nep-eec New Economics Papers
on European Economics
Issue of 2006‒11‒12
seven papers chosen by
Giuseppe Marotta
Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia

  1. The Financial System of the EU 25 By Allen, Franklin; Laura, Bartiloro; Oskar, Kowalewski
  2. Microeconomic determinants of acquisitions of Eastern European banks by Western European banks By G. LANINE; R. VANDER VENNET
  3. An Investigation of the German Dominance Hypothesis in the context of the Eastern Enlargement of the EU By Feridun, Mete
  4. European Regional Convergence in a Human Capital Augmented Solow Model By Hans-Friedrich Eckey; Christian Dreger; Matthias Türck
  5. Cost-benefit analysis and EU cohesion policy By Andrea MAIRATE; Francesco ANGELINI
  6. Restoring Fiscal Sustainability in the Euro Area: Raise Taxes or Curb Spending? By Boris Cournède; Frédéric Gonand
  7. International Comparison of Interest Rate Guarantees in Life Insurance By Cummins, J. David; Miltersen, Kristian R.; Persson, Svein-Arne

  1. By: Allen, Franklin; Laura, Bartiloro; Oskar, Kowalewski
    Abstract: We present an overview of the financial structure of the enlarged European Union with 25 countries. We start by describing the financial system development in all member states since 1995, and then compare the structure between the old and new countries. Using financial measures we document the prevailing substantial differences in the financial structure between new and old member states after the enlargement in 2004. Finally, we compare the financial structures of an enlarged EU with those of the United States and Japan.
    Keywords: Financial System
    JEL: G20
    Date: 2005–06
    Abstract: A considerable number of Western European banks have acquired banks in Central and Eastern Europe from the mid-1990s onwards. The question is whether or not this will improve the efficiency and profitability of the Central and Eastern European banking sectors. We test the relative strength of the efficiency versus the market power hypotheses by investigating the bank-specific characteristics of the banks involved in the cross-border acquisitions. We also examine the determinants of the post-acquisition target banks’ performance. Our results indicate that large Western European banks have targeted relatively large and efficient CEEC banks with an established presence in their local retail banking markets. We find no evidence that cross-border bank acquisitions in the CEEC are driven by efficiency motivations. The evidence supports the market power hypothesis, raising concerns about the optimal balance between foreign ownership and competition.
    Keywords: Mergers and acquisitions, cross-border acquisitions, bank efficiency, transition economies, Central and Eastern Europe
    JEL: C30 E44 F21 G21
    Date: 2006–09
  3. By: Feridun, Mete
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to test the German dominance hypothesis (GDH) in the context of Eastern Enlargement of the EU based on the hitherto unexamined former Eastern Bloc countries of Slovakia and Czech Republic using macroeconomic data spanning the period between 1991 and 2004. Cointegration analysis and a vector error correction mechanism validate the GDH. This finding raises the question of what drives these linkages and causes them to register these characteristics. While one could make the case that the Treaty of Maastricht may have caused some form of macroeconomic convergence and thus cointegration, it could also well be argued that, given our country sample and the fact that our data refers to the interbank market, these linkages may be more the result of changes in the European banking industry and financial markets as the latter prepared for the adoption of the Euro and responded to the harmonization of European banking and financial market regulations via the EU Banking Directives.
    Keywords: German dominance hypothesis; integration; vector error correction mechanism
    JEL: C00
    Date: 2006
  4. By: Hans-Friedrich Eckey (Department of Economics, University of Kassel); Christian Dreger (DIW, Berlin); Matthias Türck (Department of Economics, University of Kassel)
    Abstract: In this paper, the process of productivity convergence is investigated for the enlarged European Union using regional (NUTS-2) data. The Solow model extended by human capital is employed as a workhorse. Alternative strategies are proposed to control for spatial effects. All specifications confirm the presence of convergence with an annual speed between 3 and 3.5 percent towards regional steady states. Furthermore, a geographically weighted regression approach indicates a wide variation in the speed of convergence across the regions, where a higher speed is striking in particular in France and the UK. Clusters of convergence can be identified, where regions with high convergence also have high initial income levels.
    Keywords: Solow model, regional convergence, spatial lags, spatial filtering
    JEL: C21 O47 R11 R15
    Date: 2006–10
  5. By: Andrea MAIRATE; Francesco ANGELINI
    Abstract: In the context of scarce EU budgetary resources and strained public finances, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) plays a crucial role in assisting policymakers’ public investment decisions. The purpose of this paper is to draw lessons from the CBA experience under the Structural and Cohesion Funds to date. The paper reviews the main developments over the last decade, highlighting the role played by the Commission in helping foster a sound project appraisal culture in the member states. It also points out the relevance of CBA in assisting the allocation of EU funds across projects. Particularly, it is shown how the new method that will be used to determine the level of Community assistance should prevent the crowding out of other sources of finance by increasing the leverage effect and creating incentives for attracting private capital. Finally, the paper will discuss the main policy implications in terms of affordability and sustainability issues.
    Keywords: Cost-Benefit Analysis, Project Evaluation, Structural Funds, European Regional Policy
    JEL: D61 H43 R58
    Date: 2006–11
  6. By: Boris Cournède; Frédéric Gonand
