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  • Author: Samer Matta, Michael Bleaney, Simon Appleton
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nottingham Interdisciplinary Centre for Economic and Political Research (NICEP)
  • Abstract: An extensive literature has examined the economic effects of non-violent political instability events. Nonetheless, the issue of whether economies react differently over time to such events remains largely unexplored. Using synthetic control methodology, which constructs a counterfactual in the absence of political instability, we estimate the output effect of 38 regime crises in the period 1970-2011. A crucial factor is whether crises are accompanied by mass civil protest. In the crises accompanied by mass civil protest, there is typically an immediate fall in output which is never recovered in the subsequent five years. In crises unaccompanied by protest, there are usually no significant effects. Furthermore, this paper provides new evidence that regime crises (with and without mass civil protest) have heterogeneous (country-specific) effects on output per capita.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Regime Change, Political stability, Economic Growth, Protests, Economic Policy, Civil Unrest
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Vincent Stamer
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: Global container ship movements may reliably predict global trade flows. Aggregating both movements at sea and port call events produces a wealth of explanatory variables. The machine learning algorithm partial least squares can map these explanatory time series to unilateral imports and exports, as well as bilateral trade flows. Applying out-of-sample and time series methods on monthly trade data of 75 countries, this paper shows that the new shipping indicator outperforms benchmark models for the vast majority of countries. This holds true for predictions for the current and subsequent month even if one limits the analysis to data during the first half of the month. This makes the indicator available at least as early as other leading indicators.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Trade, Shipping, Machine Learning
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Chuck Fang, Julian Schumacher, Christoph Trebesch
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: Sovereign debt crises are difficult to solve. This paper studies the “holdout problem”, meaning the risk that creditors refuse to participate in a debt restructuring. We document a large variation in holdout rates, based on a comprehensive new dataset of 23 bond restructurings with external creditors since 1994. We then study the determinants of holdouts and find that the size of creditor losses (haircuts) is among the best predictors at the bond level. In a restructuring, bonds with higher haircuts see higher holdout rates, and the same is true for small bonds and those issued under foreign law. Collective action clauses (CACs) are effective in reducing holdout risks. However, classic CACs, with bond-by-bond voting, are not sufficient to assure high participation rates. Only the strongest form of CACs, with single-limb aggregate voting, minimizes the holdout problem according to our simulations. The results help to inform theory as well as current policy initiatives on reforming sovereign bond markets.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Political Economy, Law, Credit
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Katrin Klöble
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: This paper addresses the self-selection of potential migrants. In particular, the study examines whether risk and time preferences explain a significant proportion in the movement heterogeneity of individuals. It is further intended to shed light on the role of social preferences (trust, altruism, reciprocity) as potential migratory determinants. By making use of a unique cross-sectional data set on migration intentions (Gallup World Poll) and experimentally-validated preferences (the Global Preference Survey) covering 70 countries worldwide, a probit model is estimated. The empirical results provide evidence that potential migrants exhibit higher levels of risk-taking and patience than their counterparts who stay at home (the stayers). This holds true across differing countries with various cultural backgrounds and income levels. Trust and negative reciprocity are found to be significantly related to migration aspirations as well. Yet conclusive clarifications still remain necessary, providing impetuses for future research.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Risk, Polls
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Thomas Brand, Fabien Tripier
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII)
  • Abstract: Highly synchronized during the Great Recession of 2008-2009, the Euro area and the US have diverged in the period that followed. To explain this divergence, we provide a structural interpretation of these episodes through the estimation for both economies of a business cycle model with financial frictions and risk shocks, measured as the volatility of idiosyncratic uncertainty in the financial sector. Our results show that risk shocks have stimulated US growth in the aftermath of the Great Recession and have been the main driver of the double-dip recession in the Euro area. They play a positive role in the Euro area only after 2015. Risk shocks therefore seem well suited to account for the consequences of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and the subsequent positive effects of unconventional monetary policies, notably the ECB’s Asset Purchase Programme (APP).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Political Economy, Global Recession, Finance, Europe Union, Economic Growth, Risk
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Pierre Cotterlaz, Etienne Fize
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII)
  • Abstract: This paper documents the effect of information frictions on trade using a historical large-scale improvement in the transmission of news: the emergence of global news agencies. The information available to potential traders became more abundant, was delivered faster and at a cheaper price between countries covered by a news agency. Exploiting differences in the timing of telegraph openings and news agency coverage across pairs of countries, we are able to disentangle the pure effect of information from the effect of a reduction in communication costs. Panel gravity estimates reveal that bilateral trade increased by 30\% more for pairs of countries covered by a news agency and connected by a telegraph than for pairs of countries simply connected by a telegraph.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Partnerships, Media, News Analysis, Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Vincent Bodart, François Courtoy, Erica Perego
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII)
