Occasional Papers

The Occasional Papers series seeks to disseminate the work carried out by the Banco de España within its sphere of competence that is considered to be of general interest for knowledge of the functioning of the Spanish economy and of its international environment.

The opinions and analyses published in the Occasional Papers are the responsibility of the authors and are not necessarily shared by the Banco de España or the Eurosystem.

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  • 02/10/2019
    1916. Financial innovation for a sustainable economy (689 KB) Andrés Alonso and José Manuel Marqués

    Climate change and its management and mitigation are unquestionably among the main risks facing our society in the coming decades. The financial sector plays a key role in this challenge, firstly because of its exposure and the consequent capital shocks if this risk crystallises, and secondly because it has the task of financing the investments needed to transform our economy into a sustainable one. This article reviews various initiatives under way in the private financial sector to introduce the variable “sustainability” into its decision-making process in order to achieve a balance sheet with a smaller carbon footprint (transformation of stock) and to develop a business strategy aligned with responsible investment principles and international standards (transformation of flow). We analyse the innovations emerging along the path to sustainable finance, looking particularly at: 1) new suppliers and services in the market, 2) the creation of sustainability-linked financial instruments, 3) the adaptation of financial risk management policies, and 4) the interaction of technological progress with climate change.

  • 05/07/2019
    1915. La mejora de la situación de las finanzas públicas de las Corporaciones Locales en la última década (547 KB) Mario Alloza and Pablo Burriel

    The Spanish local governments have registered a fiscal surplus since 2012, which contrasts with the deficit registered in other levels of the Public Administration. Despite the heterogeneity in the composition of the sector, this improvement in public finances extends to a large majority of municipalities. Its origin goes back to the reduction and subsequent containment of non-financial expenses that emerged in 2012, especially relevant in the case of spending on public investment. Local governments have used this favorable evolution of their budgets to significantly improve their financial situation. In particular, since 2012, the sector has begun a process of debt reduction, which, while presenting a certain degree of heterogeneity, has led to a notable reduction in its debt stock. This reduction of the liability has been accompanied by a substantial improvement in financial assets, materialized, in particular, in the accumulation of cash and deposits. Although at the aggregate level the sector presents a sound financial situation, comfortably compatible with the debt limits established in the Organic Law on Budgetary Stability and Financial Sustainability, it still has some room for improvement, particularly in the case of medium-sized municipalities.

  • 21/06/2019
    1914. Ciclos económicos y clusters regionales en Europa (1 MB) María Dolores Gadea-Rivas, Ana Gómez-Loscos and Eduardo Bandrés

    The analysis of regional business cycles in Europe highlights the existence of a high degree
    of heterogeneity. However, clusters of regions that share similar behavior can be identified.
    The identification of these different groups should reveal territorial singularities that each
    country faces and, therefore, the need to complement the common macroeconomic policies
    with others aimed at addressing region-specific features specific. The paper shows that the
    introduction of the euro was key to increase the synchronization of regional business cycles, as it meant a greater distance between the central group of European regions and the countries that were left out of the single currency. It is also noteworthy that, despite the effect of the euro, important singularities remain between the German regions, on the one hand, and between those of Greece, Portugal and Italy, on the other.

  • 24/05/2019
    1913. A tentative exploration of the effects of Brexit on foreign direct investment vis-à-vis the United Kingdom (959 KB) Ana de Almeida, Teresa Sastre, Duncan van Limbergen and Marco Hoeberichts

    European Union (EU) integration has boosted inward EU foreign direct investment (FDI) into the United Kingdom (UK). Within the EU, the UK has a relatively significant stock of inward FDI, having reached 61% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017 and risen strongly since 2005. The exit of the UK from the EU and the Single Market will probably result in reduced FDI amongst both investment destinations. The aim of this study is to look at the “real-time” effects of the Brexit June 2016 referendum outcome and its aftermath on UK-related FDI activity. Although FDI flows are notably volatile and biased by periodic non-systematic outliers, and despite some caveats on data sources and availability of time series data, we find tentative evidence of a post-referendum slowdown in gross FDI flows between the UK and the EU, notably involving the big EU economies and Ireland. Regarding a very favoured form of FDI, greenfield FDI, we document a post-referendum fall in announced projects and capital expenditures into the UK by both other EU countries as well as one of the most important non-EU partners, the United States.

