- Wirtschaftswissenschaften (11) (remove)
- Salary cuts and competitiveness (2013)
- There is a prevalent view outside Greece that promotion of competitiveness is tantamount with price reductions for Greek goods and services. Massive horizontal salary cuts appear, at first, to promote competitiveness by reducing unit labor costs and to reduce fiscal deficits by reducing the wage bill of the public sector. Upon closer look, however, horizontal salary cuts have been much greater than needed for Greek competitiveness, providing an alibi vis a vis the Troika for reforms that are still to be implemented, but at the same time undermining both competitiveness and the potential to reduce public debt through sustainable development.
- The fiscal crisis as a crisis in trust (2014)
- Neither Northerners are willing to invest in a South they perceive as unwilling to undertake necessary structural reforms, nor are Southerners willing to invest in their countries in a climate of austerity and policy uncertainty imposed, in their view, by the North. This results in a vicious cycle of mistrust. However, as the author argues, big steps in the direction of reforms may provide just enough thrust to break out of this vicious cycle, propel southern countries – and especially Greece – to a much happier future, and promote the chances for more balanced economic performance in North and South.
- Verschwenderische Südeuropäer? (2011)
- Entgegen der allgemeinen Wahrnehmung arbeiten die Menschen in den südeuropäischen Ländern viel. Ihre durchschnittliche Arbeitsproduktivität liegt jedoch weit unter dem EU-Durchschnitt. Strukturelle Reformen zur Steigerung der Arbeitsproduktivität sollten die höchste Priorität haben.
- Prodigal Italy Greece Spain? (2011)
- Contrary to widely held perceptions, workers in the southern European states that are most afflicted by the sovereign debt crisis work hard. However, labor productivity in these countries lags far behind the EU average. Structural reforms to boost productivity should be at the top of the reform agenda.
- Löhne kürzen schadet der Wettbewerbsfähigkeit (2013)
- Außerhalb Griechenlands herrscht die Ansicht vor, dass eine höhere Wettbewerbsfähigkeit gleichbedeutend ist mit Preissenkungen für Güter und Dienstleistungen. Angesichts der begrenzten Bereitschaft in Griechenland, Reformen umzusetzen, fordern die Gläubiger drastische Lohnkürzungen, um die Produktivität zu erhöhen und die öffentlichen Ausgaben zu senken. Doch mit einer Kürzungsrunde nach der anderen lässt sich Wettbewerbsfähigkeit nicht erreichen. Umfangreiche flächendeckende Lohnkürzungen reduzieren vielmehr die erwartete Produktivität, da sie die besten Arbeitnehmer vertreiben, dem Rest Anreize zur Produktivität nehmen und neue gute Leute fernhalten.
- Household debt and social interactions : [Version 18 Januar 2013] (2013)
- Debt-induced crises, including the subprime, are usually attributed exclusively to supply-side factors. We uncover an additional factor contributing to debt culture, namely social influences emanating from the perceived average income of peers. Using unique information from a representative household survey of the Dutch population that circumvents the need to define the social circle, we consider collateralized, consumer, and informal loans. We find robust social effects on borrowing – especially among those who consider themselves poorer than their peers – and on indebtedness, suggesting a link to financial distress. We check the robustness of our results using several approaches to rule out spurious associations and handle correlated effects.
- Household debt and social interactions : [Version 1 März 2012] (2012)
- Debt-induced crises, including the subprime, are usually attributed exclusively to supply-side factors. We examine the role of social influences on debt culture, emanating from perceived average income of peers. Utilizing unique information from a household survey representative of the Dutch population, that circumvents the issue of defining the social circle, we consider collateralized, consumer, and informal loans. We find robust social effects on borrowing, especially among those who consider themselves poorer than their peers; and on indebtedness, suggesting a link to financial distress. We employ a number of approaches to rule out spurious associations and to handle correlated effects.
- Differences in portfolios across countries: economic environment versus household characteristics : [Version 23 November 2011] (2014)
- We document and study international differences in both ownership and holdings of stocks, private businesses, homes, and mortgages among households aged fifty or more in thirteen countries, using new and comparable survey data. We employ counterfactual techniques to decompose observed differences across the Atlantic, within the US, and within Europe into those arising from differences in population characteristics and differences in economic environments. We then correlate the latter differences to country-level indicators. Ownership across the range of the assets considered tends to be more widespread among US households. We document that shortly prior to the current crisis, US households tended to invest larger amounts in stocks and smaller ones in homes, and to have larger mortgages in older age, even controlling for characteristics. This is consistent with the high prevalence of negative equity associated with the current crisis. More generally, we find that differences in household characteristics often play a small role, while differences in economic environments tend to explain most of the observed differences in ownership rates and in amounts held. The latter differences are much more pronounced among European countries than among US regions, suggesting further potential for harmonization of policies and institutions.
- Does product familiarity matter for participation? : [Version 23 July 2014] (2014)
- Regulation of investor access to financial products is often based on product familiarity indicated by previous use. The underlying premise that lack of familiarity with a product class causes unwarranted participation is difficult to test. This paper uses household-level data from the ‘experiment’ of German reunification that (exogenously) offered to East Germans access to capitalist products (exogenously) unfamiliar to them. We compare the evolution of post-unification participation of former East and West Germans in financial products, controlling for relevant household characteristics. We vary familiarity differentials by considering (i) both unfamiliar ‘capitalist’ products (stocks, bonds, and consumer credit) and ones available in the East (savings accounts and life insurance); and (ii) cohorts with different exposure to capitalism. We find that East Germans participated immediately in unfamiliar risky securities, at rates comparable to West Germans of similar characteristics. They phased out disproportionate participation in previously familiar assets as familiarity with capitalist products grew. They were more likely to use consumer debt, partly to catch up with richer new peers. We find no signs of abrupt participation drops that could suggest mistakes or regret related to lack of familiarity.
- Incompatible european partners? Cultural predispositions and household financial behavior : [Version 30 June 2014] (2014)
- The Eurozone fiscal crisis has created pressure for institutional harmonization, but skeptics argue that cultural predispositions can prevent convergence in behavior. Our paper derives a robust cultural classification of European countries and utilizes unique data on natives and immigrants to Sweden. Classification based on genetic distance or on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions fails to identify a single ‘southern’ culture but points to a ‘northern’ culture. Significant differences in financial behavior are found across cultural groups, controlling for household characteristics. Financial behavior tends to converge with longer exposure to common institutions, but is slowed down by longer exposure to original institutions.