nep-eec New Economics Papers
on European Economics
Issue of 2021‒03‒01
twelve papers chosen by
Giuseppe Marotta
Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia

  1. Shifts in the portfolio holdings of euro area investors in the midst of COVID-19: looking-through investment funds By Carvalho, Daniel; Schmitz, Martin
  2. The policy drivers of self-employment: New evidence from Europe By Balázs Egert; Annabelle Mourougane; Mark Baker; Gábor Fülöp
  3. The Dynamic Effects of the ECB’s Asset Purchases: a Survey-Based Identification By Lhuissier Stéphane; Nguyen Benoît
  4. The Sovereign-Bank Nexus: the Role of Debt and Monetary Policy By Hernán D. Seoane
  5. On the leading properties of Business and Consumer Surveys: new evidence from EU countries By Petar Sorić; Blanka Škrabić Perić; Marina Matošec
  6. TLAC-eligible debt: who holds it? A view from the euro area By Carmela Aurora Attinà; Pierluigi Bologna
  7. How do Economies in EU-CEE Cope with Labour Shortages? By Vasily Astrov; Richard Grieveson; Doris Hanzl-Weiss; Sebastian Leitner; Isilda Mara; Hermine Vidovic
  8. Linking Sustainable Development Assessment in Ireland and the European Union with Economic Theory By McGrath, Luke,; Hynes, Stephen; McHale, John
  9. Honing in on Housing By Zoë Venter
  10. Should the ECB adjust its strategy in the face of a lower r*? By Philippe Andrade; Jordi Galí; Hervé Le Bihan; Julien Matheron
  11. Alternative measures of underlying inflation in the euro area By Claudia Biancotti; Alfonso Rosolia; Giovanni Veronese; Robert Kirchner; Francois Mouriaux
  12. The Insurance Properties of Common Debt Issuance By Daniel Gros

  1. By: Carvalho, Daniel; Schmitz, Martin
    Abstract: We study the impact of the COVID-19 shock on the portfolio exposures of euro area investors. The analysis “looks-through” holdings of investment fund shares to first gauge euro area investors' full exposures to global debt securities and listed shares by sector at end-2019 and to subsequently analyse the portfolio shifts in the first and second quarters of 2020. We show important heterogeneous patterns across asset classes and sectors, but also across euro area less and more vulnerable countries. In particular, we find a broad-based rebalancing towards domestic sovereign debt at the expense of extra-euro area sovereigns, consistent with heightened home bias. These patterns were strongly driven by indirect holdings – via investment funds – especially for insurance companies and pension funds, but levelled off in the second quarter. On the contrary, for listed shares we find that euro area investors rebalanced away from domestic towards extra-euro area securities in both the first and the second quarter, which may be associated with better relative foreign stock market performance. Many of these shifts were only due to indirect holdings, corroborating the importance of investment funds in assessing investors' exposures via securities, in particular in times of large shocks. We also confirm the important intermediation role played by investment funds in an analysis focusing on the large-scale portfolio rebalancing observed between 2015 and 2017 during the ECB's Asset Purchase Programme. JEL Classification: F30, F41, G15
    Keywords: bilateral portfolio holdings, COVID-19, cross-border investment, investment funds, sovereign debt
    Date: 2021–02
  2. By: Balázs Egert; Annabelle Mourougane; Mark Baker; Gábor Fülöp
    Abstract: Using cross-country time series panel regressions for the last two decades, this paper seeks to identify the main policy and institutional factors that explain the share of self-employment across European countries. It looks at the aggregate share of self-employed as well as its breakdown by age, skill and gender. The generosity of unemployment benefits, and to a lesser extent, spending on active labour market policies appear to be robust determinants of the long-term share of self-employed in European countries. No significant relation could be identified between the stringency of employment protection and aggregate self-employment. However, there are significant, and oppositely signed, impacts on high- and low-skilled self-employed separately. Both the tax wedge and the minimum wage appear to be related positively to the share of self-employed in the long term, but the relation holds for some categories of workers only.
    Keywords: self-employment, labour market, labour market regulations, labour market institutions, Europe
    JEL: J01 J21 J41 J48
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Lhuissier Stéphane; Nguyen Benoît
    Abstract: While monetary and prudential policies are generally analysed separately, this paper focuses on how the two interact. Taking an international perspective, we show that monetary policy in a centre economy (Euro Area) spill over its borders through bank lending – therefore inducing volatility in cross-border lending flows. Investigating a sample of 30 advanced and emerging economies, we find evidence that prudential policy in the receiving-country interact with monetary policy so that a tighter prudential stance in the recipient-country mitigates the volatility of banking flows induced by monetary policy abroad. But we also show that a tighter prudential stance – interactions apart – implies a higher growth of cross-border lending. Taken together, these results might suggest a trade-off: while a tighter prudential stance reduces the volatility of cross-border lending flows, it also implies that local borrowers resort more to lending from abroad. Taking advantage of the granularity of our confidential dataset, we finally explore heterogeneities and show that such leakages arise only for financially more open economies and only through the financial sector, with evidence that such leakages are driven by intra-group lending.ion-JEL: O31, L11, L51, J8, L25
    Keywords: Monetary Policy, Asset Purchase Programme, Proxy-SVAR, Eurosystem, ECB, QE
    JEL: E31 E32 E44 E52
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Hernán D. Seoane
    Abstract: This policy report analyzes one aspect of the sovereign-bank nexus: the feedback effects between banks and sovereigns derived from the holdings of sovereign debt in domestic banks. We study how this relationship evolved during the European debt crisis and how it responded to the implementation of ECB monetary policy based on Open Market Operations and Marginal Lending Facilities. We find evidence of carry trade behavior by banks and we have some mild evidence that this channel may have been boosted by the liquidity provision policies.
