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Successful Austerity in the United States, Europe and Japan

According to a new IMF working paper:

The large fiscal legacies of the global financial crisis have reignited the debate around the impact of fiscal policy onto economic activity during fiscal consolidations. The analysis in this paper shows that withdrawing fiscal stimuli too quickly in economies where output is already contracting can prolong their recessions without generating the expected fiscal saving. This is particularly true if the consolidation is centred around cuts to public expenditure—likely reflecting the fact that reductions in public spending have powerful effects on the consumption of financially-constrained agents in the economy—and if the size of the consolidation is large. Large consolidations make recessions more likely even when made at an expansion time. From a policy perspective this is especially relevant for periods of positive, though low growth. Accordingly, frontloading consolidations during a recession seems to aggravate the costs of fiscal adjustment in terms of output loss, while it seems to greatly delay the reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio—which, in turn, can exacerbate market sentiment in a sovereign at times of low confidence, defying fiscal austerity efforts altogether. Again this is even truer in the case of consolidations based prominently on cuts to public spending. 

Thus, a gradual fiscal adjustment, with a balanced composition of cuts to expenditure and tax increases boosts the chances that the consolidation will successfully (and rapidly) translate into lower debt-to-GDP ratios. Monetary policy can likely help alleviate further the pain of fiscal withdrawal if it is used proactively via reduction in the real interest rate.

According to a new IMF working paper:

The large fiscal legacies of the global financial crisis have reignited the debate around the impact of fiscal policy onto economic activity during fiscal consolidations. The analysis in this paper shows that withdrawing fiscal stimuli too quickly in economies where output is already contracting can prolong their recessions without generating the expected fiscal saving. This is particularly true if the consolidation is centred around cuts to public expenditure—likely reflecting the fact that reductions in public spending have powerful effects on the consumption of financially-constrained agents in the economy—and if the size of the consolidation is large.

Read the full article…

Posted by at 7:45 PM

Labels: Unemployment

IMF Says Global Recovery Weak and Vulnerable; Depends on Resolving Euro Area Crisis

An already sluggish global recovery shows signs of further weakness, mainly because of continuing financial problems in Europe and slower-than-expected growth in emerging economies, the IMF said July 16 in a regular update to its World Economic Outlook.

An already sluggish global recovery shows signs of further weakness, mainly because of continuing financial problems in Europe and slower-than-expected growth in emerging economies, the IMF said July 16 in a regular update to its World Economic Outlook.

Read the full article…

Posted by at 2:05 PM

Labels: Economic Forecast

How Vulnerable Is Sweden’s Housing Market?

According to the latest IMF’s annual report on Sweden, the residential real estate cycle may have reached its long-predicted peak in Sweden. Housing starts halved over 2011 while the real prices dropped substantially in the second half of 2011 (-3.5 percent cumulatively) and remained flat in 2012 Q1 (q-o-q). The surge in late 2010 and early 2011, following the decline through 2008, appears to have been due to buyers taking advantage of the low interest rate environment and to the abolition of the real estate tax in 2008 in favor of a municipal tax set at the lower of SEK 6,825 (around 969 euros) or 0.75 percent of the property’s assessed value. Indeed, in the two years to 2011 Q2, residential investment (+37 percent) took off again, contrary to more muted developments during the previous recovery, offsetting the sharp drop in new homebuilding experienced during the global crisis.

Going forward, several factors may indicate further downward pressure on house prices. First, price-to-income and price-to-rent ratios remain 1.1 and 1.4 standard deviations respectively above historical averages. Second, staff’s model-based estimates from the Early Warning Exercise (EWE) and Vulnerability Exercise for Advanced Countries (VEA) suggest an overvaluation around 11–12 percent, exceeding the 10 percent threshold. (The EWE real estate model combines these three indicators to create a heat map for house price valuation.) Moreover, the predicted path of house prices based on WEO income projections suggests a decline of almost 5-6 percent through 2017.

These indicators put Sweden among the advanced countries where a house price correction is most likely to take place. Yet, the point estimate for the house price disequilibrium (the difference between actual prices and estimated equilibrium or long-run prices) is not large by historical standards, and Sweden ranks only 9th among 22 advanced economies in the VEA sample in terms of potential overvaluation. Furthermore, other components of residential real estate vulnerability (namely, potential impact on GDP, household balance sheets, and mortgage market characteristics) remain moderate or low in Sweden, compared to other advanced economies. That said, with most mortgages being “rollover” mortgages with terms of at most five years, any future interest rate increases could put additional strains on already highly indebted households.

According to the latest IMF’s annual report on Sweden, the residential real estate cycle may have reached its long-predicted peak in Sweden. Housing starts halved over 2011 while the real prices dropped substantially in the second half of 2011 (-3.5 percent cumulatively) and remained flat in 2012 Q1 (q-o-q). The surge in late 2010 and early 2011, following the decline through 2008, appears to have been due to buyers taking advantage of the low interest rate environment and to the abolition of the real estate tax in 2008 in favor of a municipal tax set at the lower of SEK 6,825 (around 969 euros) or 0.75 percent of the property’s assessed value.

Read the full article…

Posted by at 2:24 PM

Labels: Housing

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