Misallocation Dynamics in Europe: Germany versus South

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2016. The project is a required component of every master program.


Alexandros Georgakopoulos, Sampreet Singh Goraya, Viraj Rajeev Jorapur, Barrett William Owen, Jurica Zrnc

Master’s Program:



After the start of the Great Recession in Europe, the countries of the South (e.g. Spain) entered into a protracted stage of negative growth, amounting to an average decline in output of 1.6 perecent between 2008 and 2013, while Germany grew 0.8 percent on average in the same period. Furthermore, the decline in economic growth was accompanied by the under performance of total factor productivity growth in the South (-2.3%) relative to almost stagnant productivity growth in Germany (-0.5%). This points to some underlying factors which are not solely attributable to the demand shocks and the financial crisis.


Data and Measurement of Misallocation

Using a rich firm-level dataset we calculate various dispersion measures of marginal revenue products of production factors. We find that marginal revenue product of capital was increasingly more dispersed in the South, but not in Germany. A large part of this increase can be explained by the weakening link between capital and productivity. This implies that capital was increasingly allocated to less productive firms.

Time-series of covariance between logTFPR and (Logk l) from 2006-2013,
Base year=2006, Amadeus and author’s own calculations

However, we also document increasing dispersion in marginal revenue product of labor, albeit of much smaller magnitude. This points to the possibility of common drivers behind the changes in both meassures. We argue that the common factor might be increased dispersion of TFP shocks during the recession. Similarly to Bloom et al. (2012) we interpret this as an increase in uncertainty. Furthermore, we calculate the potential gains by equalizing marginal revenue products of factors of production across firms in sectors, following Hsieh and Klenow (2007) methodology. Supporting our previous analysis, we find that gains from reallocation of resources increased considerably in the South but remained flat in Germany.

Determinants of Misallocation

In the next section, we explore different determinants of misallocation and relate it to different trends in South and Germany. First, we pool the data for six countries to explore general determinants of misallocation dynamics during the recession. Results point towards the importance of rising uncertainty during the recession, public sector influence and financial frictions in explaining the increase in misallocation during the recession. Furthermore, we find that sectors characterized with more business dynamism experienced more misallocation during the recession. This result is in accordance with Foster et al. (2014) which find that the intensity of reallocation fell rather than rose during the recent financial crisis in the US.

Secondly, we explore the differences between Germany and the South. We find that sectors with larger financial intensity were characterized by higher misallocation in the South, while not in Germany. This points to larger financial frictions in the South being important to explain the increase in misallocation. We find evidence that sectors prone to cronyism saw increased misallocation of capital in the South, while not in the North. We also find some evidence of benefits from product market reforms during recession in the South. We perform a number of robustness checks which generally support our results, although in some specifications, some parameters are not significant.

Riding the barrel: How commodity exporters can maneuver through price rapids

Master project by Martin Aragoneses, Mario Giarda, and Nikolas Schöll. Barcelona GSE Master’s in Economics

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects by students in the Class of 2015. The project is a required component of every master program.

Martin Aragoneses, Mario Giarda, and Nikolas Schöll

Master’s Program:

Paper Abstract:

We develop a multi-sector small open economy DSGE model with government and exogenous sources of income, in particular where the country is a commodity producer such that income from commodity exports provides a large proportion of government revenue, making international uncertainty about the future commodity price matter. The objectives of this paper are to study the differences between level shocks and uncertainty shocks to commodity prices in terms of how they affect the economy, and to analyze the convenience of different fiscal rules when we allow the income processes to have moving uncertainty.

In an application, we estimate the parameters of a stochastic volatility model for Angola and Chile and we feed them to the model to see different economic responses to uncertainty shocks. Then, we investigate whether the fiscal rule should depend on the type of income process in general. In our evaluation, we focus on the short term implications of the rule in reducing volatility, wondering if it is better to spend the resources in the present than have an insurance against the cycles? Finally, we discuss some policy implications regarding the implementation of those rules. Can the rule be tractable by the agents on the model? Are the best rules sufficiently simple to be followed by the public and finally credible as an anchor of the expectation

Presentation Slides:

Spotlight on Faculty Research: Profs. Alessandra Bonfiglioli and Gino Gancia

Gino Gancia

Alessandra Bonfiglioli


Alessandra Bonfiglioli (PhD, Stockholm) and Gino Gancia (PhD, Stockhold) are both Barcelona GSE Affiliated Professors. Last year, they jointly published an article titled “Uncertainty, Electoral Incentives and Political Myopia” in the Economic Journal.


In this recent article, Alessandra Bonfiglioli (UPF) and Gino Gancia (CREI) argue that periods of high economic uncertainty like the current one are particularly favorable for the adoption of long-term policies, such as fiscal stabilizations and other structural reforms. The reason is that high uncertainty implies that economic performance and electoral outcomes depend more on luck and less on policy choices. This makes politicians less reluctant to adopt policies with current costs but future benefits. Continue reading “Spotlight on Faculty Research: Profs. Alessandra Bonfiglioli and Gino Gancia”