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Data Papers on Savings and debt

The Impact of Minimum Wage Legislation
Julian Gough, World Economics, March 2017
Minimum wage policies are powerful political tools, but the economic effects are unlikely to be in the interests of society as a whole. Wages should be left to the free operation of market forces. Minimum wage rate policies are only effective in low-wage industries: the hotel sector labour market is used to develop the theory of minimum wages under different competitive conditions. The theoretical impact of a government-imposed minimum wage on the firms in an industry depends upon different competitive conditions in product and labour markets, but in most cases the number of firms falls as does the long-term demand for labour. In the UK, the Office of Budget Responsibility estimates that the National Living Wage will cut the total demand for labour hours by 0.4%, a reduction of 4 million hours of work a week causing 60,000 redundancies as a result of increased wage costs.
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Defending Development: An Evaluation of the Multidimensional Poverty Index
Raadhika Vishvesh, World Economics, March 2017
The need to define development has witnessed many attempts to condense a country’s economic deprivation into a single figure. In order to target poor citizens, it is important to classify those who are ‘non-poor’ by a poverty statistic. Crucial steps in the creation and evaluation of a poverty index in the 1980s were the World Bank’s ‘Dollar a Day’ measure (now USD1.25 a day), the creation of the Human Development Index (HDI) in 1990 and the Inequality Adjusted HDI created in 2005 as a distribution-sensitive average of the HDI. In 2010, a fundamentally different method of measuring poverty – the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) – was created, which identifies numerous deprivations at the individual and household level in education, health and living standards. Unfortunately, the MPI has many flaws, including mixing stock and flow variables, a lack of data particularly, for health and education, the absence of variables and the neglect of gender, moreover it suffers from international comparability problems.
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Neglect Private Debt at the Economy’s Peril?: Applying Balance Sheet Recession Analysis to the Post Bail-in Cyprus Economy
Leslie G. Manison & Savvakis C. Savvides, World Economics, March 2017
The role of private debt as a cause of financial crises and prolonged recessions is often neglected. In Cyprus policy concern has focused on government debt despite the problem of a rapid growth of private debt and its wasteful use. Private debt in Cyprus stands at over 350% of GDP, but the European Commission’s policy of austerity and encouraging the redeployment of private assets through bankruptcy is based on a misdiagnosis of the problem. Studies of the importance of private debt and balance sheet recessions following financial crises conclude that policy-imposed austerity can only worsen and delay economic recovery. In Cyprus there is scope to raise productive government expenditures through using European Union funds, by raising revenue from the large base of unpaid taxes and by taxing the large shadow economy estimated at over 25% of GDP.
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The Indian Economy: From Growth to Stagflation to Liberal Reform
Deepak Lal , World Economics, March 2016
This paper considers the optimistic scenario that India was on a high growth path and would follow China’s path with a lag (as its reforms started in 1991 compared with China’s in 1980) which would produce an economic miracle. This did not happen and since 2011 India’s growth seemed to be reverting to what has been termed “the Hindu Rate of growth”. This paper considers why this happened and the likely future path of the Indian economy following the victory of Narendra Modi’s Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). The paper evaluates the change in India’s economic fortunes following the 1991 economic reforms in historical perspective. The sources of the growth acceleration are explained with an examination of why growth faltered. India’s highly disputed revision of the GDP series shows annual growth rising to 7.5% in 2015-16, but it is more likely that it is around 6%. The author concludes that given its economic fundamentals, with improved policies India would be able to grow at about 10% leading to a per capita income growth of about 8.5–9% for the next two decades.
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The Liquidity Consequences of the Euro Area Sovereign Debt Crisis
William A. Allen & Richhild Moessner, World Economics, March 2013
We examine the liquidity effects of the euro area sovereign debt crisis on euro area banks as a group, on intra-euro area financial flows and on international liquidity. The lending capacity of the euro area banking system has been much weakened, despite the remarkable growth of the operations of the Eurosystem, including its greatly increased lending and its intermediation between national central banks in surplus and deficit countries. The euro crisis has also created international liquidity stresses.