  • Abstract: With commodities becoming international financial securities, commodity prices are affected by the international financial cycle. With this evidence in mind, this paper reconsiders the macroeconomic adjustment of developing commodity-exporting countries to changes in world interest rates. We proceed by building a model of a small open economy that produces a non-tradable good and a storable tradable commodity. The difference with standard models of small open economies lies in the endogenous response of commodity prices which -due to commodity storage- adjust to variations in international interest rates. We find that the endogenous response of commodity prices amplifies the reaction of commodity exporting countries to international monetary shocks. This suggests that commodity exporting countries are more vulnerable to unfavourable international monetary disturbances than other small open economies. In particular, because of the existence of the commodity price channel, even those small open commodity-exporting economies that are disconnected from international financial markets can be affected by the international financial cycle.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Monetary Policy, Finance, Commodities, Interest Rates, Exports, Price
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Hubert Gabrisch
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: This study attempts to identify uncertainty in the long-term rate of interest based on the controversial interest rate theories of Keynes and Kalecki. While Keynes stated that the future of the rate of interest is uncertain because it is numerically incalculable, Kalecki was convinced that it could be predicted. The theories are empirically tested using a reduced-form GARCH-in-mean model assigned to six globally leading financial markets. The obtained results support Keynes’s theory – the long-term rate of interest is a nonergodic financial phenomenon. Analyses of the relation between the interest rate and macroeconomic variables without interest uncertainty are thus seriously incomplete.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Economic Theory, Interest Rates, Macroeconomics, Keynes, Models, Michał Kalecki
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Petar Jolakoski, Branimir Jovanovic, Joana Madjoska, Viktor Stojkoski, Dragan Tevdovski
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: If firm profits rise to a level far above than what would have been earned in a competitive economy, this might give the firms market power, which might in turn influence the activity of the government. In this paper, we perform a detailed empirical study on the potential effects of firm profits and markups on government size and effectiveness. Using data on 30 European countries for a period of 17 years and an instrumental variables approach, we find that there exists a robust relationship between firm gains and the activity of the state, in the sense that higher firm profits reduce government size and effectiveness. Even in a group of developed countries, such as the European countries, firm power may affect state activity.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, International Political Economy, Profit
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: David Pichler, Robert Stehrer
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: This paper analyses the impact of ICT-skills on individuals’ labour market mobility patterns, in particular job-to-job, employment- to-unemployment and unemployment-to-employment transitions. Based on the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and longitudinal EU-SILC data, individuals’ labour market outcomes are examined over the period 2011-2017 in nine EU countries and the UK. Our results indicate that individuals with strong ICT skills have better opportunities and are therefore not only more likely to change jobs more frequently but are also less likely to face unemployment. Furthermore, ICT skills support unemployment exit towards medium and high digital occupations. A certain minimum level of ICT skills also supports unemployment exit towards low digital occupations but seems to make employment in such occupations less likely once this threshold is crossed. Overall, ICT skills have less predictive power for transition towards medium digital occupations. Thus, while ICT skills appear to improve labour market opportunities significantly, it seems that there are still jobs that require relatively few ICT skills.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Science and Technology, Digital Economy, Labor Market, Information Technology , Skilled Labor
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mahdi Ghodsi
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: Regulative non-tariff measures (NTMs), such as technical barriers to trade (TBTs) and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, have frequently been imposed to regulate the quality of imported goods when the market fails to address some issues of concern regarding harmful products with low standards. The impact of NTMs on trade values and trade volumes has been extensively modelled and analysed in the literature, while their quality impact has usually been studied using the unit values of imports. In this paper a monopolistic competition framework is presented, in which firms choose both the quality and the price of their exports subject to the compliance costs of NTMs behind the border and a fixed cost of technological change. Using the solutions of this model including NTMs, the quality of products at the six-digit level of the harmonised system (HS) traded globally and bilaterally during the period 1996–2017 is estimated. Using these estimates, the impacts of TBTs and SPS measures on trade values, volume, unit value and quality are estimated. On average and across all global bilateral trade, TBTs restrict imports while improving quality significantly. SPS measures stimulate trade and improve the average imported quality. Then, by estimating the importer-specific impact of NTMs on traded value, quantity, unit value, quality, and quality-adjusted price for each product, the ‘NTM Black Box’ is opened and analysed. This provides evidence of whether the quality of traded goods to an importing country has been upgraded despite the trade restrictiveness of NTMs.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Non-Tariff Measures
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gabriel Felbermayr, Alexander Tarasov
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: The distribution of transport infrastructure across space is the outcome of deliberate government planning that reflects a desire to unlock the welfare gains from regional economic integration. Yet, despite being one of the oldest government activities, the economic forces shaping the endogenous emergence of infrastructure have not been rigorously studied. This paper provides a stylized analytical framework of open economies in which planners decide non-cooperatively on transport infrastructure investments across continuous space. Allowing for intra- and international trade, the resulting equilibrium investment schedule features underinvestment that turns out particularly severe in border regions and that is amplified by the presence of discrete border costs. In European data, the mechanism explains about 16% of the border effect identified in a conventionally specified gravity regression.
