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Mr. Christian H Ebeke, Jan-Martin Frie, and Louise Rabier
The services sector is increasingly important for the euro area economy, but productivity growth in the sector has stalled over the past two decades. Remaining barriers to cross-border trade in services within the EU Single Market contribute to this weak performance. Our empirical analysis suggests that slow progress in tackling these barriers is associated with political economy factors such as weak government support in parliaments, low government efficiency and high markups. To remove the cross-border restrictions on services trade, we suggest combining incentives such as financial support, technical assistance and improved communication on barriers with more effective enforcement.
Min Zhu, Ms. Longmei Zhang, and Daoju Peng
China’s growth potential has become a hotly debated topic as the economy has reached an income level susceptible to the “middle-income trap” and financial vulnerabilities are mounting after years of rapid credit expansion. However, the existing literature has largely focused on macro level aggregates, which are ill suited to understanding China’s significant structural transformation and its impact on economic growth. To fill the gap, this paper takes a deep dive into China’s convergence progress in 38 industrial sectors and 11 services sectors, examines past sectoral transitions, and predicts future shifts. We find that China’s productivity convergence remains at an early stage, with the industrial sector more advanced than services. Large variations exist among subsectors, with high-tech industrial sectors, in particular the ICT sector, lagging low-tech sectors. Going forward, ample room remains for further convergence, but the shrinking distance to the frontier, the structural shift from industry to services, and demographic changes will put sustained downward pressure on growth, which could slow to 5 percent by 2025 and 4 percent by 2030. Digitalization, SOE reform, and services sector opening up could be three major forces boosting future growth, while the risks of a financial crisis and a reversal in global integration in trade and technology could slow the pace of convergence.
Natalija Novta and Evgenia Pugacheva
We examine the extent to which declining manufacturing employment may have contributed to increasing inequality in advanced economies. This contribution is typically small, except in the United States. We explore two possible explanations: the high initial manufacturing wage premium and the high level of income inequality. The manufacturing wage premium declined between the 1980s and the 2000s in the United States, but it does not explain the contemporaneous rise in inequality. Instead, high income inequality played a large role. This is because manufacturing job loss typically implies a move to the service sector, for which the worker is not skilled at first and accepts a low-skill wage. On average, the associated wage cut increases with the overall level of income inequality in the country, conditional on moving down in the wage distribution. Based on a stylized scenario, we calculate that the movement of workers to low-skill service sector jobs can account for about a quarter of the increase in inequality between the 1980s and the 2000s in the United States. Had the U.S. income distribution been more equal, only about one tenth of the actual increase in inequality could have been attributed to the loss of manufacturing jobs, according to our simulations.
International Monetary Fund. Middle East and Central Asia Dept.
This Selected Issues paper analyzes the performance and vulnerabilities of Qatar’s nonfinancial corporate (NFC) sector. Qatar’s NFC sector is sizable in terms of the overall share of economic activity. The total turnover of these companies was US$ 28 billion in 2016. Assets of listed and non-listed NFCs in Qatar were estimated at about 115 percent of non-hydrocarbon GDP in 2016. Although profitability of Qatari corporates, as measured by Return on Equity and Return on Assets, has declined, it is still high. Qatari companies remain resilient in the face of moderate to severe interest and earnings shocks, as median Interest Coverage Ratio of Qatari firms remains well above 1. The impact of these shocks on debt-at-risk and firms-at-risk is also limited.
Rui Xu and Kaiji Gong
We analyze the impact of rising import competition from China on U.S. innovative activities. Using Compustat data, we find that import competition induces R&D expenditures to be reallocated towards more productive and more profitable firms within each industry. Such reallocation effect has the potential to offset the average drop in firm-level R&D identified in the previous literature. Indeed, our quantitative analysis shows no adverse impact of import competition on aggregate R&D expenditures. Taking the analysis beyond manufacturing, we find that import competition has led to reallocation of researchers towards booming service industries, including business and repairs, personal services, and financial services.
Mr. Christian H Ebeke and Kodjovi M. Eklou
This paper investigates the microeconomic origins of aggregate economic fluctuations in Europe. It examines the relevance of idiosyncratic shocks at the top 100 large firms (the granular shocks) in explaining aggregate macroeconomic fluctuations. The paper also assesses the strength of spillovers from large firms onto SMEs. Using firm-level data covering over 14 million firms and eight european countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain), we find that: (i) 40 percent of the variance in GDP in the sample can be explained by idiosyncratic shocks at large firms; (ii) positive granular shocks at large firms spill over to domestic SMEs’ output, especially if SMEs’ balance sheets are healthy and if SMEs belong to the services and manufacturing sectors.
Mr. Prakash Loungani, Mr. Saurabh Mishra, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Ke Wang
Using a newly constructed dataset on trade in services for 192 countries from 1970 to 2014, this paper shows that services currently constitute one-fourth of world trade and an increasingly important component of global production. A detailed analysis of patterns and stylized facts reveals that exports of services are not only gaining strong momentum and catching up with exports of goods in many countries, but they could also trigger a new wave of trade globalization. Research applications of the trade in service dataset on structural transformation, resilience, labor reallocation, and income distribution are outlined.
Ms. Longmei Zhang
China is transitioning to a greener, more inclusive, more consumer and service based, and less credit-driven economy. This paper defines a framework for assessing rebalancing, reviews progress, and discusses medium-term prospects. External rebalancing has advanced well, while progress on internal rebalancing has been mixed, with substantial progress on the supply side, moderate progress on the demand side, and limited progress on the credit side. Rebalancing on income equality and environment has also been mixed, with the energy intensity of growth falling and labor’s share of income rising, but income inequality and local air pollution remaining very high. Going forward, the high national saving is expected to fall owing to demographic change and a stronger social safety net, while the investment ratio is expected to fall similarly, with increasing competition and profit normalization as growth slows. The service sector will continue to gain importance, helping reduce the carbon intensity of output and increase labor’s share of national income and household consumption. Reducing the credit intensity of growth is likely to progress slowly unless decisive corporate restructuring and SOE reforms are implemented.
Mr. Tiago Cavalcanti, Daniel Da Mata, and Mr. Frederik G Toscani
This paper provides evidence of the causal impact of oil discoveries on development. Novel data on the drilling of 20,000 oil wells in Brazil allows us to exploit a quasi-experiment: Municipalities where oil was discovered constitute the treatment group, while municipalities with drilling but no discovery are the control group. The results show that oil discoveries significantly increase per capita GDP and urbanization. We find positive spillovers to non-oil sectors, specifically, an increase in services GDP which stems from higher output per worker. The results are consistent with greater local demand for non-tradable services driven by highly paid oil workers.