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Petar Sorić (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb); Blanka Škrabić Perić (University of Split, Faculty of Economics); Marina Matošec (Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb)
    Abstract: Ever since their initiation 60 years ago, the harmonized European Business and Consumer Surveys (BCS) have risen to the challenge of performing as a solid data pillar for quantifying leading indicators of economic activity. However, mainstream research mainly focuses on publicly available composite BCS confidence indicators and inspects their predictive accuracy. We depart from this stance by considering a battery of novel techniques for quantifying BCS-based leading indicators. We build upon the recently established weighted balance method, forecast disagreement, and surprise index. Additionally, we differ from the standpoint of rational expectations by introducing indicators of irrational sentiment and adaptive expectations, which have not previously been used in BCS studies of this sort. Our analysis in industry, consumer, and retail trade sectors of 28 European economies reveals that most of these novel techniques (especially irrational sentiment and adaptive expectations) produce more accurate predictions of economic activity than standard BCS benchmarks. These results are robust to several panel estimation procedures (heterogeneous panel Granger causality test and panel vector autoregressions, in particular).
    Keywords: Business and Consumer Surveys, Heterogeneous panel Granger causality, disagreement, irrational sentiment, adaptive expectations
    JEL: C33 E32 E71
    Date: 2021–01–28
  6. By: Carmela Aurora Attinà (Bank of Italy); Pierluigi Bologna (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: We identify two categories of potentially ‘bad investors’ in TLAC-eligible bonds for the purpose of bail-in, i.e. households and hedge funds. The exposure of households may create political economy problems for policy makers when they have to decide about bail-in, while holdings by hedge funds may increase the price volatility of these instruments in stress periods. We analyze the composition of the investor base of the TLAC bonds issued by euro area G-SIBs between 2013 and 2020 and make a first assessment of whether the observed developments could have lessened the above mentioned problems. We show that the composition of the holdings of the different sectors has changed significantly over time. The share directly held by households has declined, is low on aggregate, and should not necessarily be an obstacle to the resolution of a G-SIB. However, there is a negative correlation between households’ TLAC holdings and their financial education. The information gap around the holdings of hedge funds means a full assessment of their role is not feasible. The market tensions that followed the Covid-19 shock did not negatively affect investments in TLAC debt, except for those of households which fell markedly in the first half of 2020.
    Keywords: bail-in, TLAC, resolution, G-SIB, Covid-19
    JEL: E44 G11 G21 G23 G28 G5
    Date: 2021–02
  7. By: Vasily Astrov (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw); Richard Grieveson (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw); Doris Hanzl-Weiss (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw); Sebastian Leitner (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw); Isilda Mara (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw); Hermine Vidovic (The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw)
    Abstract: The EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe (EU-CEE) were experiencing rising labour shortages prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing demographic decline means that the issue is likely to resurface once the pandemic is over. As a result, the bargaining power of labour has increased, wages have been generally rising ahead of labour productivity, and industrial action (strikes) – the level of which has remained low in recent decades – has emerged in some instances. In the face of labour and skill shortages, people have been investing in education. The share of employees with tertiary education has increased and vocational training has gained in importance, although active labour market policies have been used only selectively. Employers have increasingly been investing in fixed assets, especially in manufacturing, and the degree of robotisation has risen strongly. Despite domestic concerns that automation would generate massive job losses, our findings suggest that capital deepening has taken place faster where labour was in higher demand. Thus, labour was not substituted with capital, but rather the complementary effect prevailed. Employment actually increased in EU-CEE over the past two decades. Employers could hire not only the formerly unemployed, but also the formerly inactive, and used the relaxed immigration policies to attract foreign workers, especially from Ukraine and the Western Balkan countries. Czechia, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia have become net receivers of migrants, while in Bulgaria and Poland immigration largely compensates for the natives who go abroad. However, immigration from non-European countries as a general solution to the problem of labour shortages in EU-CEE is highly problematic in the current domestic political context. Overall, both our findings for the EU-CEE region over recent years and the experience of Western Europe during the ‘golden age’ (1950-1973) suggest that labour shortages are not in themselves an obstacle to rapid structural change and income growth. However, for such an economic model to be sustainable, more active government policies will be needed, such as greater public investment in education and training, higher minimum wages in order to encourage automation, and more extensive welfare networks in order to deal with the possible negative short-run side-effects of automation.
