Mr. Sakai Ando, Mr. Ravi Balakrishnan, Bertrand Gruss, Mr. Jean-Jacques Hallaert, La-Bhus Fah Jirasavetakul, Koralai Kirabaeva, Nir Klein, Ana Lariau, Lucy Qian Liu, Mr. Davide Malacrino, Mr. Haonan Qu, and Alexandra Solovyeva
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused by far the largest shock to European economies since World War II. Yet, astonishingly, the EU unemployment rate had already declined to its pre-crisis level by 2021Q3, and in some countries the labor force participation rate is at a record high. This paper documents that the widespread use of job retention schemes has played an essential role in mitigating the pandemic’s impact on labor markets and thereby facilitating the restart of European economies after the initial lockdowns.
Oya Celasun, Jungjin Lee, Mr. Mico Mrkaic, and Mr. Allan Timmermann
This paper examines the performance of World Economic Outlook (WEO) growth forecasts for 2004-17. Short-term real GDP growth forecasts over that period exhibit little bias, and their accuracy is broadly similar to those of Consensus Economics forecasts. By contrast, two- to five-year ahead WEO growth forecasts in 2004-17 tend to be upward biased, and in up to half of countries less accurate than a naïve forecast given by the average growth rate in the recent past. The analysis suggests that a more efficient use of available information on internal and external factors—such as the estimated output gap, projected terms of trade, and the growth forecasts of major trading partners—can improve the accuracy of some economies’ growth forecasts.
Mr. Bas B. Bakker, Mr. Manuk Ghazanchyan, Alex Ho, and Vibha Nanda
In the last few decades there has been little convergence of income levels in Latin America with those in the United States, in sharp contrast with both emerging Asia and emerging Europe. This paper argues that lack of convergence was not the result of low investment. Latin America is poorer because of lower human capital levels and lower TFP—not because of a lower capital-output ratio. Cross-country differences of TFP in turn are associated with differences in human capital, governance and business climate indicators. We demonstrate that once levels of human capital and governance are taken into account, there is strong conditional cross-country convergence. Poor countries with high levels of human capital, governance or business climate indicators converge rapidly. Poor countries without those attributes do not. We show that low investment is the result of low TFP and thus GDP growth—not the cause.
The widespread availability of internet search data is a new source of high-frequency information that can potentially improve the precision of macroeconomic forecasting, especially in areas with data constraints. This paper investigates whether travel-related online search queries enhance accuracy in the forecasting of tourist arrivals to The Bahamas from the U.S. The results indicate that the forecast model incorporating internet search data provides additional information about tourist flows over a univariate approach using the traditional autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model and multivariate models with macroeconomic indicators. The Google Trends-augmented model improves predictability of tourist arrivals by about 30 percent compared to the benchmark ARIMA model and more than 20 percent compared to the model extended only with income and relative prices.
Mr. Ashok Vir Bhatia, Ms. Srobona Mitra, Mr. Shekhar Aiyar, Luiza Antoun de Almeida, Cristina Cuervo, Mr. Andre O Santos, and Tryggvi Gudmundsson
This note weighs the merits of a capital market union (CMU) for Europe, identifies major obstacles in its path, and recommends a set of carefully targeted policy actions. European capital markets are relatively small, resulting in strong bank-dependence, and are split sharply along national lines. Results include an uneven playing field in terms of corporate funding costs, the rationing out of collateral-constrained firms, and limited shock absorption. The benefits of integration center on expanding financial choice, ultimately to support capital formation and resilience. Capital market development and integration would support a healthy diversity in European finance. Proceeding methodically, the note identifies three key barriers to greater capital market integration in Europe: transparency, regulatory quality, and insolvency practices. Based on these findings, the note urges three policy priorities, focused on the three barriers. There is no roadblock—such steps should prove feasible without a new grand bargain.
Mr. Bas B. Bakker, Marta Korczak, and Mr. Krzysztof Krogulski
In the last decade, over half of the EU countries in the euro area or with currencies pegged to the euro were hit by large risk premium shocks. Previous papers have focused on the impact of these shocks on demand. This paper, by contrast, focuses on the impact on supply. We show that risk premium shocks reduce the output level that maximizes profit. They also lead to unemployment surges, as firms are forced to cut costs when financing becomes expensive or is no longer available. As a result, all countries with risk premium shocks saw unemployment surge, even as euro area core countries managed to contain unemployment as firms hoarded labor during the downturn. Most striking, wage bills in euro area crisis countries and the Baltics declined even faster than GDP, whereas in core euro area countries wage shares actually increased.