Which factors shape the relationship between manufacturing and government wages?
Benedicta Marzinotto, Alessandro Turrini 05 September 2014
The link between public- and private-sector compensation has important implications for the labour market and price competitiveness. This column reports that manufacturing and government wages co-move both in the long and short run, but that the long-run co-movement is much stronger where the government is an important employer. This co-movement tends to break down during fiscal consolidation periods, except in large-government countries. Moreover, manufacturing wages exhibit a stronger co-movement with productivity in countries where government wages are set via collective bargaining.
During the crisis, numerous Eurozone countries have introduced public wage freezes or cuts as part of an attempt to contain rising fiscal deficits and debts. Some of these countries also had to rebalance their economies, and improve price competitiveness. The relevant question is therefore whether government wages, whilst relevant for fiscal outcomes, may also exert some impact on private-sector labour costs and price competitiveness.
wages, government, public-sector pay, collective bargaining, manufacturing, Public sector, private sector, competitiveness
Gross trade accounting: A transparent method to discover global value chain-related information behind official trade data: Part 2
Zhi Wang, Shang-Jin Wei, Kunfu Zhu 16 April 2014
One common measure of trade linked international production networks is the so-called VAX ratio, i.e. the ratio of value-added exports to gross exports. This column argues that this measure is not well-behaved at the sector, bilateral, or bilateral sector level, and does not capture important features of international production sharing. A new gross trade accounting framework is proposed that can better track countries’ movements up and down global value chains.
competitiveness, globalisation, trade, comparative advantage, global value chains, global supply chain, statistics
Tracking the causes of Eurozone external imbalances: New evidence
Jose Luis Diaz Sanchez, Aristomene Varoudakis 06 February 2014
External imbalances within the Eurozone grew substantially between the introduction of the euro in 1999 and the global financial crisis of 2008–09. Using new empirical evidence, this column argues that imbalances in the Eurozone periphery were mainly driven by a domestic demand boom, triggered by greater financial integration, with changes in the periphery’s competitiveness playing only a minor role. Internal devaluation may thus have been of limited effectiveness in restoring external balances, although better external competitiveness may eventually boost medium-term growth.
The Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, triggered by the 2008–09 global financial crisis, exposed macroeconomic imbalances in member countries that had accrued gradually following the advent of the euro in 1999. The growing current-account deficits in the Eurozone periphery and surpluses in the core were a main symptom of these imbalances (Figure 1).1 These patterns of intra-Eurozone current-account imbalances led to the accumulation of large external debts in the Eurozone periphery, matched by growing claims held by commercial banks in the core.
competitiveness, eurozone, global imbalances, global financial crisis, European sovereign debt crisis
Going beyond the mystery of Italy’s price-competitiveness indicators
Claire Giordano, Francesco Zollino 18 July 2013
Since the mid-2000s competitiveness indicators for Italy have been providing conflicting signals. This column argues that producer prices and labour costs have actually moved hand in hand since 1992, and that the rise in the real effective exchange rate based on labour costs can be attributed to price-cost divergences in its main trading partners. Due to the internationalisation of production processes and fading share of labour in overall costs, price-based indicators may be more appropriate to assess external competitiveness.
Assessing Italy’s price competitiveness is becoming a puzzling challenge. Among others, Paul Krugman (2012) has questioned the reliability of the Italian cost-based indicators pinpointing their links with the “[country’s] mysterious productivity collapse”. Bayoumi et al. (2011) also claimed that “[w]hile Italy’s competitiveness does appear to have eroded [since 1995], the size of this effect is, frankly, anyone’s guess”.
Exchange rates International trade
Italy, competitiveness, economic indicators
The roots of the Italian stagnation
Paolo Manasse 19 June 2013
It’s currently very trendy in Italy to blame Angela Merkel, Mario Monti, and austerity measures for the current recession. This column argues that while the severity of the downturn is clearly a cyclical phenomenon, the inability of the country to grow out of it is the legacy of more than a decade of a lack of reforms in credit, product and labour markets. This lack of reform has suffocated innovation and productivity growth, resulting in wage dynamics that are completely decoupled from labour productivity and demand conditions.
Italy is currently facing its worst recession in recent history, having lost about 8.5% of GDP between 2007 and 2013. The current situation is, to a large extent, the result of the Eurozone crisis and of the tough fiscal-austerity measures introduced across Europe, and particularly in Italy. Since 2007, the Italian primary balance improved by 3.3 points of potential GDP according to the OECD, almost exclusively through tax increases.
Europe's nations and regions
Italy, competitiveness, Eurozone crisis
Hans-Werner Sinn, Akos Valentinyi 09 March 2013
Will addressing large internal imbalances lead us out of the Eurozone crisis? This column argues that it might. Periphery countries should devalue in order to regain competitiveness and reduce imbalances. As to whether they should pursue internal or external devaluation, the answer remains unclear. Overall, given that policymakers have excluded the option of exit, economic policymaking must focus on the possibilities for internal devaluations, despite some of the difficulties it may bring.
