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Are the macroeconomic forecasts of the central banks better than those of private agents?

By Paul Hubert

Private expectations – about inflation, growth and interest rates – are a critical component of most modern macroeconomic models, as they determine the current and future realizations of these very variables. Monetary policy has been shaped more and more by the incorporation of these expectations in central bankers’ calculations and the influence they have on private expectations through interest rate decisions and the way these are communicated. The establishment by the central banks of a forward-looking policy orientation, called “forward guidance”, has further reinforced the importance of central bank macroeconomic forecasts as a tool of monetary policy for influencing private expectations. suite…»

The infinite clumsiness of the French budget

By Xavier Timbeau, @XTimbeau

In the draft budgetary plan presented to the European Commission on 15 October 2014, it is clear that France fails to comply with the rules on European governance and its previous commitments negotiated in the framework of the European Semester. As France is in an excessive deficit procedure, the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, has no choice a priori but to reject the country’s budget plan. If the Commission does not reject the plan, which departs very significantly, at least in appearance, from our previous commitments, then no budget could ever be rejected. suite…»

French competitiveness: The object of a supply policy

By Sarah Guillou

The 2014-2015 edition of The Global Competitiveness Report [1] by the World Economic Forum sheds light on the political debate between those who like to prioritize a supply policy and those who instead make the conditions governing offer their top priority. Note that competitiveness is a key factor in future growth in mature economies that specialize in high-tech or high added-value products [2]. suite…»

Reforming unemployment insurance in France today: not a good idea according to OECD indicators

By Eric Heyer

Six months following the signing of a national industry-wide agreement on unemployment benefits between the social partners, with new rules that normally are to apply until 2016, the French government, which wants to go further in reforming the labour market, is evoking the possibility of once again reforming the unemployment insurance system by reducing the level of benefits and the period they are paid.

It is far from clear that reforming the unemployment insurance system is in keeping with the idea that any reform must improve the “quality of life” of our citizens. This is, in any case, what is indicated by the latest publication of the OECD. suite…»

The promotion of renewable energy innovation: when State intervention and competition go hand in hand

by Lionel Nesta and Francesco Vona[1]

In contrast with the common belief that competition demands no State intervention, innovation policy and competition complement each other. This is the main conclusion of our investigation concerning innovation in the realm of renewable energy (RE)[2], summarized in the OFCE Briefing Paper, n°8, October 6, 2014. suite…»

The 2013 pension reform: the implicit contribution of pensioners’ purchasing power

By Stéphane Hamayon and Florence Legros

Less than three years after the official retirement age in France was raised in 2010-2011, a new pension reform was passed in early 2014.

This reform is described by its promoters as “sustainable and equitable”. However, only a few months after it passed, if we once again review the mid- and long-term balance of the pension system, we would have to conclude that this subject needs another look (see our article in the Revue de l’OFCE, no. 137, 2014). The suspected imbalance stems from a gap between the assumptions that prevailed in 2014 when the reform passed and the actual development of critical macroeconomic variables such as unemployment and productivity growth. suite…»

Fiscal policy and macroeconomic stability in an economic and monetary union: the case of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)

By Mamadou DIOP and Adama DIAW

The idea that fiscal policy is an effective tool of economic policy for stimulating the real economy has neither empirical backing nor unanimous support among economists. An article published in the Revue de l’OFCE (no. 137, 2014) deals with two major shortcomings in government policy in the WAEMU: delays in implementing fiscal measures and the irreversibility of certain public spending measures. The problem centers on the capacity to cancel certain expenditures when they are no longer needed to stabilize the economy. Having a reversible fiscal policy is essential these days to ensure that the public purse is sustainable over the medium term. To stabilize a country’s economy using fiscal policy, it is important to be able to identify which public spending measures significantly affect economic activity, while taking into account their response time. Such is the purpose of this article: to evaluate the impact of fiscal shocks on the economic activity of WAEMU countries so as to reveal the channels through which fiscal policy is transmitted.

Does growth in the euro zone really depend on a hypothetical German fiscal stimulus?

By Christophe Blot and JĂ©rĂ´me Creel

The debate on economic policy in Europe was re-ignited this summer by Mario Draghi during the now traditional symposium at Jackson Hole, which brings together the world’s main central bankers. Despite this, it seems that both the one side (Wolfgang SchaĂĽble, Germany’s finance minister) and the other (Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF) are holding to their positions: fiscal discipline plus structural reforms, or demand stimulus plus structural reforms. Although the difference can seem tenuous, the way is now open for what Ms. Lagarde called “fiscal manoeuvring room to support a European recovery”. She is targeting Germany in particular, but is she really right? suite…»

Better abilities or stronger social ties? Drivers of social immobility across EU countries

par Francesco Vona

A high level of income inequality is commonly regarded to be more acceptable when associated with high social mobility. Empirical evidence has however shown that unequal countries are rarely able to ensure high social mobility to their citizens. On the contrary, countries that rank high in the level of inequality are also the worst in term of social mobility[i]. The simple reason is that a given level of social immobility is amplified when rewards to individual characteristics, which are transmitted from parents to child, are larger. For instance, when the earning advantage for the high skilled is large, intergenerational inequality (that is: the correlation between parent and child incomes) increases because, on average, high skilled workers come from better family backgrounds. suite…»

Following the decision of France’s Constitutional Council: the impossible merger of the RSA and PPE social welfare programmes

By Henri Sterdyniak

In June 2014, the government had Parliament approve a new provision for the gradual reduction of employee payroll taxes intended to boost the purchasing power of low-wage earners. Henceforth an employee on the minimum wage (SMIC) would benefit from a 3-point reduction in their contributions, representing a gain of 43 euros per month, i.e. a 4% increase in net income. The discount would then decline with the level of the hourly wage and terminate at 1.3 times the SMIC. On 6 August 2014, the Constitutional Council (Conseil Constitutionnel) barred this provision. There are three reasons to welcome its ruling. suite…»