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  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Arturo J. Galindo, Marielle del Valle
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: A number of banks in developed countries argue that the new capital requirements under Basel III are too stringent and that implementing the proposed regulation would require raising large amounts of capital, with adverse consequences on credit and the cost of finance. In contrast, many emerging market economies claim that their systems are adequately capitalized and that they have no problems with implementing the new capital requirements. This paper conducts a detailed calculation of capital held by the banks in four Latin American countries—known as the Andean countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru—and assesses the potential effects of full compliance with the capital requirements under Basel III. The conclusions are positive and show that while capital would decline somewhat in these countries after they make adjustments to comply with the new definition of capital under Basel III, they would still meet the Basel III recommendations on capital requirements. More importantly, these countries would hold Tier capital to risk-weighted-asset ratios significantly above the 8.5 percent requirement under Basel III. That is, not only the quantity, but also the quality of capital is adequate in the countries under study. While encouraging, these results should not be taken as a panacea since the new regulations are only effective if coupled with appropriate risk management and supervision mechanisms to control the build-up of excessive risk-taking by banks. Further research into these areas is needed for a complete assessment of the strength of banks in the Andean countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Latin America, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, José Luis Guasch, Veronica Gonzales
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, Central American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—have made significant progress in social and economic areas. In particular, they have stabilized their economies after decades of civil war and the economic volatility that plagued the region through the 1990s. Most countries in Central America have taken important steps to improve their business climates, particularly by enhancing macroeconomic stability, improving the soundness of their financial systems, making improvements in infrastructure services and trade facilitation, reducing red tape, and simplifying their regulatory and tax frameworks. As a result, before the 2008 financial crisis, GDP per capita in Central America grew at an average rate of 3 percent per year from 2003 to 2008, which, albeit modest, was the most robust and stable period of growth the region had witnessed since the early 1990s. However, despite this achievement, Central American economies are still lagging behind the rest of Latin America and other middle-income countries by per-capita growth rates of 0.5 to 2 percentage points. Even more worrying are the levels of poverty and inequality, which show the lack of inclusiveness in their growth models. Moreover, recent developments in the region show a number of red flags that are weakening macroeconomic and democratic stability. Significant structural changes are urgently needed to secure sustained and inclusive growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Nora Lustig, Luis F. Lopez-Calva, Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Between 2000 and 2010, the Gini coefficient declined in 13 of 17 Latin American countries. The decline was statistically significant and robust to changes in the time interval, inequality measures, and data sources. In-depth country studies for Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico suggest two main phenomena underlie this trend: a fall in the premium to skilled labor and more progressive government transfers. The fall in the premium to skills resulted from a combination of supply, demand, and institutional factors. Their relative importance depends on the country.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Argentina, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Barbara Kotschwar
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In Latin America, inadequate transportation infrastructure has been identified as an increasingly important impediment to the region's further integration in global trade and a significant factor preventing countries from properly taking advantage of the multitude of regional, plurilateral, and bilateral trade agreements signed in the past decade and a half. This paper examines transport and communications infrastructure initiatives in Latin American and Asian regional trade arrangements and finds several lessons Asia can teach Latin America.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Communications, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Theodore H. Moran, Julia Muir, Barbara Kotschwar
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China's need for vast amounts of minerals to sustain its high economic growth rate has led Chinese investors to acquire stakes in natural resource companies, extend loans to mining and petroleum investors, and write long-term procurement contracts for oil and minerals in Africa, Latin America, Australia, Canada, and other resource-rich regions. These efforts to procure raw materials might be exacerbating the problems of strong demand; "locking up" natural resource supplies, gaining preferential access to available output, and extending control over the world's extractive industries. But Chinese investment need not have a zero-sum effect if Chinese procurement arrangements expand, diversify, and make more competitive the global supplier system. Previous Peterson Institute research (see Moran 2010) and new research undertaken in this paper, show that the majority of Chinese investments and procurement arrangements serve to help diversify and make more competitive the portion of the world natural resource base located in Latin America. For a more comprehensive analysis, the authors conduct a structured comparison of four Peruvian mines with foreign ownership: two Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development-based, and two Chinese. They examine what conditions or policy measures are most effective in inducing Chinese investors to adopt international industry standards and best-practices, and which are not. They distill from this case study some lessons for other countries in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere that intend to use Chinese investment to develop their extractive sectors: first, that financial markets bring accountability; second, that the host country regulatory environment makes a significant difference; and third, that foreign investment is a catalyst for change.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: China, Canada, Latin America, Australia
