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Antoine Berthou, John Jong-Hyun Chung, Kalina Manova, and Charlotte Sandoz
We examine the gains from globalization in the presence of firm heterogeneity and potential resource misallocation. We show theoretically that without distortions, bilateral and export liberalizations increase aggregate welfare and productivity, while import liberalization has ambiguous effects. Resource misallocation can either amplify, dampen or reverse the gains from trade. Using model-consistent measures and unique new data on 14 European countries and 20 industries in 1998-2011, we empirically establish that exogenous shocks to export demand and import competition both generate large aggregate productivity gains. Guided by theory, we provide evidence consistent with these effects operating through reallocations across firms in the presence of distortions: (i) Both export and import expansion increase average firm productivity, but the former also shifts activity towards more productive firms, while the latter acts in reverse; (ii) Both export and import exposure raise the productivity threshold for survival, but this cut-off is not a sufficient statistic for aggregate productivity; (iii) Efficient institutions, factor and product markets amplify the gains from import competition but dampen those from export access.
Mr. Johannes Wiegand
When the euro was introduced in 1998, one objective was to create an alternative global reserve currency that would grant benefits to euro area countries similar to the U.S. dollar’s “exorbitant privliege”: i.e., a boost to the perceived quality of euro denominated assets that would increase demand for such assets and reduce euro area members’ funding costs. This paper uses risk perceptions as revelaed in investor surveys to extract a measure of privilege asscociated with euro membership, and traces its evolution over time. It finds that in the 2000s, euro area assets benefited indeed from a significant perceptions premium. While this premium disappeared in the wake of the euro crisis, it has recently returned, although at a reduced size. The paper also produces time-varying estimates of the weights that investors place on macro-economic fundmentals in their assessments of country risk. It finds that the weights of public debt, the current account and real growth increased considerably during the euro crisis, and that these shifts have remained in place even after the immediate financial stress subsided.
Nazim Belhocine, Ernesto Crivelli, Ms. Nan Geng, Tiberiu Scutaru, Mr. Johannes Wiegand, and Zaijin Zhan
The demands on monetary and exchange rate regimes in CESEE have evolved, in line with the region’s development. In the 1990s, the immediate challenge was to rein in excessive inflation following transition, and to establish basic monetary order. These objectives have been achieved, owing largely to successful exchange rate–based stabilization. With this accomplished, the focus has shifted to cyclical monetary management, and to appropriately managing monetary conditions during CESEE’s growth and income convergence to the euro area. Flexible exchange rates—and the ensuing capacity of monetary conditions to adapt to the economies’ needs—are likely to remain advantages, especially to extent that CESEE’s GDP and income levels will resume convergence to the euro area. Once this process restarts, tighter monetary conditions will again be needed to limit goods and asset price inflation, and to contain growth imbalances.
Mr. Ruben V Atoyan, Lone Engbo Christiansen, Allan Dizioli, Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Mr. Nadeem Ilahi, Ms. Anna Ilyina, Mr. Gil Mehrez, Mr. Haonan Qu, Ms. Faezeh Raei, Ms. Alaina P Rhee, and Ms. Daria V Zakharova
This paper analyses the impact of large and persistent emigration from Eastern European countries over the past 25 years on these countries’ growth and income convergence to advanced Europe. While emigration has likely benefited migrants themselves, the receiving countries and the EU as a whole, its impact on sending countries’ economies has been largely negative. The analysis suggests that labor outflows, particularly of skilled workers, lowered productivity growth, pushed up wages, and slowed growth and income convergence. At the same time, while remittance inflows supported financial deepening, consumption and investment in some countries, they also reduced incentives to work and led to exchange rate appreciations, eroding competiveness. The departure of the young also added to the fiscal pressures of already aging populations in Eastern Europe. The paper concludes with policy recommendations for sending countries to mitigate the negative impact of emigration on their economies, and the EU-wide initiatives that could support these efforts.
Mr. Atish R. Ghosh, Miss Mahvash S Qureshi, and Mr. Charalambos G Tsangarides
Milton Friedman argued that flexible exchange rates would facilitate external adjustment. Recent studies find surprisingly little robust evidence that they do. We argue that this is because they use composite (or aggregate) exchange rate regime classifications, which often mask very heterogeneous bilateral relationships between countries. Constructing a novel dataset of bilateral exchange rate regimes that differentiates by the degree of exchange rate flexibility, as well as by direct and indirect exchange rate relationships, for 181 countries over 1980–2011, we find a significant and empirically robust relationship between exchange rate flexibility and the speed of external adjustment. Our results are supported by several “natural experiments” of exogenous changes in bilateral exchange rate regimes.
Mr. Joong S Kang and Mr. Jay C Shambaugh
The euro area periphery countries and the Baltic countries, which had large current account deficits in the run-up to the crisis, needed adjustment of relative prices to achieve both internal and external balances. Thus far, tangible progress has been made through lower wages and/or higher productivity relative to trading partners (“internal devaluation”), which contributed to narrowing current account deficits and shifting output towards the tradables sector. While some early adjusters cut wages more rapidly followed by productivity improvement, others have only slowly improved productivity largely through labor shedding. This adjustment for most countries has come along with a substantial recession as the unit labor cost improvement has largely come from falling employment and much of the current account improvement from import compression. Going forward, these countries still need to generate growing tradables sector employment and to continue adjustment to prevent imbalances from returning as output gaps close.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This 2014 Article IV Consultation highlights that Lithuania’s economy has entered a broadly favorable trajectory of healthy and balanced growth, but income convergence with Western Europe has a long way to go. With inflation at historical lows and well-advanced repair of public finances damaged by the 2008/09 crisis, meeting the entry criteria seems on track. Financial stability has improved further in 2013, with the capital adequacy ratio exceeding 17 percent and steady progress in reducing nonperforming loans. The main challenge is now resuscitating the sluggish private sector credit growth, which could undermine investment and the recovery if it continued for much longer.