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  • Author: Dean Karlan, Jonathan Zinman, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The poor can and do save, but often use formal or informal instruments that have high risk, high cost, and limited functionality. This could lead to undersaving compared to a world without market or behavioral frictions. Undersaving can have important welfare consequences: variable consumption, low resilience to shocks, and foregone profitable investments.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Poverty, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Laura E. Seay
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Although its provisions have yet to be implemented, section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is already having a profound effect on the Congolese mining sector. Nicknamed “Obama's Law” by the Congolese, section 1502 has created a de facto ban on Congolese mineral exports, put anywhere from tens of thousands up to 2 million Congolese miners out of work in the eastern Congo, and, despite ending most of the trade in Congolese conflict minerals, done little to improve the security situation or the daily lives of most Congolese. In this report, Laura Seay traces the development of section 1502 with respect to the pursuit of a conflict minerals-based strategy by U.S. advocates, examines the effects of the legislation, and recommends new courses of action to move forward in a way that both promotes accountability and transparency and allows Congolese artisanal miners to earn a living.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Poverty, Natural Resources, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez, Carlos Montoro
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The financial systems in emerging market economies during the 2008–09 global financial crisis performed much better than in previous crisis episodes, albeit with significant differences across regions. For example, real credit growth in Asia and Latin America was less affected than in Central and Eastern Europe. This paper identifies the factors at both the country and the bank levels that contributed to the behavior of real credit growth in Latin America during the global financial crisis. The resilience of real credit during the crisis was highly related to policies, measures and reforms implemented in the pre-crisis period. In particular, we find that the best explanatory variables were those that gauged the economy's capacity to withstand an external financial shock. Key were balance sheet measures such as the economy's overall currency mismatches and external debt ratios (measuring either total debt or short-term debt). The quality of pre-crisis credit growth mattered as much as its rate of expansion. Credit expansions that preserved healthy balance sheet measures (the “quality” dimension) proved to be more sustainable. Variables signalling the capacity to set countercyclical monetary and fiscal policies during the crisis were also important determinants. Moreover, financial soundness characteristics of Latin American banks, such as capitalization, liquidity and bank efficiency, also played a role in explaining the dynamics of real credit during the crisis. We also found that foreign banks and banks which had expanded credit growth more before the crisis were also those that cut credit most. The methodology used in this paper includes the construction of indicators of resilience of real credit growth to adverse external shocks in a large number of emerging markets, not just in Latin America. As additional data become available, these indicators could be part of a set of analytical tools to assess how emerging market economies are preparing themselves to cope with the adverse effects of global financial turbulence on real credit growth.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In this paper, written as the introduction to New Ideas on Development after the Financial Crisis (JHU Press, 2011), Nancy Birdsall discusses two themes. The first is the pre-crisis subtle shift in the prevailing model of capitalism in developing countries—away from orthodoxy or so-called market fundamentalism—that the crisis is likely to reinforce.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Liliana Rojas-Suarez
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The international financial crisis of 2008–09 exposed the strengths and weaknesses of the current paradigm of development in Latin America, a paradigm based on liberalized capital accounts and significantly improved macroeconomic conditions. This paper presents lessons derived from the crisis, not only for the region itself, but also for other developing countries that might seek economic growth in the context of greater integration to the international capital markets. Some of the lessons are not new but have been reinforced by the crisis, such as Latin America's imperative need for export diversification (not only in products but in partners). Other lessons break with longstanding myths about the region, such as its inability to undertake counter-cyclical policies—at least on the monetary side. Yet other lessons reflect new developments in the current growth paradigm, such as a renewed assessment of (1) the relative roles of foreign and domestic banks in shielding the financial system against external shocks and (2) the potential costs of adopting blanket international financial regulations that do not account for a country's degree of development. Taken together, the lessons in this paper bring a new sense of optimism for growth in Latin America.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Benjamin Leo
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: During the last few International Development Association (IDA) replenishment negotiations, several large donors have pressed for reforms to further increase the share of IDA resources provided to the neediest and most vulnerable countries. While the proposed reforms take different forms, the philosophical Thrust is the same—push IDA's focus further down the development chain. Against this backdrop, this paper explores just how well IDA's existing performance-based allocation (PBA) system actually addresses these issues. To achieve this, I examine how IDA allocations are distributed at each successive stage of the PBA methodology based upon a number of need and vulnerability measures. Next, I apply two simple measures to gauge IDA's performance: (1) whether per-capita allocations to the neediest and most vulnerable countries are equal to or greater than those for the best off countries and (2) whether allocations to the neediest and most vulnerable countries increase between the baseline and final allocation scenarios. Based on these criteria, IDA has a mixed track record. IDA's performance is very modest with respect to the relative share allocated to the neediest or most vulnerable countries. Of the eight measures examined, only two illustrate parity between final allocations to the bottom and top quartile of countries. However, the litany of PBA exceptions clearly helps to redistribute resources in absolute terms. Per-capita allocations to the neediest and most vulnerable countries more than doubles between the baseline and final PBA scenarios for every need and vulnerability indicator examined. Clearly, the existing system has several built-in biases to redistribute resources to these countries. However, these exceptions fall short from ensuring full parity that some IDA donors may wish to achieve. As such, the philosophical debate among key IDA donors likely will continue for the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid, Financial Crisis
  • Author: C. Peter Timmer
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes price formation on the world's rice market using simple supply and demand models as a start, but moving to “supply of storage” models—a staple of commodity-market analysis for more than half a century—to explain hoarding behavior and its subsequent impact on prices. The supply of storage model, however, does not account adequately for the influence that “outside” speculators have on prices. This paper quantifies the impact of financial factors and actors on commodity-price formation using very short-run prices and Granger causality analysis for a wide range of financial and commodity markets, including rice. The results are highly preliminary but are also very provocative. Speculative money seems to surge in and out of commodity markets, strongly linking financial variables with commodity prices during some time periods, but these periods are often short and the relationships disappear for long periods of time. Finally, the paper addresses the long-run (since 1900) relationships among the prices of the three basic cereal staples, rice, wheat and corn (maize), which have declined more than 1 percent per year over the past century. The decline accelerated after the mid-1980s; only the recent run-up in cereal prices in 2007–08 returned them to the long-run downward trend. Despite these common features and important cross-commodity linkages, however, price formation for rice has several unique dimensions worthy of further study.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Markets, Food, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Openness is not necessarily good for the poor. Reducing trade protection has not brought growth to today's poorest countries, and open capital markets have not been good for the poorest households in emerging market economies. In this paper I present evidence on these two points. First, countries highly dependent on primary exports two decades ago, despite their substantial engagement in trade and a marked decline in their tariff rates in the 1990s, have failed to grow. Second, within high-debt emerging market economies the financial crises of the last decade, whether induced by domestic policy problems or global contagion, have been especially costly for the poor (in welfare terms if not in terms of absolute income losses). I discuss the asymmetries in the global economy that help explain why countries and people cannot always compete on equal terms on the “level playing field” of the global economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Financial Crisis