    Abstract: With population ageing, fiscal consolidation has become of paramount importance for euro area countries. Consolidation can be pursued in various ways, with different effects on potential growth, which itself will be dragged down by ageing. A dynamic general equilibrium model with overlapping generations and a public finance block (including a pay-as-you-go pension regime, a health care system, non ageingrelated public spending and a stock of debt to be repaid) is used to compare the macroeconomic impact of four scenarios: a) increasing taxes to finance unchanged pensions and repay public debt, b) lowering future pension replacement rates and repaying public debt through a lower ratio of non ageing-related outlays to GDP, c) raising the retirement age by 1.25 years per decade and increasing taxes only to pay off debt, and d) increasing the retirement age by 1.25 years per decade and paying off debt through a lower ratio of non ageing-related expenditure to GDP. This last scenario is the one where growth is strongest: with gradual increases in the retirement age and spending restraint, average GDP growth in the 2010s would be 0.34 percentage point stronger than in a scenario where fiscal consolidation is achieved exclusively through tax hikes. The appropriate conclusion from the model is not that public spending is bad per se, but that cuts to lower-priority spending items can deliver surprisingly large income gains compared with the alternative of raising taxes. <P>Rétablir la soutenabilité des finances publiques dans la zone euro : Augmenter les impôts ou maïtriser les dépenses ? <BR>Le vieillissement démographique renforce la nécessité d'un redressement des finances publiques dans la zone euro. Ce redressement peut emprunter plusieurs voies dont les effets sur la croissance potentielle sont variables, et dans un contexte où le vieillissement lui-même pèse sur l'activité à long terme. Un modèle d'équilibre général dynamique avec générations imbriquées, intégrant une modélisation des finances publiques avec un régime de retraites par répartition, un système d'assurance-maladie, des dépenses publiques non liées à l'âge et un stock de dette publique à rembourser, permet d'étudier l'impact macroéconomique de quatre scénarios de consolidation: a) hausse généralisée des prélèvements obligatoires pour financer l'accélération des dépenses sociales et rembourser la dette, b) baisse des taux de remplacement pour les futurs retraités et maîtrise des dépenses publiques non liées à l'âge pour rembourser la dette, c) augmentation de l'âge moyen de départ à la retraite de 1.25 année par décade et augmentation des impôts limitée au remboursement de la dette, d) augmentation de l'âge de départ à la retraite de 1.25 année par décade et remboursement de la dette par maîtrise des dépenses publiques. C'est ce dernier scénario qui aboutit au taux de croissance le plus élevé: une augmentation graduelle de l'âge de la retraite et une maîtrise des dépenses non liées à l'âge permettrait de relever le taux moyen de croissance potentielle pendant la décennie 2010 de 1/3 de point de PIB dans la zone euro, par rapport à une consolidation procédant par hausses générales d'impôts. La conclusion de cet exercice ne consiste pas à prétendre que les dépenses publiques seraient mauvaises en soi pour l'économie, mais qu'une baisse des dépenses dans des secteurs non prioritaires permettrait de dégager des gains significatifs en matière de croissance par comparaison à un recours massif aux prélèvements obligatoires.
    Keywords: public debt, dette publique, ageing, dépenses publiques, public expenditure, vieillissement, zone Euro, fiscal consolidation, fiscal sustainability, consolidation fiscale, euro area, potential growth, croissance potentielle, soutenabilité des finances publiques, general equilibrium, équilibre général
    JEL: D58 E27 E60 H55 H63 J11
    Date: 2006–10–30
  7. By: Cummins, J. David (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania); Miltersen, Kristian R. (Dept. of Finance and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration); Persson, Svein-Arne (Dept. of Finance and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)
    Abstract: Interest rate guarantees seem to be included in life insurance and pension products in most countries. The exact implementations of these guarantees vary from country to country and are often linked to different distribution of investment surplus mechanisms. In this paper we first attempt to model practice in Germany, the UK, Norway, and Denmark by constructing contracts intended to capture practice in each country. All these contracts include rather sophisticated investment surplus distribution mechanisms, although they exhibit subtle differences. Common for Germany, Denmark, and Norway is the existence of a bonus account, an account where investment surplus is set aside in years with good investment returns to be used to cover the annual guarantee in years when the investment return is lower than the guarantee. The UK contracts do not include annual bonus distribution, instead they include a potential bonus distribution at maturity of the contract. <p> These contracts are then compared with universal life insurance, a popular life product in the US market, which also includes annual guarantees and investment surplus distribution, but no bonus account. The contract parameters are calibrated for each contract so that all contracts have ’fair’ prices, i.e., the theoretical market price of the contract equals the theoretical market price of all future insurance benefits at the inception of the contract. <p> For simplicity we ignore mortality factors and assume that the benefit is paid out as a lump sum in 30 years. <p> We compare the probability distribution of the future payoff from the contracts with the payoff from simply investing in the market index. Our results indicate that the payoffs from the Danish, German and UK contracts are surprisingly similar to the payoff from the market index. We are tempted to conclude that the presence of annual guarantees and sophisticated investment surplus distribution, annual or at maturity only, have virtually no impact on the probability distribution of the payoff. The Norwegian contract has lower risk than the mentioned contracts, whereas the universal life contract offers the lowest risk of all contracts. Our numerical analysis therefore indicates that the relative simple and more transparent US contract provides the insurance customer with a less risky future benefit than the more complex (and completely obscure?) European counterparts.
    Keywords: Interest rate guarantees; Life insurance; Pension products
    JEL: G22 G23
    Date: 2004–12–17

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