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Fiscal Policy in the Age of COVID: Does it ‘Get in all of the Cracks?’

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  • Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas
  • Ṣebnem Kalemli-Özcan
  • Veronika Penciakova
  • Nick Sander

Abstract

We study the effects of fiscal policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the firm, sector, country and global level. First, we estimate the impact of COVID-19 and policy responses on small and medium sized enterprise (SME) business failures. We combine firm-level financial data from 50 sectors in 27 countries, a detailed I-O network, real-time data on lockdown policies and mobility patterns, and a rich model of firm behavior that allows for several dimensions of heterogeneity. We find: (a) Absent government support, the failure rate of SMEs would have increased by 9 percentage points, significantly more so in emerging market economies (EMs). With policy support it only increased by 4.3 percentage points, and even decreased in advanced economies (AEs). (b) Fiscal policy was poorly targeted: most of the funds disbursed went to firms who did not need it. (c) Nevertheless, we find little evidence of the policy merely postponing mass business failures or creating many ‘zombie’ firms: failure rates rise only slightly in 2021 once policy support is removed. Next, we build a tractable global intertemporal general equilibrium I-O model with fiscal policy. We calibrate the model to 64 countries and 36 sectors. We find that: (d) a sizable share of the global economy is demand-constrained under COVID-19, especially so in EMs. (e) Globally, fiscal policy helped offset about 8% of the downturn in COVID, with a low ‘traditional’ fiscal multiplier. Yet it significantly reduced the share of demand- constrained sectors, preserving employment in these sectors. (f) Fiscal policy exerted small and negative spillovers to output in other countries but positive spillovers on employment. (g) A two-speed recovery would put significant upwards pressure on global interest rates which imposes an additional headwind on the EM recovery. (h) Corporate and sovereign spreads rise when global rates increase, suggesting that EM may face challenging external funding conditions as AEs economies normalize.

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  • Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Ṣebnem Kalemli-Özcan & Veronika Penciakova & Nick Sander, 2021. "Fiscal Policy in the Age of COVID: Does it ‘Get in all of the Cracks?’," NBER Working Papers 29293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:29293
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    4. Tomoyuki Yagi & Kakuho Furukawa & Jouchi Nakajima, 2022. "Productivity Trends in Japan - Reviewing Recent Facts and the Prospects for the Post-COVID-19 Era -," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 22-E-10, Bank of Japan.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C67 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Input-Output Models
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • G33 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Bankruptcy; Liquidation

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