ECA Research Newsletters Archive

A monthly summary of the The Office of the Chief Economist, Europe and Central Asia, provides a snapshot of our recent research and activities, as well as information on our upcoming events.

2022 Monthly Newsletters

October Social Protection for Recovery Globalization, demographic trends, and technological innovations are transforming European labor markets, altering their institutional and contractual arrangements, and creating disparities and vulnerabilities in various segments of the labor force. Social protection systems in ECA will need to be reformed to address these challenges and provide adequate protection to workers and families. Read more in our Fall 2022 Europe and Central Asia Economic Update and the related research, and check out the policy note on the energy crisis.
July Best New Research from Across the Bank Group This month we held the ECA Academy event for the winners of the 2021 competition. The review panel selected four winning papers on topics that range from migration to climate regulation, to health and education. The latest round of Global Findex data was also launched, covering the pandemic period. You can download the data and read more about the report and ECA Academy winning research in this newsletter.
June Conflict, Aid, and Migration As the conflict in our region continues, this month we focused on its impact on aid effectiveness and migration. Despite best intentions, the results are mixed even during normal times. It is important to keep the long view and provide migrants with employment and social services during crises and facilitate their integration in the long term so that everyone can benefit – the host countries, as well as migrants. To learn more, watch the recording of the ECA Talk on Forced Displacement and another one on foreign aid to countries in conflict with William Easterly, and read the related research.
May Climate Change and Equity Climate change is having a disproportionate impact on the poor, despite the fact they do not contribute significantly to carbon emissions. For them, growth and poverty reduction is the priority, although it can be very energy intensive. What should we be doing to ensure equitable climate policies? To learn more, watch the recording of the ECA Talk with Esther Duflo and World Bank experts, and read the selected research.
April War in the Region This month, the focus of the newsletter is on the war in the region which is the topic of the Spring 2022 ECA Economic Update. The war is having a devastating impact on human life and its economic shocks are being felt globally, largely in the form of the soaring prices of oil and food. The economic hit will be the hardest on the countries in Europe and Central Asia because of their strong trade, financial, and migration links with Russia and Ukraine. Read the report and the related research, and check out the list of upcoming events.
March Central Bank Digital Currencies The featured topic this month is Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC). CBDCs have many advantages such as greater efficiency, secure payments, combatting illegal activity, reducing the risk of commercial bank failures, and potentially increasing financial inclusion. But there are also drawbacks. Read the related research on international capital flows, remittances, and the role of blockchain, and watch the recording of the ECA Talk on digital currencies and the challenges for Central Banks.
February Cash Transfers Cash transfers have been an important part of income support programs expanded across the region during the pandemic. They can be very effective policy tools to smooth consumption and reduce poverty, but the design of these programs is important to maximize their impact. Our ECA talk this month examined different approaches to cash transfers. We learned that a hybrid model that brings together both smaller more frequent payments and larger less frequent payments may work better as it serves multiple needs. Watch the recording of the discussion and read the latest related research to learn more.
January Inflation and Monetary policy This month we discussed the challenges policymakers face in stimulating the economy and promoting recovery during the COVID times, as well as dealing with inflation and financial stability concerns. There are short-term versus long-term considerations and monetary policy has a differential impact on SMEs and large firms. To learn more, watch the recording of our recent ECA Talk with Şebnem Kalemli-Özcan and read the latest research on inflation and monetary policy in this newsletter.

