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A New Indicator of Competitiveness for Italy and the Main Industrial and Emerging Countries

Finicelli, Andrea and Liccardi, Alessandra and Sbracia, Massimo (2005): A New Indicator of Competitiveness for Italy and the Main Industrial and Emerging Countries.

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This paper presents the new competitiveness indicators of the Bank of Italy. While the old ones were calculated with reference to 25 industrial or OECD countries, the new indicators are available for 62 countries, including the main emerging and developing economies. In order to extend the country coverage, we have used a new methodology to compute country weights, introduced by the Federal Reserve, which is entirely based on trade flows; by contrast, the previous IMF-BIS methodology adopted for the old indicators required also data on the domestic production of the manufacturing sector — figures that are rarely available for non-industrial countries. In addition, we have adjusted the trade flows of China and Hong Kong as suggested in the literature, in order to reduce the distortions due to the entrepôt trade of these two countries. Results show that methodological differences have a negligible impact on competitiveness indicators; on the other hand, the effect of the country coverage may be quite remarkable. In Italy’s case, the old and new indicators show a similar dynamics in the period from January 1980 to September 2005; differences in levels, well-contained between 1980 and 1993, grow thereafter reaching a maximum of 5.5 percentage points. During the recent phase of dollar depreciation began in February 2002, Italy recorded a sharp decline in competitiveness. In addition to the United States, the countries that mostly contributed to this negative performance were Japan, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. These losses were partly offset by the gains recorded with respect to several central and eastern European countries.

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