Energy is the fundamental currency of the physical world, while GDP is the imperfect catch-all measure of economic progress. The plot shows electricity generation per capita against GDP per capita for 2015. The bubble areas represent population size, while the colours are the fraction of power which is produced from renewable sources – with light green a high percentage and dark green a low percentage.
With trade negotiations apparently looming, one may wonder with whom the UK trades most. Given the geospatial aspect of the data, perhaps a map may help. Even better, how about a cartogram?
Cartograms can be formed by distorting a map so that the areas of countries correspond to the relative values of some measure.
Thomas Viegas and Gabija Zemaityte.
Many things have being trending down globally over the recent decades: real interest rates, productivity, world trade, you name it! And it’s generally acknowledged that these falls are problematic for policymakers. However, there is one downward trend which has been welcomed with open arms…
Since the financial crisis the UK’s fiscal and current account balances have persistently been in deficit. These ‘twin’ deficits are significant in historical terms, with a record peacetime fiscal deficit in 2009 and a record current account deficit in 2015. But how closely related are these ‘twins’ and do they pose a risk to financial stability? Using a new ‘from-whom-to-whom’ dataset I find that the two deficits are not directly related to each other and are being financed through relatively stable channels.
Will Holman and Tim Pike.
The openness of the UK economy — measured by international trade and labour flows — has increased substantially in the past twenty years (Charts 1 (a) and (b)). In this post we explore three structural changes to the economy arising from globalisation that we have observed daily in our visits to companies around the UK. These are increases in: (a) openness of product markets; (b) access for UK businesses to overseas labour; and (c) outsourcing of non-core activities to lower-wage economies. There is a long-running debate whether globalisation of markets has weakened the link between domestic factors, such as the amount of domestic slack (spare capacity among UK-based firms and workers), and inflationary pressures. In our view, these structural changes have provided an additional source of slack in product and labour markets that has borne down on UK inflation in recent years. Looking to the future, the vote on 23rd June to leave the EU might affect the pace of change of these forces, making future trends uncertain.
Capital investment is one of the fundamental building blocks of future productivity growth and anticipating future developments in global investment is a major concern for policymakers. This note makes two observations: 1) Despite weak investment in advanced economies, investment is not weak globally – as a share of world GDP, capital investment is currently at the highest level since 1990; 2) Emerging market economies, particularly China and commodity exporters, disproportionally contributed to the recent strength in global investment, but that contribution is now at risk.
Robert Hills, John Hooley, Yevgeniya Korniyenko and Tomasz Wieladek.
When funding conditions became much more difficult in the recent financial crisis, how did UK banks react? Did they adjust their domestic and external lending to different degrees? Did foreign-owned banks behave differently from UK-owned banks, and did it make a difference whether they were a branch or a subsidiary? Did the other features of their balance sheet make a material difference to their lending behaviour? Our research suggests that the answer to all of these questions is “yes”.
Edd Denbee, Carsten Jung and Francesco Paternò.
The global financial safety net (GFSN) is a set of instruments and institutions which act as countries’ insurance for when capital flows suddenly stop or foreign currency markets suddenly freeze. These resources were extremely important during the 2007-08 crisis when investors ran for the exits, threatening the external positions of many advanced and emerging economies. Since then, the GFSN has expanded in size and nature, but was recently described by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde as “fragmented and asymmetric”. We agree on the asymmetry – our recent paper finds that some countries have insufficient access to the GFSN. However, we also find that the GFSN is sufficiently resourced for a severe set of shocks, provided the IMF’s current lending capacity is maintained.
Do exchange rate regimes matter for the formation of countries’ external imbalances? Economists have thought so for over sixty years, and policymakers have made countless recommendations based on that presumption. But this had not been tested empirically until very recently, so it remained an opinion rather than a fact. In this post I show that having a flexible exchange rate regime leads to the correction of external imbalances in developing countries, offering some empirical support to a widely held belief. In contrast, this does not seem to be the case for advanced economies.
Ambrogio Cesa-Bianchi, Jean Imbs and Jumana Saleheen.
It is a well-known fact that financial integration has increased dramatically over the past few decades. Has this rise led to higher or lower business cycle synchronization? The answer depends crucially on the source of the shock. In response to common shocks, financial integration tends to lower business cycle synchronization. But in response to a country-specific shock, business cycles are more synchronised between countries that are more ﬁnancially integrated.