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.
We leverage insights from machine learning to optimize the tradeoff between bias and variance when estimating economic models using pooled datasets. Specifically, we develop a simple algorithm that estimates the similarity of economic structures across countries and selects the optimal pool of countries to maximize out-of-sample prediction accuracy of a model. We apply the new alogrithm by nowcasting output growth with a panel of 102 countries and are able to significantly improve forecast accuracy relative to alternative pools. The algortihm improves nowcast performance for advanced economies, as well as emerging market and developing economies, suggesting that machine learning techniques using pooled data could be an important macro tool for many countries.
This Selected Issues paper investigates skills mismatch and active labor market policy in Lithuania. Wage flexibility is underpinned by one of the lowest densities of trade union and employer organization and the rare occurrence of collective bargaining. Thus, wage setting largely happens at the firm level. Real wages and productivity have been traditionally closely linked and temporary deviations have been self-correcting. In contrast, structural unemployment has been traditionally high, although it appears to be gradually falling. Large structural unemployment can have a significant long-term impact on potential growth and, therefore, on employment. Lithuania suffers from relative labor shortage for high-skilled workers and surplus of low- and medium-skilled workers. Thus, there are labor shortages in skill-intensive sectors. Lithuania has shown a sharp rise in skills mismatch for the country in the aftermath of the crisis. Vacancy rates and wage growth by sectors also suggest an excess supply of lower skilled workers and shortage of high-skilled ones.
This 2018 Article IV Consultation highlights that the economy of Lithuania picked up steam in 2017, following two years of sluggish growth. Real GDP expanded by 3.9 percent largely because of the acceleration of investment, which benefited from credit growth and high capacity utilization. Private consumption remained the main engine of growth, though it was held back by decelerating real wages. The external current account swung to a modest surplus with exports benefiting from past investments in export capacity and improved external demand. Growth in 2018 is projected at 3.2 percent, mainly because of weaker exports after a very strong performance in 2017 and a slowdown of consumption driven by negative employment growth.
This Selected Issues paper reviews public expenditure in Lithuania with a view to identify areas for which deeper reforms may be warranted to improve spending efficiency and contain future spending pressures. The paper benchmarks spending levels and spending composition in Lithuania against those in other European countries. The 31 European countries covered in the benchmarking exercise include the EU-28 plus Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. Reflecting the tendency for public spending to increase with income, Lithuania’s spending as a share of GDP is compared with the European Union average spending controlling for GDP per capita. The paper also tries to assess spending relative to outcomes to get a sense of spending efficiency.
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.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on sustainability of public finances and low inflation in Lithuania. Lithuania aims to adopt the euro in 2015. Over the medium term, inflation in Lithuania will likely run somewhat higher than in the euro area on average, but this will be driven by continuing income convergence. The long-term inflation track record is favorable, and Lithuania has demonstrated the ability to deliver adjustment when needed without recourse to exchange rate depreciation. The benign outlook for public finances and inflation is contingent on historical patterns of economic policymaking and private sector behavior remaining in place after euro adoption.
This paper uses the Global VAR (GVAR) model proposed by Pesaran et al. (2004) to study cross-country linkages among euro area countries, other advanced European countries (including the Nordics, the UK, etc.), and the Central, Eastern and Southeastern European (CESEE) countries. An innovative feature of the paper is the use of combined trade and financial weights (based on BIS reporting banks’ external position data) to capture the very close trade and financial ties of the CESEE countries with the advanced Europe countries. The results show strong co-movements in output growth and interest rates but weaker linkages bewteen inflation and real credit growth within Europe. While the euro area is the dominant source of economic influences, there are also interesting subregional linkages, e.g. between the Nordic and the Baltic countries, and a small but notable impact of CESEE countries on the rest of the Europe.
This note presents estimates of potential growth and the output gap in Latvia. The estimates suggest that the output has marked below potential in the early 2000s but the output gap becomes positive and large after EU accession. With unemployment still well above its natural level, the output gap is estimated to be negative in 2012, but is expected to narrow gradually and be closed in the next 3–4 years. Potential growth is expected to be substantially lower than in 2002–07.
Selected issues of Poland are studied in this paper. The global projection model used to prepare the baseline inflation forecast and risk assessment for Poland is also explained. Baseline forecast, risk assessment, and policy communication are discussed. The pension reform has been a cornerstone of fiscal policies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Problems with the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) rules, a brief discussion of reform reversals, and policy options for both individual countries and those at the EU level are also discussed. Fiscal implications of pre-funding future liabilities are also studied.