The objective of the Working Papers series is to disseminate original research studies on economics and finance, which since 2003 have been reviewed on an anonymous basis. Through their publication, the Banco de España hopes to contribute to the economic analysis and knowledge of the Spanish economy and its international context.
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We study the impact of (widespread) downward wage rigidity on the flows from employment to non-employment at the onset of the Great Recession. Downward wage (growth) rigidity is due to the fact that sector-level collective agreements in Spain are automatically extended to all firms, setting wage minima for workers in the same province-industry-skill cell. We identify the impact of wage rigidity on employment because, unlike settled ones, newly bargained contracts can adjust to aggregate shocks. Using the exact dates of bargaining periods of all sector-level contracts in Spain, we find that agreements reached after the fall of Lehman Brothers were for an average wage growth of 1.8%, while agreements signed before 15 September 2008 were for mean wage increases of 3.1%. Matching information on collective agreements with longitudinal Social Security records on workers, we document two findings. Firstly, the probability of job loss between 2009 and 2010 was 1 percent higher among workers covered by agreements signed before the fall of Lehman Brothers than among workers covered by contracts signed afterwards. Secondly, the analysis of a subsample of contracts with information about the exact province-industry-skill level minimum wage suggests that the impact of date of contract signature on wage changes and employment losses is confined to workers whose pre-recession earnings were below 1.2 times the contract-specific minimum wage. Those findings are consistent with the hypothesis that the staggering of contracts and the inability to renegotiate contracts amplify aggregate shocks. We end with a discussion of whether those results can be extrapolated to other sample periods.
In this paper, we put forth the view that the potential for urbanisation economies increases with interaction opportunities. On the basis of that premise, three properties are key to an agglomeration index, which should: (i) increase with the concentration of population and conform to the Pigou-Dalton transfer principle; (ii) increase with the absolute size of constituent population interaction zones; and (iii) be consistent in aggregation. Confining our attention to pairwise interactions, and invoking the space-analytic foundations of local labour market area (LLMA) delineation, we develop an index of agglomeration based on the number of interaction opportunities per capita in a geographical area. This leads to Arriaga’s mean city-population size, which is the mathematical expectation of the size of the LLMA in which a randomly chosen individual lives. The index has other important properties. It does not require an arbitrary population threshold to separate urban from non-urban areas. It adapts readily to situations where an LLMA lies partly outside the geographical area for which agglomeration is measured. Finally, it can be satisfactorily approximated when data are truncated or aggregated into size classes. We apply the index to the Spanish NUTS III regions, and evaluate its performance by examining its correlation with the location quotients of several knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) known to be highly sensitive to urbanisation economies. The Arriaga index correlations are clearly stronger than those of either the classical degree of urbanisation or the Hirshman-Herfindahl concentration index.
Published in: Social Indicators Research, 125(2), pp. 589-612, (2016).
In periods of market stress, portfolio reallocations in bond markets reflect both safety and liquidity concerns. Using sovereign and national agency bonds, we construct indicators of liquidity premia in major euro area bond markets; we document the weakening of the correlation between core and periphery market liquidity during the euro area sovereign bond crisis; and we identify several episodes of significant flight-to-liquidity (FTL) flows above and beyond flight-to-safety (FTS) spells in the period 2009-13. We show that FTL flows led to significant inverse moves in sovereign bond yields in euro area core and periphery markets. Moreover, FTL flows triggered declines in core and periphery stock markets and are associated with lower macroeconomic confidence in the euro area as a whole, which underscores the importance of FTL episodes for investors and policymakers alike.
Changes in sovereign ratings are strongly asymmetric, as downgrades tend to be deeper and faster than upgrades. In other words, once a country loses its initial status it takes a long time to recover it. Using S&P data, we characterise “rating cycles” in terms of their duration and amplitude. We then study whether the agency reaction to new economic and financial domestic information also differs during upgrade and downgrade phases. Our results indicate that favourable fundamentals could be helpful for smoothing and slowing down the path of downgrades, whereas favourable fundamentals do not seem to accelerate the rating recovery.
