Global economy

Francesca Caselli, Matilde Faralli, Paolo Manasse, Ugo Panizza, 24 September 2021

Do countries benefit from servicing their debts during times of sovereign defaults? Colombia is typically regarded as the only large Latin American country that did not default in the 1980s, but this column argues that the case of Colombia is more complex than commonly assumed. Although it had to re-profile its debts, high-level political support from the US allowed Colombia to do so outside of the standard framework of an IMF programme. In the short to medium run, Colombia benefited from avoiding an explicit default, but this strategy did not lead to long-term reputational gains.

Luke Bartholomew, Paul Diggle, 21 September 2021

As the global economy recovers from the immediate economic impact of the Covid crisis, attention is increasingly turning to the long-run impact of the shock on productivity. This column identifies several channels – including labour market hysteresis, impaired skill acquisition, belief scarring, an increase in zombie companies, and policy errors – through which the lasting harm will outweigh any positive supply shocks caused by the pandemic. The authors estimate long-term output losses in the order of 3% of global GDP. Scarring will be greater in some economies than others, pointing to the importance of policy in mediating and offsetting these channels. 

Alex Bryson, David Blanchflower, 24 August 2021

When Queen Elizabeth II asked economists why none of them had seen the Great Recession coming, they presented her with a number of reasons but forgot to mention the main one: they hadn’t paid attention to ‘red lights’ that had been flashing in the qualitative survey data from consumers and producers that predicted the downturn. Chief among these was the fear of unemployment which, as this column shows, predicts upticks in unemployment 12 months ahead.

Cathérine Casanova, Beatrice Scheubel, Livio Stracca, 04 June 2021

Since the Global Crisis, the channels of capital flows have changed significantly. This column analyses key trends and underlying drivers of capital flows since the Global Crisis, including the policy trade-offs. It documents the increasing importance of market-based funding, a growing reliance on domestic currency liabilities, and a less stable foreign direct investment environment, particularly for emerging market economies. Although these changes create risks which should be managed, capital flows also present clear benefits for stimulating economic performance and efficiency. 

Hites Ahir, Nicholas Bloom, Davide Furceri, 18 May 2021

The latest update of the World Uncertainty Index indicates that global uncertainty has fallen back to its long-run average after reaching a historical high in 2020. This column describes how this is driven by a significant decline in two key drivers of global uncertainty over the last few years: US–China trade tensions and Brexit negotiations. A sub-index of the World Uncertainty Index, the World Pandemic Uncertainty Index, reveals that uncertainty related to COVID-19 is also starting to subside, especially in developed countries where vaccines rollout has started to pick up. Given this, and because US–China trade and Brexit tensions impacted developed countries more, the authors observe a more salient decline in uncertainty in developed countries than in developing ones.

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