Working Papers

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2024

July 9, 2024

Bank Profits and Bank Taxes in the EU

Description: Since 2022, EU banks have been enjoying historically high profits. The profits are mostly driven by the delayed pass-through of the rapid monetary policy tightening to deposit rates and as such are likely transitory. Against this background, almost half of EU countries have introduced new taxes on banks. This paper documents the significant diversity in the design of the new bank taxes—in terms of their tax base, rate, duration, and burden. The paper discusses several trade-offs in the design of bank taxes and argues that an alternative or complementary policy response to temporarily high bank profits is to lock them in as usable bank capital, for example through an increase in countercyclical capital buffer rates.

July 9, 2024

Bank Profitability in Europe: Not Here to Stay

Description: Slower passthrough of policy interest rate hikes to deposit rates relative to their loan rates has led to sharply wider bank net interest margins. Combined with resilient asset quality, wider net interest margins supported record profits for European banks in 2023. Drawing on historical data from the balance sheets and income statements of over 2,500 European banks, this paper shows that abnormally high profits are expected to fade soon as interest income will decline, once policy rates start being lowered, while higher impairment costs historically have weighed on profits with a lag. Moreover, a number of structural factors that have eroded the performance of European banks in the past two decades have largely remained unaddressed and will continue being a drag on profits and capital. Therefore, policymakers should encourage banks to preserve capital buffers and build resilience to future shocks, while exercising caution when considering taxes on profits or other measures that could divert potential sources of capital from banks.

July 9, 2024

A Multi-Country Study of Forward-Looking Economic Losses from Floods and Tropical Cyclones

Description: The study provides forward-looking estimates for economic damages from floods and tropical cyclones (TC) for a wide range of countries using global datasets. Damages are estimated for three Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenarios and aggregated at the country level, building them from geographically disaggregated estimates of hazard severity and economic exposures across 183 countries. The results show that, for most countries, floods and TC’s damage rates increase (i) during the estimation span of 2020 to 2100, and (ii) with more severe global warming scenarios. In line with other global studies, expected floods and TCs damages are unevenly distributed across the world. The estimates can be used for a wide range of applications, as damage rates represent the key variable connecting climate scenarios to economics and financial sector risk analysis.

July 9, 2024

A Semi-Structural Model for Credit Cycle and Policy Analysis – An Application for Luxembourg

Description: The paper explores the nexus between the financial and business cycles in a semi-structural New Keynesian model with a financial accelerator, an active banking sector, and an endogenous macroprudential policy reaction function. We parametrize the model for Luxembourg through a mix of calibration and Bayesian estimation techniques. The model features dynamic properties that align with theoretical priors and empirical evidence and displays sensible data-matching and forecasting capabilities, especially for credit indicators. We find that the credit gap, which remained positive during COVID-19 amid continued favorable financial conditions and policy support, had been closing by mid-2022. Model-based forecasts using data up to 2022Q2 and conditional on the October 2022 WEO projections for the Euro area suggest that Luxembourg's business and credit cycles would deteriorate until late 2024. Based on these insights about the current and projected positions in the credit cycle, the model can guide policymakers on how to adjust the macroprudential policy stance. Policy simulations suggest that the weights given to measures of credit-to-GDP and asset price gaps in the macroprudential policy rule should be well-calibrated to avoid unwarranted volatility in the policy response.

July 9, 2024

The Heterogeneous Effects of Uncertainty on Trade

Description: This paper empirically investigates the relationship between uncertainty and trade. We use a gravity model for 143 countries over the 1980-2021 period to assess the impact of uncertainty on bilateral trade. We confirm that, in general, uncertainty has a negative impact on trade. The findings suggest that a one standard deviation increase in global uncertainty is associated with a decline in bilateral trade by 4.5 percent, with fuel and industrial products trade being the most impacted. This negative impact is observed for uncertainty on both sides of the border, with a higher impact of uncertainty from the importing country. The article goes deeper into the analysis and shows that deeper trade integration (horizontal integration) mitigates the negative impact of uncertainty on trade. In contrast, higher participation in global value chains (vertical integration) amplifies the negative effect of uncertainty on trade. We find that geopolitical tensions amplify the deterrent effect of uncertainty on trade. Finally, the result is heterogeneous across income levels, regions, and resource endowment: (a) uncertainty has a negative impact on bilateral trade between Emerging Markets and Developing Economies and Advanced Economies; however, (b) at the regional level, Africa and Europe’s intraregional trade decrease as uncertainty surges. (c) Evidence shows that non-resources-rich countries are more at risk.

