To live up to its growth potential and secure its inclusive social model, the euro area must make better use of its available labor. In the aftermath of the crisis, boosting growth is essential to prevent unemployment from becoming a long-term problem and to facilitate the return to fiscal sustainability. Labor utilization in the euro area has been lagging considerably behind its best performing peers. While fewer hours worked may, to some extent, reflect a social choice, higher unemployment rates and lower participation rates, on the other hand, cannot easily be attributed to individual preferences. Here, policies and institutions matter more. And there is little excuse for relatively low labor productivity, a particular bane in southern Europe and an increasing challenge everywhere. Kick-starting growth requires a comprehensive approach to labor and service market reforms. Different circumstances call for different approaches across countries. Countries in southern Europe need to focus on regaining competitiveness, while some in the core should promote higher labor force participation or more open service sector markets. Improving access to the labor market should be high on the priority list everywhere—including through some harmonization of key features of the labor market, which will help deal with intra-euro area imbalances. Differences in labor taxation, unemployment benefit systems, and employment protection will need to be reduced. Improving regulation and reforming taxes and social benefits will be essential to make inroads. For the longer term, focus should be on innovation, education, and on continuing financial sector reforms.
Recessions leave scars on the labor market. Over 200 million people across the globe are estimated to be unemployed at present resulting from the Great Recession of 2007–09. We assess the human cost of increased unemployment by surveying what is known about the effects of past recessions. If past is prologue, the cost to the unemployed (and society) could be high. The focus of this paper is on advanced economies. To their credit, most countries mounted strong policy responses to minimize the human costs, and the policy actions were notable also for their consistency and coherence across countries.
Mr. Athanasios Vamvakidis, Mr. Francis Vitek, Ms. Mwanza Nkusu, Mr. Reginald Darius, Mr. Alun H. Thomas, and Edouard Vidon
The human cost of the recent global crisis is reflected in its impact on the labor market. Explaining why economies with similar downturns had very different employment trends can help design policies to reduce such costs and improve labor markets. This paper analyzes the recent employment experiences of six economies: Germany, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, and Sweden. These economies represent a wide range of labor market institutions, policy responses, and outcomes to the crisis. The divergence of labor market outcomes and of the effectiveness of policies during the crisis can be explained by the interaction between the nature of the shocks and differences in the structure and institutions of each country’s economy. The worst job losses compared to the drop in output followed permanent shocks, particularly in dual labor markets and in the presence of wage rigidities. Policies to avoid job cuts were much more effective when they were well-targeted and responded to temporary shocks. In contrast, policies to facilitate labor movements were more appropriate following permanent shocks.
Mr. Olivier J Blanchard, Mr. Giovanni Dell'Ariccia, and Mr. Paolo Mauro
The great moderation lulled macroeconomists and policymakers alike in the belief that we knew how to conduct macroeconomic policy. The crisis clearly forces us to question that assessment. In this paper, we review the main elements of the pre-crisis consensus, we identify where we were wrong and what tenets of the pre-crisis framework still hold, and take a tentative first pass at the contours of a new macroeconomic policy framework.
This paper empirically evaluates four types of costs that may result from an international sovereign default: reputational costs, international trade exclusion costs, costs to the domestic economy through the financial system, and political costs to the authorities. It finds that the economic costs are generally significant but short-lived, and sometimes do not operate through conventional channels. The political consequences of a debt crisis, by contrast, seem to be particularly dire for incumbent governments and finance ministers, broadly in line with what happens in currency crises.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Global financial crisis, Iceland, Poul Thomsen, IMF work program, IMF Shocks Facility, Kyrgyz Republic; Malawi; Exogenous Shocks Facility, Pakistan loan, IMF and social safety nets, gains against poverty in jeopardy, commodity prices slump, Latin America withstands shocks, Improved policies help Latin America, Asian Regional Outlook, Bosnia and Herzegovina, news briefs.