We analyse the incidence of endogenous entry and firm TFP-heterogeneity on the response of aggregate inflation to exogenous shocks. We build up an otherwise standard DSGE model in which the number of firms is endogenously determined and firms differ in their steady state level of productivity. This splits the industry structure into firms of different sizes. Calibrating the different transition rates, across firm sizes and out of the market we reproduce the main features of the distribution of firms in Spain. We then compare the inflation response to technology, interest rate and entry cost shocks, among others. We find that structures in which large (more productive) firms predominate tend to deliver more muted inflation responses to exogenous shocks.
This paper examines the links between productivity and social welfare, with an application to the banking industry. It models spatial price competition between bank branches jointly with banks’ decisions on the opening or closing of branches based on profit expectations. The model predicts that more productive banks set lower (higher) interest rates on loans (deposits) and increase their market share through both higher demand per branch and a larger network of branches. Specifically, the paper i) uses a new measure of bank productivity; ii) provides a productivity differences-based explanation of the distance between bank branches and bank customers; and iii) shows how the intensity of market competition may be unaffected when the number of banks decreases, provided that banks continue expanding their branch network. The empirical implementation of the model uses Spanish banks over the period 1993-2007 and it confirms the theoretical predictions of the paper.
We show that the single-index dynamic factor model developed by Aruoba and Diebold (Am Econ Rev, 100:20-24, 2010) to construct an index of US business cycle conditions is also very useful for forecasting US GDP growth in real time. In addition, we adapt the model to include survey data and financial indicators. We find that our extension is unequivocally the preferred alternative for computing backcasts. In nowcasting and forecasting, our model is able to forecast growth as well as AD and better than several baseline alternatives. Finally, we show that our extension could also be used to infer US business cycles with great accuracy.
Global imbalances and financial market (de)regulation both feature prominently among the potential causes of the global financial crisis, but they have been generally discussed separately. In this paper, we take a different angle and investigate the relationship between financial market regulation and current account balances, an area for which there is limited empirical evidence. We use a panel of countries over the period 1980-2010 and employ a novel empirical approach which allows us to simultaneously account for model uncertainty, current account persistence and unobserved heterogeneity. We find robust evidence that financial market regulations affect current account balances and that different aspects of these regulations can have opposing effects on the current account. In particular we find that lowering bank entry barriers is negatively associated with the current account balance. In contrast, bank privatisation and securities market deregulation tend to raise current account balances. Our results also highlight the need to control for persistence and unobserved heterogeneity. Once we control for these factors, we find robust evidence for a wide range of current account theories in contrast to previous studies.
Published in: European Economic Review, 2016, vol. 81, pp. 148-166
Many have argued that the Great Recession of 2008 marked the end of the Great Moderation of the eighties and nineties. Through painstaking empirical analysis of the data, this paper shows this is not the case. Output volatility remains subdued despite the turmoil created by the Great Recession. This finding has important implications for policymaking since lower output volatility (the hallmark of the Great Moderation) is associated with weaker recoveries.
This paper studies the public sector wage gap in Spain by gender, skill level and type of contract, using recent administrative data from tax records. We estimate wage distributions in the presence of covariates separately for men and women in the public and in the private sectors, and we take advantage of the longitudinal structure of the data to control for selection. We find a positive public wage premium for men and women even after accounting for characteristics and endogenous selection; the observed average gap in hourly wages of 35 log points is reduced to 20 when accounting for observed characteristics, and to 10 once endogenous selection is also taken into consideration. We also find substantial variation in the public premium along the wage distribution once observed characteristics are accounted for. This variation, however, is offset by opposite patterns of selection into the public sector: while we observe positive selection into the public sector at the bottom of the wage distribution, workers at the top of the distribution select negatively into the public sector.
