The paper uses firm-level data to assess the financial health of the Vietnamese non-financial corporate sector on the eve of pandemic. Our analysis finds that smaller domestic firms were particularly vulnerable even by regional comparison. A sensitivity analysis suggests that the COVID-19 shock will have a substantial impact on firms’ profitability, liquidity and even solvency, particularly in the hardest hit sectors that are dominated by SMEs and account for a sizeable employment share, but large firms are not immune to the crisis. Risks of default can propagate more broadly through upstream and downstream linkages to industries not directly impacted, with stresses potentially translating into an increase in corporate bankruptcies and bank fragility. Policy measures taken in the immediate aftermath of the crisis have helped alleviate liquidity pressures, but the nature of policy support may have to pivot to support the recovery.
Italy’s labor productivity in market services has declined since 2000, underperforming manufacturing and peer European countries, especially in strongly regulated sectors. A model of monopolistic competition is used to identify which service sectors would benefit more from removing entry and/or exit barriers. Using Italian firm-level data, the paper finds that sectors with high markups, such as professional services, would primarily benefit from removing entry barriers. Sectors with a large mass of unproductive firms, such as retail, would instead benefit from removing exit barriers. Policy recommendations to improve efficiency are outlined in relation to the sectoral priorities identified in the data.
Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Jan-Martin Frie, and Louise Rabier
The services sector is increasingly important for the euro area economy, but productivity growth in the sector has stalled over the past two decades. Remaining barriers to cross-border trade in services within the EU Single Market contribute to this weak performance. Our empirical analysis suggests that slow progress in tackling these barriers is associated with political economy factors such as weak government support in parliaments, low government efficiency and high markups. To remove the cross-border restrictions on services trade, we suggest combining incentives such as financial support, technical assistance and improved communication on barriers with more effective enforcement.
International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This technical assistance mission report underlines efforts to estimate the economic and revenue contributions of the international financial services industry in the Cook Islands. This report discusses the data and methodology used and presents the results. One matter that has been raised is that international companies are exempt from all taxes in the Cook Islands. The economic contribution of the international financial services industry can be measured by the value added of resident institutional units engaged, directly or indirectly, in the production of international financial services in the Cook Islands. The production of international financial services generates income which is distributed to the various agents or groups of agents who use that income to acquire goods and services for consumption now or later. The international financial services industry also contributes indirectly to gross domestic product through two channels. The first channel is through the goods and services that the industry purchases from other suppliers, such as electricity, accounting services, telecommunications, etc.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes France’s fiscal stance using a structural stochastic model. The theoretical model features a forward-looking benevolent government that needs to decide the optimal fiscal stance given the level of public debt, the cyclical position of the economy, and expectations about future shocks. This paper shows that a fiscal consolidation can help build buffers that could help France confront the next downturn from a stronger fiscal position. The analysis highlights that, on average, fiscal policy in France exhibited a deficit bias over the past four decades, being unable to react to either rising debt levels, or cyclical conditions. A model-based analysis further confirms that fiscal policy was generally looser than warranted by cyclical and debt sustainability considerations, and this is only partly due to the fact policymakers need to take decisions based on real-time output gap measures that are subject to uncertainty.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes productivity growth in Belgium. It highlights that Belgium’s subdued productivity growth can be explained by a combination of sectoral employment shifts, barriers to competition, the declining quality of infrastructure, and an aging workforce. The shift of employment toward lower productivity service sectors, common to many advanced economies, has been more pronounced in Belgium and explains half of the productivity gap with neighboring countries. Population aging is another secular factor that has contributed to the productivity slowdown. In addition, barriers to competition in some service sectors have lowered productivity growth and raised rents in these sectors.
We analyze the impact of rising import competition from China on U.S. innovative activities. Using Compustat data, we find that import competition induces R&D expenditures to be reallocated towards more productive and more profitable firms within each industry. Such reallocation effect has the potential to offset the average drop in firm-level R&D identified in the previous literature. Indeed, our quantitative analysis shows no adverse impact of import competition on aggregate R&D expenditures. Taking the analysis beyond manufacturing, we find that import competition has led to reallocation of researchers towards booming service industries, including business and repairs, personal services, and financial services.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) play an important role in Emerging Europe’s economies, notably in the energy and transport sectors. Based on a new firm-level dataset, this paper reviews the SOE landscape, assesses SOE performance across countries and vis-à-vis private firms, and evaluates recent SOE governance reform experience in 11 Emerging European countries, as well as Sweden as a benchmark. Profitability and efficiency of resource allocation of SOEs lag those of private firms in most sectors, with substantial cross-country variation. Poor SOE performance raises three main risks: large and risky contingent liabilities could stretch public finances; sizeable state ownership of banks coupled with poor governance could threaten financial stability; and negative productivity spillovers could affect the economy at large. SOE governance frameworks are partly weak and should be strengthened along three lines: fleshing out a consistent ownership policy; giving teeth to financial oversight; and making SOE boards more professional.