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Life after Debt: The Greek PSI and its aftermath
Miranda Xafa, World Economics, March 2013
The Greek debt exchange (PSI) that took place in March 2012 was unprecedented in two ways: it was the biggest sovereign default ever and the first within the euro area. This paper examines the debt exchange and the subsequent debt buyback with a view to drawing lessons for policymakers and market participants. It discusses the interaction between the political dimension and the market perception, including areas of actual or potential conflicts between the two. The paper does not address Greece’s longer-term prospects for debt sustainability or euro area membership, but instead focuses narrowly on an assessment of the debt exchange and its aftermath, taking into account its impact on the broader euro area crisis.
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The Great Depression, the Great Recession and the Next Crisis
Professor Chong-Yah Lim & Hui-Ying Sng, World Economics, September 2011
The paper discusses and pinpoints three strategic factors that led to the global Great Depression of the early 1930s. After the Great Depression, the lessons learned were encapsulated in Keynesianism and Monetarism. The unanticipated and unprecedented global Great Recession of 2008–09 did not degenerate into the global Great Depression. The paper maintains that this was because of the voluntary global adoption and implementation of Keynesianism, not Monetarism. By May 2010, world industrial production had recovered beyond its previous peak in March 2008. But has the world economy really recovered? Although the world succeeded in aborting the global Great Recession, high unemployment aggregates, bloated budgets and sky-high debts continue to dog many developed economies, including the United States, the Eurozone nations and the United Kingdom. The paper goes on to discuss if the growth path of the world economy would take the form of a W-shape. The paper concludes with the overall important lessons learned by the world in handling the global Great Recession and the Keynesian prescription.
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Global Financial Crisis, Protectionism and Current Account Deficit: South Africa on the brink?
Peter Draper, Andreas Freytag & Sebastian Voll, World Economics, June 2011
The recent financial and economic crisis, and the resurgence in the popularity of emerging markets has raised fears in these economies of a resumption in capital flight or a sudden stop of capital inflows. The latter, in particular, is intensively discussed in South Africa. We try to evaluate this danger by focusing on the sustainability of South Africa’s current account deficit during the recent past, and on longterm economic policy developments in the country. We argue that the macroeconomic as well as the relevant microeconomic policy variables do not suggest a sudden stop. However, to lower this risk further, the microeconomic environment has to be improved considerably in the future. This includes mainly reforms in the areas of infrastructure, competition and trade policy.
Understanding the Greek Crisis: Unlocking the puzzle of Greek banks’ deteriorating performance
Michael Mitsopoulos & Theodore Pelagidis, World Economics, March 2011
This paper focuses on the distortions that the Greek public debt has imposed on the Greek banking system, and suggests how these can be unwound. The low level of competitiveness of the Greek economy, which is well below the competitiveness of the developed countries, poses a great challenge for the Greek banks. At the same time it puts at risk Greece’s economy ability to service both the private and public debt, which, as an aggregate, are comparable to the indebtedness of the developed nations. An adjustment of economic activity to match the current low level of competitiveness will increase the risks faced by the financial system and make an orderly servicing of the debt of the economy very challenging. It follows that only one reasonable policy option remains: to increase the competitiveness of the economy through an aggressive reform agenda, so that it will match its level of indebtedness, and through the resulting growth shift the excessive debt of the public sector to the private sector.
On Economic Growth and Domestic Saving in India
Tarlok Singh, World Economics, March 2011
This study examines the economic growth and domestic saving in India. The onset of gradual economic reforms since the 1980s provided some fillip to growth, and the momentum was carried forward through the adoption of a wide-ranging structural adjustment program since the beginning 1990s. The sustainability of an accelerated growth trajectory hinges heavily on the acceleration of saving and investment and the improvements in productivity. While foreign direct investment, liberalization of trade and the globalisation of goods and financial markets have well-documented gains, the accrual of these gains is contingent on the acceleration of productivity to a threshold level where the firms can effectively compete for market share in both domestic and international markets. Gobalization is unlikely to take developing economies out of low level equilibrium traps of underdevelopment, if it is not accompanied by the institutional reforms, development of adequate infrastructure, unleashing of productivities, development of efficient financial sector, and the improvements in the competitiveness of import-competing industries in the domestic and export-oriented industries in the international markets.
Why is the Chinese Saving Rate so High?