We assess the effects of reforms in product and labor markets in a model economy featuring credit restrictions and pre-existing long-term debt. Both elements, which are core features of the current scenario faced by some euro area countries, combine to produce a slow and protracted deleveraging of the private sector and a persistent recession following a negative financial shock. In this environment, we show that product and labor market reforms may stimulate output and employment even in the short run, despite their deflationary effects. Furthermore, by favoring a faster recovery of investment and collateral values, product market reforms bring forward the end of deleveraging and the exit from recession.
This paper simulates the future performance of the Spanish pension system using a large OLG model. We compare the system in place after the 2011 pension reform to that emerging after the latest (2013) institutional changes. In particular, we explore the workings of the new indexing mechanism, linking pension payments to life expectancy and to the system’s aggregate flows of income and expenditure. We consider several alternative eco-demographic environments in our analysis and assess the welfare consequences for the different cohorts affected. Overall, the new automatic adjusting mechanism is broadly successful in its goal of stabilising the financial condition of the system. But the welfare costs imposed on some cohorts (e g. young workers at the beginning of the reform) is very heavy.
This paper investigates the effects of monitoring the information trails generated by firms’ activities in order to improve tax compliance. We use quasi-experimental variation provided by a Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU) in Spain to empirically test the theoretical predictions on firms’ responses to an increase in monitoring effort. Firms with more than €6 million in reported revenue are monitored by the LTU, which devotes more resources to verifying the transactions reported by those firms. Using financial statements from practically the entire universe of Spanish firms for the period 1999-2007, we find substantial bunching of firms just below the LTU threshold. On average, we estimate that bunchers reduce their reported revenue by €101,000 (1.7% of total revenue) to avoid falling in the high enforcement regime. Adjusting for resource costs of evasion faced by firms, we estimate that the marginal bunching firm reduces its reported revenue by up to €593,000 (9.9%). The response is weak in sectors where most sales are made to final consumers (retail, restaurants) and strong in sectors where firms sell intermediate goods to other businesses (wholesale, manufacturing). This result suggests that the monitoring effort by the tax authorities and the traceability of the information reported by firms are complements, and both are necessary for effective tax enforcement. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that firms under low monitoring effort also misreport their material and labour expenditures to evade taxes, even in the presence of third-party reporting.
The sovereign debt crisis in the euro area has raised interest in early warning indicators, aimed at signalling the build-up of fiscal stress in advance and helping prevent crises by means of a timely counteraction of fiscal and macroeconomic policies. This paper presents possible improvements to enhance existing early warning indicators for fiscal stress, especially for the euro area. We show that a country-specific approach could strongly increase the signalling power of early warning systems. Finally, we draw policy conclusions for the setting-up and application of a system of early warning indicators for fiscal stress.
Aging is an unstoppable process and it remains a major challenge for the sustainability of the PAYG pension system in most developed countries, including in Spain. Many countries need to introduce reforms of their pension systems in order to control their expenditure, and in some cases this has already begun. However, there are other sorts of changes to certain parameters that are perceived as secondary, e.g. the different path of minimum and maximum pensions, and the upper and lower caps on contributions. This has significant implications for the distributive structure of the social security system that cannot be readily perceived by the population. That is why some economists in Spain refer to it as the “Silent Reform”. The aim of this paper is to analyse the consequences this type of reform would have in Spain; indeed, it is the first paper to actually quantify and evaluate the potential impact it would have on the country. We have used an accounting model with heterogeneous agents and overlapping generations in order to project pension expenditures up until 2070. The results show that this kind of reform could potentially contain future expenditure and could also change the nature of the pension system from a contributory or Bismarckian-type system into an assistential or Beveridgean-type one. This change could have significant consequences as both systems have different objectives. The paper also shows that the institutional characteristics that make this kind of reform in Spain feasible are also present in most developed countries with Bismarckian pension systems. Therefore, we believe that the lessons learned in this paper on this kind of reform could well prove useful to other countries.
