Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, 06 May 2022

The role of fiscal rules is to ensure debt sustainability and predictability of fiscal policies. It is possible to make them simpler and more friendly to countercyclical policies. Rather than allowing for different investment priorities, this column argues that the Covid crisis, the climate emergency, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine and subsequent security concerns may require a holistic approach where better compliance with fiscal rules could be combined with a holistic definition of sustainability that would also include macroeconomic and green sustainability.

Anna Pestova, Mikhail Mamonov, Steven Ongena, 15 April 2022

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the US, Europe, and many other countries imposed new economic sanctions on Russia. This column assesses the economic effects of these sanctions using a structural vector auto-regression model of the Russian economy. The findings suggest that industrial production, consumption, and investment will all decline, and that Russian GDP will contract by -12.5% to -16.5% in 2022. Nevertheless, the Russian economy will continue to rely on its existing export model, which may be difficult to undermine, even with potential oil and gas embargoes. 

Moritz Schularick, 08 March 2022

The 24th Geneva report from CEPR contains "cautious and perhaps unexpected optimism" about global debt levels. So should we learn not to fret about debt?

Download the report: Laurence Boone, Joachim Fels, Òscar Jordà, Moritz Schularick, Alan M. Taylor Debt: The Eye of the Storm - Geneva Report 24, 2022 CEPR Press.

Laurence Boone, Joachim Fels, Òscar Jordà, Moritz Schularick, Alan M. Taylor, 09 February 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic will go down as one of the most severe human, economic, and financial events in the history of the modern world. Nations have accumulated public debt levels not seen since WWII in their efforts to tackle the health crisis and mitigate the ensuing economic dislocation. The private sector has also experienced a run-up in debt, but unlike the Great Mortgaging of the 2000s, this time led by the corporate sector. The 24th Geneva Report on the World Economy explores the geo-economic risks entailed by these historic levels of overall debt and concludes that while debt should not be ignored, neither should it be feared.

Lilas Demmou, Guido Franco, 14 November 2021

Loan guarantee programmes have played a key role in reducing Covid-related distortions to market selection, shielding many high-productivity firms and supporting zombie firms only to a limited extent. This column argues, however, that such schemes do not come without risks for future productivity, as sizeable programmes may favour the build-up of misallocation in the medium term. Engineering an effective exit strategy from these schemes – preserving their benefits while reducing their drawbacks – is critical to foster the recovery of the corporate sector.

Jean Barthélemy, Eric Mengus, Guillaume Plantin, 13 November 2021

High levels of public debt may prevent central banks from fighting inflation. This column examines the conditions under which fiscal dominance – that is, the determination of the price level by the solvency of the government – may emerge. It argues that fiscal dominance prevails when the government has, wittingly or not, exhausted its fiscal capacity. The government may wittingly and optimally choose such a path if interest rates do not respond to fiscal expansions. In response, the central bank may find it desirable to engage into pre-emptive inflation.

Claudio Borio, Piti Disyatat, 10 November 2021

Monetary and fiscal policies, as deeply entwined functions of the state, face a looming dual long-term challenge. This column argues that they need to regain policy headroom to be able to effectively fulfil their macro-stabilisation role. And once these safety margins are restored, the policies need to remain firmly within a ‘corridor of stability’, in which neither can endanger the other or push it to the limit. In addition, navigating the path ahead will require a mix of ‘opportunistic normalisations’ and structural reforms to raise long-term growth. 

Damien Puy, Lukasz Rawdanowicz, 22 June 2021

The Covid-19 crisis has had a largely negative effect on firms, harming corporate profitability and leverage around the world. This column presents findings from the recent OECD Economic Outlook, highlighting how these negative effects have in fact varied across firms. In maintaining the buffer against corporate bankruptcies, the authors identify three clear policy challenges: debt overhang, financial instability, and the rise of ‘zombie’ firms.

Christian Bayer, Benjamin Born, Ralph Luetticke, 20 May 2021

Debt-financed fiscal expansions have been a critical feature in many countries’ policy response to Covid-19. This column revisits the role of public debt in stimulating economic recovery. The authors identify both short-run and long-run effects, highlighting that higher public debt has small effects on the capital stock but leads to a sizable decline of the liquidity premium, which increases the fiscal burden of debt. Further, the revenue-maximising level of public debt is positive and has increased to 60% of GDP post-2010.

Rabah Arezki, Patrick Bolton, 21 April 2021

Ensuring that developing countries remain able to access credit markets is vital for promoting growth and recovery post-pandemic. This column argues that urgent efforts by major economies to support regional development banks and preserve their financial standing will help limit the cost of rebuilding after the crisis, in turn helping preserve international capital markets in the short and medium run.  

Eduardo Cavallo, Andrew Powell, 13 April 2021

Latin America and the Caribbean suffered from several regional preconditions in advance of the Covid-19 crisis, including weak health infrastructure, low growth, and inefficient taxation. Now the pandemic threatens to leave the region with even higher poverty levels, greater inequality, and debts across virtually all countries. This column recognises the severity of these challenges but also provides reason to hope. If Covid-19 produces the political will to move the region towards better policy frameworks and execution, something positive could come of the crisis.