  • Topic: Economics, Infrastructure, Governance, Borders, Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dennis J. Snower, Colm Kelly
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: This paper examines major forces that have decoupled economic and business prosperity from social prosperity and explores how recoupling can be promoted. Economists have specified well-known conditions under which free market enterprise with shareholder value maximization is efficient. These conditions are systematically violated by three forces – globalization, technological advance and financialization (GTF) – that have weakened the connections between economies and societies over the past four decades. Consequently, the recoupling process requires abandoning the default premise of economic decision making that social progress follows financial performance. For business, it calls for a move from shareholder to stakeholder value. For government, it calls for setting legal obligations, targets and incentives to ensure that stakeholder value is compatible with a rigorously defined concept of “societal and planetary value.”
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Science and Technology, Capitalism, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Servaas Storm
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: The Rebuilding Macroeconomic Theory Project, led by David Vines and Samuel Wills (2020), is an important, albeit long overdue, initiative to rethink a failing mainstream macroeconomics. Professors Vines and Wills, who must be congratulated for stepping up to the challenge of trying to make mainstream macroeconomics relevant again, call for a new multiple-equilibrium and diverse (MEADE) paradigm for macroeconomics. Their idea is to start with simple models, ideally two-dimensional sketches, that explain mechanisms that can cause multiple equilibria. These mechanisms should then be incorporated into larger DSGE models in a new, multiple-equilibrium synthesis – to see how the fundamental pieces of the economy fit together, subject to it being ‘properly micro-founded’. This paper argues that the MEADE paradigm is bound to fail, because it maintains the DSGE model as the unifying framework at the center of macroeconomic analysis. The paper reviews 10 fundamental weaknesses inherent in DSGE models which make these models irreparably useless for macroeconomic policy analysis. Mainstream macroeconomics must put DSGE models, once and for all, in the Museum of Implausible Economic Models – and learn important lessons from non-DSGE macroeconomic approaches.
  • Topic: Economics, Economic Growth, Macroeconomics, Money, Demand, Models
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tarek A. Hassan, Jesse Schreger, Markus Schwedeler, Ahmed Tahoun
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: We construct new measures of country risk and sentiment as perceived by global investors and executives using textual analysis of the quarterly earnings calls of publicly listed firms around the world. Our quarterly measures cover 45 countries from 2002-2020. We use our measures to provide a novel characterization of country risk and to provide a harmonized definition of crises. We demonstrate that elevated perceptions of a country's riskiness are associated with significant falls in local asset prices and capital outflows, even after global financial conditions are controlled for. Increases in country risk are associated with reductions in firm-level investment and employment. We also show direct evidence of a novel type of contagion, where foreign risk is transmitted across borders through firm-level exposures. Exposed firms suffer falling market valuations and significantly retrench their hiring and investment in response to crises abroad. Finally, we provide direct evidence that heterogeneous currency loadings on global risk help explain the cross-country pattern of interest rates and currency risk premia.