In this paper we develop a comprehensive short-term fiscal forecasting system of use for the real-time monitoring of the Spanish government’s borrowing requirement. Spain has been at the centre of the recent European sovereign debt crisis, not least because of sizeable failures in meeting public deficit targets. The system comprises a suite of models, with different levels of disaggregation (bottom-up vs top-down; general government vs sub-sectors), which are suitable for the automatic processing of the large amount of monthly/quarterly fiscal data currently published by the Spanish statistical authorities. Our tools are instrumental in the ex-ante detection of risks to official projections, and can thus help reduce the ex-post reputational costs of budgetary slippage. On the basis of our results, we discuss how official monitoring bodies could expand, on one hand, their toolkit to evaluate regular adherence to targets (moving beyond a legalistic approach) and, on the other, their communication policies as regards sources of risks to (ex-ante) compliance with budgetary targets.
Household debt in many advanced economies has increased significantly since the 1980s and accelerated in the years prior to the Great Recession, resulting in an aggregate reduction of saving rates in the developed economies. Some of those economies are now deleveraging, which may be affecting their recovery. We try to disentangle how these financial developments influence private consumption in a panel of OECD countries, after controlling for the traditional determinants (income, net financial and non-financial wealth, and interest rates). Consistent with the changes in the distribution of financial constraints, we find that aggregate consumption is also driven by the dynamics of housing debt accumulation and deleveraging. Precautionary savings, due to labour income uncertainty, have also influenced household decisions especially, during the 2007-2009 period.
This paper provides a set of stylised facts on the mechanisms through which banking and sovereign distress feed into each other, using a large sample of emerging economies over three decades. We first define “twin crises” as events where banking crises and sovereign defaults combine, and further distinguish between those banking crises that end in sovereign debt crises, and vice-versa. We then assess what differentiates “single” episodes from “twin” ones. Using an event analysis methodology, we study the behaviour around crises of variables describing the balance sheet interconnection between the banking and public sectors, the characteristics of the banking sector, the state of public finances and the macroeconomic context. We find that there are systematic differences between “single” and “twin” crises across all these dimensions. Additionally, we find that “twin” crises are heterogeneous events: taking into account the proper time sequence of crises within “twin” episodes is important for understanding their drivers, transmission channels and economic consequences. Our results shed light on the mechanisms surrounding feedback loops of sovereign and banking stress.
Published in: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper No. 184
Correlations of equity securities have varied substantially over time and remain a source of continuing policy debate. This paper studies stock market correlations in an equilibrium model with heterogeneous risk aversion. In the model, preference heterogeneity causes countercyclical variations in the volatility of aggregate risk aversion. At times of high volatility of aggregate risk aversion, which is a common factor in r turns, we see high correlations. The calibrated model matches average industry return correlations and changes in correlations from business cycle peaks to troughs, and replicates the cyclical dynamics of expected excess returns and standard deviations. A proxy for model-implied aggregate risk aversion jointly explains average industry correlations, expected excess returns, standard deviations and turnover volatility in the data. We find supportive evidence for the model’s prediction that industries with low dividend-consumption correlation have low average return correlation but experience disproportionate increases in return correlations in recessions.
Using a database of more than 180,000 private companies from 2000 to 2009, we find that the benefits of holding more cash vary substantially with a firm’s size and the conditions it faces. Cash holdings matter most for small firms: when there are negative shocks to industry or macroeconomic conditions, a small firm’s cash holdings are positively associated with changes in its sales and assets. Cash is less important for other conditions. Differences in the benefits of cash holdings between large and small firms are traced to a firm’s ability – and willingness – to increase leverage when there is a cash shortfall.
By how much do employed households reduce their consumption when the aggregate unemployment rate rises? In Spain during the Great Recession a 1 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate was related to a strong drop in household consumption of more than 0.7% per equivalent adult. This reduction is the response of forward-looking agents to downward revisions of their expectations on future income growth rates: the shadow of unemployment. Using consumption panel data that include information on physical quantities, we show that the drop in consumption expenditure was indeed a reduction in quantities, and not a switch to cheaper alternatives.