Guonan Ma & Wang Yi, World Economics, March 2011
China’s saving rate is high from many perspectives – historical experience, international standards and model predictions. Furthermore, the average saving rate has been rising over time, with much of the increase taking place in the 2000s. What sets China apart from the rest of the world is that its rising aggregate saving has reflected high savings rates in all three sectors: corporate, household and government. Our evidence casts doubt on the proposition that distortions and subsidies account for China’s high saving rate. Instead, we argue that tough corporate restructuring (including pension and home ownership reforms), a marked Lewismodel transformation process (where the average wage exceeds the marginal product of labour in the subsistence sector) and rapid ageing process have all played more important roles. Such structural factors suggest that the Chinese saving rate may peak over the coming years.
Why Hasn’t the US Economic Stimulus Been More Effective?: The debate on tax and expenditure multipliers
F. Gerard Adams & Byron Gangnes, World Economics, December 2010
Recently questions have been raised about the effectiveness of fiscal stimulus policies, and about whether stimulus to a recessionary economy should be in the form of tax cuts or expenditure increases. This paper evaluates alternative empirical approaches to measuring the impact of fiscal policy and presents new results based on simulations of a large econometric model of the US economy.

The US economic stimulus has not been more effective because, large as it is, it has not been sufficient to offset the impact of a serious recession and because it has been phased in slowly. Multiplier simulations and other studies suggest that the recession would have been considerably more serious in the absence of the economic stimulus programme.

The Euro Crisis: It isn’t just fiscal and it doesn’t just involve Greece
Clas Wihlborg, Thomas D. Willett & Nan Zhang, World Economics, December 2010
The crisis in Greece and other mainly southern Eurozone countries has been discussed primarily as a fiscal issue. Current account deficits of the same countries have received less attention in spite of the relatedness of current account and fiscal deficits. We argue that the failure of many countries within the Eurozone to develop adequate internal adjustment mechanisms is also an important factor behind the crisis. After reviewing the major perspectives that have been offered on the crisis, we present data that support our argument by demonstrating the lack of price and cost convergence in the Eurozone since 1999. Ironically, it seems that the surplus countries have carried out more of the adjustment pointed to by the endogenous optimum currency area (OCA) theory than the deficit countries. We recommend that the responsibility of a ‘European Debt Surveillance Authority’ should include surveillance of intra-euro payment flows, imbalances and adjustment in labour and goods markets, and setting benchmarks for the Eurozone guarantees of sovereign debt based on ability to adjust internally. Thereby, a potential moral hazard problem of an implicit Eurozone guarantee of countries’ sovereign debt could be avoided.
The Unfolding Sovereign Debt Crisis
Bob McKee, World Economics, December 2010
After the excessive expansion of new forms of private sector credit over two decades of disinflation, a huge pyramid of global liquidity was accumulated. That sparked a boom in asset prices (stocks, bonds and real estate) way beyond anything experienced in the growth of production, investment or consumption. Eventually the bubble burst and along came the credit crunch and the ensuing Great Recession. Desperate to avoid a meltdown in global financial institutions and another Great Depression, governments have dramatically increased sovereign debt issuance to fund bank bailouts and provide fiscal stimulus to the real economy. Monetary authorities have generated huge increases in liquidity to finance this debt. So, instead of the private sector deleveraging, there has been a massive increase in public sector leverage heaped on top of existing private sector debt. Soon central banks will have to withdraw this liquidity largesse or face a major acceleration in global inflation and another credit bubble. This poses a new stage in New Monetarism as sovereign debt competes with the private sector for available global savings.

At best, the global cost of capital is going to rise sharply, pushing economic growth of the major countries below trend for a decade ahead. At worst, there is a serious risk of a succession of sovereign debt defaults that could plunge the world back into depression. Sovereign debt is being discredited. There is a way out, but governments need to take painful, but necessary, actions.

Greek Economic Statistics: A Decade of Deceit: So how come the rating agencies missed it again?