Europe is in the grip of three interrelated crises: a balance-of-payments crisis, a sovereign-debt crisis and a banking crisis. Policymakers have primarily focused on the sovereign-debt and banking crises. However, a credible strategy for getting the Eurozone back on track needs to address the problem of its large internal imbalances. Rebalancing will require countries with current-account deficits to devalue. The crucial question is how: internally without exiting the euro or externally after exiting the euro.
Imbalances in the euro area
Europe's nations and regions
competitiveness, imbalances, devaluation, Eurozone crisis
The Brazilian competitiveness cliff
Otaviano Canuto, Matheus Cavallari, José Guilherme Reis 27 February 2013
Brazilian exports of goods and services have grown sharply in recent years, tripling since 2000. This column argues that Brazil’s export performance depends mostly on favourable geographical and sector composition effects and that a recent slowdown in industrial exports, production, and investments are not related to insufficient demand but rather supply-side inefficiencies and rising costs. Policymakers ought to aim for urgent progress on the nation’s microeconomic reforms agenda, an increase in the investment-to-GDP ratio, and improvements in human capital.
The Brazilian economy is facing considerable competitiveness challenges (Bonelli and Pinheiro 2012). After several years of strong expansion, the recent slowdown seems related to supply-side difficulties stemming from a wide range of inefficiencies and rising costs, rather than insufficient aggregate demand. Such inefficiencies and costs have increasingly burdened economic activity and have shown signs of worsening in recent years.
International trade Monetary policy
competitiveness, capital controls, BRICs, MIST
Why do large movements in exchange rates have small effects on international prices?
Mary Amiti, Oleg Itskhoki, Jozef Konings 19 February 2013
Why is it that large movements in exchange rates have small effects on international prices? What does this mean for a crisis-stricken Eurozone? Using firm-level data, this column presents new research that investigates this exchange rate ‘disconnect’. Evidence suggests that the prices of the largest firms – with their disproportionately large share of trade – are insulated from exchange rate movements. The international competitiveness effects of a euro devaluation are therefore likely to be modest, given major exporters’ reliance on global supply chains.
Exchange rate moves have surprisingly small effects on prices. This apparent ‘disconnect’ is one of the central puzzles in international macroeconomics. It is also a continual headache for policymakers who rely on exchange rates to accommodate the adjustment of global (current account) imbalances. The main mechanism is a change in relative prices that shifts expenditure towards countries whose currency has depreciated. If prices don’t respond sufficiently to exchange rates then neither do quantities, and the expenditure-switching role of exchange rates is diminished (see Engel 2003).
competitiveness, euro, exports, imports, Eurozone crisis
Value-added exchange rates
Rudolfs Bems, Robert Johnson 06 December 2012
With the rise of complex, globalised supply chains is the real effective exchange rate (REER), the most commonly used measure of competitiveness, now outdated? If it is, what should replace it? This column presents a ‘Value-Added REER’ and shows that it differs substantially from the conventional REER. Because it is possible to construct a new Value-Added REER from existing data, policymakers interested in improving their understanding of competitiveness might well consider including it in their toolbox.
Real effective exchange rates (REERs) are widely used to gauge competitiveness. Yet conventional REERs, based on gross trade flows and consumer price indexes (CPIs), are not well suited to that role when imports are used to produce exports – i.e., with vertical specialisation in trade.
Competition policy Global economy International trade
competitiveness, Germany, global imbalances, China, globalisation, trade, supply chains, iPhone
Export shares, price competitiveness and the ‘Spanish paradox’
Miguel Cardoso, Mónica Correa-López, Rafael Doménech 24 November 2012
How can we explain the ‘Spanish paradox’ – a modest market share loss since the launch of the euro alongside a real exchange rate appreciation? This column argues that the non-price determinants of competitiveness have been more important than export prices in explaining the change of world exports shares. Notably, Spanish firms’ strategic decision-making has helped shape Spain´s internationalisation and may, ultimately, be the crucial factor explaining the paradox.
Since the launch of the euro, Spanish exporters have been successful in containing the loss of their export share in world markets. This is in contrast to several advanced economies that have experienced significant losses as a result of globalisation and the gain of exports shares by many emerging countries. From 1999 until 2011, Spain lost 8.9% of her export share, a relatively modest figure in comparison to the record of other large producers (for instance France lost -40.5%; the UK -39.2%; Italy -32.1%; US -31.9%; and, more modestly, Germany -12.2%).
Europe's nations and regions International trade
competitiveness, Spain, export market shares