1/2019 Assessing Nowcast Accuracy of US GDP Growth in Real Time: The Role of Booms and Busts
In this paper we reassess the forecasting performance of the Bayesian mixed-frequency model suggested in Carriero et al. (2015) in terms of point and density forecasts of the GDP growth rate using US macroeconomic data. Following Chauvet and Potter (2013), we evaluate the forecasting accuracy of the model relative to a univariate AR(2) model separately for expansions and recessions, as defined by the NBER business cycle chronology, rather than relying on a comparison of forecast accuracy over the whole forecast sample spanning from the first quarter of 1985 to the third quarter of 2011. We find that most of the evidence favouring the more sophisticated model over the simple benchmark model is due to relatively few observations during recessions, especially those during the Great Recession. In contrast, during expansions the gains in forecasting accuracy over the benchmark model are at best very modest. This implies that the relative forecasting performance of the models varies with business cycle phases. Ignoring this fact results in a distorted picture: the relative performance of the more sophisticated model in comparison with the naive benchmark model tends to be overstated during expansions and understated during recessions.
Keywords: nowcasting, mixed-frequency data, real-time data, business cycle
JEL codes: C22, C53
5/2018 On the Design of Stabilising Fiscal Rules
Wolf Heinrich Reuter, Oļegs Tkačevs, Kārlis Vilerts
Utilising data of the EU28 Member States for the period 1996–2015, this paper confirms the findings of previous studies that the stipulation of fiscal rules reduces fiscal volatility and consequently contributes to macroeconomic stability. Yet, we document that this result only holds for rules which are designed to be unaffected by the current state of the business cycle, i.e. which are "a-cyclical". Those can, e.g. be budget balance rules that set ceilings in cyclically adjusted terms or expenditure rules that set a limit relative to potential instead of current output. Furthermore, the stringency of fiscal rules amplifies their stabilising effect. Actual year-to-year compliance with fiscal rules seems to play no systematic role, such that effects of the rules can be observed even if they are not complied with year-to-year. Overall, our paper suggests that strong, properly designed numerical rules act as an anchor for fiscal policy makers and contribute to more stable discretionary fiscal policy.
Keywords: fiscal rules, fiscal policy volatility, panel data, compliance
JEL codes: C23, E62, E32, H60
4/2018 Spillovers from Euro Area Monetary Policy: A Focus on Emerging Europe
Soňa Benecká, Ludmila Fadejeva, Martin Feldkircher
This paper investigates the international effects of a euro area monetary policy shock, focusing on countries from Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE). To that end, we use a global vector autoregressive (GVAR) model and employ shadow rates as a proxy for the monetary policy stance during normal and zero-lower-bound periods. We propose a new way of modelling euro area countries in a multi-country framework, accounting for joint monetary policy, and a novel approach to simultaneously identifying shocks. Our results show that in most euro area and CESEE countries prices adjust and output falls in response to a euro area monetary tightening, but with a substantial degree of heterogeneity.
Keywords: euro area monetary policy, global vector autoregression, spillovers
JEL codes: C32, F44, E32, O54
3/2018 Exports and productivity in global value chains: comparative evidence from Latvia and Estonia
Konstantīns Beņkovskis, Jaan Masso, Oļegs Tkačevs, Priit Vahter, Naomitsu Yashiro
This paper investigates the effect of export entry on productivity, employment and wages of Latvian and Estonian firms in the context of global value chains (GVCs). Like in many countries, exporting firms in Latvia and Estonia are more productive, larger, pay higher wages and are more capital-intensive than non-exporting firms. While this is partly because firms that are originally more productive and have better performances are more likely to enter exports, Latvian and Estonian firms also realise more than 23% and 14% higher labour productivity level respectively as the result of export entry. Export entry also increases employment and average wages. Gains in productivity and employment are particularly large when firms enter exports that are related to participation in knowledge-intensive activities found in the upstream of GVCs. For instance, Latvian firms that start exporting intermediate goods or non-transport services (which include knowledge-intensive services) enjoy significantly higher productivity gains than those starting to export final goods or transport services. These findings underscore the importance of innovation policies that strengthen firms' capabilities to supply highly differentiated knowledge-intensive goods and services to GVCs.
Keywords: productivity, global value chain, exports, Latvia, Estonia
JEL codes: F12, F14, O19, O57
2/2018 The Natural Rate of Interest: Information Derived from a Shadow Rate Model
The study proposes an estimation method of the natural rate of interest based on the shadow rate term structure of interest rates model and using information from nominal yields data. For the purpose of comparison and robustness check, different samples for the estimation of the natural rate of interest – three for the euro area and two for the US – are considered. The estimates based on all considered samples show a downturn trend in the estimated natural rates of interest for the euro area. However, since the beginning of 2013, this downward trend has levelled off. Compared to the results obtained by affine models, the shadow rate model produces lower estimates of natural rates of interest. From the beginning of 2013, the dynamics of estimated series of the US natural rate of interest closely follows the series produced by Laubach–Williams. However, before that the series are more divergent. In order to demonstrate the use of the natural rate of interest, we employ the estimated series of the natural rate of interest in the balance-approach version of the Taylor rule. The results imply that, at the end of the sample in July 2017, Taylor rule-suggested policy rates were in line with the actual ECB policy rates.
