Current works and working papers

 

We develop an optimal design of a Financial Stability Fund that coexists with the international debt market. The sovereign can borrow long-term defaultable bonds on the private international market, while having with the Fund a long-term contingent contracts subject to limited enforcement constraints. There is a contract that minimizes the debt absorbed by the Fund, guaranteeing full debt stabilization. In equilibrium, the seniority of the Fund contract, with respect to the privately held debt, is irrelevant. We calibrate our model to the Italian economy and show it would have had a more efficient path of debt accumulation with the Fund.

In an overlapping generations economy with incomplete insurance markets, the introduction of an employment fund — akin to the one introduced in Austria in 2003, also known as ‘Austrian backpack’ — can enhance production efficiency and social welfare. It complements the two classical systems of public insurance: pay-as-you-go (PAYG) pensions and unemployment insurance (UI). We show this in a calibrated dynamic general equilibrium model with heterogeneous agents of the Spanish economy in 2018. A ‘backpack’ (BP) employment fund is an individual (across jobs) transferable fund, which earns the economy interest rate as a return and is financed with a payroll tax (a BP tax). The worker can use the fund when becomes unemployed or retires. In Spain, as an open economy, to complement the existing PAYG pension and UI systems with a welfare maximising 6\% BP tax would raise welfare by 0.96\% of average consumption at the new steady state, and would be preferred to the status quo by most economic and demographic groups. We also analyze, as a reference, Spain as a closed economy. There are important general equilibrium effects and, as a result, the social value of introducing the backpack is substantially greater: 16.14\%, with a BP tax of 18\%. Our model also provides a framework where to study reforms of existing social protection systems supported by the introduction of the BP.Read more

We study the welfare effects of both existing and counter-factual European unemployment insurance policies using a rich multi-country dynamic general equilibrium model with labour market frictions. The model successfully replicates several salient features of European labor markets, in particular the cross-country differences in the flows between employment, unemployment and inactivity. We find that mechanisms like the recently introduced European instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE), which allows national governments to borrow at low interest rates to cover expenditures on unemployment benefits, yield sizable welfare gains, contradicting the conventional classical view that costs of business cycles are small.  Furthermore, we find that a harmonized benefit system that features a one-time payment of around three quarters of income upon separation is welfare improving in all Eurozone countries relative to the status quo.Read more

We develop a model of a Financial Stability Fund (Fund) for a union of sovereign countries. By contract design, the Fund never has expected undesired losses while, being default-free, a participant country has greater ability to borrow and share risks than using sovereign debt financing. The Fund contract also provides better incentives for the country to reduce endogenous risks. These efficiency gains arise from the ability of the Fund to offer long-term contingent financial contracts, subject to limited enforcement (LE) and moral hazard (MH) constraints as part of the contingencies. We develop the theory (welfare theorems, with a new price decentralization) and quantitatively compare the constrained-efficient Fund economy with an incomplete markets economy with default. In particular, we characterize how prices and allocations differ, when the two economies are subject to exogenous productivity and endogenous government expenditure shocks. In our economies, calibrated to the euro area ‘stressed countries’, substantial welfare gains are achieved, particularly in times of crisis. The Fund is, in fact, a risk-sharing, crisis prevention and resolution mechanism, which transforms participant countries’ defaultable sovereign debts into union’s safe assets. In sum, our theory can help to improve current official lending practices and, eventually, to design an European Fiscal Fund.Read more

With ageing population and historical trends of low employment rates, pay-as-you-go (PAYG) pension systems, currently in place in several European countries, imply very large economic and welfare costs in the coming decades, threatening the sustainability of these systems. In an overlapping generations economy with incomplete insurance markets and frictional labour markets, an employment fund, which can be used while unemployed or retired can enhance production efficiency and social welfare.  With an appropriate design, the sustainable Backpack employment fund (BP) can greatly outperform — measured by average social welfare in the economy — existing pay-as-you go systems and also Pareto dominate a full privatization of the pension system, as well as a standard fully funded defined contribution pension system. We show this in a calibrated model of the Spanish economy, by comparing steady-state economies after the ongoing demographic transition under these different pension systems and by showing how a front-loaded transition from the PAYG to the BP system, ahead of the ‘ageing transition’,  can be Pareto improving (i.e. without losers), while minimizing the cost of the reform.Read more

Countries must comply with loan conditions in order to receive official-sector financial assistance. Although critical for the success of official lending, there is little evidence of what makes for an effective design of such conditions. Using a unique dataset detailing compliance with conditionality in euro area programmes, we provide such evidence. We show compliance is more likely for conditions with explicit numerical targets. We study the drivers of the official lenders’ decision to assess a condition, and whether this decision affects debtors’ ability to meet the condition being evaluated. We find that programme revisions, throught which official lenders agree to modify the assesment schedule, help debtor countries meet the conditions. Our results show that, from the perspective of boosting compliance, the design of official-loan conditionality should be brought closer to the state-contingent approaches employed in the theoretical literature.

We study the optimal designs of a Fiscal Union with independent currencies and of a Monetary and Fiscal Union (Currency Union) and their relative performance. We derive the optimal fiscal-transfer policy in these unions as a dynamic contract subject to enforcement constraints, whereby in a Currency Union each country has the option to unpeg from the common currency, with or without default on existing obligations. Our analysis shows that the lack of independent monetary policy, or an equivalent independent policy instrument, limits the extent of risk-sharing within a Currency Union. It also shows that  the optimal state-contingent transfer policy implements a constrained efficient allocation that minimises the losses of the monetary union; that is, the fiscal transfer policy is complementary to monetary policy.  At the steady state, welfare is lower than in a Fiscal Union with independent monetary policies. However, with nominal rigidities and only one shock disrupting consumption, risk-sharing reduces the cost of losing independent monetary policy and, as a result, the welfare loss for having a Currency Union can be quantitatively very small. Nevertheless, this almost-equivalence welfare result breaks down when, for example, there is another shock disrupting consumption: the Fiscal Union with independent currencies can confront both shocks separately, which can not be done with the constrained efficient complementary mix in a Currency Union. Importantly, these results — in particular, the lower value of the Currency Union — change when there are trade costs associated with independent monetary policies, unless these costs are (counterfactually) negligible. If they are not, Currency Union dominates Fiscal Union. In the latter the constrained efficient fiscal-transfers policy, accounts for these costs, limiting the extent of risk-sharing, while efficiently assigning the trade costs associated with the transfers. Read more