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Fiscal outcomes, current account imbalances, and institutions in Europe: Exploring nonlinearities

Kady Keita, Isabelle Rabaud, Camelia Turcu

We analyze the fiscal outcomes associated to the current account imbalances within Europe. We hypothesize that the effects of current account imbalances on fiscal variables within the European Union are nonlinear and that the nonlinearity is modulated by the quality of governance. We use data on 28 European Union countries from 2000 to 2019, apply a Panel Smooth Transition Regression (PSTR) approach and proxy governance by measures of corruption. We find evidence of a nonlinear relationship: the fiscal effects related to current account imbalances are differentiated among European countries. On the one hand, we find a positive elasticity of fiscal balance to current account balance when the quality of institutions is low. This suggests that in countries with high corruption, a deterioration of the current account results in a degradation of fiscal balance and an increase of debt. On the other hand, we find a negative elasticity of fiscal balance to current account balance when the quality of institutions is high. This implies that in countries with low corruption, larger current account imbalances can be related to an improved fiscal balance and a lower debt. Robustness checks comfort our findings.

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Can blockchain help improve financial inclusion? A comparative study

Yilmaz Ҫiğdem, Sébastien Galanti

The financial inclusion of poor populations and/or refugees can be hindered by difficulties in proving or reluctance to disclose their identity. Bank accounts and mobile money services require that identities be provided. Financial digital services based on blockchain technology can provide anonymous authentication to poor/refugee populations and be a first step towards financial inclusion. We scrutinize several examples of such projects by comparing them with blockchain-based digital identity or financial inclusion programmes that are not necessarily restricted to poor/migrant populations. We use social network activity as a proxy for the failure or success of such projects. We find that blockchain projects targeted to migrants and poor individuals are more likely to fail than are those targeted to all. We more closely examine one particular case to check the consistency of our proxy. We present plausible explanations for our result: the discrepancy between the needs of populations of low socioeconomic status and the proposed blockchain-backed financial services and the fact that maintaining such services is energy intensive.

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Mineral resources and the salience of ethnic identities

Nicolas Berman, Mathieu Couttenier, Victoire Girard

This paper shows how ethnic identities may become more salient due to natural resources extraction. We combine individual data on the strength of ethnic—relative to national—identities with geo-localised information on the contours of ethnic homelands, and on the timing and location of mineral resources exploitation in 25 African countries, from 2005 to 2015. Our strategy takes advantage of several dimensions of exposure to resources exploitation: time, spatial proximity and ethnic proximity. We find that the strength of an ethnic group identity increases when mineral resource exploitation in that group’s historical homeland intensifies. We argue that this result is at least partly rooted in feelings of relative deprivation associated with the exploitation of the resources. We show that such exploitation has limited positive economic spillovers, especially for members of the indigenous ethnic group; and that the link between mineral resources and the salience of ethnic identities is reinforced among members of powerless ethnic groups and groups with strong baseline identity feelings or living in poorer areas, or areas with a history of conflict. Put together, these findings suggest a new dimension of the natural resource curse: the fragmentation of identities, between ethnic groups and nations.

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Innovations en matière de micro finance

Christian Rietsch

Résumé non disponible.

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Payment for Environmental Services and environmental tax under imperfect competition

Anneliese Krautkraemer, Sonia Schwartz

This paper designs the second-best Payment for Environmental Services (PES) when it interacts with a Pigouvian tax under imperfect competition. We consider farmers who face a choice between producing a conventional or an organic agriculture good. The regulator sets a Pigouvian tax on conventional agriculture as it generates environmental damages, as well as a PES on uncultivated land as buffer strips favor biodiversity. The conventional agriculture sector is perfectly competitive, unlike the organic agriculture sector, which is organized under an oligopoly. We show that the second-best level of the Pigouvian tax is higher than the marginal damage whereas the PES is lower than the marginal benefit. We then introduce the social marginal cost of public funds (MCF) and show that the Pigouvian tax increases with the MCF while the PES decreases with the MCF provided that demand for the conventional agriculture good is inelastic. We thus highlight a contributory component of the environmental incentive tax. This paper also identifies specific cases where the PES is ineffective in promoting biodiversity.

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Original Sin: Fiscal Rules and Government Debt in Foreign Currency in Developing Countries

Ablam Estel Apeti, Bao-We-Wal Bambe, Jean-Louis Combes, Eyah Denise Edoh

Most developing economies borrow abroad in foreign currency, which exposes them to the problem of "original sin." Although the literature on the issue is relatively extensive, little is said about the role of fiscal frameworks such as fiscal rules in controlling original sin. Hence, using a panel of 59 developing countries over the period 1990-2020 and applying the entropy balancing method, we find that fiscal rules reduce government debt in foreign currency, and that the effects are statistically and economically significant and robust. In addition, the strengthening of the rule, better fiscal discipline prior to the adoption of the reform, financial development, financial openness, flexibility of the exchange rate regime, and sound institutions amplify the negative effect of fiscal rules on original sin.

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