Regional wage differentials in the public sector
Masayuki Morikawa 23 November 2014
The appropriate level of public sector wages is debated frequently in every country, and the debate has intensified in the wake of the global financial crisis. This column presents evidence that regional wage differentials in Japan are greater in the private sector than in the public sector. In regions where public sector wages are relatively high, skilled individuals may self-select into public sector jobs. At the same time, public sector employers in metropolitan regions such as Tokyo may have difficulty in hiring high quality employees.
After the global financial crisis, some European countries reduced their public sector wages to ensure fiscal sustainability. In Japan, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the wages of the central government officials were cut for two years to finance the reconstruction expenses. Even in normal times, the appropriate level of public sector wages is debated frequently in every country. Because wages are an important incentive for workers, appropriate wage levels and their structure in the public sector are essential for ensuring the quality and efficiency of public services.
fiscal sustainability, global crisis, Public sector wages, public-sector pay, Public sector, private sector, Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan, Europe, agglomeration, spatial equilibrium, wages, wage premia, regional wage differentials
The 2014 EU-wide bank stress test lacks credibility
Morris Goldstein 18 November 2014
Results from last month’s EU-wide stress test are reassuring, especially for countries at Europe’s core. This column warns against a rosy interpretation. The test relies on risk-weighted measures of bank capital ratios that have been shown to be less predictive of bank failure than unweighted leverage ratios – a metric already adopted by the US Fed and Bank of England. In addition, many experts recommend much higher leverage ratios than currently required. The ECB must do more to fix undercapitalisation.
On October 26th 2014 the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Banking Authority (EBA) released the results of the latest EU-wide stress test and the accompanying asset quality review (AQR).1
The 2014 stress test encompasses four key findings:
bank recapitalisation, banks, Central Banks, Europe, European Central Bank, European Union
Contagion in the European sovereign debt crisis
Brent Glover, Seth Richards-Shubik 12 November 2014
Understanding the probability and magnitude of financial contagion is essential for policymaking. This column applies a framework for modelling financial contagion to data on the cross-holding and credit risk of sovereign debt in Europe. Credit markets perceived little risk of contagion from these spillovers following a sovereign default. It is important for policy to assess other possible channels for contagion that could generate even bigger losses.
Fear of financial contagion was a major motivation behind the bailouts and other interventions provided during the recent sovereign debt crisis in Europe. Given the interconnected network of financial relationships among European nations, the potential for contagion seemed self-evident. But what really was – and is – the magnitude of the risk of sovereign contagion in Europe?
EU policies Financial markets
sovereign debt crisis, Europe, financial contagion
How to climb a mountain with both hands tied
Jean Pisani-Ferry 07 November 2014
A triple-dip recession in the Eurozone is now a distinct possibility. This column argues that additional monetary stimulus is unlikely to be effective, that the scope for further fiscal stimulus is limited, and that some structural reforms may actually hurt growth in the short run by adding to disinflationary pressures in a liquidity trap. The author advocates using tax incentives and tighter regulations to encourage firms to replace environmentally inefficient capital.
Against the background of lacklustre global demand, economic growth in Europe has weakened again. In the Eurozone, a third recession in less than seven years is a distinct possibility. Yet economic policy looks powerless. On the monetary side, although the ECB may still embark on a genuine programme of quantitative easing, such action is unlikely to deliver a major boost because the benchmark 10-year government bonds already yield just 1%.
Environment EU policies Macroeconomic policy Microeconomic regulation
Europe, eurozone, recession, stimulus, monetary policy, quantitative easing, fiscal policy, structural reforms, labour market reforms, liquidity trap, investment, Cash for clunkers, scrapping subsidies, environment, regulation, emissions standards
Americans work too long (and too often at strange times)
Daniel S. Hamermesh, Elena Stancanelli 29 September 2014
American employees put in longer workweeks than Europeans. They are also more likely to work at undesirable times, such as nights and weekends. This column argues that the phenomena of long hours and strange hours are related. One possibility for this is cultural – Americans simply enjoy working at strange times. Another, more probable explanation, is the greater inequality of earnings of low-skilled workers in the US, compared to Europeans.
The facts on work hours and timing
The average US workweek is 41 hours, 3 hours longer than Britain’s and even longer than in Germany, France, Spain, or the Netherlands (see the Table below).
work hours, night work, weekend work, US, Europe
Cross-country differences in perceptions of inequality
Judith Niehues 28 September 2014
Income inequality is high in the US, but the support of social welfare programmes is low. In Europe, income inequality is low and the welfare states are generous. This column argues that this paradox is largely due to perceived inequality. Many Europeans believe that there is high inequality in their countries, justifying the need for redistributive policies. Americans, however, are less concerned with income differences and with respective redistributive state intervention.