Keywords: natural rate of interest, term structure of interest rates, lower bound, non-linear Kalman filter
JEL codes: C24, C32, E43, E58, G12
1/2018 Importance of EU Regional Support Programmes for Firm Performance
Konstantīns Beņkovskis, Oļegs Tkačevs, Naomitsu Yashiro
This paper investigates the effects of EU regional support on firms' productivity, the number of employees and other firm performance indicators. For this purpose, a rich firm-level dataset for Latvia, a country where investment activities are affected by the availability of EU funding, is used. The paper finds that participation in activities co-funded by the ERDF raises firms' input and output soon after they embark on them, while the effect on labour productivity and TFP appears only with a time lag of three years. However, this positive productivity premium is not homogenous across firms and is more likely to materialise in the case of initially less productive and medium-sized/large firms. Furthermore, statistical significance of positive productivity gains is not particularly robust across different estimation procedures. The study also shows that after controlling for investment expenditures, EU sponsored projects are as efficient as the privately financed ones, irrespective of where private financing comes from.
Keywords: EU funds, productivity, firm-level data, propensity score matching
JEL codes: C14, D22, R11
4/2017 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
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 adds to the rest of literature by presenting the reactions of firms 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 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.
Keywords: minimum wage, adjustment channels, firm-level survey
JEL codes: D22, E23, J31
3/2017 Why is Education Performance so Different Across Latvian Schools?
This paper aims at identifying the school characteristics consistently associated with better performance of pupils on state exams. First, we find that exam scores are positively related to school size (the number of pupils in the respective school) and teacher salaries, but negatively – with teacher age. Meanwhile, quantitative inputs like the number of teachers and computers per pupil are not robust determinants of education performance. Second, we show that pupils in urban and rural schools would perform similarly if characteristics of these schools were the same. The Oaxaca–Ransom decomposition fully explains the urban-rural exam score gap by a greater number of pupils and higher teacher salaries in urban schools as well as by different pupil structure; in turn, pupils' ethnic origin plays in favour of rural schools. Finally, Stochastic Frontier Analysis models show that school size is a robust efficiency determinant, while school location in the Riga region or in another big city is not. The bottom line is that structural reforms involving school mergers and a rise in teacher salaries might bring non-negligible dividends in terms of education quality.
Keywords: education performance, school size, rural schools, Oaxaca–Ransom decomposition, Stochastic Frontier Analysis
JEL codes: I21, C1
2/2017 What drives export market shares? It depends! An empirical analysis using Bayesian Model Averaging
Konstantīns Beņkovskis (Latvijas Banka and Stockholm School of Economics in Riga), Benjamin Bluhm (Goethe Universität Frankfurt and ADVISORI FTC GmbH), Elena Bobeica (European Central Bank), Chiara Osbat (European Central Bank), Stefan Zeugner (European Commission)
What drives external performance of countries? This is a recurring question in academia and policy. The factors underlying export growth are receiving great attention, as countries struggle to grow out of the crisis by increasing exports and as protectionist discourses take foot again. Despite decades of debates, it is still unclear what the drivers of external performance are and, importantly, which ones policy makers can influence. We use Bayesian Model Averaging in a panel setting to investigate the drivers of export market shares of 25 EU countries, considering a wide range of traditional indicators along with novel ones developed within the CompNet. We find that export market share growth is linked to different factors in the old and new EU Member States, with one exception: for both groups, competitive pressures from China have strongly affected export performance since the early 2000s. In the case of the old EU Member States, investment, the quality of institutions and liquidity available to firms also appear to play a role. For the new EU Member States, labour and total factor productivity are particularly important, while inward FDI matters more than domestic investment. Price competitiveness does not seem to play a very important role in either set of countries: relative export prices do show correlation with export performance for the new EU Member States, but only when they are adjusted for quality. Our results point to the importance of considering the "exporting stage" of a country when discussing export-enhancing policies.
Keywords: export shares, competitiveness, Bayesian Model Averaging
JEL codes: C23, C51, C55, F14, O52
1/2017 Wage formation, unemployment and business cycle in Latvia
This paper integrates the alternating-offer wage bargaining (AOB) in a fully-fledged New Keynesian open economy model, and estimates it to the Latvian data. Further on, the paper studies the model's properties and compares them to alternative specifications for labour market modelling, i.e. the Nash wage bargaining with both Taylor-type wage rigidity and without exogenously imposed wage inertia, a reduced-form sharing rule, and a reduced-form wage rule. The goal of the paper is to choose a labour market modelling specification that suits best the needs of the central bank of Latvia in terms of macroeconomic modelling and forecasting. The results indicate that the AOB model suits the Latvian labour market well. The paper concludes with a simulation of economic effects from a permanent increase in the minimum-to-average wage ratio, as observed in Latvia, and finds potentially large losses of employment and output.
