A Cross-Country Database of Fiscal Space (August 2017)
This paper presents a comprehensive cross-country database of fiscal space, broadly defined as the availability of budgetary resources for a government to service its financial obligations. The database covers up to 200 countries over the period 1990–2016, and includes 28 indicators of fiscal space grouped into four categories: debt sustainability, balance sheet vulnerability, external and private sector debt related risks as potential causes of contingent liabilities, and market access. The authors illustrate potential applications of the database by analyzing developments in fiscal space across three time frames: over the past quarter century; during financial crises; and during oil price plunges. The main results are as follows. First, fiscal space had improved in many countries before the global financial crisis. In advanced economies, following severe deteriorations during the crisis, many indicators of fiscal space have virtually returned to levels in the mid-2000s. In contrast, fiscal space has shrunk in many emerging market and developing economies since the crisis. Second, financial crises tend to coincide with deterioration in multiple indicators of fiscal space, but they are often followed by reduced reliance on short-term borrowing. Finally, fiscal space narrows in energy-exporting emerging market and developing economies during oil price plunges but later expands, often because of procyclical fiscal tightening and, in some episodes, a recovery in oil prices.
A Proximity-Based Approach to Labor Mobility in CGE Models with an Application to Sub-Saharan Africa (July 2017)
The ease with which workers can move between sectors has a strong impact on the effects on labor markets of shocks such as changes in world prices or migration flows. This paper introduces an approach to labor mobility with frictions under which worker capabilities (their efficiencies in different sectors) depend on their sector affiliation. If workers in sector a move to sector a’, their efficiency shortfall due to a capability misfit compared to what is needed in a’ (and possessed by workers already in a’) is measured by a proximity parameter, 0 ≤ proxa,a’ ≤ 1. If proxa,a’ < 1, the efficient quantity reaching a’ is below the physical quantity. In this setting, profit-maximizing producers are willing to pay the same wage per efficiency unit irrespective of worker origin and thus pay less efficient workers a lower wage per physical unit. This approach to labor mobility is tested in a static CGE model that is applied to an illustrative sub-Saharan African dataset with sector proximities defined using the approach of the product-space literature. Simulations of positive export price shocks show that, the higher the proximities, the stronger the labor reallocation and the welfare gains.
Arm's-length Trade: A Source of Post-Crisis Trade Weakness (July 2017)
Trade growth has slowed sharply since the global financial crisis. U.S. trade data highlights that arm's-length trade—trade between unaffiliated firms—accounts disproportionately for the overall post-crisis trade slowdown. This is partly because arm's-length trade depends more heavily than intra-firm trade on emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs), where output growth has slowed sharply from elevated pre-crisis rates, and on sectors with rapid pre-crisis growth that boosted arm's-length trade pre-crisis but that have languished post-crisis. Compounding such compositional effects, arm's-length trade is also more sensitive to changes in demand and real exchange rates. For example, the income elasticity of arm's-length exports is about one-fifth higher than that of intra-firm exports. Hence, post-crisis global growth weakness has weighed more on arm's-length trade than on intra-firm trade. Unaffiliated firms may also have been hindered more than multinational firms by constrained access to finance during the crisis, heightened policy uncertainty, and their typical firm-level characteristics.
Global Inequality in a More Educated World (June 2017)
In developing countries, younger and better-educated cohorts are entering the workforce. This developing world-led education wave is altering the skill composition of the global labor supply, and impacting income distribution, at the national and global levels. This paper analyzes how this education wave reshapes global inequality over the long run using a general-equilibrium macro-micro simulation framework that covers harmonized household surveys representing almost 90 percent of the world population. The findings under alternative assumptions suggest that global income inequality will likely decrease by 2030. This increasing educated labor force will contribute to the closing of the gap in average incomes between developing and high income countries. The forthcoming education wave would also minimize, mainly for developing countries, potential further increases of within-country inequality.
Assessing the Global Economic and Poverty Effects of Antimicrobial Resistance (June 2017)
This paper assesses the potential impact of antimicrobial resistance on global economic growth and poverty. The analysis uses a global computable general equilibrium model and a microsimulation framework that together capture impact channels related to health, mortality, labor productivity, health care financing, and production in the livestock and other sectors. The effects spread across countries via trade flows that may be affected by new trade restrictions. Relative to a world without antimicrobial resistance, the losses during 2015–50 may sum to $85 trillion in gross domestic product and $23 trillion in global trade (in present value). By 2050, the cost in global gross domestic product could range from 1.1 percent (low case) to 3.8 percent (high case). Antimicrobial resistance is expected to make it more difficult to eliminate extreme poverty. Under the high antimicrobial resistance scenario, by 2030, an additional 24.1 million people would be extremely poor, of whom 18.7 million live in low-income countries. In general, developing countries will be hurt the most, especially those with the lowest incomes.
How Important are Spillovers from Major Emerging Markets? (June 2017)
The seven largest emerging market economies -- China, India, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey -- constituted more than one-quarter of global output and more than half of global output growth during 2010-15. These emerging markets, called EM7, are also closely integrated with other countries, especially with other emerging and frontier markets. Given their size and integration, growth in EM7 could have significant cross-border spillovers. The authors provide empirical estimates of these spillovers using a Bayesian vector autoregression model. They report three main results. First, spillovers from EM7 are sizeable: a 1 percentage point increase in EM7 growth is associated with a 0.9 percentage point increase in growth in other emerging and frontier markets and a 0.6 percentage point increase in world growth at the end of three years. Second, sizeable as they are, spillovers from EM7 are still smaller than those from G7 countries (Group of Seven of advanced economies). Specifically, growth in other emerging and frontier markets, and the global economy would increase by one-half to three times more due to a similarly sized increase in G7 growth. Third, among the EM7, spillovers from China are the largest and permeate globally.