Editor's Note: This essay paper of Professor Kornai with an unusually provoking title consists of two parts. Part I is the slightly edited, non-abridged version of his writing published as an oped in The Financial Times (FT) on 11 July 2019, the world's leading global business publication (Kornai 2019a). Subsequently, the full text of this paper was published in the Hungarian weekly magazine Élet és Irodalom (Life and Literature; Kornai 2019b), which in turn generated a number of commenting articles published in the same weekly. Still in the month of July, the original essay was translated into Chinese by a Hong Kong newspaper and into Vietnamese. An influential multilingual Chinese newspaper gave an extensive summary of the FT essay (Street 2019). The latter one, according to our best knowledge, was disseminated only on the internet. Part II is the translated and slightly edited version of Kornai's second article, published in September this year on the same topic (Kornai 2019c). In this second essay he responded to his critiques both in Hungary and world-wide. This piece was published in its original form in Hungarian by the previous mentioned Hungarian weekly. We, the Editors of Acta Oeconomica, are proud to publish the complete English translation of this second essay first time. We thank for the opportunity given to us by Professor Kornai to publish the Frankenstein-papers in an integrated form, together with all the necessary bibliographic references.
Recently, the middle-income trap (MIT) has gained considerable attention – besides European countries, several African, Asian, and Latin-American developing countries are also affected. Many countries have remained in the middle-income bracket for decades, whilst only a few have advanced to high-income status. Felipe et al. in 2012 showed that an annual growth rate of at least 3.5 and 4.7% sustained for a period of 14 and 28 years is required respectively for upper-middle-income and lower-middle-income countries to escape the MIT. Economic growth is influenced by several factors including foreign aid received. Thus, in this study, we aim to answer the question of how aid affects economic growth in middle-income countries and whether aid may contribute to escaping the MIT. Focusing on the countries that have remained in the middle-income group between 1990 and 2017, our analysis confirms that aid contributes to economic growth; however, the impact is positive in the upper-middle-income countries and negative in the lower-middle-income countries. Aid is therefore, likely to be more effective in helping the upper-middle income countries to escape the MIT but not the lower-middle income countries.
The main objective of this paper is to identify the impacts of the COVID-crisis on growth, in particular on growth potential in the European Union (EU), in the context of a broader growth analysis. The quantitative analysis underlying this paper focuses on the financial and economic (“Great”) recession of 2008–2009, the subsequent recovery and the period of the COVID-crisis. We provide a detailed overview of some of the mechanisms of the COVID-crisis on growth.
The COVID-crisis is likely to have a direct impact on the level of potential output. A decrease in investments and labour market hysteresis may have long-lasting effects on potential growth. The former would have a negative impact on productivity. This can lead to increased inequalities and have a negative effect on social cohesion. The future development of divergences among the EU Member States is particularly important. Their possible intensification could disrupt the functioning of the euro area and the internal market.
A lasting source of potential growth in the EU Member States could be productivity growth. Its decisive structural factor is the growth dynamism of total factor productivity (TFP). There are large differences in this area with regard to the level and growth dynamism of performance of the Member States. Narrowing the output gaps vis-à-vis the front-runners through deep structural reforms could be a key factor in raising growth potential. The cleansing effects of crises, which force structural change and resource reallocation, can also create new opportunities for TFP growth.