4%, output by 3% and employment by 1.5%. Second, differences in production technology and the nature of product market regulations across sectors generate important differences in the mechanisms through which reforms operate. In network industries, reforms tend to benefit small firms, while the opposite is observed in retail trade. Product market reforms also promote firm entry, particularly those that reduce entry barriers. Third, credit constraints can play an important role in weakening the positive impact of product market reform on investment. Fourth, product market reforms also tend to have positive effects on firms in downstream sectors—both at home and abroad—that make intensive use of intermediate inputs from deregulated sectors.
      PubDate: 10 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • Investing in Electricity, Growth, and Debt Sustainability : The Case of
    • Abstract: This paper analyses a large public investment in a construction of a hydropower plant in Lesotho and its implications on the growth and debt sustainability. The paper employs an open economy dynamic general equilibrium model to assess the benefits of a large public investment through growth-enhancing increase in domestic energy supply and receipts from selling electricity abroad to ease the fiscal burden, which is often associated with big investment projects. During the transition (construction stage), various financing options are explored: increase in the public debt, increase in domestic revenue (fiscal adjustment), and combination. The calibration matches Lesotho's data and it captures the project's main challenges regarding the project costs. Moreover,the key remaining issue is the agreement with South Africa to purchase sufficient amount of electricity to allow the potential plant to run at a high capacity. We find that, the project can lead to sizable macroeconomic benefits as long as costs are relatively low and demand from South Africa is sufficiently high. However, the risks for the viability of the project are high, if these assumptions are violated.
      PubDate: 09 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
  • Product Market Deregulation and Growth : New Country-Industry-Level
    • Abstract: The paper investigates the economic effects of major product market reforms in some of the historically most protected non-manufacturing industries. It relies on a unique mapping between new annual data on reform shocks and sector-level outcomes for five network industries (electricity and gas, land transport, air transport, postal services, and telecommunications) in twenty-six countries spanning over three decades. The use of a threedimensional panel and careful instrumentation of reform shocks using external instruments enables us to control for economy-wide macroeconomic shocks and address possible sources of omitted variable bias more broadly. Using a local projection method, we find that major reductions in barriers to entry yield large increases in output and labor productivity over a five-year horizon, concomitant with a relative price decline. By contrast, there is only a weak positive effect on sectoral employment, and investment is essentially unaffected, suggesting that output gains from reform primarily reflect higher total factor productivity. It takes some time for these gains to materialize: effects become statistically significant two to three years after the reform, as prices start dropping, and productivity and output increase significantly. However, there is no evidence of any negative short-term cost from reform, including under weak macroeconomic conditions. These findings provide a clear case for intensifying product market reform efforts in advanced economies at the current juncture of weak growth.
      PubDate: 09 Jun 2016 09:00:00 EST
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