Brian Sturgess, World Economics, June 2010
This paper looks at the recent problems in official Greek economic data on public finances, whose reliability has been impaired by inappropriate accounting methods, the application of poor statistical methods and deliberate misreporting. Data on deficits and debt have been misleading from before Greece’s eurozone entry, but despite a regular supply of public information about the problems, the rating agencies did not respond by downgrading Greek public debt until it was too late. These agencies reacted to, rather than leading, market tends that were already under way. The issue casts doubt on the fitness for purpose of the European Statistical System where the powers of Eurostat, the statistics arm of the European Commission have been inadequate to effectively monitor the fiscal status of eurozone countries. These powers, at present limited by the principle of subsidiarity to administering a Code of Practice, must be strengthened closer to approximating a power of audit.
Debt and Deleveraging: The global credit bubble and its economic consequences
Susan Lund & Charles Roxburgh, World Economics, June 2010
In this article, McKinsey Global Institute researchers assess the increases in debt and leverage in ten mature economies and four emerging economies – breaking down that data by each country’s financial, household, non-financial business and government sectors. The authors then analyse the sustainability of current levels of leverage in those sectors and construct a ‘heat map of deleveraging’. The map shows which sectors in which economies are most likely to deleverage. Third, the authors analyse 45 episodes of deleveraging since 1930, focusing on the 32 episodes that occurred after a financial crisis. From these episodes, the authors draw insights into the macroeconomic channels through which a country can deleverage. Finally, they discuss the policy and business implications of the findings.
Reasons for Remitting
Oded Stark, World Economics, September 2009
This article presents a set of reflections on what gives rise to remittances, which constitute a major part of the impact of migration on economic development in the migrants’ own countries. The collage of reasons presented serves to illustrate that remittance behaviour is the outcome of an intricate interplay between the preferences and interests of migrants and their families.
Making Fiscal Space Happen!: Managing fiscal policy in a world of scaled-up aid
Peter S. Heller, Menachem Katz, Xavier Debrun, Theo Thomas, Taline Koranchelian & Isabell Adenauer, World Economics, September 2006
Debt relief and the scaling up of aid to low-income countries should allow for increased fiscal space for expenditure programs to spur long-term growth and reduce poverty. But as discussed in Peter Heller’s article “Pity the Finance Minister” (World Economics, Vol. 6, No. 4), designing a suitable medium-term fiscal framework that fosters a sustainable delivery of better public services and infrastructure while maintaining a credible commitment to fiscal prudence raises many challenges. This article first discusses what low-income countries can do to formulate fiscal policy frameworks that are ambitious in their goals for absorbing additional aid while maintaining longer-term sustainability of the expenditure programs and government finances. It then suggests the approaches required to manage the heightened fiscal policy risks associated with a scaled-up aid environment, including issues of coordination with monetary policy. And finally, the article discusses what institutional changes are needed if donors and countries are to facilitate the implementation of a higher level of aid-financed spending programs.
How to Reform Europe’s Fiscal Policy Framework
Lars Calmfors & Giancarlo Corsetti, World Economics, March 2003
The current budgetary problems of some EU member states have intensified the debate on Europe’s fiscal policy framework. It is not enough to change the interpretation of the Stability and Growth Pact. More fundamental revisions of the EU Treaty are needed in order to strike a reasonable balance between longrun sustainability and short-run flexibility. The ceiling on budget deficits should be conditioned on the government debt level, such that the scope for stabilisation policy in downswings is increased in low-debt countries. In addition, the enforcement of the rules should be depoliticised: decisions on sanctions against states violating the rules should be transferred from the political level of the Council of Ministers to the judicial level of the European Court of Justice.
The Rebirth of the Corporate Bond Market
Bill Robinson, John Raven & Christopher Chua , World Economics, June 2001
There has been a major switch from equity to debt finance in recent years, associated with a fall in the long-term rate of interest. The paper explores the macro-economic causes of the sea change in interest rates (lower budget deficits, independent central banks, lower inflation expectations) and the micro-economic consequences. Firms are taking on more debt partly for tax reasons and partly because at lower interest rates they have better interest cover. This means they can increase their borrowing at lower risk and hence at lower cost. An examination of a cross section of UK firms from the FTSE 350 shows two major influences on the debt-to-value ratio of large firms. Firms with healthy cash flow are allowed to borrow against that income; and firms whose income is relatively invariant across the economic cycle (as measured by a low asset beta) can afford a higher level of debt.
Keywords: Debt, Equity, Tax     Download Paper