July 9, 2024

Advancing India’s Structural Transformation and Catch-up to the Technology Frontier

Description: While India’s growth has been strong in recent decades, its structural transformation remains incomplete. In this paper, we first take stock of India’s growth to date. We find that economic activity has shifted from agriculture to services, but agriculture remains the predominant employer. Catch up to the technological frontier has been uneven, with limited progress in agriculture, but also in construction and trade, which have grown the most in terms of employment. We do find some Indian firms already operating at the technological frontier. These strong performers tend to be large firms. We then consider India’s employment challenge going forward. We find that India needs to create between 143-324 million jobs by 2050 and that doing so and with workers shifting towards more dynamic sectors could boost GDP growth by 0.2-0.5 percentage points. Structural reforms can help India create high-quality jobs and accelerate growth.

July 9, 2024

Beyond Debt: Net Worth Fiscal Anchors

Description: This paper proposes anchoring medium- to long-term fiscal policy in a Public Sector Net Worth (PSNW) target. Such a target widens the scope of fiscal policy to include public sector assets, in addition to liabilities—the focus of debt-based rules. A PSNW target is directly relevant to ongoing policy debates on green fiscal rules and more generally, the reform of fiscal frameworks (such as the Euro Area’s) to allow for public investment in a high debt environment. Modeling a small open economy with public investment and endogenous growth, we show that, compared to debt-based anchors, a PSNW anchor is more conducive to public investment and economic growth, while providing for sensible policy reactions to changes in long-term interest rates. The net worth anchor also precludes unsustainable debt dynamics. Simulated transition dynamics show that replacing a debt anchor with a net worth anchor does not necessarily lead to higher debt-to-GDP ratios. In addition to the merits of a net worth anchor, the paper also discusses some operational challenges.

July 9, 2024

Unraveling the Wage-Output Disconnect: The Role of Labor Market Power

Description: In this paper, we theoretically and empirically explore the role of firm labor market power in the wage-output relationship. We start by laying out a theoretical model with imperfect labor mobility between firms and sectors, which implies upward-sloping labor supply curves that firms face, allowing firms to have labor market power (i.e., wage markdown). Assuming firm heterogeneity under oligopsony, markdowns can be represented as a function of firm labor market share. The model implies that firms with higher labor market share, indicated by a higher payroll share in their respective sectors, exhibit a weaker relationship between the changes in wages and output. We test the model’s prediction using data from the European subsample of the ORBIS dataset spanning from 2000 to 2018. We find that: (i) the pass-through of firm value added growth to wage growth is lower for firms with a higher payroll share in their sectors, with about one-fifth of the pass-through disappearing in firms at the top 1 percentile of the payroll share distribution, relative to an atomic firm; (ii) this pattern holds across various subsamples and timeframes, and also after accounting for several alternative explanations; and (iii) the weakening in the link between value added and wages growth due to firm labor market power intensifies during the downturns in the labor market or in the overall economy.

June 28, 2024

The Catalytic Impact of IMF Lending on Official Development Assistance

Description: This paper explores the catalytic impact of IMF lending to Low-Income Countries on Official Development Assistance (ODA) during 1990-2019. It disentangles the effect on the amounts of ODA on countries’ participation in IMF programs (“extensive margin”) and the size of the IMF-supported program (“intensive margin”). To address selection biases, we rely on the interaction of past IMF program participation and IMF liquidity as an instrument for program participation and employ the review of access limits as an instrument for the size of disbursements. We document that a one percentage point (pp) of GDP increase in IMF disbursements catalyzes additional ODA of 2.7 pp of GDP. In addition, we find that IMF disbursements catalyze ODA mostly from multilateral donors (1.3 pp of GDP) and to lesser extent from traditional bilateral donors (0.6 pp of GDP). Among multilateral donors, the strongest effect is on World Bank disbursements, followed by the EU. Finally, we document that catalytic effects on ODA have decreasing returns to large IMF disbursement amounts.

June 28, 2024

The Diagnostic Financial Accelerator

Description: We develop a model with diagnostic expectations (DE) and a financial accelerator (FA) that generates mutually reinforcing shock amplification, especially in the case of demand shocks. However, supply shocks can be dampened via a debt deflation channel, which is strengthened amid DE. Importantly, the model results in a worsening of the inflation-output volatility trade-off confronting policymakers. In contrast to most of the literature—which argues against targeting the level of asset prices—our financial accelerator model with DE suggests that targeting house price growth may result in welfare gains.

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