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The Impact of Structural Policies on Saving, Investment and Current Accounts

  • Clovis Kerdrain
  • Isabell Koske
  • Isabelle Wanner

This paper explores the impact of structural policies on saving, investment, and current accounts in OECD and non-OECD economies. Since the current account effects of structural reforms are often complex and ambiguous from a theoretical perspective, new OECD empirical analysis is carried out. Reduced-form equations are estimated for a panel of 30 OECD countries as well as for a panel/cross-section of 117 OECD and non-OECD countries that relate saving, investment and current accounts to policy indicators and a set of macroeconomic control variables. This work suggests that structural reforms may influence saving, investment and current accounts through their impact on macroeconomic conditions such as productivity growth or public revenues and expenditures, but also more directly: i) higher social spending (in particular on health care) is found to lower the saving rate and thereby to weaken the current account, most likely reflecting lower precautionary saving; ii) product market liberalisation temporarily boosts investment and thus also weakens the current account; iii) financial market deregulation may lower the saving rate, though only in less developed countries; iv) stricter employment protection may be associated with lower saving rates if unemployment benefits are low, as well as with higher investment rates possibly due to greater substitution of capital for labour. A scenario analysis indicates that fiscal consolidation and structural reforms in the main world economies could significantly reduce current global imbalances, possibly by about a third. L'impact des politiques structurelles sur l'épargne, l'investissement, et la balance courante Cet article étudie l'impact des politiques structurelles sur l'épargne, l'investissement, et la balance courante de pays membres et non-membres de l'OCDE. Cette nouvelle étude de l'OCDE en présente une analyse empirique, l'impact des réformes structurelles sur la balance courante étant souvent complexe et ambigu d'un point de vue théorique. L'épargne, l'investissement et la balance courante sont reliés à un ensemble de variables de politiques structurelles par des équations de forme réduite, estimées en incluant des variables macroéconomiques de contr“le. Les régressions sont basées d'une part sur des données de 30 pays de l'OCDE disponibles sur une longue période, et d'autre part sur des séries plus courtes pour 117 pays membres et non-membres de l'OCDE. Cette étude suggère que les réformes structurelles peuvent influencer l'épargne, l'investissement et la balance courante via leur impact sur les conditions macroéconomiques telles que la croissance de la productivité, les recettes ou les dépenses publiques. Plus directement, elle indique également que : i) une augmentation des dépenses de protection sociale (en particulier des dépenses de santé) réduit le taux d'épargne, et donc affaiblit la balance courante, reflétant probablement une diminution de l'épargne de précaution ; ii) une libéralisation du marché des biens et services augmente temporairement l'investissement, ce qui affaiblit également la balance courante ; iii) une dérégulation des marchés financiers pourrait réduire le taux d'épargne dans les pays les moins développés ; iv) une protection plus stricte des emplois pourrait conduire à une réduction du taux d'épargne lorsque les allocations-ch“mage sont faibles, ainsi qu'à une élévation du taux d'investissement, peut-être due a une substitution de capital au travail. Les simulations indiquent qu'une consolidation budgetaire et des réformes structurelles dans les principales économies mondiales pourraient réduire significativement les déséquilibres macroéconomiques mondiaux actuels, peut-être d'environ un tiers.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 815.

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Date of creation: 02 Dec 2010
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Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:815-en
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