Global economy

Daniel Gros, 03 July 2015

Two financial crises at the ‘sub federal’ are currently taking place – one in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the second one in Greece. This column highlights some surprising similarities between them, as well as the main differences. The Eurozone is a voluntary union of states which remain sovereign. But if Greece were part of the US, it could not hold a referendum, and its budget would be drawn up by a federal bankruptcy court. The key political difference is not austerity, but the fact that Greece’s debt is mainly to official creditors, who are ideal targets for political pressure. 

Ross Levine, Chen Lin, 02 July 2015

Labour market regulations have important implications for both the incidence of cross-border acquisitions, and the outcomes for acquiring firms. This column explores how variations in labour regulations between countries affect cross-border acquisitions and subsequent firm performance. For a sample of 50 countries, firms are found to enjoy larger returns when they acquire a target in a country with weaker labour regulations than the acquirer’s home country.

Michael P. Devereux, Clemens Fuest, Ben Lockwood , 12 June 2015

Tax avoidance by multinational firms is a complex challenge for national governments and the global tax system. Increasingly, high-income countries have been moving from foreign tax credit systems, to exempting foreign source income from domestic taxation. This column investigates how foreign profits should be taxed, taking into account the economic role of capital ownership. Domestic tax rates should ensure optimal allocation between domestic and foreign assets, while the tax base should be set to ensure asset purchases are undistorted. Countries may be forced to change their tax systems in more fundamental ways, however, as the mobility and flexibility of multinational corporations continues to grow.

Serkan Arslanalp, Reinout De Bock, Matthew Jones, 04 June 2015

Major advanced economies have made mixed progress in repairing the private sector’s balance sheets. This column explores private sector deleveraging trends and calls for a set of policies that will return debt to safer levels. Monetary policies should support private sector deleveraging and policymakers should not ignore the positive impact of debt restructuring and write-offs on non-performing loans.

Hanming Fang, Quanlin Gu, Wei Xiong, Li-An Zhou, 27 May 2015

China has experienced a decade-long housing market boom, with the market being compared to the housing bubbles of Japan in the 1980s and the US in the 2000s. This column uses data on mortgage loans in 120 cities to investigate whether the Chinese housing market might trigger a financial crisis. Although price growth rates are comparable to those experienced by Japan prior to its bubble, substantial income growth and high mortgage down payment ratios helped support the steady participation of low-income households. A high expectation of future income growth, however, might have been a key driver of price-to-income ratios, and this may not be sustainable.

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