Shusen Qi, Ralph De Haas, Steven Ongena, Stefan Straetmans, 03 March 2021

Digitalisation, FinTech, and the expansion of mobile banking have changed the way in which many banks operate on a day-to-day basis, including where they choose to have physical branches. This column explores the effect of digitalisation on the geography of banks, testing the effects of digital information-sharing on branch locations in Europe. findings suggest that information sharing has a strong positive effect on branch clustering, with banks more likely to open new branches in areas where they do not yet operate but where other banks are already present.

George Alogoskoufis, 23 February 2021

Greece experienced a deep recession in 2020, and pandemic relief measures have led to further increases in its exorbitantly high public debt. This column outlines three potential methods for dealing with increasing debt after the crisis: (1) increases in taxation/reductions of government spending, (2) debt restructuring and (partial) debt write-offs, or (3) a policy of ‘gradual adjustment’ in which economic growth helps the debt burden shrink relative to GDP over time. The precise policy mix will involve significant coordination among euro area countries, but Greece must also implement domestic reforms to facilitate a dynamic and sustainable recovery. 

Mitsuhiro Osada, Kazuki Otaka, Satoko Kojima, Ryuichiro Hirano, Genichiro Suzuki, Nao Sudo, 26 January 2021

COVID-19 has brought about severe adverse effects on the economy around the globe, and Japan is no exception. This column introduces a model that maps cash shortages to firm's default probability, employing the balance sheet data of about 730,000 SMEs. It uses the model to assesses how a decline in sales due to Covid-19 increases the default probability of firms and how much the government's financial support mitigates a rise in that probability.

Arnoud Boot, Elena Carletti, Hans‐Helmut Kotz, Jan Pieter Krahnen, Loriana Pelizzon, Marti Subrahmanyam, 25 January 2021

Covid-19 has placed renewed pressure on the European banking sector as firms and households struggle to meet the costs imposed by the pandemic. This column provides a comparative assessment of the various policy responses to strengthen banks in light of the crisis. While the authors do not make a specific final recommendation, they review the different options suggested within current research and provide a criteria-based framework for policymakers to guide them in their decision making.

Eric Monnet, 13 November 2020

When we compare ratios of debt to GDP, do we look closely enough at the political and financial context in which the debts were calculated? Eric Monnet of the Paris School of Economics tells Tim Phillips about how our statistical methods and assumptions have evolved.

You can find Eric's CEPR Discussion Paper on this subject here
And his chapter, The History and Politics of Public Debt Accounting in the recent book A World of Public Debts: A Political History, here

Joshua Aizenman, Hiro Ito, 27 October 2020

The economic policies of the US in the post-COVID era will have important implications for the global economy. This column outlines two different exit strategies for the US from the COVID-related debt-overhang and analyses their implications for emerging markets and global stability. A strategy of continuing loose fiscal policies and accommodating monetary policies may spur short-term growth but would also increase the risks a deeper crisis in the future. Alternatively, the US could adopt a two-pronged approach of shifting fiscal priorities towards expenses with high social payoffs and then promoting fiscal adjustments aimed at a primary surplus and debt resilience. The post-WWII success story illustrates the feasibility of, and gains from, a two-pronged fiscal strategy.

Andrea Presbitero, Ursula Wiriadinata, 05 August 2020

As interest rate-growth differentials (r-g) have turned negative in many countries, now could be the time for governments to pursue fiscal expansions. However, the downside risks of such policies should not be disregarded. Using a large sample of economies, this column finds that high and increasing public debts, especially when denominated in foreign currencies, can lead to more volatile r-g dynamics. In particular, this is associated with higher probabilities of r-g reversals, tail risks, and an increased exposure to domestic and global shocks. Policymakers should take note of these risks when designing future fiscal expansions.

John Hassler, Per Krusell, Morten Ravn, Kjetil Storesletten, 07 July 2020

The responses to Covid-19 have had direct economic consequences of historic proportions. In reaction to this challenge, this column was prepared by four main authors and then discussed within a large group of research-active macroeconomists who also signed the final document. The column discusses the nature of the shock and the challenges for economic policy in Europe in the current and next phases of the crisis. In addition to outlining some basic principles for guiding domestic economic policy, it also calls for clear communication of policy to minimise uncertainty, for cooperation across countries along several dimensions, and for a clear and unified strategy in the management of national debts.

Yuliya Kasperskaya, Ramon Xifré, 01 July 2020

In the aftermath of crises, the state of public finances typically regains prominence in policy agendas. This column advances the hypothesis that three properties of the budgetary setup – reliability of projections, openness to scrutiny, and transparency – facilitate the exercise of the ‘budgetary analytical capacities’ of the government, legislature, and the wider public. It constructs an index of such capacities from the OECD Survey on Budget Practices. For the period 2012-2016, a simple measure of fiscal discipline is correlated with the index and is not correlated with other standard political-economy variables that are generally used to explain fiscal discipline.

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