Keywords: alternating-offer bargaining, DSGE model, forecasting, minimum wage
JEL codes: E0, E2, E3, F4
5/2016 The Impact of Sovereign Bond Yields on Fiscal Discipline
Oļegs Tkačevs, Kārlis Vilerts
This paper studies the impact of sovereign bond yields on fiscal discipline against the background of unprecedentedly low interest rates in advanced economies brought about by ultra-expansionary monetary policies of recent years. By employing the panel data econometric approach for a sample of OECD, EU and euro area countries over the period 1980–2014, the study suggests a positive and statistically significant impact of long-term sovereign bond yields on primary balances (PBs), indicating that a decrease in borrowing costs leads to a statistically significant deterioration of fiscal balances. The findings herein also suggest that falling bond yields pass on to fiscal balances through increases in government expenditure rather than revenue reduction. From the economic policy perspective, these findings imply that monetary policy measures resulting in ultra-low interest rates may cause negative side effects for fiscal discipline.
Keywords: fiscal policy, fiscal reaction function, sovereign bond yields, panel data
JEL codes: E62, H62
4/2016 The role of price and cost competitiveness for intra- and extra-euro area trade of euro area countries
Elena Bobeica, Styliani Christodoulopoulou, Oļegs Tkačevs
This paper studies the importance of price and cost competitiveness for intra- and extra-euro area trade flows of euro area countries. A standard error correction framework shows that price competitiveness is a relatively more important driver of trade flows outside the euro area as compared to those within the monetary union, especially for exports, that tend to be more sensitive to relative prices than imports. We consider various measures of competitiveness and conclude that it is difficult to single out one that outperforms the others. Using an encompassing test, measures based on labour costs appear to contain relatively more information for trade flows, particularly for exports outside the euro area.
The key policy implication is that, in order to adjust competitiveness disequilibria within the monetary union, measures, such as structural policies fostering non-price competitiveness should be pursued in the deficit countries besides those aimed at price and cost adjustments.
Keywords: price and cost competitiveness, intra- and extra-euro area trade, error correction model
JEL codes: F14, F15, F41
3/2016 Relationship Between Inflation and Economic Activity and Its Variation Over Time in Latvia
Andrejs Bessonovs, Oļegs Tkačevs
This paper studies the relationship between inflation and economic slack in Latvia with a particular focus on its time variation. The results suggest that the Phillips curve for Latvia had been steepening before the crisis against the backdrop of rising inflation. In the more recent years, there has been tentative evidence of the Phillips curve flattening as Latvia's economy entered a period of very low inflation. If the current trend of an even weaker response of inflation to economic activity in Latvia persists and proves to be statistically significant, unconventional monetary policy instruments may be of limited effectiveness to control inflation in Latvia. This calls for structural reforms aimed at increasing competition and reducing price stickiness.
Keywords: inflation, Phillips curve, business cycles, Bayesian estimation
JEL codes: C32, C51, E31, E52
2/2016 A Term Structure of Interest Rates Model with Zero Lower Bound and the European Central Bank's Non-standard Monetary Policy Measures
This paper proposes a ZLB/shadow rate term structure of interest rates model with both unobservable factors and those of non-standard monetary policy measures. The non-standard factors include the ECB's holdings of APP and LTROs as well as their weighted average maturities. The model is approximated by the Taylor series expansion and estimated by the extended Kalman filter, using the sample from July 2009 to September 2015. The results show that the 5-year OIS rate at the end of September 2015 was about 60 basis points lower than it would have been in the case of the absence of the non-standard monetary policy measures.
Keywords: term structure of interest rates, lower bound, non-linear Kalman filter, non-standard monetary policy measures
JEL codes: C24, C32, E43, E58, G12
1/2016 CGE model with fiscal sector for Latvia
Konstantīns Beņkovskis, Eduards Goluzins, Oļegs Tkačevs
This paper describes the first CGE model for Latvia that consists of 32 industries, 55 products and seven categories of final users. To construct the model we use Latvia's National Supply and Use tables for 2011 from the WIOD database. Special attention is devoted to the fiscal block: the model consists of five government expenditure types and five revenue sources, including such four major taxes as the personal income tax (PIT), state social insurance mandatory contributions (SSIMC), value added tax (VAT) and excise tax. We also introduce an endogenous shadow economy, the size of which depends on the level of tax rates and economic activity. These features of the model allow us to obtain rich and detailed conclusions about the effect of several fiscal measures on Latvia's economy, both in aggregate and by sector.
Keywords: CGE model, Latvia, fiscal policy
JEL codes: D58, C68, H2, H6