Europe's nations and regions

Benoît Cœuré, 08 September 2021

In March 2020, the French parliament tasked an independent committee with monitoring the financial support available to companies during the Covid-19 crisis. A rich firm-level database – matching receipt of government money with balance-sheet records, tracing payroll and turnover trajectories for the first two waves of the pandemic – was the result. This column mines that database to evaluate the incentives for accepting government aid; the impact of support measures; and heterogeneity across industries, firms, and locations. The authors judge French fiscal support during the crisis a tentative success.

Roberta Cardani, Olga Croitorov, Fabio Di Dio, Lorenzo Frattarolo, Massimo Giovannini, Stefan Hohberger, Philipp Pfeiffer, Marco Ratto, Lukas Vogel, 08 September 2021

The COVID-19 recession differs strongly from past crises in recent history. This column summarises the integration of key economic features of the pandemic into the European Commission’s estimated DSGE model. Shock decompositions highlight the dominant role of ‘lockdown shocks’ (‘forced savings’, labour hoarding) for explaining the quarterly pattern of real GDP growth in 2020, complemented by negative contributions from foreign and investment demand notably in 2020q2 and a negative impact of persistently higher (precautionary) savings. The inflation response has been modest given the severity of the recession.

Alexandra Avdeenko, Onur Eryilmaz, 03 August 2021

Sudden floods across Central Europe have led governments to initiate bailouts, putting decades-old debates on how to respond to future natural disasters back on the policy agenda. Using a representative longitudinal dataset, this column provides evidence that the 2013 floods in Germany reduced willingness to take risks among men living close to the flooded areas, but had no such effect on women. It also finds that affected households were significantly more likely to hold life insurance after the floods. The findings suggest that a portion of the costs associated with natural disasters is likely to be internalised by households at risk, with implications for governments seeking to provide incentives for household-level adaptation measures such as insurance or better building standards. 

Laurent Ferrara, Valérie Mignon, 17 July 2021

Identifying the peaks and troughs of recessionary episodes helps economists to understand the conditions surrounding crises. But deciding when a recession starts or finishes is not straightforward, and several methods exist. This column presents the dating specification for the French Business Cycle Dating Committee, describing how the group identifies key phases in France’s economic performance based on a quantitative and a qualitative pillar. The committee has dated the peak of the recession linked to the recent Covid-19 pandemic to the last quarter of 2019, it is still too early to identify the exit date of this recession, which is unprecedented in its source and profile. 

Tito Boeri, 16 July 2021

People everywhere sometimes pretend to be sick on a Friday because a day off work means a three-day weekend. In Italy, sick workers may now get a surprise home visit from the doctor. Tito Boeri tells Tim Phillips how effective this has been as a cure for "Friday morning fever".

The paper discussed is:
Boeri, T, Di Porto, E, Naticchioni, P and Scrutinio, V. 2021. 'Friday Morning Fever. Evidence from a Randomized Experiment on Sick Leave Monitoring in the Public Sector.'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16104

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