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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.
Belgium was hit hard early by Covid-19, but a timely, strong, and sustained health and economic policy response helped cushion impacts. A coalition government took office in October 2020, giving greater policy clarity and rightly prioritizing the Covid-19 crisis. A highly-effective vaccine rollout has facilitated reopening and recovery.
Ms. Dora Benedek, Mr. Edward R Gemayel, Mr. Abdelhak S Senhadji, and Alexander F. Tieman
The COVID-19 pandemic hit countries’ development agendas hard. The ensuing recession has pushed millions into extreme poverty and has shrunk government resources available for spending on achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This Staff Discussion Note assesses the current state of play on funding SDGs in five key development areas: education, health, roads, electricity, and water and sanitation, using a newly developed dynamic macroeconomic framework.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
Uzbekistan embarked on an ambitious reform path in 2017, starting to liberalize its economy after years of state control. Incomes are still relatively low compared to other emerging economies. Uzbekistan entered the COVID-19 crisis with relatively strong macro-economic fundamentals.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The Chilean economy has been hit by the pandemic while recovering from the social unrest in late 2019, requiring substantial adjustment of economic policies and the appropriate use of existing policy buffers. Following a sharp decline in mid-2020, economic activity started recovering in 2020H2 in the wake of ample policy stimulus. Inflation remains near the policy target, with inflation expectations anchored, and the current account balance has improved amid a sharp drop in imports and relatively resilient exports. Fiscal and monetary policies remain guided by the structural fiscal balance rule and the inflation-targeting framework, respectively. Beyond the pandemic-related risks, there is uncertainty stemming from a series of elections and the outcome of a New Constitution process—scheduled to finish in mid-2022—which are expected to shape the public discourse and influence the policy agenda.
Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Veronika Penciakova, and Nick Sander
We estimate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business failures among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in seventeen countries using a large representative firm-level database. We use a simple model of firm cost-minimization and measure each firm’s liquidity shortfall during and after COVID-19. Our framework allows for a rich combination of sectoral and aggregate supply, productivity, and demand shocks. We estimate a large increase in the failure rate of SMEs under COVID-19 of nearly 9 percentage points, ab-sent government support. Accommodation & Food Services, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Education, and Other Services are among the most affected sectors. The jobs at risk due to COVID-19 related SME business failures represent 3.1 percent of private sector employment. Despite the large impact on business failures and employment, we estimate only moderate effects on the financial sector: the share of Non Performing Loans on bank balance sheets would increase by up to 11 percentage points, representing 0.3 percent of banks’ assets and resulting in a 0.75 percentage point decline in the common equity Tier-1 capital ratio. We evaluate the cost and effectiveness of various policy interventions. The fiscal cost of an intervention that narrowly targets at risk firms can be modest (0.54% of GDP). However, at a similar level of effectiveness, non-targeted subsidies can be substantially more expensive (1.82% of GDP). Our results have important implications for the severity of the COVID-19 recession, the design of policies, and the speed of the recovery.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2020 Article IV Consultation with Belgium highlights that economic activity has held up relatively well over the last year, but the outlook is clouded by unusual uncertainty and risks. The coronavirus outbreak is expected to reduce growth this year, and the outlook is highly uncertain and subject to risks, including more widespread and damaging effects of the coronavirus, escalating trade tensions, a sharper euro-area growth slowdown, and prolonged domestic political gridlock. Policies should focus on addressing the coronavirus outbreak in the near term and rebuilding resilience and addressing structural challenges in the medium run. The immediate policy priority is to contain the spread and damaging effects of the coronavirus through targeted temporary support measures to affected firms and individuals, while ensuring that the healthcare system has adequate resources to address the crisis. Reversing the declining trend in productivity growth is essential to support higher standards of living and safeguard fiscal sustainability. Thus, reform efforts would need to focus on reducing red tape for start-ups, lowering regulatory barriers to competition in key sectors, supporting access to venture capital for innovative firms, and boosting public investment in infrastructure, fiscal space permitting.