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.
1. The pandemic interrupted a protracted recovery from a sequence of shocks in the late 2000s. Labor productivity growth in Finland has been low, partly because the relatively rigid labor market (IMF 2018) and inefficient matching (IMF 2020) hindered reallocation of resources. Finland’s population has also been rapidly ageing, weighing on growth and public finances.
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.
Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Veronika Penciakova, and Nick Sander
We estimate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business failures among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in seventeen countries using a large representative firm-level database. We use a simple model of firm cost-minimization and measure each firm’s liquidity shortfall during and after COVID-19. Our framework allows for a rich combination of sectoral and aggregate supply, productivity, and demand shocks. We estimate a large increase in the failure rate of SMEs under COVID-19 of nearly 9 percentage points, ab-sent government support. Accommodation & Food Services, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Education, and Other Services are among the most affected sectors. The jobs at risk due to COVID-19 related SME business failures represent 3.1 percent of private sector employment. Despite the large impact on business failures and employment, we estimate only moderate effects on the financial sector: the share of Non Performing Loans on bank balance sheets would increase by up to 11 percentage points, representing 0.3 percent of banks’ assets and resulting in a 0.75 percentage point decline in the common equity Tier-1 capital ratio. We evaluate the cost and effectiveness of various policy interventions. The fiscal cost of an intervention that narrowly targets at risk firms can be modest (0.54% of GDP). However, at a similar level of effectiveness, non-targeted subsidies can be substantially more expensive (1.82% of GDP). Our results have important implications for the severity of the COVID-19 recession, the design of policies, and the speed of the recovery.
This Selected Issues paper investigates impact of promoting labor supply through tax and benefit reform in Finland. A comprehensive reform of the tax-benefit system could support the government’s objective of increasing employment. The equity-efficiency trade-off of the proposed reform scenarios improves social welfare when using Finland-specific preferences. The Finnish tax and benefit system has served the country well, having supported high income levels alongside low inequality. The model is characterized by strong institutions, high taxes and public service provision, a highly skilled labor force and a generous social safety net. The microsimulation analysis shows that, despite strong redistribution and high-income levels, Finland could improve its tax and benefit system. Even for revenue-neutral reforms, economic gains in terms of labor supply and earnings could be substantial. The reform proposals consider Finland’s strong preferences for equity, while seeking to correct potential inconsistencies in how the tax burden is distributed.
Recent growth has been healthy, and the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since 2011. However, some underlying weaknesses remain. The rate in which new jobs are created and the “churn” of workers relocating across jobs has not picked up with the recovery, labor productivity growth remains weak, and the outlook for potential growth is constrained by a shrinking workforce. Household debt has been increasing as the economy has recovered, and some borrowers appear vulnerable to interest rate increases.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that Norway is in the midst of a healthy recovery from the oil downturn, supported by positive trends in oil prices and a strengthening labor market. In addition, banks remain profitable and well capitalized. However, household debt continues to increase and house prices have resumed their rise, especially in the Oslo area, after a correction during 2017. Mainland growth is projected to increase from 2 percent in 2017 to 2.5 percent in each 2018 and 2019, underpinned by solid consumption, stronger business investment and an export recovery. Petroleum investment will also pick up. As a result, output will likely start to exceed potential in 2019.
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.