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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper examines Finland’s sectoral balance sheets and how they have evolved since the global financial crisis; the analysis reveals that financial vulnerabilities have risen in most sectors. Indebtedness has increased for nonfinancial corporations (NFCs), households, and the government, increasing their financial fragility and vulnerability to shocks. Also, cross-border financial exposures have risen on both sides of Finland’s balance sheet. Specifically, banks’ balance sheets have grown considerably, largely owing to a rise in foreign liabilities. NFCs and the government have also relied in part on foreign investors to finance their debt increases.
Mr. Jiandong Ju and Shang-Jin Wei
This paper develops a theory of international trade in which financial development and factor endowments jointly determine comparative advantage. We apply the financial contract model of Holmstrom and Tirole (1998) to the Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson (HOS) model in which firms' dependence on external finance is endogenous, and the demand for external finance is constrained by financial development. The theory nests HOS model as a special case. A key result that emerges is what we call the law of a wooden barrel: if the external finance constraint is binding, then further financial development will increase the output of the industry more dependent on external finance, and decrease the output of the other industry. It is shown that financial development makes both labor and unemployed capital better off, but incumbent capital worse off. Therefore, financial development depends on the relative strength of political forces among labor, unemployed capital owners, and incumbent capital owners. If only the capital constraint is binding, on the other hand, the standard HOS predictions will apply.
International Monetary Fund
The Selected Issues paper on Finland underlies public finances and structural reform. The structural reforms encompassing labor and product markets as well the pension system would substantially improve the outlook for fiscal sustainability. Reductions in labor and product market inefficiencies is estimated, on the basis of a staff computable general equilibrium model, to raise output and employment significantly while reducing the price level. Additional pension reforms could further increase employment, boost economic growth, and improve public finances, as could improved expenditure efficiency, thereby creating room for further reductions in labor income taxation.