Published in: European Economic Review, volume 78, pp. 39-54
We examine the effect of the short-selling ban in 2011 on Spanish stocks on the level of risk in the banking sector. Before the ban, short positions were found to be positive and significantly related to the creditworthiness of medium-sized banks, these being generally less internationally diversified and more reliant on official support. We show that the ban helped stabilise the credit risk of medium-sized banks, especially those more exposed to short-sellers’ activity, but not that of large banks and non-financial corporations. This stabilising effect came at the cost of a significantly sharp decline in liquidity, trading and price efficiency of medium-sized banks’ stocks relative to other stocks.
This article presents a critical analysis of the principles behind the scope and forms of cooperation between EU Member States and third-country resolution authorities in the context of the 2014 Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive. The article also explores the future responsibilities of the prospective Single Resolution Authority regarding relations between the euro area and third-country resolution authorities.
We provide key stylised facts on fiscal policy developments in Spain over the past three decades using quarterly data (1986Q1-2012Q2). First, we compute stylised facts on the cyclical properties of fiscal policies over that period. Next, we report updated evidence on the macroeconomic effects of non-systematic fiscal policies, including updated estimates of their macroeconomic impact (fiscal multipliers) for alternative datasets. To perform the analysis in the paper we built up a comprehensive database of seasonally adjusted quarterly fiscal variables for the period of interest.
This paper explores the dynamics of price-cost mark-ups using firm-level data, paying particular attention to the crisis period 2008-2011. To this end, we apply the econometric framework developed by Klette (1999) to a comprehensive sample of Spanish non-financial corporations in order to estimate price-cost mark-ups for the period 1995-2011 at the aggregate and sectoral levels. The results reveal a widespread pattern of increasing price-cost mark-ups since 2008, both by industry and firm size. Moreover, with the aim of interpreting the pattern identified in our findings, we also relate the changes in our industry level estimates of price-cost margins between 2007 and 2011 to some relevant industry characteristics suggested by the literature, with an emphasis on the extent of market power and of financial pressure. We find a positive and statistically significant association between the growth rate of estimated mark-ups and both our direct measure of market power and our proxy of financial pressure.
In this paper we compare the determinants of loan dollarisation in two emerging market regions, namely Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) and Latin America, by means of a meta-analysis of 32 studies that provide around 1,200 estimated coefficients for six drivers of foreign currency lending. One common pattern we identify is that macroeconomic instability (as expressed by inflation volatility) and banks’ funding in foreign currency play a significant role in explaining loan dollarisation in both regions. By contrast, the interest rate differential appears to be a key determinant only in Latin America, while the positive impact of exchange rate volatility on dollarisation implies a more prominent role for supply factors in the CESEE region. While the robustness of the results has been verified, our meta-analysis shows that estimates reported in the literature tend to be influenced by study characteristics such as the methodology applied and the data used.
Published in: Focus on European Economic Integration (FEEI) Q1 / 14
Entry of new firms, both in the form of entrepreneurs and corporations, fosters competition and productivity. The entry of firms and productivity have both been low in the Spanish economy over recent years. This paper analyses the determinants of entry focusing on the role of the design and efficacy of enforcement institutions (the judicial system), an aspect traditionally overlooked. To do this, we exploit disaggregated data at the local level in Spain. We find that higher judicial efficacy increases the entry rate of firms, while it has no effect on the exit rate. Crucially, that impact only occurs in the case of the entry rates for entrepreneurs, defined as self-employed, but not in the case of limited liability corporations. This finding may be due to the fact that judicial (in)efficacy can be regarded as a fixed cost to be paid by the agents that litigate. Hence, the economic activity of entrepreneurs - and specifically, their entry into the market - is expected to be more affected than that of larger firms.