    A different approach is also used to analyse the Brexit effect on FDI activity, based on estimating the effect of two successive stages in the European integration process – EU membership and the Euro area launch – and considering Brexit effects as the reversal of the UK integration into the EU. By using a fixed-effect gravity model to estimate the effects of these integration processes on bilateral FDI activity with the UK, the empirical results suggest that, on the one hand, this country played a role as a gateway for a set of international investor countries outside the Euro area to enter European markets and, on the other, it acted as a hub that reallocated these inflows and those coming from Euro countries across the Euro area itself. Thus the disconnection of the UK from the EU may have further implications for FAI than just reverting the effect of EU membership. Larger trade barriers and lower integration between the UK and the Euro area countries’ markets will likely have a negative impact on FDI activity in the UK and might have, in the short run, a negative effect in the Euro area.

  • 24/05/2019
    1912. An estimation of the effects of Brexit on trade and migration (674 KB) Rodolfo Campos and Jacopo Timini

    This paper uses a gravity model approach to estimate the effects of Brexit in two dimensions: trade in goods and migration. We simulate two scenarios: 1) no agreement with reversion to WTO rules and no special treatment for migrants; 2) signature of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). According to our results, Brexit may have large negative effects on trade and migration flows between the EU and the UK. In the WTO scenario, trade flows are predicted to drop by 30% and migration by close to 25%. If the UK and the EU sign an FTA-like agreement (which does not include free mobility of labour), the negative effects on trade are lessened although there is no significant difference in terms of migration with respect to the WTO scenario.

  • 24/05/2019
    1911. Assessing the macroeconomic impact of Brexit through trade and migration channels (1 MB) Antoine Berthou, Ángel Estrada, Sophie Haincourt, Alexander Kadow, Moritz A. Roth and Marie-Elisabeth de la Serve

    This joint work by the Bundesbank, the Banque de France and the Banco de España highlights some of the numerous channels through which Brexit will affect the UK economy and its economic partners. In particular, it focuses on trade and migration channels, adding a more general assessment of exiting the EU through the use of a gravity model. The trade channel alone may cut UK GDP by 2% over the medium term if the UK reverts to WTO rules, while a more general gravity model would point to UK GDP falling by almost 6% compared to baseline. According to our analysis, the ‘cost of non-Europe’ (such as originally stated by Cecchini’s seminal work in 1988) lies therefore between 2% and 6% in terms of real GDP losses for the UK. With the shock being largely asymmetric, the EA remains relatively unscathed by the UK’s exit, with GDP less than 1% lower than baseline by 2023. The study also shows that results are sensitive to the envisaged policy response. In general, monetary and fiscal policies may act to cushion a Brexit-related shock; however, the potency of the policy response depends on the underlying source of the shock.

  • 22/05/2019
    1910. El índice de precios de consumo: usos y posibles vías de mejora (489 KB) Luis Julián Álvarez

    This paper briefly presents the main uses of consumer price statistics, paying particular attention to inflation forecasting with econometric models. Some proposals aimed at increasing the usefulness of the Consumer Price Index to end users are also given.

  • 21/05/2019
    1909. The survey of financial competences (ECF): description and methods of the 2016 wave (757 KB) Olympia Bover, Laura Hospido and Ernesto Villanueva

    The Survey of Financial Competences (ECF) is a joint initiative of the Banco de España and the Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV) aimed at measuring the financial
    competences of the adult population in Spain. Between 2016 and 2017, information has been
    collected for a large sample provided by the National Statistical Institute of randomly selected
    individuals, and representative of the whole Spanish population between 18 and 79 years of
    age and of each of its regions. This paper provides a detailed description of the most relevant
    methodological aspects in the design and implementation of the survey: the sample design,
    the questionnaire, the data collection process, the validation of the data, the computation of
    weights, and the imputation procedure.

