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Mr. Francesco Caselli, Mr. Francesco Grigoli, Mr. Damiano Sandri, and Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo
Lockdowns and voluntary social distancing led to significant reduction in people’s mobility. Yet, there is scant evidence on the heterogeneous effects across segments of the population. Using unique mobility indicators based on anonymized and aggregate data provided by Vodafone for Italy, Portugal, and Spain, we find that lockdowns had a larger impact on the mobility of women and younger cohorts. Younger people also experienced a sharper drop in mobility in response to rising COVID-19 infections. Our findings, which are consistent across estimation methods and robust to a variety of tests, warn about a possible widening of gender and inter-generational inequality and provide important inputs for the formulation of targeted policies.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on various aspects of corporate debt in France. The increase in debt has financed real investments, as well as acquisition of financial assets and extension of intercompany loans. The increase in debt (and its level) appears less worrisome when debt is consolidated among nonfinancial corporations. Despite the increase in the stock of debt, debt service has increased moderately. A cross-country regression analysis reveals that French publicly listed firms are on average not more indebted and have not increased their debt more than peers in other countries, after controlling for firm and sector characteristics as well as common time effects. However, the increase in debt is concentrated among large firms with sizeable leverage in a few industries, raising questions about these firms’ ability to service this debt when interest rates rise. Stress test scenarios of a large and sudden increase in interest rates suggest that corporate debt at risk could be significant at a macroeconomic level, but that cash buffers would mitigate the impact of the shock on debt service.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on long-term impact of Brexit on the European Union (EU). This paper examines consequences of Brexit on the EU27 under various post-Brexit scenarios by using two different complementary approaches. Our results, which are broadly in line with recent findings in the literature, are twofold. First, Brexit would have negative effects on the EU27 as well, given the depth and the complexity of the EU-U.K. integration. Similar to various empirical studies, it has been observed that the estimated long-term output and employment losses (in percent) for the EU27 in the study are on average lower than the corresponding losses for the UK estimated in the literature. The level of output and employment are estimated to fall at most by up to 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent in the long run in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, respectively. A “soft” Brexit outcome would lead to much lower losses.
Samya Beidas-Strom
This paper estimates public sector service efficiency in England at the sub-regional level, studying changes post crisis during the large fiscal consolidation effort. It finds that despite the overall spending cut (and some caveats owing to data availability), efficiency broadly improved across sectors, particularly in education. However, quality adjustments and other factors could have contributed (e.g., sector and technology-induced reforms). It also finds that sub-regions with the weakest initial levels of efficiency converged the most post crisis. These sub-regional changes in public sector efficiency are associated with changes in labor productivity. Finally, the paper finds that regional disparities in the productivity of public services have narrowed, especially in the education and health sectors, with education attainment, population density, private spending on high school education and class size being to be the most important factors explaining sub-regional variation since 2003.
John M. Piotrowski, Mr. Rabah Arezki, and Reda Cherif
The present paper investigates whether tourism specialization is a viable strategy for development. We estimate standard growth equations augmented with a variable measuring tourism specialization using instrumental variables techniques for a large cross-section of countries for the period 1980-2002. We introduce an instrument for tourism based on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We find that there is a positive relationship between the extent of tourism specialization and economic growth. An increase of one standard deviation in the share of tourism in exports leads to about 0.5 percentage point in additional annual growth, everything else being constant. Our result holds against a large array of robustness checks.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
IMF research summaries on measures of financial integration (by Martin Schindler) and on sovereign wealth funds and financial stability (by Tao Sun and Heiko Hesse); regional study on cross-border labor flows in new European Union member states (by Rudolfs Bems); listing of contents of Vol. 56 No. 1 of IMF Staff Papers, a special issue on frontiers of research on financial globalization; a listing of visiting scholars at the IMF during December 2008–March 2009; and a listing of recent IMF Working Papers.
Rupa Duttagupta and Mr. Montfort Mlachila
Although the economic growth literature has come a long way since the Solow-Swan model of the fifties, there is still considerable debate on the "real' or "deep" determinants of growth. This paper revisits the question of what is really important for strong long-term growth by using a Binary Classification Tree approach, a nonparametric statistical technique that is not commonly used in the growth literature. A key strength of the method is that it recognizes that a combination of conditions can be instrumental in leading to a particular outcome, in this case strong growth. The paper finds that strong growth is a result of a complex set of interacting factors, rather than a particular set of variables such as institutions or geography, as is often cited in the literature. In particular, geographical luck and a favorable external environment, combined with trade openness and strong human capital are conducive to growth.
Miss Mali Chivakul
Although Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has experienced rapid growth in credit to households in recent years, most individuals are still credit constrained. This paper analyzes the determinants of household credit demand and credit constraints in BiH. To our knowledge, it is the first study on this topic employing household survey data (2001 and 2004) from Emerging Europe. Our results highlight the impact of the post-conflict and transitional nature of the country on the behavior of borrowers and lenders. As expected, age, income, wealth and education qualifications are the main factors driving credit market participation, while high income and high wealth lower credit constraints. In BiH, the probability of credit market participation peaks at 45 years old, considerably higher than in the advanced countries. At the same time, older individuals are significantly more constrained than their peers in the advanced countries. The results imply that the current credit boom may largely reflect the overall post-war demand, and indicate the worse-off position of the older generation in transition economy. Moreover, the results underscore the structural nature of unemployment as well as the mismatch between education qualifications and earning prospects in BiH. Education variables have no significant effect on the likelihood of being constrained, while, unlike in the advanced countries, being unemployed significantly increases the likelihood.
Mr. Ehtisham Ahmad, Mr. Giorgio Brosio, and Mr. Vito Tanzi
There is a widespread presumption that decentralization improves public service provision. This has led to policy prescriptions that are assiduously adhered to by countries and international. This paper reviews the recent evidence from OECD countries-which is seen to be inconclusive. This suggests the need for a careful design of programs that take into account the political economy constraints and incentives, as well as more systematic and thorough evaluations of outcomes.
International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
Research summaries on (1) public investment, and (2) bank transaction taxes; announcement of forthcoming (November 2006) Jacques Polak Seventh Annual Research Conference; country study on Italy; listing of contents of Vol. 53, No. 2 of IMF Staff Papers, summary of recently published book entitled "Divergent Paths in Post-Communist Transformation: Capitalism for All or Capitalism for the Few?"; summary of (January 2006) Warsaw Conference on European Union (EU) enlargement and related flows of labor and capital; listing of recent IMF Working Papers; and listing of visiting scholars at IMF, January-April 2006.