Since the 1980s, important and progressive reforms have profoundly reshaped the structure of the Chinese banking system. Many empirical studies suggest that financial reform promoted bank competition in most mature and emerging economies. However, some earlier studies that adopted conventional approaches to measure competition concluded that bank competition in China declined during the past decade, despite these reforms. In this paper, we show both empirically and theoretically that this apparent contradiction is the result of flawed measurement. Conventional indicators such as the Lerner index and Panzar- Rosse H-statistic fail to measure competition in Chinese loan markets properly due to the system of interest rate regulation. By contrast, the relatively new Profit Elasticity (PE) approach that was introduced in Boone (2008) as Relative Profit Differences (RPD) does not evidence these shortcomings. Using balance sheet information for a large sample of banks operating in China during 1996-2008, we show that competition actually increased in the past decade when the PE indicator is used. We provide additional empirical evidence that supports our results. We find that these, firstly, are in line with the process of financial reform, as measured by several indices, and secondly are robust for a large number of alternative specifications and estimation methods. All in all, our analysis suggests that bank lending markets in China have been more competitive than previously assumed.
Published in: BIS Working paper 422, Aug. 2013
We analyse the determinants of the structure of public debt in the case of Spain, from a sub-national perspective. The endogenous shift in the composition of debt (among short- vs long-term instruments, and loans vs securities) depends on observable measures of credit and liquidity risks. To discriminate among competing potential determinants, we set out empirical models that incorporate financial, economic and institutional variables. We estimate the models by GMM and make use of a new quarterly dataset of Spanish regional governments’ debt structure for the period 1995Q1-2012Q4. Our results show that the most robust determinants of regional public financial management decisions, as reflected by the structure of debt, are rollover risks and the expectation of central government support (as measured by the dynamics of transfers).
Published in: Public Finance Review, November 2015, 43, pp. 786-815
In 2007, countries in the euro periphery were enjoying stable growth, low deficits and low spreads. Then the financial crisis erupted and pushed them into deep recession, raising their deficits and debt levels. By 2010, they were facing severe debt problems. Spreads increased and, surprisingly, so did the share of the debt held by domestic creditors. Credit was reallocated from the private to the public sector, reducing investment and deepening the recession even further. To account for these facts, we propose a simple model of sovereign risk in which debt can be traded in secondary markets. The model has two key ingredients: creditor discrimination and crowding-out effects. Creditor discrimination arises because, in turbulent times, sovereign debt offers a higher expected return to domestic creditors than to foreign ones. This provides incentives for domestic purchases of debt. Crowding-out effects arise because private borrowing is limited by financial frictions. This implies that domestic debt purchases displace productive investment. The model shows that these purchases reduce growth and welfare, and may lead to self-fulfilling crises. It also shows how crowding-out effects can be transmitted to other countries in the euro zone, and how they may be addressed by policies at the European level.
Published in: IMF Working Paper WP/13/270, Dec. 2013
Current account imbalances and their sustainability are among the most debated international policy issues. Through the recently designed External Balance Assessment methodology (EBA), the IMF estimates the impact of several countries’ fundamentals and policies on their current account balance, calculates misalignments in their current account position and indicates policy recommendations which, if implemented, should contribute to reducing these imbalances.
In this paper, we explore some extensions to the EBA, following two courses. First, we distinguish in current account regressions between countries that are considered safe investment destinations and non-safe economies. Since this distinction is likely to acquire special relevance in periods of global turmoil, we also distinguish between periods of global stress and tranquil times. Second, we embed in EBA regressions variables that drive countries’ external competitiveness.
Results show that current account dynamics may be affected by competitiveness factors and differ significantly between safe and non-safe economies, with such differences becoming particularly relevant in turbulent times. These findings suggest that EBA regressions may be overlooking the influence of countries’ safety and competitiveness on external balances. Our alternative misalignment estimations show larger imbalances than those calculated with the EBA for some Asian economies and smaller imbalances for some high-surplus EU countries.