  • Author: Fulvio Castellacci
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The paper presents an empirical analysis of the innovative activities of business groups in Latin America. It compares the innovativeness of group-affiliated firms (GAFs) and standalone firms (SAFs), and it investigates how country-specific institutional factors – financial, legal, and labor market institutions – affect the group-innovation relationship. The empirical analysis is based on the most recent wave of the World Bank Enterprise Survey (period 2010-2011), and it focuses on a sample of 6500 manufacturing firms across 20 Latin American countries. The econometric results point out two major conclusions. First, GAFs are more innovative than SAFs: we estimate the innovation propensity of GAFs to be 9% higher than that of SAFs. Secondly, across countries, the innovativeness of GAFs is higher for national economies with a better institutional system than for countries with a less efficient institutional set up.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Deborah Elms, C. L. Lim
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement currently under negotiation between nine countries in three continents, including Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam. In late 2011 three additional countries--Japan, Canada and Mexico--announced their intention to join as well. The TPP has always been called a "high quality, 21st century" agreement that covers a range of topics not always found in free trade agreements. This includes not just trade in goods, services and investment, but also intellectual property rights, government procurement, labor, environment, regulations, and small and medium enterprises. This paper traces the complex negotiations and evolution of the talks since the early 2000s to the present.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Labor Issues, Intellectual Property/Copyright
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, Israel, Vietnam, Latin America, Australia, Australia/Pacific, Mexico, Singapore, Chile, Peru, New Zealand, Brunei
  • Author: Déborah Itriago
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: Paraguay's tax system is insufficient to provide the resource base to eradicate poverty in the country, and has done little or nothing to achieve a more equal distribution of income and wealth. Two major taxation reforms over the last decade have done little to alleviate the fiscal injustice that is generated partly by the low tax reciprocity of the soy agribusiness – Paraguay's main export crop. Meanwhile, programmes to support small- scale farming receive a level of public financing accounting for just 5 per cent of public expenditure. With one of the highest levels of unequal land ownership in the world, labour informality at very high levels and poor environmental regulation of soy producers, the livelihoods and ecosystems of Paraguay's small-scale producers are at risk. There are serious loopholes in Paraguay's tax system that must be addressed in order to deliver a fairer, progressive taxation system that will allow the country to meet its social objectives.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Environment, International Trade and Finance, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Perrin Beatty, Andrés Rozental
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Both Canada and Mexico are recovering well from the global economic recession of 2008-2009, but must work harder to make their bilateral relationship work to their mutual benefit. Bilateral trade and investment have grown steadily from very low pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) levels, but there remains enormous, untapped potential, particularly in Mexico. Student, tourist, investor and temporary worker exchanges are enhancing familiarity with each other, but unhelpful stereotypes remain common. New investment and trade opportunities should flow from the new Mexican administration's commitment to open up the energy sector to foreign participation. The assessment and recommendations contained in this special report point to the benefit of efforts that will intensify bilateral partnerships, not only in their own right, but also in strengthening the two countries' ability to deal more effectively with the United States in pursuing matters of mutual concern.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Timothy A. Wise
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University
  • Abstract: More than 40% of U.S. corn is now consumed in the production of ethanol. With the United States by far the world's largest producer and exporter of corn, this represents an estimated 15% of global corn production. A recent survey by the National Academy of Sciences estimated that globally biofuels expansion accounted for 20 - 40% of the price increases seen in 2007 - 8, when prices of many food crops doubled. This had a dramatic impact on poor consumers and on net - food - importing developing countries. Expanding U.S. production and consumption of corn - based ethanol, which has been encouraged by a range of U.S. government subsidies and incentives, is considered one of the most important biofuel programs in putting upward pressure on food prices. Mexico now imports about one - third of its corn from the United States. Using conservative estimates from a study on U.S. ethanol expansion and corn prices, we estimate the direct impacts of U.S. ethanol expansion on Mexican corn import costs. We find that from 2006 - 2011, U.S. ethanol expansion cost Mexico about $1.5 billion due to ethanol - related corn price increases. Other methodologies suggest the costs could be more than twice as high, surpassing $3 billion over the period.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Development, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Food
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Mexico