11.03.2021 • 8/2021
New wave of infections suspends economic recovery
The lockdown is being eased only slightly in Germany in March 2021, and gross domestic product (GDP) declines significantly in the first quarter of 2021. As vaccination campaigns progress and restrictions are gradually eased, a normalisation of household consumption patterns will likely boost the economy later during the year. The Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) forecasts that GDP will increase by 3.7% in 2021, following a decline of 4.9% in 2020. In East Germany, both the contraction and the rebound are much less pronounced.
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Why Are Households Saving so much During the Corona Recession?
IWH Policy Notes,
Savings rates among European households have reached record levels during the Corona recession. We investigate three possible explanations for the increase in household savings: precautionary motivations induced by increased economic uncertainty, reduced consumption opportunities due to lockdown measures, and Ricardian Equivalence, i.e. increases in the expected future tax-burden of households driven by increases in government debt. To test these explanations, we compile a monthly panel of euro area countries from January 2019 to August 2020. Our findings indicate that the chief driver of the increase in household savings is supply: As governments restrict households’ opportunities to spend, households spend less. We estimate that going from no lockdown measures to that of Italy’s in March, would have resulted in the growth of Germany’s deposit to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio being 0.6 percentage points higher each month. This would be equivalent to the volume of deposits increasing by roughly 14.3 billion euros or 348 euros per house monthly. Demand effects, driven by either fears of unemployment or fear of infection from COVID-19, appear to only have a weak impact on household savings, whereas changes in government debt are unrelated or even negatively related to savings rates. The analysis suggests that there is some pent-up demand for consumption that may unravel after lockdown measures are abolished and may result in a significant increase in consumption in the late spring/early summer 2021.
Avoiding the Fall into the Loop: Isolating the Transmission of Bank-to-Sovereign Distress in the Euro Area
Journal of Financial Stability,
While the sovereign-bank loop literature has demonstrated the amplification between sovereign and bank risks in the Euro Area, its econometric identification is vulnerable to reverse causality and omitted variable biases. We address the loop's endogenous nature and isolate the direct bank-to-sovereign distress channel by exploiting the global, non-Eurozone related variation in banks’ stock prices. We instrument banking sector stock returns in the Eurozone with exposure-weighted stock market returns from non-Eurozone countries and take further precautions to remove Eurozone-related variation. We find that the transmission of instrumented bank distress to sovereign distress is around 50% smaller than the corresponding coefficient in the unadjusted OLS framework, confirming concerns on endogeneity. Despite the smaller relative magnitude, increasing instrumented bank distress is found to be an economically and statistically significant cause for rising sovereign fragility in the Eurozone.
The Viral Effects of Foreign Trade and Supply Networks in the Euro Area
IWH-CompNet Discussion Papers,
Containment measures of COVID-19 have generated a chain of supply and demand shocks around the globe with heterogeneous fallout across industries and countries. We quantify their transmission via foreign trade with a focus on the euro area where deep firms integration within regional supply chains and strong demand linkages act as a magnification mechanism. We estimate that spillover effects in the euro area from suppression measures in one of the five main euro area countries range between 15-28% the size of the original shock; negative foreign demand shocks depress euro area aggregate activity by about a fifth the size of the external shock and a fourth of the total effect is due to indirect propagation through euro area supply chain. Last, reopening to regional tourism softened the contraction of aggregate activity due to travel and tourism bans by about a third in the euro area. Our findings suggest that enhanced coordination of recovery plans would magnify their beneficial effects.
Do Conventional Monetary Policy Instruments Matter in Unconventional Times?
Journal of Banking & Finance,
This paper investigates how declines in the deposit facility rate set by the ECB affect euro area banks’ incentives to hold reserves at the central bank. We find that, in the face of lower deposit rates, banks with a more interest-sensitive business model are more likely to reduce reserve holdings and allocate freed-up liquidity to loans. The result is driven by banks in the non-GIIPS countries of the euro area. This reveals that conventional monetary policy instruments have limited effects in restoring monetary policy transmission during times of crisis.
16.06.2020 • 9/2020
The economy adapts to the pandemic
In the first half of 2020, the pandemic has exacted a heavy toll on the German economy, causing a slump in production that will not be fully recovered within the next year. According to IWH summer economic forecast, gross domestic product is expected to contract by 5.1% in 2020 and to increase by 3.2% in 2021. The decline in production in Eastern Germany is likely to be less pronounced compared to Germany as a whole and estimated at 3.2% in 2020.
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