  • 10/05/2019
    1908. Can survey-based information help assess investment gaps in the EU? (1 MB) Pana Alves, Daniel Dejuán and Laurent Maurin

    This study illustrates how information from micro-level and survey-based databases can be used, along with macroeconomic indicators, to provide a better understanding of corporate investment obstacles across the EU. To show this, we use a novel dataset merging firm-level data from the European Investment Bank Investment Survey (EIBIS) and hard data from corporations’ balance sheet and P&L information. We show that the indicators of impediments to investment at the country level, which can be derived from aggregating qualitative answers, correlate relatively well with macro-based hard data, which are commonly considered as determinants of investments in macro-based models. After controlling for firm-specific characteristics, the perceived investment gap (the difference between desired and actual investment) remains correlated with the reported impediments. While access to finance is not the most reported obstacle, reporting it has the highest information content. Moreover, the signal intensifies when it is given by “weaker” firms, defined as those that are smaller, and/or more indebted, and/or less profitable and/or with lower liquidity positions. From a policy standpoint, our findings suggest that survey-based information can be a useful input to complement both macro and micro hard data and better inform the design of targeted policies to support investment.

  • 17/05/2019
    1907. The process of structural change in the Spanish economy from a historical standpoint (1 MB) Víctor González-Díez and Enrique Moral-Benito

    Historical experience and the economic literature show that the process of structural change of economies towards more advanced stages of development is associated with a particular pattern of change in the sectoral composition of economic activity. In a first stage, the manufacturing share increases while agriculture’s share decreases. In a second stage, the manufacturing share starts to decline and the services share starts to grow. This paper presents a brief overview of the empirical evidence available on this process of structural change at an international level, highlighting the case of the Spanish economy. As a result of
    the rapid process of structural change over the last four decades, the productive structure of the Spanish economy has converged towards that of the European countries, with higher shares for services and manufacturing and a lower share for agriculture. Beyond the impact of cyclical fluctuations, we can expect increases in the services share, at the expense of manufacturing and agriculture. According to the literature, these patterns may be related to demand forces (the public’s preferences), supply forces (different sectoral productivity patterns) or a combination of both, owing to openness to international trade which can accelerate the process. Therefore, an in-depth analysis of the causes of structural change in Spain is essential, inasmuch as the future development of this process will determine economic growth in the long run.

  • 24/04/2019
    1906. Measuring credit-to-GDP gaps. The Hodrick-Prescott filter revisited (1 MB) Jorge E. Galán

    The credit-to-GDP gap computed under the methodology recommended by Basel Committee for Banking Supervision (BCBS) suffers of important limitations mainly regarding the great inertia of the estimated long-run trend, which does not allow capturing properly structural changes or sudden changes in the trend. As a result, the estimated gap currently yields large negative values which do not reflect properly the position in the financial cycle and the cyclical risk environment in many countries. Certainly, most countries that have activated the Countercyclical Capital Buffer (CCyB) in recent years appear not to be following the signals provided by this indicator. The main underlying reason for this might not be only related to the properties of statistical filtering methods, but to the particular adaptation made by the BCBS for the computation of the gap. In particular, the proposed one-sided Hodrick-Prescott filter (HP) only accounts for past observations and the value of the smoothing parameter assumes a much longer length of the credit cycle that those empirically evidenced in most countries, leading the trend to have very long memory. This study assesses whether relaxing this assumption improves the performance of the filter and would still allow this statistical method to be useful in providing accurate signals of cyclical systemic risk and thereby inform macroprudential policy decisions. Findings suggest that adaptations of the filter that assume a lower length of the credit cycle, more consistent with empirical evidence, help improve the early warning performance and correct the downward bias compared to the original gap proposed by the BCBS. This is not only evidenced in the case of Spain but also in several other EU countries. Finally, the results of the proposed adaptations of the HP filter are also found to perform fairly well when compared to other statistical filters and model-based indicators.

  • 19/03/2019
    1905. Brexit: current situation and outlook (1 MB) Juan Luis Vega (coord.)

