Pandemics and Inequality: Perceptions and Preferences for Redistribution

IMF Working Paper No. 2021/053

Authors: Vybhavi Balasundharam & Era Dabla-Norris

This paper uses an individual-level survey conducted by the Edelman Trust Barometer in mid-April for 11 advanced and emerging market economies to examine perceptions of government performance in managing the health and economic crisis, beliefs about the future, and attitudes about redistribution. We find that women, non-college educated, the unemployed, and those in non-teleworkable jobs systematically have less favorable perceptions of government responses. Personally experiencing illness or job loss caused by the pandemic can shape people’s beliefs about the future, heightening uncertainties about prolonged job losses, and the imminent threat from automation. Economic anxieties are amplified in countries that experienced an early surge in infections followed by successful containment, suggesting that negative beliefs can persist. Support for pro-equality redistributive policies varies, depending on personal experiences and views about the poor. However, we find strong willingness to provide social safety nets for vulnerable individuals and firms by those who have a more favorable perception of government responses, suggesting that effective government actions can promote support for redistributive policies.

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How Does Profit Shifting Affect the Balance of Payments?

IMF Working Paper No. 2021/041

Authors: Shafik Hebous, Alexander D Klemm & Yuou Wu

Profit shifting by multinational enterprises—through manipulation of transfer prices of related-party trade, intragroup lending, or the location of intangibles—affects international flows, raising the question of its impact on the current account and external balances. This paper approaches this question theoretically and empirically. In theory, profit shifting distorts the components of the current account and bilateral current account balances but leaves a country’s aggregate net balance unaffected. There is, however, a real effect on current account balances, because taxes are paid to different jurisdictions. Moreover—in practice—the measured current account could change, because not all transactions are equally easy to track. Our panel empirical results broadly confirm that the current account balance tends to be, on average, unaffected by profit shifting, but taking heterogeneity into account we find that both the real tax effect and mismeasurement strengthen income balances—and thus the current account—in investment hubs.

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