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International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
With strong policy support, Finland suffered a relatively mild economic contraction in 2020 followed by a swift recovery in 2021. Medium-term growth prospects are less strong, due to adverse demographics and low productivity growth—trends that precede the pandemic. Public debt has increased due to pandemic-related support and will remain on a rising trajectory in the medium term, largely reflecting permanent spending increases.
Mario di Serio, Matteo Fragetta, and Mr. Giovanni Melina
We compute government spending multipliers for the Euro Area (EA) contingent on the interestgrowth differential, the so-called r-g. Whether the fiscal shock occurs when r-g is positive or negative matters for the size of the multiplier. Median estimates vary conditional on the specification, but the difference between multipliers in the negative and positive r-g regimes differs systematically from zero with very high probability. Over the medium run (5 years), median cumulated multipliers range between 1.22 and 1.77 when r-g is negative, and between 0.51 and 1.26 when r-g is positive. We show that the results are not driven by the state of the business cycle, the monetary policy stance, or the level of government debt, and that the multiplier is inversely correlated with r-g. The calculations are based on the estimates of a factor-augmented interacted panel vector-autoregressive model. The econometric approach deals with several technical problems highlighted in the empirical macroeconomic literature, including the issues of fiscal foresight and limited information.
Francisco Roldán
Sovereign debt crises coincide with deep recessions. I propose a model of sovereign debt that rationalizes large contractions in economic activity via an aggregate-demand amplification mechanism. The mechanism also sheds new light on the response of consumption to sovereign risk, which I document in the context of the Eurozone crisis. By explicitly separating the decisions of households and the government, I examine the interaction between sovereign risk and precautionary savings. When a default is likely, households anticipate its negative consequences and cut consumption for self-insurance reasons. Such shortages in aggregate spending worsen economic conditions through nominal wage rigidities and boost default incentives, restarting the vicious cycle. I calibrate the model to Spain in the 2000s and find that about half of the output contraction is caused by default risk. More generally, sovereign risk exacerbates volatility in consumption over time and across agents, creating large and unequal welfare costs even if default does not materialize.
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.

International Monetary Fund. Asia and Pacific Dept
This Selected Issues paper evaluates corporate and banking sector vulnerabilities in India. The analysis shows that while corporate sector risks have subsided, debt repayment capacity remains strained, and high leverage continues to weigh on corporate resilience, which may pose further risks to banks’ asset quality. Public sector banks have stepped up recognition of nonperforming assets, but their debt recovery capacity remains weak. Simulations suggest that potential recapitalization needs, at current provisioning levels, should have a modest fiscal impact.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2016 Article IV Consultation highlights that the growth in Finland has turned tepidly positive again following a deep recession. GDP increased by 0.2 percent in 2015 driven by stronger private consumption and a rebound in investment. Although net export growth was weak, falling oil prices contributed to the nominal trade balance shifting into surplus, reducing the current account deficit. Better-than-expected fiscal performance brought the deficit back under the 3 percent Stability and Growth Pact limit in 2015. The recovery is likely to continue, but growth is set to remain slow at about 0.9 percent in 2016 and 1.1 percent in 2017. This outlook is subject to downside risks.
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.