    Keywords: labour shortages, trade unions, migration policy, active labour market policy, investment, vocational training, ‘golden age’, populism
    JEL: J21 J23 J24 J31 J52 J61 N14 N34
    Date: 2021–02
  8. By: McGrath, Luke,; Hynes, Stephen; McHale, John
    Abstract: Economists offer what is arguably the most internally consistent framework for sustainable development assessment, the so-called “capital approach”. To operationalise the capital approach measures of the changes in comprehensive national wealth (Genuine Savings) are required. In this paper, we present estimates of Ireland’s Genuine Savings using the updated public spending code for direction and compare our results with existing estimates in the literature. For practical sustainability assessment, no single indicator is capable of providing an all-encompassing answer, but as we demonstrate, the current monitoring of sustainable development in Ireland and across the EU lacks coherence. We suggest potential paths forward for sustainability policy and assessment that preserve the link with economic theory. We show that regardless of the viewpoint taken on sustainability the capital approach can provide guidance for a coherent assessment framework.
    Keywords: Environmental Economics and Policy
    Date: 2020
  9. By: Zoë Venter
    Abstract: Using a six variable SVAR model, we study the transmission mechanism of monetary policy to the housing market over the period between 1996:Q1 and 2019:Q4. The SVAR is repeated for two measures of fiscal policy namely, tax revenue and government spending as well as for three measures of the housing market namely, residential prices, the price-to-rent ratio and the price-to-income ratio. Our main results show that monetary policy shocks do not have an impact on residential prices however, when running our model using fiscal policy shocks instead of monetary policy shocks, the results become statistically significant. Further, our results show that the response of housing prices to fiscal policy shocks differs between Portugal and Spain. We conclude that the difference in the housing markets in these two countries can be attributed to the variation in the fiscal policy mandates adopted while the common monetary policy framework implemented by the ECB does not play a role.
    Keywords: E44; E52; R21
    Date: 2021–02
  10. By: Philippe Andrade; Jordi Galí; Hervé Le Bihan; Julien Matheron
    Abstract: We address this question using an estimated New Keynesian DSGE model of the Euro Area with trend inflation, imperfect indexation, and a lower bound on the nominal interest rate. In this setup, a decrease in the steady-state real interest rate, r*, increases the probability of hitting the lower bound constraint, which entails signiï¬ cant welfare costs and warrants an adjustment of the monetary policy strategy. Under an unchanged monetary policy rule, an increase in the inflation target of eight tenth the size of the drop in the real natural rate of interest is warranted. Absent an increase in the inflation target, and assuming the effective lower bound prevents the ECB from implementing more aggressive negative interest rate policies, adjusting the monetary strategy requires considering alternative instruments or policy rules, such as committing to make-up for recent, below-target inflation realizations.
    Keywords: inflation target, effective lower bound, monetary policy strategy, euro-area.
    JEL: E31 E52 E58
    Date: 2021–01
  11. By: Claudia Biancotti (Bank of Italy); Alfonso Rosolia (Bank of Italy); Giovanni Veronese (Bank of Italy); Robert Kirchner (Deutsche Bundesbank); Francois Mouriaux (Banque de France)
    Abstract: As COVID-19 spread globally, fast political decisions and the implementation of drastic measures were necessary to slow down proliferation and counter the economic disruption. The demand for broad, timely, high-frequency statistics about economic and health developments surged. At the same time, the pandemic outpaced the frequency at which most conventional statistics become available. Unconventional data helped to bridge these time lags, and to supply information on aspects of society not suitably covered by traditional official statistics, but that the need of the day suddenly made prominent for decision makers. The lesson from the COVID-19 crisis is that greater preparedness and flexibility in facing “future unknowns” is essential. Enabling users of statistics to quickly tap on data dimensions and relationships needed for their decisions when confronted with exceptional circumstances, is essential for guaranteeing salience and, ultimately, trustworthiness of official statistics.
    Keywords: high frequency statistics, data access, official statistics
    JEL: C82 F60
    Date: 2021–02
  12. By: Daniel Gros
    Abstract: In a federation of sovereign states, common debt can provide insurance against idiosyncratic shocks even without any intended, ex ante transfers. This insurance property arises automatically when the common debt service is financed by a levy on members that is proportional to national income. This is the case in the EU. It implies that if the economy of a member state is hit by a negative shock, i.e., if it grows less than the Union average, its contribution to the service of the common debt is correspondingly reduced. By contrast, the service of national debt, which is typically fixed in nominal terms, becomes more difficult in the case of a negative idiosyncratic shock. Ceteris paribus, common debt issuance is thus akin to linking debt service to GDP growth. Uncertainty about growth increases with the time horizon. The insurance property of common debt thus increases with its maturity.
    Date: 2020

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