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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Following a deep recession in 2020 and further contraction in 2021Q1, the euro area economy recovered rapidly in the second and third quarters thanks to high vaccination levels, increasing household and business adaptability to the virus, and continued forceful policy support. Looking ahead, while supply chain disruptions, elevated energy prices, and resurgences of Covid-19 cases—including those related to the Omicron variant—are likely to pose near-term headwinds to growth, the recovery is set to continue in 2022 as the impact of the pandemic on economic activity continues to weaken over time and supply-side constraints ease. Medium-term output losses relative to pre-crisis trends will vary significantly across countries and sectors as will the extent of labor market scarring. Price pressures are building up as production bottlenecks are set to persist for a while. However, inflation—despite increasing significantly in recent months due to transitory factors—is projected to moderate during 2022 and remain below the ECB’s inflation target over the medium term. Uncertainty surrounding the outlook remains high and largely related to pandemic dynamics and legacies, including induced behavioral and preference changes.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
Austria entered the crisis from a strong position. Prudent policies prior to the pandemic provided significant policy space. Several lockdowns helped contain the virus but significantly impaired the economy. Real GDP contracted by 6.3 percent in 2020 and declined further in early 2021. The 2021 recovery is expected to be modest; the tourism and hospitality sectors will continue to be affected. Over the medium term, growth will accelerate in 2022 and then stabilize at potential, but the output level will remain somewhat below the pre-COVID trend. Uncertainty remains high.
Adalgiso Amendola, Mario di Serio, Matteo Fragetta, and Mr. Giovanni Melina
We build a factor-augmented interacted panel vector-autoregressive model of the Euro Area (EA) and estimate it with Bayesian methods to compute government spending multipliers. The multipliers are contingent on the overall monetary policy stance, captured by a shadow monetary policy rate. In the short run (one year), whether the fiscal shock occurs when the economy is at the effective lower bound (ELB) or in normal times does not seem to matter for the size of the multiplier. However, as the time horizon increases, multipliers diverge across the two regimes. In the medium run (three years), the average multiplier is about 1 in normal times and between 1.6 and 2.8 at the ELB, depending on the specification. The difference between the two multipliers is distributed largely away from zero. More generally, the multiplier is inversely correlated with the level of the shadow monetary policy rate. In addition, we verify that EA data lend support to the view that the multiplier is larger in periods of economic slack, and we show that the shadow rate and the state of the business cycle are autonomously correlated with its size. The econometric approach deals with several technical problems highlighted in the empirical macroeconomic literature, including the issues of fiscal foresight and limited information.
International Monetary Fund
The current account deficit by the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina in recent years has fluctuated to about 20 percent of GDP. But official current account statistics suffer from several shortcomings. Possible sources of the savings required to achieve a fiscal position consistent with long-term fiscal sustainability is discussed. A theoretical model of the trade balance has been developed and used as the basis for estimating a quarterly regression model of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s trade balance. Effective fiscal coordination is essential in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mr. Gunnar Jonsson
This paper describes the main elements of inflation targeting, reviews its pros and cons, and examines the experiences thus far in countries using this framework. It discusses the implications and relative merits of such a framework for South Africa, and concludes that it would be feasible and desirable for South Africa to adopt explicit inflation targeting. Doing so could reduce uncertainties about the Reserve Bank’s objectives and enhance the transparency of monetary policy. However, further experience with the operational aspects of the repurchase system and a refinement of the inflation forecasting framework may be needed before inflation targeting is implemented.
Mr. Ioannis Halikias
This paper examines the credibility of the exchange rate policy pursued by the Belgian monetary authorities of pegging the Belgian franc to a narrow fluctuation band around the deutsche mark, in the context of the exchange rate mechanism of the European Monetary System. Simple interest rate corridor analysis, based on the Belgian-German long-term interest rate differential and taking explicit account of the currency’s position within its fluctuation band, would appear to suggest that the hypothesis that long-run exchange rate credibility has been attained should be rejected, even though considerable progress has been made in this regard since the early 1980s. The paper proceeds to decompose the Belgian-German interest rate differential into a sovereign credit risk and an exchange rate risk component, via the modelling of inflationary expectations, and concludes that long-run exchange rate credibility cannot be rejected from 1990 onwards.
Mr. Carlo Cottarelli

Abstract

This paper examines central bank independence with reference to the constraints on central bank credit to the government, focusing on how such credit should be regulated. It discusses why credit should be contsrained, and in which forms, and how to implement those constraints.

Julio A. Santaella
Credibility and financing problems are important reasons why countries may seek to involve external institutions in the design and implementation of stabilization programs. In particular, governments may rely on external institutions to ‘enforce’ programs that would otherwise lack credibility. This paper analyzes six European currency stabilizations sponsored by the League of Nations in the 1920s. It emphasizes the means by which the League provided a ‘commitment technology’ and enforced compliance, thereby helping to ensure successful stabilizations. Empirical evidence indicates that countries with greater credibility problems relied more heavily on external enforcement to stabilize their currencies.