2021 Monthly Newsletters

December Banking in the Time of COVID-19 While the banks were not the cause of the COVID-19 crisis, it has fallen to the financial sector to take action to supply vital credit to the corporate sector and to households. Governments and central banks have enacted a wide range of policies which can and have helped increase the flow of credit in the short run. Will those policies affect the future stability of the financial sector? Read the latest research on banking and financial sector in time of COVID-19 in December newsletter.
November Jobs and Mobility The pandemic has brought to light the crucial relationship between a bustling labor market and worker mobility. The nature of jobs has been changing increasingly over the last decade. On top of that, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an important shock. Mobility restrictions and border closures have drastically limited internal and external migration, disrupting work for many and forcing people to work from home. Watch the recording of the recent ECA Talk and read the related research to learn more about the pre-pandemic trends in job tenure and worker mobility, types of jobs hit hardest by the pandemic, how migrants were impacted and what are some of the active labor market responses to overcome all these challenges.
October Firm Recovery Post-COVID-19 The World Bank Enterprise Survey data show that crisis was devastating for many, especially for smaller and younger firms in Europe and Central Asia. But it also led to a reallocation from less productive to more productive firms, particularly in countries with stronger competition environments. Governments acted quickly to help the most vulnerable, but on average support went disproportionately to less productive and larger firms. Read our latest ECA Economic Update on competition and firm recovery post-COVID-19 and check the related blogs and research.
September Market Power and Firm Dynamism Market economies prize “creative destruction” in which the exit of less productive businesses leads to better job opportunities and more productive firms. A competitive business environment generally supports this process, as it is associated with business dynamism and innovation. Watch the recording of our recent ECA Talk with Ufuc Akcigit about the latest empirical findings on market power, the rise of star firms and business dynamism, and read the related research.
July Green Recovery This July newsletter is focusing on green recovery. Rebuilding a greener world economy after the COVID-19 pandemic requires learning from what worked and what did not from past efforts to adopt green stimulus during the 2008-9 Great Recession. Efforts were made to implement green stimulus projects but they were limited to a few years following the crisis with little impact in the long-run. You can watch the recording of the ECA Talk with Edward Barbier to learn about the potential cost-effective and innovative policy mechanisms that could be considered by emerging and developing countries to yield progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and check out the related research on this topic.
June Green Transition The June newsletter focuses on green transition. As many countries and corporations around the world are committing to net-zero emissions or carbon neutrality targets by 2050, this green transition will pose a complex set of challenges and opportunities. In our recent ECA Talk, we discussed how financial and managerial constraints are holding back firms from making green investments and how this may thwart countries’ ambitions to become carbon neutral over the next decades. Read the round-up of related papers and blogs.
May 2020 ECA Academy Winning Research In the May newsletter, we introduce the 2020 ECA Academy winning research. This year, the ECA Academy sought papers on several topics including human capital, governance, and the impact and implications of COVID-19. Three winning studies ranged from how vulnerable refugee families respond to targeted cash transfers, to the design of programs that screen for diabetes and high blood pressure, and the voting habits of citizens empowered to report digitally on roads plagued by potholes.
April Data, Digitalization, and Governance While the policymakers continue focusing on saving lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable, strengthening the health and social protection systems as part of the immediate response measures against the continuing pandemic, there is also a need to tackle more structural issues since support cannot continue indefinitely. In our latest ECA Economic Update, we focused on one of the long-term priority areas for our region - how to improve government quality and citizen trust. Among the different ways to improve governance, data and digitalization can play an important role.
March COVID-19, Inequality and Trade-offs This month’s feature topic is COVID-19 and Inequality. We know COVID-19 made inequality in individual countries worse. But what about global inequality? That was the topic of our ECA Talk jointly organized with the Poverty and Equity Global Practice this month where we heard from Angus Deaton about his latest research. You can watch the video in case you missed the talk and read selected papers and blogs on this topic.
February Competition and Star Firms This February newsletter focuses on competition. Many economists think that in the absence of any government intervention, markets naturally become competitive. Technology and globalization have been creating opportunities for some firms to become stars and perform much better than the rest of the economy. But some modern tech firms may be realizing profits the old-fashioned way – by limiting competition.
January Reopening Strategies, Trust in Government and Social Media A careful, gradual, and transparent reopening process is likely to be optimal in both minimizing the health costs of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing the chances of a faster recovery. Moreover, trust in government is an essential determinant of economic recovery, as is providing people with objective information and data. Read more about reopening strategies, governance, and social media in our January newsletter.

