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Mr. Kamiar Mohaddes and Mr. Mehdi Raissi
This paper examines whether a tipping point exists for real GDP growth in Italy above which the ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) to total loans falls significantly. Estimating a heterogeneous dynamic panel-threshold model with data on 17 Italian regions over the period 1997–2014, we provide evidence for the presence of growth-threshold effects on the NPL ratio in Italy. More specifically, we find that real GDP growth above 1.2 percent, if sustained for a number of years, is associated with a significant decline in the NPLs ratio. Achieving such growth rates requires decisively tackling long-standing structural rigidities and improving the quality of fiscal policy. Given the modest potential growth outlook, however, under which banks are likely to struggle to grow out of their NPL overhang, further policy measures are needed to put the NPL ratio on a firm downward path over the medium term.
Mr. Kamiar Mohaddes and Mr. Mehdi Raissi

This paper examines whether a tipping point exists for real GDP growth in Italy above which the ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) to total loans falls significantly. Estimating a heterogeneous dynamic panel-threshold model with data on 17 Italian regions over the period 1997–2014, we provide evidence for the presence of growth-threshold effects on the NPL ratio in Italy. More specifically, we find that real GDP growth above 1.2 percent, if sustained for a number of years, is associated with a significant decline in the NPLs ratio. Achieving such growth rates requires decisively tackling long-standing structural rigidities and improving the quality of fiscal policy. Given the modest potential growth outlook, however, under which banks are likely to struggle to grow out of their NPL overhang, further policy measures are needed to put the NPL ratio on a firm downward path over the medium term.

Mr. Andrea Pescatori, Mr. Damiano Sandri, and John Simon
Using a novel empirical approach and an extensive dataset developed by the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF, we find no evidence of any particular debt threshold above which medium-term growth prospects are dramatically compromised. Furthermore, we find the debt trajectory can be as important as the debt level in understanding future growth prospects, since countries with high but declining debt appear to grow equally as fast as countries with lower debt. Notwithstanding this, we find some evidence that higher debt is associated with a higher degree of output volatility.
Mr. Giovanni Favara
This paper reexamines the empirical relationship between financial development and economic growth. It presents evidence based on cross-section and panel data using an updated dataset, a variety of econometric methods, and two standard measures of financial development: the level of liquid liabilities of the banking system and the amount of credit issued to the private sector by banks and other financial institutions. The paper identifies two sets of findings. First, in contrast with the recent evidence of Levine, Loayza, and Beck (2001), cross-section and panel-data-instrumental-variables regressions reveal that the relationship between financial development and economic growth is, at best, weak. Second, there is evidence of nonlinearities in the data, suggesting that finance matters for growth only at intermediate levels of financial development. Moreover, using a procedure appropriately designed to estimate long-run relationships in a panel with heterogeneous slope coefficients, there is no clear indication that finance spurs economic growth. Instead, for some specifications, the relationship is, puzzlingly, negative.
Mr. Willy A Hoffmaister
Why do prices in Spain's regions fail to converge? The prime suspects for this puzzling result are differences in regional barriers to entry in retail distribution. This paper develops a Cournot-Nash model of imperfect competition to illustrate the effect of barriers on prices. A unique data set-derived from an extensive analysis of competition policies in Spain- provides evidence that barriers to entry increase regional prices. The evidence also suggests that, consistent with the model's predictions, barriers to entry raise prices up to a point, and thus indicate that barriers have a threshold effect on prices.