Featured publications

The New Silk Road, part II: implications for Europe

Stephan Barisitz, Alice Radzyner
Focus on European Economic Integration Q4/17, p. 70-81, OeNB

  • Through the New Silk Road (NSR) initiative, China increasingly invests in building and modernizing overland and maritime infrastructures with a view to enhancing the overall connectivity between China and Europe. The NSR runs through a number of Eurasian emerging markets and extends to Southeastern Europe (SEE), where Chinese investments include the modernization of ports and highspeed rail and road projects to speed up the transport of goods between China and Europe (e.g. port of Piraeus, rail connection to Budapest). Participation in the NSR will probably stimulate SEE’s economic expansion and may even contribute to overcoming its traditional peripheral position in Europe. Ideally, SEE will play a role in catalyzing a deepening of China-EU economic relations, e.g. by facilitating European exports to China and other countries along NSR trajectories, which would boost growth in Europe more widely. In the long run, these developments might also influence the EU’s political and economic positioning on a global scale.


Estimating Potential Growth and Output Gap in Croatia

Goran Jovičić
Croatian National Bank

  • The purpose of this paper is briefly to present and compare the results of potential growth rate and output gap estimation for Croatia in the period from 1996 to 2016 obtained using three different methodological approaches – the HP filter, the production function method and the multivariate filter (MVF). The results obtained suggest that there are significant quantita­tive differences between individual estimation methods, so that their use in further calculations calls for caution. The analy­sis shows that after the global financial crisis, potential growth of the domestic economy and the output gap remained nega­tive over a prolonged period, which is in line with the estimates regularly published for Croatia by the European Commission (EC). It is worth noting that total factor productivity made a small contribution to potential growth rate during the entire period observed and that its growth was much lower than in most European Union countries. This suggests that there are structural problems in the domestic economy that hinder a more effective utilisation of the existing resources.

Goods and Factor Market Integration: A Quantitative Assessment of the EU Enlargement

Lorenzo Caliendo, Luca David Opromolla, Fernando Parro, Alessandro Sforza
National Bank of Portugal

  • The economic effects from labor market integration are crucially affected by the extent to which countries are open to trade. In this paper we build a multi-country dynamic general equilibrium model with trade in goods and labor mobility across countries to study and quantify the economic effects of trade and labor market integration. In our model trade is costly and features households of different skills and nationalities facing costly forwardlooking relocation decisions. We use the EU Labour Force Survey to construct migration flows by skill and nationality across 17 countries for the period 2002-2007. We then exploit the timing variation of the 2004 EU enlargement to estimate the elasticity of migration flows to labor mobility costs, and to identify the change in labor mobility costs associated to the actual change in policy. We apply our model and use these estimates, as well as the observed changes in tariffs, to quantify the effects from the EU enlargement. We find that new member state countries are the largest winners from the EU enlargement, and in particular unskilled labor. We find smaller welfare gains for EU-15 countries. However, in the absence of changes to trade policy, the EU-15 would have been worse off after the enlargement. We study even further the interaction effects between trade and migration policies and the role of different mechanisms in shaping our results. Our results highlight the importance of trade for the quantification of the welfare and migration effects from labor market integration.

Should one follow movements in the oil price or in money supply? Forecasting quarterly GDP growth in Russia with higher-frequency indicators

Heiner Mikosch, Laura Solanko
Bank of Finland

  • GDP forecasters face tough choices over which leading indicators to follow and which forecasting models to use. To help resolve these issues, we examine a range of monthly indicators to forecast quarterly GDP growth in a major emerging economy, Russia. Numerous useful indicators are identified and forecast pooling of three model classes (bridge models, MIDAS models and unrestricted mixed-frequency models) are shown to outperform simple benchmark models. We further separately examine forecast accuracy of each of the three model classes. Our results show that differences in performance of model classes are generally small, but for the period covering the Great Recession unrestricted mixed-frequency models and MIDAS models clearly outperform bridge models. Notably, the sets of top-performing indicators differ for our two subsample observation periods (2008Q1–2011Q4 and 2012Q1–2016Q4). The best indicators in the first period are traditional real-sector variables, while those in the second period consist largely of monetary, banking sector and financial market variables. This finding supports the notion that highly volatile periods of recession and subsequent recovery are driven by forces other than those that prevail in more normal times. The results further suggest that the driving forces of the Russian economy have changed since the global financial crisis.

Structural change, expanding informality and labour productivity growth in Russia

Ilya B. Voskoboynikov
Bank of Finland

  • Intensive growth, structural change and expanding informality has characterized many developing and emerging economies in recent decades. Yet most empirical investigations into the relationship between structural change and productivity growth overlook informality. This paper includes the informal sector in an analysis of the effects of structural changes in the Russian economy on aggre-gate labour productivity growth. Using a newly developed dataset for 34 industries covering the period 1995–2012 and applying three alternative approaches, aggregate labour productivity growth is decomposed into intra-industry and inter-industry contributions. All three approaches show that the overall contribution of structural change is growth-enhancing, significant and attenuating over time. Labour reallocation from the formal sector to the informal sector tends to reduce growth through the extension of informal activities with low productivity levels. Sectoral labour reallocation effects are found to be highly sensitive to the methods applied.

How do firms adjust to rises in the minimum wage? Survey evidence from Central and Eastern Europe.

Katalin Bodnár, Ludmila Fadejeva, Stefania Iordache, Liina Malk, Desislava Paskaleva, Jurga Pesliakaitė, Nataša Todorović Jemec, Peter Tóth, Robert Wyszyński
WP 9/2017
National Bank of Slovakia

  • We study the transmission channels for rises in the minimum wage using a unique firm-level dataset from eight Central and Eastern European countries. Representative samples of firms in each country were asked to evaluate the relevance of a wide range of adjustment channels following specific instances of rises in the minimum wage during the recent post-crisis period. The paper contributes to the literature by presenting the reactions of firms to rises in the minimum wage as a combination of strategies, and evaluates the relative importance of those strategies. Our findings suggest that the most popular adjustment channels are cuts in non-labour costs, rises in product prices, and improvements in productivity. Cuts in employment, which is the adjustment channel most commonly studied in the empirical literature, is less popular and occurs mostly through reduced hiring rather than direct layoffs. Our study also provides evidence of potential spillover effects that rises in the minimum wage can have on firms without minimum wage workers. Finally, we analyse the different firm-level characteristics that drive the choice of adjustment strategies.

Access to finance in the Western Balkans

Isabella Moder, Niccolò Bonifai

  • Limited access to finance is one of the main obstacles for firms located in the Western Balkans and hampers economic growth as well as the transmission of monetary policy. The aim of this paper is to undertake an in-depth analysis of access to finance constraints in this region, where countries as EU candidates or potential candidates have a prospect of joining the European Union. Besides touching upon macroeconomic and banking sector indicators that influence access to finance, this paper empirically assesses firm-level factors that determine whether a firm operating in the Western Balkans is credit-constrained, both in actual and perceived terms. In line with the literature, the results suggest that size, age, location, being audited, having outstanding loans and expectations about future performance matter for actual credit availability. The econometric analysis is complemented by a review of the Western Balkan countries’ Economic Reform Programmes, which indicate that financing constraints are tackled by most national authorities through specific policy measures, mostly for small and medium-sized enterprises.