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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.

2018 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Finland

Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
This paper analyzes regional labor mobility in Finland using two complementary empirical approaches: a VAR proposed by Blanchard and Katz (1992) and a gravity model. The results point to a relatively limited regional labor mobility in Finland compared to the U.S. and to EU peers. The limited regional labor mobility is associated with persistent unemployment differentials across regions. Some impediments to regional labor mobility are exogenous, such as large geographical distances across regions and relatively sparse population density, and explain about 23 percent of the variation in labor mobility. Others can be influenced by policy, such as further increase in wage flexibiltiy and reduction of housing costs. These impediments explain about 60 percent of the variation in labor mobility. Greater regional labor mobility could help reduce regional unemployment differentials, improve job matching efficiency, and remove pressures from regional fiscal redistribution.
Angana Banerji, Mr. Valerio Crispolti, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mr. Romain A Duval, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Davide Furceri, Mr. Takuji Komatsuzaki, and Mr. Tigran Poghosyan
Product and labor market reforms are needed to lift persistently sluggish growth in advanced economies. But reforms have progressed slowly because of concerns about their distributive and short-term economic effects. Our analysis, based on new empirical and numerical analysis and country case-studies shows that most labor and product market reforms can improve public debt dynamics over the medium-term. This because reforms raise output by boosting employment and/or labor productivity. But the effect of some labor market reforms on budgetary outcomes and fiscal sustainability depends critically on business cycle conditions. Our evidence also suggests that some temporary and well-designed up-front fiscal stimulus can help enhance the economic impact of reforms. In the past, countries have used fiscal incentives in the past to facilitate reforms by alleviating transition and social costs. But strong ownership of reforms was crucial for their successful implementation.
Ms. Elva Bova, João Tovar Jalles, and Ms. Christina Kolerus
This paper explores conditions and policies that could affect the matching between labor demand and supply. We identify shifts in the Beveridge curves for 12 OECD countries between 2000Q1 and 2013Q4 using three complementary methodologies and analyze the short-run determinants of these shifts by means of limited-dependent variable models. We find that labor force growth as well as employment protection legislation reduce the likelihood of an outward shift in the Beveridge curve,. Our findings also show that the matching process is more difficult the higher the share of employees with intermediate levels of education in the labor force and when long-term unemployment is more pronounced. Policies which could facilitate labor market matching include active labor market policies, such as incentives for start-up and job sharing programs. Passive labor market policies, such as unemployment benefits, as well as labor taxation render matching signficantly more difficult.
Giang Ho and Ms. Kazuko Shirono
The large influx of migrants to Nordic countries in recent years is challenging the adoptability of Nordic labor market institutions while also adding to potential growth. This paper examines the trends, economic drivers, and labor market implications of migration to Nordic countries with a particular focus on economic migration as distinct from the recent large flows of asylum seekers. Our analysis finds that migration inflows to the Nordics are influenced by both cyclical and structural factors. Although migration helpfully dampens overheating pressures during periods of strong demand, and over the longer term will cushion the decline in labor supply from population aging, in the near-term unemployment can rise, especially among the young and lower-skilled. The analysis highlights the need to adapt Nordic labor market institutions in a manner that better facilitates the integration of migrants into employment. In particular, greater wage flexibility at the firm level and continued strong active labor market measures will help improve labor market outcomes among immigrants.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2015 Article IV Consultation highlights that Finland’s exports have suffered owing to the declines of Nokia and the paper industry, compounded by weak external demand, especially from the euro area and Russia. The current account and fiscal balances have deteriorated, with the 2014 fiscal deficit breaching the Stability and Growth Pact’s 3 percent of GDP criterion. A modest recovery is projected to begin in 2015 and gradually strengthen in 2016. However, in absence of further reforms, growth is likely to remain much lower than pre-crisis. Weaker-than-expected growth in key trade partners would be a drag on exports, and spillovers from an external financial shock would create tighter financial conditions, with negative effects on output.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes structural shocks, productivity, and growth in Finland. Finland has gone from being a top-performing advanced economy to a growth laggard since 2007. The rapid decline of the (previously) high productivity information and communications technology sector in recent years has weighed on overall growth and productivity. An analysis of industry-level data indicates that shifts in the sectoral distribution of labor and capital toward lower productivity sectors are also contributing to slower aggregate productivity growth. Firm-level analysis suggests that the aggregate total factor productivity impact of reallocating resources within sectors is limited, although there is more scope to reallocate resources between sectors.
Ms. Dora Benedek, Ruud A. de Mooij, and Mr. Philippe Wingender
This paper estimates the pass through of VAT changes to consumer prices, using a unique dataset providing disaggregated, monthly data on prices and VAT rates for 17 Eurozone countries over 1999-2013. Pass through is much less than full on average, and differs markedly across types of VAT change. For changes in the standard rate, for instance, final pass through is about 100 percent; for reduced rates it is significantly less, at around 30 percent; and for reclassifications it is essentially zero. We also find: differing dynamics of pass through for durables and non-durables; no significant difference in pass through between rate increases and decreases; signs of non-monotonicity in the relationship between pass through and the breadth of the consumption base affected; and indications of significant anticipation effects together with some evidence of lagged effects in the two years around reform. The results are robust against endogeneity and attenuation bias.
Mr. Salvatore Dell'Erba, Mr. Marcos Poplawski Ribeiro, and Ksenia Koloskova
The paper examines the consequences of fiscal consolidation in times of persistently low growth and high unemployment by estimating medium-term fiscal multipliers during protracted recessions (PR) in a sample of 17 OECD countries. Based on Jorda’s (2005) local projection methodology, we find that cumulative fiscal multipliers related to output, employment and unemployment at five-year horizons are significantly above one during PR episodes. These results suggest that medium-term fiscal consolidation plans to reduce public debt burdens should proceed gradually if economic activity remains below trend for a prolonged period.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues Paper on Sweden focuses on macroprudential policies in Sweden. Sweden’s banking system meets most standard measures of financial soundness. However, with its large and wholesale-dependent banking sector, high and increasing household debt, and resurgent house price growth, additional measures are needed to contain mounting financial stability risks. On the supply side, this means continuing to strengthen capital and liquidity requirements. However, theoretical and empirical evidence points to a need to also limit credit demand, including through effective steps to increase the rate of mortgage amortization. Empirical evidence suggests that demand-side measures are effective in curbing household borrowing. There is less evidence on the simultaneous use of these tools—a scenario particularly relevant for Sweden. The model also suggests that higher policy rates will impact both mortgage supply and demand. The main findings are qualitatively unchanged across different sample periods and alternative sign restrictions—for example, about the contemporaneous correlation between the monetary policy shock and output and inflation.