Covid-19

Bruno Albuquerque, 28 September 2021

Corporate debt has increased substantially in many parts of the world during the pandemic, raising concerns about the effects on investment in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shock. This column uses data for a large panel of US firms to investigate the implications of firm-specific debt booms for investment. It finds that debt booms lead financially constrained firms to decrease capital expenditures and intangibles, underscoring the importance of dealing with debt overhang for managing the US recovery.

Takahiro Hattori, Norihiro Komura, Takashi Unayama, 28 September 2021

During the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Japan, the Japanese government decided to provide a Special Cash Payment of 100,000 yen per person to all residents as a part of its “Emergency Economic Measures to Cope with COVID-19”. This column uses publicly available survey data to estimate the marginal propensity to consume from the cash transfer in order to assess the impact of the policy. It finds that the payments increased non-negligible consumption mainly due to their size, but the marginal propensity to consume, at around 10 %, is no different from non-pandemic periods. 

Michael Stolpe, 23 September 2021

To win the critical race between vaccines and mutations, the worldwide Covid-19 vaccination campaign must mobilise economies of scale. The most effective way to do so, this column argues, is to convert the existing Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access initiative into a more generously endowed global fund. Instead of merely obtaining the surplus vaccines of rich countries, and relying on unpredictable donations, the initiative should acquire the most promising vaccine patents and offer free production licenses to every qualified vaccine and generic drug manufacturer in the global South.

Dan Andrews, Andrew Charlton, Angus Moore, 22 September 2021

Covid-19 has been characterised as a reallocation shock, but the debate has so far lacked a clear link with productivity. This column uses real-time data to show that job reallocation remained connected to firm productivity even while labour turnover fell in response to the pandemic. High (low) productivity firms were more likely to expand (contract), although the strength of this effect varied across countries, consistent with differences in job retention schemes. While policy partly hindered creative destruction, the nature of the pandemic shock favoured high-productivity and tech-savvy firms, resulting in a reallocation of labour to these firms. 

Kenneth Rogoff, 21 September 2021

The Chinese economy was able to sharply rebound from the Covid pandemic, helping to sustain a housing boom. The country faces a multitude of challenges over the medium term, however, on top of the much more virulent Delta variant. This column argues that the footprint of China’s real estate sector has become so large – with an impact of real estate production and property services on GDP of 29% – that absorbing a significant housing slowdown would significantly impact overall growth, even absent a financial crisis.

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