This Selected Issues paper quantifies the short- and medium-term growth effects of major ongoing highway and railway projects in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. A standard neoclassical growth model is augmented with public capital to capture both demand and supply-side effects of public infrastructure investments. The calibrated model suggests that the four ongoing highway and railway investments of 2–3 percent of GDP annually for 2014–18 are likely to raise the growth rate of real GDP by 0.5 percentage points on average for each year in 2014–20. Enhancing public investment efficiency can increase growth effects up to 0.8 percentage points.
Jesmin Rahman, Ara Stepanyan, Jessie Yang, and Mr. Li Zeng
How do countries enhance their exports of goods in a largely tariff-free environment? Our investigation of export performance of new member states in the European Union single market, which provides a natural control for barrier-free environment, points to the importance of structural reforms, particularly in the areas of higher education, skills upgrade, wage structure’s ability to provide incentives to work and foreign investment environment. In addition, establishing links with supply chains, which in addition to the above-mentioned reforms also depend on better institutions and infrastructure, are important. The analysis in the paper shows that new member states are at varying levels of quality and integration, which highlights the need for country-specific policy priorities. Services trade, which is subject to significant non-tariff barriers in the EU market even after the implementation of the Services Directive, shows considerable room for growth given the comparative advantage of some of the new member states.
KEY ISSUES 2014 marked the tenth anniversary of accession to the EU of the first group of Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. The first NMS Policy Forum was launched in the fall of 2014 as a platform for discussing policy frameworks and issues relevant for non-euro area NMS. It brought together representatives of the six CEE countries that are EU members but are not yet in the euro area - Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania (NMS-6), as well as the ECB, the European Commission and the IMF. Discussions focused on four themes: Euro adoption: A once sizeable country risk premium associated with joining the euro area has mostly vanished, as the euro crisis has exposed flaws in the euro area’s institutional framework. Further, the crisis has illustrated both risks and benefits from adoption: monetary autonomy has proven helpful for absorbing shocks, while foreign currency mismatches—that can be much reduced with euro adoption—have shown to be a key vulnerability. Flexible labor markets, fiscal and macro-prudential policy space, and income convergence are prerequisites for successful adoption. Opting into the Banking Union (BU) before euro adoption: The lack of equal (or fully equivalent) treatment of the BU members and non-euro area opt-ins—regarding their role in the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), as well as access to common liquidity and fiscal backstops—makes opting into the BU before euro adoption less attractive. Countries that would benefit most from early opt-in are those that see the BU as a way to enhance the quality and credibility of bank supervision or to gain access to larger industry-funded common backstops. The EU’s fiscal framework and pension reform: In the wake of the crisis, many NMS abolished second pillar pension funds. Further reforms to the EU’s fiscal framework are warranted to remove disincentives for setting up and maintaining second pension pillars and, more generally, for structural reforms. Making the most of the EU single market and EU Services Directive: Structural reforms to strengthen human capital, skills match, labor market efficiency, and foreign investment environment will help NMS to reap full benefits from EU integration. Further liberalization of trade in services will likely benefit the NMS-6 more than other EU members.
In the run up to the global crisis, countries in Central Eastern and Southeastern Europe attracted large capital inflows and some of them built up large external imbalances. This paper investigates whether these imbalances are linked to the sectoral composition of FDI. It shows that FDI in the tradable sectors leads to an improvement of the external balance. We also find that the countries with large market size, good infrastructure, greater trade integration, and educated labor force are more likely to receive more FDI in the tradable sectors.
The recent boom-bust episode in Emerging Europe was largely the product of surges and sudden stops in capital inflows. This paper empirically argues that the sectors into which capital flows determines their impact on GDP growth. Applying data from EU New Member States, it is found that capital flows into real estate have a greater impact on swings in GDP than other sectors, irrespective of a country's exchange rate or fiscal policy. Consequently, as new waves of capital inflows spread to emerging markets, policies may usefully focus on supporting capital inflows towards economic sectors that minimize large swings in GDP.
Ms. Katerina Smídková, Jan Babecky, and Mr. Ales Bulir
The Great Recession affected export and import patterns in our sample countries, and these changes, coupled with a more volatile external environment, have profound impact on our estimates of real exchange rate misalignments and projections of sustainable real exchange rates. We find that real misalignments in several countries with pegged exchange rates and excessive external liabilities widened relative to earlier estimates. While countries with balanced net trade positions are expected to continue to experience appreciation during 2010-2014, several currencies are likely to require real depreciation to maintain sustainable net external debt. Our estimates point to somewhat larger disequilibria than those of IMF country teams, however, any estimates of equilibrium exchange rates are subject to sizable uncertainty.
Ms. Elina Ribakova, Mr. Balázs Horváth, Mr. Dimitri G Demekas, and Mr. Yi Wu
Gravity factors explain a large part of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows in Southeastern Europe-a region not comprehensively covered before in econometric studies-but hostcountry policies also matter. Key are policies that affect relative unit labor costs, the corporate tax burden, infrastructure, and the trade regime. This paper develops the concept of potential FDI for each country, and uses its deviation from actual levels to estimate what policies can realistically be expected to achieve in terms of additional FDI. It also finds evidence that above a certain threshold, the importance of some policies for attracting FDI is distinctly different.
This study, another in the series focusing on special issues in transition, reviews the experience of output decline and recovery in the 25 countries of eastern and central Europe and the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union. Although these countries began the process of economic transformation with similar circumstances of output decline, the extent of decline, its duration, and the sustainability of recovery in growth varied considerably. The authors explore the factors behind this variation and find that the most important policies promoting early and sustained recovery were ones that supported financial stabilization and structural reforms in key areas such as private sector development, the tax system, economic liberalization, and secure property rights.
We examine industrial output in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and Romania during 1989–95 in terms of pretransitional product trade orientation. The growth of EU-oriented output within sectors of industry, ex-post trade, and market liberalization, is modeled as foreign direct investment induced Schumpeterian (vertical) waves of product innovation. The growth of non-EU-oriented output within sectors is modeled as unobservable deterministic heterogeneity. The results indicate that the gap observed in industrial output performance when comparing Eastern European to former Soviet countries is mainly explained by the inherited presence of EU-oriented production and its unconstrained growth over the transition period.