NIESR Discussion Paper

Oil Prices and the World Economy

Oil prices have been associated with bouts of inflation and economic instability over the last 30 years, and they have been rising in recent months. We argue that the inflationary consequences of a rise in oil prices depend upon the policy response of the monetary authorities. They can ameliorate the short term impacts on output, but only at the cost of higher inflation. In the short term the size and distribution of output effects from an increase in oil prices depends on the intensity of oil use in production and on the speed at which oil producers spend their revenue.

Costs of Financial Instability, Household-Sector Balance Sheets and Consumption

The literature on costs of financial instability tends to focus on fiscal costs and the impact on GDP of banking crises. In this paper we analyse the effect of a banking or currency crisis on consumption. We show that consumption plays an important role in the macroeconomic adjustment following a financial crisis. Furthermore, the effect of a crisis is aggravated by high leverage, notably as shown by the effect of a high debt-income ratio, despite the benefits of financial liberalisation in easing liquidity constraints. It is also greater in a small open economy than in the G-7.

Does Means Testing Exacerbate Early Retirement?

It is quite clear that the message has gone out to all too many of our constituents that savings can damage their retirement income. We cannot explain the collapse in savings in this country in any other way than by saying that people are being very rational and that about 40 per cent of working people cannot now save to make themselves a penny better off Ñ let alone substantially better off Ñ through forgoing income now and trying to push it into their retirement.

The dynamic impact of ICT spillovers on companies' productivity performance

Using company account data for the US and four European countries this paper analyses the impact of ICT spillovers on companies' performance. We use different definitions of spillovers to account for inter and intra-industry spillover effects, as well as assessing the presence of spillovers from the US to Europe. We also look at the possibility that spillovers might take some time to materialise, by comparing their short and long run impact.

National Saving and the Stability and Growth Pact

Many of the arguments used to justify the Stability and Growth Pact's concern with budget deficits in fact relate to levels of national saving. Countries with large budget deficits tend to have low levels of national saving but some countries such as the UK have low levels of national saving for structural reasons associated with the private sector. A good case can be made that budgetary targets should be tighter for countries with structurally low saving than for countries with savings levels adequate to allow wealth to grow in line with income.

Financial Liberalisation, Consumption and Wealth Effects in 7 OECD Countries

We estimate the impact of financial liberalisation on consumption in 7 major industrial countries, and find a marked shift in behaviour, notably a decline in short run income elasticities and a rise in short run wealth and interest rate elasticities. A corollary is that consumption equations estimated over both pre- and post-liberalisation regimes may be misleading, and either a form of testing as presented here or a shortening of the sample period may be appropriate for accurate forecasting and simulation.

Optimal combination of density forecasts

This Revision December 2005. First Version November 2004.

This paper brings together two important but hitherto largely unrelated areas of the forecasting literature, density forecasting and forecast combination. It proposes a simple data-driven approach to direct combination of density forecasts using optimal weights.

Density Forecast Combination

In this paper we investigate whether and how far density forecasts sensibly can be combined to produce a 'better' pooled density forecast. In so doing we bring together two important but hitherto largely unrelated areas of the forecasting literature in economics, density forecasting and forecast combination. We provide simple Bayesian methods of pooling information across alternative density forecasts. We illustrate the proposed techniques in an application to two widely used published density forecasts for U.K. inflation.

Means Testing and Retirement Choices in Europe: A Comparison of the British and Danish Systems

We develop a simulation model of household behaviour in which both the consumption/saving and labour/leisure choices are endogenous. This model is used to explore the effects of the UK and Danish state tax and benefit systems on the labour supply of old and older workers.

Simulating Cohort Earnings for Australia

A dynamic microsimulation model of cohort earnings based on the Australian population aged between 20 and 55 years is described. A highly parsimonious modular structure is adopted to facilitate sensitivity analysis and enable additional characteristics to be added, should they be desired. Despite the restrictive specifications used, the model closely reflects the data used for calibration.