Working Papers

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2024

April 5, 2024

A Primer on Bitcoin Cross-Border Flows: Measurement and Drivers

Description: The rapid growth of crypto assets raises important questions about their cross-border usage. To gain a better understanding of cross-border Bitcoin flows, we use raw data covering both on-chain (on the Bitcoin blockchain) and off-chain (outside the Bitcoin blockchain) transactions globally. We provide a detailed description of available methodologies and datasets, and discuss the crucial assumptions behind the quantification of cross-border flows. We then present novel stylized facts about Bitcoin cross-border flows and study their global and domestic drivers. Bitcoin cross-border flows respond differently than capital flows to traditional drivers of capital flows, and differences appear between on-chain and off-chain Bitcoin cross-border flows. Off-chain cross-border flows seem correlated with incentives to avoid capital flow restrictions.

April 5, 2024

How Vulnerable is Sub-Saharan Africa to Geoeconomic Fragmentation?

Description: This paper studies the potential effects of geoeconomic fragmentation (GEF) in the sub-Saharan Africa region (SSA) through quantifying potential long-term economic costs. The paper considers two alternative GEF scenarios in which trade relations are fully or partially curtailed across world economies. Our quantification relies on a multi-country multi-sector general equilibrium model and takes a deep dive into the impact across SSA’s oil-rich, other resource-rich and non-resource-rich countries. The results are based on a detailed dataset including information for 136 tradable primary commodity and 24 manufacturing and services sectors in 145 countries—32 of which are in SSA. We find that under GEF, SSA could experience long-term wellfare losses of approximately 4 percent of GDP, twice the losses of the rest of the world. This strong effect results from the large losses of other resource-rich and non-resource rich countries in SSA, given their high dependence on commodity trade. However, if the world experiences a less severe GEF-induced trade disruption—a strategic decoupling—SSA countries could derive minor gains from the re-shuffling of global market supply, specially in energy products.

April 5, 2024

Can Energy Subsidies Help Slay Inflation?

Description: Many countries have used energy subsidies to cushion the effects of high energy prices on households and firms. After documenting the transmission of oil supply shocks empirically in the United States and the Euro Area, we use a New Keynesian modeling framework to study the conditions under which these policies can curb inflation. We first consider a closed economy model to show that a consumer subsidy may be counterproductive, especially as an inflation-fighting tool, when applied globally or in a segmented market, at least under empirically plausible conditions about wage-setting. We find more scope for energy subsidies to reduce core inflation and stimulate demand if introduced by a small group of countries which collectively do not have much influence on global energy prices. However, the conditions under which consumer energy subsidies reduce inflation are still quite restrictive, and this type of policy may well be counterproductive if the resulting increase in external debt is high enough to trigger sizeable exchange rate depreciation. Such effects are more likely in emerging markets with shallow foreign exchange markets. If the primary goal of using fiscal measures in response to spikes in energy prices is to shield vulnerable households, then targeted transfers are much more efficient as they achieve their goals at lower fiscal cost and transmit less to core inflation.

April 5, 2024

Financial Stability in a Higher-for-Longer Interest Rate Environment The Case of the Middle East and North Africa

Description: This paper assesses the state and resilience of corporate and banking sectors in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in a “higher-for-longer” interest rate environment using granular micro data to conduct the first cross-country corporate and banking sector stress tests for the MENA region. The results suggest that corporate sector debt at risk may increase sizably from 12 to 30 percent of total corporate debt. Banking systems would be broadly resilient in an adverse scenario featuring higher interest rates, corporate sector stress, and rising liquidity pressures with Tier-1 capital ratios declining by 2.3 percentage points in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and 4.0 percentage points in non-GCC MENA countries. In the cross-section of banks, there are pockets of vulnerabilities as banks with higher ex-ante vulnerabilities and state-owned banks suffer greater losses. While manageable, the capital losses in the adverse scenario could limit lending and adversely impact growth.

April 5, 2024

This Is Going to Hurt: Weather Anomalies, Supply Chain Pressures and Inflation

Description: As climate change accelerates, the frequency and severity of extreme weather events are expected to worsen and have greater adverse consequences for ecosystems, physical infrastructure, and economic activity across the world. This paper investigates how weather anomalies affect global supply chains and inflation dynamics. Using monthly data for six large and well-diversified economies (China, the Euro area, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States) over the period 1997-2021, we implement a structural vector autoregressive model and document that weather anomalies could disrupt supply chains and subsequently lead to inflationary pressures. Our results—based on high-frequency data and robust to alternative estimation methodologies—show that these effects vary across countries, depending on the severity of weather shocks and vulnerability to supply chain disruptions. The impact of weather shocks on supply chains and inflation dynamics is likely to become more pronounced with accelerating climate change that can have non-linear effects. These findings have important policy implications. Central bankers should consider the impact of weather anomalies on supply chains and inflation dynamics to prevent entrenching second-round effects and de-anchoring of inflation expectations. More directly, however, governments can invest more for climate change adaptation to strengthen critical infrastructure and thereby minimize supply chain disruptions.

