Colin Gray, Adam Leive, Elena Prager, Kelsey Pukelis, Mary Zaki, 04 October 2021

Proponents of work requirements for social safety net programmes argue that they promote self-sufficiency by encouraging work, while opponents contend that they reduce benefits for the most vulnerable recipients in times of need. This column looks at the impact of the reinstatement of work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the US following a hiatus during the Great Recession. The authors find that work requirements do not appear to improve economic self-sufficiency, while substantially reducing benefits paid to programme recipients.

Dan Andrews, Elif Bahar, Jonathan Hambur, 30 September 2021

Job retention schemes during the pandemic prioritised preservation over reallocation, but evidence on their allocative and productivity consequences is scarce. Using tax data for Australia, this column shows that job reallocation and firm exit remained connected to firm productivity over the course of the pandemic. Australia’s job retention scheme, JobKeeper, initially shielded productive and financially fragile firms, contributing positively to aggregate productivity. But as the economy recovered, the scheme grew more distortive, justifying its timely withdrawal – on productivity grounds at least.

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.

Dimitris Papanikolaou, Lawrence D.W. Schmidt, 23 July 2020

COVID-19 has massively disrupted the supply side of the world economy, shutting down entire industries. This column analyses how these disruptions affected different types of firms and workers by looking at how effectively different sectors can shift to remote work. While the major policy interventions in the US have treated all types of business as equivalent, industries which are not able to do their work remotely have been hit much harder than business that can. This cross-sectional dispersion shows up across a variety of measures, including changes in employment, revenue projections, likelihood of default, current liquidity, and stock returns. Going forward, aid that targets disrupted sectors may be a more cost-effective means to alleviate the impacts of COVID-19.

Morten Bennedsen, Birthe Larsen, Ian Schmutte, Daniela Scur, 28 June 2020

Much of the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is channelled through firms and their managers’ decisions. Responding to the pandemic, governments have closed non-essential workplaces and imposed social distancing measures while offering firms various forms of aid. Using firm-level survey data from Denmark, this column examines the impact of these measures on firms, and the uptake and effects of certain policy tools used in Denmark, which are similar to those used in many other countries. It shows that while most firms suffered pronounced revenue declines, targeted government policy helped many stay afloat, and created incentives for job retention.

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