The well-known and frequently tested median voter theorem predicts a positive relationship between income inequality and state redistribution; if the decisive median voter’s income is below the social average, he votes for more welfare redistribution because he expects to benefit from progressively financed welfare programmes. However, this theory does not perform very well when confronted with data. Although income inequality is high in the US, support for welfare state programmes is relatively low. In contrast, income differences in European countries are substantially lower.
Poverty and income inequality Welfare state and social Europe
income inequality, perceived income inequality, Europe, US
Is the ECB doing QE?
Charles Wyplosz 12 September 2014
Last week, the ECB announced that it would begin purchasing securities backed by bank lending to households and firms. Whereas markets and the media have generally greeted this announcement with enthusiasm, this column identifies reasons for caution. Other central banks’ quantitative easing programmes have involved purchasing fixed amounts of securities according to a published schedule. In contrast, the ECB’s new policy is demand-driven, and will only be effective if it breaks the vicious circle of recession and negative credit growth.
The 4 September announcement by Chairman Mario Draghi has been greeted with enthusiasm by the markets and the media. It has been long awaited, and many believe that the ECB has finally delivered. This is not sure. The ECB intends to buy large amounts of securities backed by bank lending to households (mortgages) and to firms.
Exchange rates Financial markets Monetary policy
quantitative easing, QE, monetary policy, unconventional monetary policy, ECB, securitisation, bank lending, Europe, eurozone, Subprime, stress tests, deleveraging, recapitalisation, depreciation, exchange rates, euro, central banking
To exit the Great Recession, central banks must adapt their policies and models
Marcus Miller, Lei Zhang 10 September 2014
During the Great Moderation, inflation targeting with some form of Taylor rule became the norm at central banks. This column argues that the Global Crisis called for a new approach, and that the divergence in macroeconomic performance since then between the US and the UK on the one hand, and the Eurozone on the other, is partly attributable to monetary policy differences. The ECB’s model of the economy worked well during the Great Moderation, but is ill suited to understanding the Great Recession.
“Practical men…are usually the slaves…[of] some academic scribbler of a few years back” – John Maynard Keynes.
For monetary policy to be most effective, Michael Woodford emphasised the crucial importance of managing expectations. For this purpose, he advocated that central banks adopt explicit rules for setting interest rates to check inflation and recession, and went on to note that:
Global crisis Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
Taylor rule, forward guidance, great moderation, global crisis, Great Recession, quantitative easing, DSGE models, expectations, tapering, US, UK, Europe, eurozone, ECB, Bank of England, central banking, IMF, unconventional monetary policy
Is Europe saving away its future? European public funding for research in the era of fiscal consolidation
Reinhilde Veugelers 28 August 2014
The Crisis affected public spending. Research and innovation is one area often highlighted as needing protection. This column does not find strong evidence that European countries sacrificed research and innovation more than other government expenditure. However, there is strong heterogeneity across countries. Innovation lagging and fiscally weak countries cut R&I spending while innovation-leading forged it ahead. Research of this divide and long-term growth is still limited.
Trends in public R&I budgets in EU countries during the crisis
The dangerous cocktail in many European countries of high debt and subdued growth calls for smart fiscal consolidation. Cost-cutting programmes should minimise the potentially negative short-term effect on economic activity, while establishing a foundation for long-term growth, with growth-enhancing public expenditure safeguarded from cuts, or even increased (Teulings 2012).
EU policies Productivity and Innovation
research and innovation, Europe, public spending
Secular stagnation: Facts, causes, and cures – a new Vox eBook
Coen Teulings, Richard Baldwin 10 September 2014
The CEPR Press eBook on secular stagnation has been viewed over 80,000 times since it was published on 15 August 2014. The PDF remains freely downloadable, but as the European debate on secular stagnation is moving into policy circles, we decided to also make it a Kindle book. This is available from Amazon; all proceeds will help defray VoxEU expenses.
Teaser from original column posted on 15 August 2014
Six years after the Crisis and the recovery is still anaemic despite years of zero interest rates. Is ‘secular stagnation’ to blame? This column introduces an eBook that gathers the views of leading economists including Summers, Krugman, Gordon, Blanchard, Koo, Eichengreen, Caballero, Glaeser, and a dozen others. It is too early to tell whether secular stagnation is really secular, but if it is, current policy tools will be obsolete. Policymakers should start thinking about potential solutions.
Global crisis Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
interest rates, US, Europe, Japan, investment, macroeconomics, Great Recession, zero lower bound, savings, secular stagnation, SecStag debate