April 5, 2024

Designing a Progressive VAT

Description: This paper presents a novel approach to addressing VAT regressivity, by proposing the adoption of a progressive VAT: a single-rate, broad-base, VAT, whereby tax paid on consumption is re-paid to lower income households in real-time, at the moment of purchase. Such a system can effectively eliminate regressivity, while minimizing the political economy, cash-flow, and welfare stigma obstacles that are often associated with standard welfare transfers used in modern VAT systems. It would also have other significant advantages, particularly in terms of compliance incentives.

March 29, 2024

Trade in Low Carbon Technologies: The Role of Climate and Trade Policies

Description: Curbing carbon emissions to meet the targets set in the Paris Agreement requires the deployment of low carbon technologies (LCTs) at a global scale. This paper assesses the role of climate and trade policies in fostering LCT diffusion through trade. Leveraging a comprehensive database of climate policies and a new database identifying trade in low carbon technologies and the tariffs applied to these goods, this paper shows that the introduction of new climate policies has a positive and significant impact on LCT imports. Zooming into specific climate policies, the paper finds that, except for non-binding ones, all climate policies stimulate LCT imports. The paper also highlights the role of trade policies as an engine of LCT diffusion—reductions in tariffs applied on LCT goods have a sizeable impact on LCT imports. On the flip side, results suggest that more protectionist measures would impede the spread of low-carbon technologies.

March 29, 2024

Call of Duty: Industrial Policy for the Post-Oil Era

Description: Oil-exporting economies face the risk of an acceleration in the energy transition. A risk-based approach calls for urgent preparation for the post-oil era by diversifying exports and transforming the prevailing growth model. We outline the principles of industrial policy to achieve this objective based on the experience of the Asian Miracles and propose a sketch of the strategy required to transform these principles into practice. The key component of the strategy is to select sectors along two dimensions—proximity to the current production structure or capabilities set and a timeframe for results to materialize. The three strategies—snail crawl, leapfrogging, and moonshots—determine how far from the current production structure the selected sectors are. These sectors need to show results both in the short run to jumpstart growth and ensure policy continuity—“quick wins”—and the long run to create a new growth model—“transformative gains.” We argue that the strategy should focus on supporting the exports of sophisticated sectors in both manufacturing and services while capitalizing on complex tasks and activities in existing industries but should leave non-sophisticated sectors such as tourism and non-tradable services to the private sector.

March 29, 2024

The Riskiness of Credit Origins and Downside Risks to Economic Activity

Description: We construct a country-level indicator capturing the extent to which aggregate bank credit growth originates from banks with a relatively riskier profile, which we label the Riskiness of Credit Origins (RCO). Using bank-level data from 42 countries over more than two decades, we document that RCO variations over time are a feature of the credit cycle. RCO also robustly predicts downside risks to GDP growth even after controlling for aggregate bank credit growth and financial conditions, among other determinants. RCO’s explanatory power comes from its relationship with asset quality, investor and banking sector sentiment, as well as future banking sector resilience. Our findings underscore the importance of bank heterogeneity for theories of the credit cycle and financial stability policy.

March 29, 2024

E-Money and Monetary Policy Transmission

Description: E-money development has important yet theoretically ambiguous consequences for monetary policy transmission, because nonbank deposit-taking e-money issuers (EMIs) (e.g., mobile network operators) can either complement or substitute banks. Case studies of e-money regulations point to complementarity of EMIs with banks, implying that the development of e-money could deepen financial intermediation and strengthen monetary policy transmission. The issue is further explored with panel data, on both monthly (covering 21 countries) and annual (covering 47 countries) frequencies, over 2001 to 2019. We use a two-way fixed effect estimator to estimate the causal effects of e-money development on monetary policy transmission. We find that e-money development has accompanied stronger monetary policy transmission (measured by the responsiveness of interest rates to the policy rate), growth in bank deposits and credit, and efficiency gains in financial intermediation (measured by the lending-to-deposit rate spread). Evidence is more pronounced in countries where e-money development takes off in a context of limited financial inclusion. This paper highlights the potential benefits of e-money development in strengthening monetary policy transmission, especially in countries with limited financial inclusion.

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