2020 Monthly Newsletters (PDF)

December Digital Technologies Rapid technological change is not a new phenomenon, but with the COVID-19 crisis, it has become even more clear how important it really is. Technology has allowed us to continue to work remotely and educate our children while staying healthy. However, not everyone can benefit from technology to the same extent. Read more in our December newsletter.
November Financial Stability after COVID-19 The economic impact of shutdowns and continued interruptions in normal business operations have placed a significant strain on the global economy. It has fallen to the financial sector to take action to supply vital credit to the corporate sector and to households. To enable this, central banks and governments have enacted a wide range of policies. While these can help increase the flow of credit in the short run, how will they affect the future stability of the financial sector?
October COVID-19 and Human Capital This October newsletter focuses on human capital. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will require strong investments in human capital – both education and health. In our latest ECA Economic Update we pay special attention to tertiary education and health risk factors of obesity, smoking, and heavy drinking – highlighting the challenges that are particularly important for the region. Read more about the ECA Economic Update along with a collection of latest research on health and education.
September Governance in the Post-COVID-19 World This month we are focusing on the topic of Governance. Many of the social and political impacts of the COVID-19 crisis are yet to be seen, but we know it is changing the relationship between government and society. Read the related research and watch the recording of the recent ECA Talk with the featured speaker - professor Daron Acemoglu.
July Banking after COVID-19 We are continuing to investigate the impact and implications of COVID-19. What started as a health crisis quickly turned into an economic crisis. The featured topic this month is: what will the future hold for banking systems? If you missed the ECA Talk, you can now watch the recording.
June Debt Sustainability While emerging and developing countries need to support their health care systems, their vulnerable citizens, and firms as they fight the pandemic, they are also under great fiscal pressures renewing debt sustainability concerns, especially given to the huge global contraction, reduced demand for their exports, lower tax revenues, commodity prices, and plunging portfolio and other flows. The June newsletter focuses on the implications of the COVID-19 crisis and debt sustainability.
May Impact of COVID-19 The COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a major impact on globalization and global value chains, and it could bring about a rethinking of the social contract and the role of the state in major economies. The May newsletter focuses on both the near-term economic impact of the pandemic, as well as its long-term implications.
April Fighting COVID-19 The April newsletter highlights the most recent policy research on COVID-19. It features the Spring 2020 ECA Economic Update “Fighting COVID-19” which looks at what countries in the region can do to contain the spread of the virus and save lives, while also working to protect the vulnerable and cushion the economic downturn for a faster recovery after the pandemic.
March Gender in Europe and Central Asia The Europe and Central Asia is a diverse region, but there are some common challenges with regard to gender equality. The March newsletter focuses on how the region can make progress addressing gender issues and which trade-offs to consider in policy and regulatory reforms.
February Automation and the Future of Work Robots are often blamed for displacing workers, but is there another dimension of automation that could be a boon to Europe? The February ECA Research Notes newsletter focuses on the impact of automation on jobs, offshoring and foreign direct investment (FDI) decisions.
January ECA Academy Winning Research In the January issue we introduce the 2019 ECA Academy winning research. The ECA Academy competition identifies the best new policy-relevant research from across the World Bank Group. Whether analyzing the impact of a minimum wage hike in Turkey or evaluating the impact of the Belt and Road initiative for the countries involved, or documenting and exploring implications of city decline in the region - these are all papers that address significant policy issues relevant to Europe and Central Asia region.

2019 Monthly Newsletters (PDF)

December Bank Regulation and Supervision The December newsletter focuses on the launch of the Global Financial Development Report 2019/2020. Over a decade has passed since the onset of the largest global economic crisis since the Great Depression. The crisis revealed major shortcomings in market discipline, regulation, and supervision. The report provides new data and evidence on the regulatory remedies adopted to prevent future financial instability and sheds light on ongoing policy debates.
November FDI and Green Transition One of the events I want to draw your attention in this newsletter is the ECA Lecture we hosted with Beata Javorcik discussing, “Can Foreign Direct Investment Facilitate Green Transition?”. Beata makes the case that FDI is not only good for innovation and growth but it can also benefit the climate by improving the efficiency of energy use, and improve energy mix as well as reducing the CO2 emissions. So policies to attract FDI are “win-win” policies, they are not only good for growth but also the environment.
October Migration and Brain Drain The share of immigrants in Western and Eastern Europe has increased rapidly over the past four decades. Today, one of every three immigrants in the world goes to Europe. The Fall 2019 Economic Update for Europe and Central Asia focused on the design of policies on labor mobility and presents the trends, determinants, and impacts of low- and high-skilled labor. Read more
September Econothon In case you missed it, the Bank held its first-ever "Econothon" in July, featuring 24 consecutive hours of online discussions of development issues, based on the World Bank’s deep expertise and data-driven research. ECA had a very interesting part, including two live segments.
July Globalization and Value Chains Susan Lund, of McKinsey Global Institute, shared her findings about the trends shaping the global value chains, particularly how value chains are becoming more regional and less global as developing economies consume more of their own goods, and the way in which technology is reshaping them.
June Migration in Europe and Central Asia Migration is an important social and economic issue in the ECA region. We had a lively discussion at our last ECA Talks about the outflow of skilled workers and its impacts for the country they leave and the country they migrate to.
May Financial Inclusion Last month during the World Bank’s busy spring meetings, we issued our ECA Economic Update with a special focus on financial inclusion. Inclusive financial systems play a vital role in promoting economic development. This newsletter summarizes the main message of the update and provides links for further reading.
April Corporate Debt – Lessons of Europe for Asia An extensive rise in corporate leverage in Europe prior to the 2008 financial crisis has been followed by a sluggish recovery. Despite policy interventions to ease the credit supply, European investment remains low because firms are still going through a process of deleveraging.
March Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia and the Caucasus The March newsletter focuses on the massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) plans to build roads, railways, seaports and other trade infrastructure in dozens of countries in the Eurasian continent. The BRI aims to connect Asia to Europe, and the initiative has steadily expanded economic corridors and projects as far as Africa.

Chief Economist, Europe and Central Asia
Asli Demirgüç-Kunt is the Chief Economist for the Europe and Central Asia region.