Economist at the International Monetary Fund in the Asia-Pacific Department in the Regional Studies division
Research Interests: International trade, International finance and Macroeconomics.
Title: Unpacking Policy Uncertainty: Evidence from European Firms
Abstract: The intensifying nature of policy uncertainty makes it a popular explanation for recent weak economic performance and puzzles. However, the empirical literature is limited in its ability to make causal claims because it largely relies on macro-level measures of policy uncertainty and treats the concept as homogenous but amorphous. This research addresses these limitations by exploiting variation in firms’ exposure to external markets to construct a firm-level measure of policy uncertainty. The approach both highlights a new channel for policy uncertainty and allows for stronger causal identification of the effects of policy uncertainty on economic performance. As part of this effort, I refine prior approaches to measuring policy uncertainty and distinguish between generic, fiscal, monetary, and trade policy uncertainty. I find that firms with greater exposure to external markets tend to experience larger declines in investment, sales, profits, and employment when fiscal and monetary policy uncertainty increase. Unexpectedly, increases in trade policy uncertainty appear to have a positive impact on exports for exposed firms. Both sets of findings can be rationalized in a standard model of firm investment under uncertainty. In particular, I present evidence that exposed firms may perceive increased uncertainty around trade agreement negotiations as a signal that negative outcomes are less likely in the near-term, incentivizing immediate investments.