Setting a country’s structural growth rate on a higher path, i.e. sparking and sustaining a growth acceleration can have quantitatively huge implications for national income and, more broadly, for people’s wellbeing. We develop a novel statistical framework to identify systematically the set of binding constraints that were unlocked before the 135 growth acceleration episodes that took place between 1962 and 2002 worldwide. We employ this information to characterise the acceleration process, which tends to be preceded by a deep recession and major economic policy changes. Once we combined this information with a set of counterfactual analyses, we find however that successful acceleration strategies should not contain off-the-shelf approaches or necessarily all-encompassing “shock therapy” solutions. On the other hand, they call for a careful tailoring to local conditions. Richer countries tend to experience fewer accelerations, but once these have been ignited, they are better positioned to make the most out of them. Despite standard growth determinants doing a fairly good job at characterising successful accelerations, we note how take-offs remain extremely hard to engineer with a high degree of certainty.
Macroeconomic adjustment in the euro area periphery was more recessionary than pre-crisis imbalances would have warranted. To make this claim, this paper uses a Propensity Score Matching Model to produce counterfactuals for the Eurozone crisis countries (Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Spain) based on over 200 past macroeconomic adjustment episodes between 1960-2010 worldwide. At its trough, between 2010 and 2015 per capita GDP had contracted on average 11 percentage points more in the Eurozone periphery than in the standard counterfactual scenario. These results are not dictated by any specific country experience, are robust to a battery of alternative counterfactual definitions, and stand confirmed when using a parametric dynamic panel regression model to account more thoroughly for the business cycle. Zooming in on the potential causes, the lack of an independent monetary policy, while having contributed to a deeper recession, does not fully explain the Eurozone’s specificity, which is instead to be identified in a sharper-than-expected contraction in investment and fiscal austerity due to high funding costs. Reading through the overall findings, there are reasons to believe that an incomplete Eurozone institutional setup contributed to aggravate the crisis through higher uncertainty.
At a time of slow growth in several advanced and emerging countries, calls for more structural reforms are multiplying. However, estimations of the short- and medium-term impact of these reforms on GDP growth remain methodologically problematic and still highly controversial. We contribute to this literature by making a novel use of the non-parametric Synthetic Control Method to estimate the impact of 23 wide-reaching structural reform packages (including both real and financial sector measures) rolled out in 22 countries between 1961 and 2000. Our results suggest that, on average, reforms started having a significant positive effect on GDP per capita only after five years. Ten years after the beginning of a reform wave, GDP per capita was roughly 6 percentage points higher than the synthetic counterfactual scenario. However, average point estimates mask a large heterogeneity of outcomes. Benefits tended to materialise earlier, but overall to be more limited, in advanced economies than in emerging markets. These results are confirmed when we use a parametric dynamic panel fixed effect model to control for the rich dynamics of GDP, and are robust to a variety of alternative specifications, placebo and falsification tests, and to different indicators of reform.