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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.
Ian W.H. Parry and Mr. Philippe Wingender
Finland has pledged to cut net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2035 and has sectoral targets for deploying electric vehicles, phasing out coal generation, and oil-based space heating. Fiscal policies at the national and sectoral level could play a critical role in achieving these objectives. Carbon dioxide emissions are already priced significantly in Finland but prices vary substantially across fuels and sectors. The paper discusses a reform to both scale up, and progressively harmonize, pricing while using revenues to address equity issues. It also discusses the potential use of revenue-neutral feebate schemes to strengthen mitigation incentives for the transportation, industry, building, forestry, and agricultural sectors.
International Monetary Fund. Fiscal Affairs Dept.

Abstract

Public sector balance sheets provide the most comprehensive picture of public wealth. They bring together all the accumulated assets and liabilities that the government controls, including public corporations, natural resources, and pension liabilities. They thus account for the entirety of what the state owns and owes, offering a broader fiscal picture beyond debt and deficits. Most governments do not provide such transparency, thereby avoiding the additional scrutiny it brings. Better balance sheet management enables countries to increase revenues, reduce risks, and improve fiscal policymaking. There is some empirical evidence that financial markets are increasingly paying attention to the entire government balance sheet and that strong balance sheets enhance economic resilience. This issue of the Fiscal Monitor presents a new database that shows comprehensive estimates of public sector assets and liabilities for a broad sample of 31 countries, covering 61 percent of the global economy, and provides tools to analyze and manage public wealth. Estimates of public wealth reveal the full scale of public assets and liabilities. Assets are worth US$101 trillion or 219 percent of GDP in the sample. This includes 120 percent of GDP in public corporation assets. Also included are natural resources that average 110 percent of GDP among the large natural-resource-producing countries. Recognizing these assets does not negate the vulnerabilities associated with the standard measure of general government public debt, comprising 94 percent of GDP for these countries. This is only half of total public sector liabilities of 198 percent of GDP, which also includes 46 percent of GDP in already accrued pension liabilities. Once governments understand the size and nature of public assets, they can start managing them more effectively. Potential gains from better asset management are considerable. Revenue gains from nonfinancial public corporations and government financial assets alone could be as high as 3 percent of GDP a year, equivalent to annual corporate tax collections across advanced economies. In addition, considerable gains could be realized from government nonfinancial assets. Public assets are a significant resource, and how governments use and report on them matters, not just for financial reasons, but also in terms of improving service delivery and preventing the misuse of resources that often results from a lack of transparency.

Thorvaldur Gylfason and Eduard Hochreiter
We compare and contrast the economic growth performance of Estonia and Georgia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 in an attempt to understand better the extent to which the growth differential between the two countries can be traced to increased efficiency in the use of capital and other resources (intensive growth) as opposed to brute accumulation of capital (extensive growth). On the basis of a simple growth accounting exercise, we infer that advances in education at all levels, good governance, and institutional reforms have played a more significant role in raising economic output and efficiency in Estonia than in Georgia which remains marred by various problems related to weak governance in the public and private spheres.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx
Mr. David C Nellor and Mr. Ronald T. McMorran
This paper provides a framework for examining environment taxes. It reviews the theoretical efficiency of three types of environment taxes: taxes on emissions or Pigouvian taxes; taxes on productive inputs or consumer goods whose use is related to environmental damage; and environment-related provisions in other taxes. A survey of environment taxes in 42 countries--drawn from developing countries, economies in transition, and industrial countries--illustrates that the use of environment taxes differs dramatically from the recommendations of environment tax theory. This divergence between the theory and practice of environment taxes can be attributed to several factors; environment taxes are difficult to implement, there are many factors that impede their effectiveness, and their introduction may be discouraged by their implications for other policy objectives.