Dongchul Cho examines Korea’s recent monetary policy in comparison with Japan’s experiences in the 1990s. As in Japan, the Bank of Korea’s forecasts were excessively optimistic during the 2012 to 2015 period, resulting in conservative monetary policy, while Korea differs from Japan in having a milder pace of disinflation and a low likelihood of a real estate bubble-bust. Nonetheless, conservative policy based on past experiences could become risky in a rapidly changing environment, particularly with Korea’s rapid aging and declining potential growth. The answer to the question, whether Korea with a lag of two decades will follow Japan into deflation, lies in future monetary policy.
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Japanization is defined as a combination of (1) a lower actual than potential growth rate for an extended period; (2) a natural real interest rate below zero; (3) a nominal (policy) interest rate at zero; and (4) deflation (a negative inflation rate). A proposed Japanization index measures these conditions. Japan entered this state through (1) its 1990s overkill of the bubble; (2) a nonperforming loans problem resulting in a major banking crisis; (3) failure in engineering a soft landing of the banking crisis; (4) failure to adopt quantitative easing early and decisively to get out of deflation; (5) failure to adopt an inflation targeting regime; and (6) failure to adopt a large fiscal stimulus. Ongoing success of Abenomics in lifting the economy out of deflation shows it is possible to prevent or cure Japanization.
SeongTae Kim investigates Japan’s experiences since the 1990s to find lessons for Korea’s future fiscal policy. Japan’s deteriorating fiscal soundness is attributed to the decline in revenue (from tax cuts, recession and deflation) and increases in expenditure (largely for social welfare, local tax grants and public works, exacerbated by weakness in the legislative-executive checks-and-balances system). By contrast, Korea in the 2010s is in better fiscal shape than Japan was in the early 1990s, with a much lower debt-to-GDP ratio, structural balances still positive, a slower growth-rate decline, more stability in its tax-burden ratios and a better checks-and-balances system, although the share of non-age-related central government expenditure is still far larger in Korea than the OECD average. To ensure longer-term fiscal soundness and not repeat Japan’s experiences, comprehensive reform of fiscal policy is inevitable, with special attention to the tax base and social welfare expenditure in an aging society.
This study evaluates the allocative efficiency in the Korean manufacturing sector following the methodology of Hsieh and Klenow. Overall allocative efficiency has declined from 1990 to 2012. The potential loss from worsening misallocation is estimated at 0.6 percentage point each year, which is considerable in terms of overall total factor productivity. In terms of firm size distribution, large establishments are more likely to expand initially, if distortions are removed in most countries. One notable feature in Korea is that this pattern is pronounced.
Keiko Ito and YoungGak Kim
Ito and Kim use a large-scale dataset to examine differences in allocative efficiency between Japanese and Korean firms from 1995 to 2008. They measure the firm-level distortions in terms of total factor productivity, output and capital, employing the Hsieh and Klenow approach. They find that distortion measures are more dispersed in Korea than in Japan. As a result, neither economy has improved allocative efficiency, which is lower for Korea than for Japan. Low productivity firms in both economies tend to overproduce, suggesting that resources are not moved from low productivity firms to high productivity firms. Improvement in resource allocation is an urgent policy issue for both countries in order to realize the efficient level of output, given that both countries are highly likely to face serious labor shortages in the near future due to population decline and aging.
This chapter aims to provide an overview of the basics of Japan’s local public administration and finance system and to analyze how Japan’s municipalities restore their fiscal balance after a fiscal shock. In Japan, local governments play a major role in redistribution. Combined with regional disparities in tax capacities and an inflexible local tax system, there is a large vertical fiscal gap in Japan between the central and local governments – a gap that necessitates the transfer of funds from central to local governments. Under this system, the fiscal adjustments in Japan’s municipalities occur mainly via changes in government investment, and they account for 63–95 percent of adjustments in permanent unit innovations in grants and own-source revenue. In contrast to the role of expenditure, the municipalities’ own-source revenue plays a limited role in balancing the local budget. The results of this chapter also reveal that 40 percent of the increase in own-source revenue is offset by a reduction in grants. Furthermore, municipalities can induce grants by expanding government current expenditure. Finally, this chapter offers and discusses some policy implications.
Achieving Fiscal Sustainability
Edited by Naoyuki Yoshino and Peter J. Morgan
Despite the initiatives of the Finance Commission of India, fiscal performance has been deteriorating and increasingly diverging across Indian states. Given that the state governments are endowed with expenditure autonomy, this chapter investigates whether the composition of expenditure of the subnational governments has an impact on the degree of indebtedness. A panel analysis for the 17 non-special category states over 1980–2013 indicates that apart from the budget structure, the state-specific factors affecting fiscal performance play an important role in government borrowing. Curiously enough, government borrowing is more responsive to revenue expenditure than capital outlay and has more growth-augmenting effect through revenue expenditure.
The core emphasis of rules-based fiscal legislation at the subnational level in India is to achieve debt sustainability through a numerical ceiling on borrowing and the use of borrowed resources for public capital investment by phasing out revenue deficits. Using the Arellano Bond Panel estimation, this chapter examines whether the application of fiscal rules has resulted in an increase in the fiscal space for public capital investment spending in major Indian states. This analysis shows that by controlling other factors, there is a negative relationship between fiscal rules and public capital investment spending at the state level during the rules-based fiscal regime.