    Almost three years on since the Brexit referendum and two since the intense negotiations
    between the parties began, the failure by the British Parliament to ratify the November 2018 agreement between the UK Government and the other EU governments has led to a situation of great complexity. With only a few days remaining until the deadline for withdrawal, no consensus plan has emerged yet. Without an alternative plan, a no-deal exit is – excepting postponement – the current default option.
    This Occasional Paper takes stock of the current situation and outlook for Brexit (i.e. the process of UK withdrawal from the EU) by drawing together a number of studies produced at the Banco de España in connection with the regular monitoring of the process and its potential effects on the Spanish economy. After noting where the current negotiations stand, the paper reviews UK economic developments since the surprise result of the referendum was announced in June 2016. It further lays out the medium-term outlook for the British economy, which hinges crucially on both the type of future trade relationship to be agreed between both areas and the degree of disruption caused by the withdrawal process. As regards Spain, the paper analyses several issues related to its trade and financial exposures to the UK and also provides estimates of the potential effects of Brexit on the Spanish economy under various hypothetical scenarios using the MTBE (i.e. the quarterly macroeconometric model of the Spanish Economy regularly used at the Banco de España for forecasting and policy analysis). Finally, mention is made of the contingency measures adopted, within their respective remits, by the European Commission and the Spanish Government, in the event of an abrupt no-deal exit.

  • 07/03/2019
    1904. An application of dynamic factor models to nowcast regional economic activity in Spain (792 KB) María Gil, Danilo Leiva-Leon, Javier J. Pérez and Alberto Urtasun

    The goal of this paper is to propose a model to produce nowcasts of GDP growth of Spanish regions, by means of dynamic factor models. This framework is capable to incorporate in a parsimonious way the relevant information available at the time that each forecast is made. We employ a Bayesian perspective to provide robust estimation of all the ingredients involved in the model. Accordingly, we introduce the Bayesian Factor model for Regions (BayFaR), which allows for the inclusion of missing data and combines quarterly data on regional real output growth (taken from the database of the AIReF and from the individual regional statistics institutes, when available) and monthly information associated to indicators of regional real activity. We apply the BayFaR to nowcast the GDP growth of the four largest regions of Spain, and illustrate the real-time nowcasting performance of the proposed framework for each case. We also apply the model to nowcast Spanish GDP in order to be able to assess the relative growth of each region.

  • 06/02/2019
    1903. Exporting Spanish firms. Stylized facts and trends (550 KB) Eduardo Gutiérrez Chacón and César Martín Machuca

    During the last years, Spanish goods exports have increased significantly against a
    background of widening of the Spanish firms exporting base. This change has been led by
    SMEs, although there is still a high concentration of international sales in a small fraction
    of large and stable exporters. In any case, potential export growth has improved thanks
    to the widening of stable exporters base and to their geographical diversification towards
    emerging markets. Exporting firms are greater and have higher labour productivity than
    those focused only in domestic markets. Also within exporting firms, those with stable and
    diversified external flows are positively selected in terms of productivity and size. The potential widening of the stable exporting base would require an improvement of the efficiency of the segment of SMEs. Removing potential regulatory barriers that might restrict their growth and innovation ability is key to consolidate their presence in international markets in the long run.

  • 01/02/2019
    1902. An analysis of the impact of the rise in the national minimum wage in 2017 on the probability of job loss (666 KB) Aitor Lacuesta, Mario Izquierdo and Sergio Puente

    This article analyses the rise in the national minimum wage (NMW) in 2017 in Spain, drawing on information provided by the Social Security administrative labour records (MCVL). The results suggest this rise may have had an adverse effect on the probability of the group of workers with wages below the new minimum wage keeping their jobs. This effect would be of particular importance for older workers. The rise approved for the NMW in 2019 is far higher than those observed in the past, which considerably increases the number of workers affected and the uncertainty surrounding the adverse effects on the probability of them keeping their jobs. According to the estimates presented in this article, these negative effects could be significant.

  • 08/02/2019
    1901. Bitcoin: a solution for payment systems or a solution in search of a problem? (876 KB) Carlos Conesa

    In October 2008 a mysterious article was published under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto: “Bitcoin: a peer-to-peer electronic cash system”. Bitcoin’s entry into operation some months later in early 2009 barely caused a ripple. Since then, the scheme has accumulated more than half a million blocks in its blockchain and they include more than 300 million transactions. In view of the media impact of Bitcoin, it is worth explaining in some detail how Bitcoin works and what its limitations are. This article reviews the aims and basic functioning of Bitcoin, analyses its strengths and weaknesses, and discusses its usefulness as an exchange mechanism.

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