  • Topic: Economics, Employment, Investment, Risk, Contagion
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Claudia Fontanari, Antonella Palumbo, Chiara Salvatori
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper extends to different indicators of labor underutilization the Updated Okun Method (UOM) for estimation of potential output proposed in Fontanari et al (2020), which, from a demand-led growth perspective, regards potential output as an empirical approximation to fullemployment output, as in A.M.Okun’s (1962) original method. Based on the apparent incapability of the official rate of unemployment to fully account for labor underutilization, in this paper we offer estimates of Okun’s law both with broad unemployment indicators and with an indicator of ‘standardized hours worked’ which we propose as a novel measure of the labor input. The paper reflects on the possible different empirical measures of full employment. The various measures of potential output that we extract from our analysis show greater output gaps than those produced by standard methods, thus highlighting a systematic tendency of the latter to underestimate potential output. Output gaps that underestimate the size of the output loss or that tend to close too soon during recovery, may produce a bias towards untimely restriction.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Economic Growth, Demand, Unemployment
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Laurent Le Maux
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Walter Bagehot (1873) published his famous book, Lombard Street, almost 150 years ago. The adage “lending freely against good collateral at a penalty rate” is associated with his name and his book has always been set on a pedestal and is still considered as the leading reference on the role of lender of last resort. Nonetheless, without a clear understanding of the theoretical grounds and the institutional features of the British banking system, any interpretation of Bagehot’s writings remains vague if not misleading—which is worrisome if they are supposed to provide a guideline for policy makers. The purpose of the present paper is to determine whether Bagehot’s recommendation remains relevant for modern central bankers or whether it was indigenous to the monetary and banking architecture of Victorian times.
  • Topic: Economics, History , Central Bank, Lending
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marc Flandreau, Stefano Pietrosanti, Carlotta E. Schuster
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: This paper explores the reasons why sovereign borrowers post collateral. Such behavior is paradoxical because conventional interpretations of collateral stress repossession of the assets pledged as the key to securing lenders against information asymmetries and moral hazard. However, repossession is generally difficult in the case of sovereign debt and in some cases impossible. Nevertheless, such sovereign “hypothecations” have a long history and are again becoming very popular today in developing countries. To explain sovereign collateralization, we emphasize an informational channel. Posting collateral produces information on opaque borrowers by displaying borrowers’ behavior and resources. We support this interpretation by examining the hypothecation “mania” of 1849-1875, when sovereigns borrowing in the London Stock Exchange pledged all kinds of intangible revenues. Yet, at that time, sovereign immunity fully protected both sovereigns and their assets and possessions. Still, we show that hypothecations significantly decreased the cost of sovereign debt. To explain how, we stress the pledges’ role in documenting sovereigns’ wealth and the management of revenue streams. Based on an exhaustive library of bond prospectuses collected from primary sources, matched with a panel of sovereign bond yields and an innovative measure of sovereign fiscal transparency, we show that collateral minutely described in debt covenants served to document and monitor sovereign resources and development prospects. Encasing this information in contracts written by lawyers served to certify the quality of the resulting data disclosure process, explaining investors’ readiness to pay a premium.
  • Topic: Economics, Finance, History , Innovation, Contracts, Sovereign Debt, Collateral
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lance Taylor, Nelson H. Barbosa-Filho
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: Recognizing that inflation of the value of output and its costs of production must be equal, we focus on a cost-based macroeconomic structuralist approach in contrast to micro-oriented monetarist analysis. For decades the import and profit shares of cost have risen, while the wage share has declined to around 50% with money wage increases lagging the sum of growth rates of prices and productivity. Conflicting claims to income are the underlying source of inflationary pressure. Inflation affects income (labor’s spending power) and wealth. Monetarist theory around 1900 concentrated on the latter (Bryan and the “Cross of Gold)” leading to the standard Laffer curve. It was replaced by the Friedman-Phelps model which has incorrect dynamics (labor payments do not fall during an expansion – they go up). Samuelson and Solow introduced a version of the Phillips curve that violates macroeconomic accounting. Rational expectations replaced Friedman but was immediately falsified by output drops after the Volcker shock treatment around 1980. There followed a complicated transition from rational expectations to inflation targeting, anchored by economists’ misunderstanding of the physical meaning of ergodicity and ontological blindness. It did not help that the real balance effect is irrelevant because money makes up a small part of wealth. Rather than issuing veiled threats of disaster if its policy advice is not followed, the Fed now announces inflation targets which it cannot meet. Contemporary structuralist theory suggests that conflicting income claims set the inflation rate. Firms can mark up costs but workers have latent bargaining power over the labor share that they can exercise. Import costs and policy repercussions complicate the picture, but a simple vector error correction model and visual analysis suggest that money wages would have to grow one percentage point faster than prices plus productivity for several years if the Fed is to meet a three percent inflation target. The results pose a Biden policy trilemma: (i) the only path toward a more egalitarian size distribution of income is through a rising labor share (money wage growth exceeds price plus productivity growth), (ii) which would provoke faster inflation with feedback to rising interest rates, and (iii) the resulting asset price deflation likely facing political resistance from Wall Street and affluent households.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Inflation, Imports, Structuralism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mark Glick, Gabriel A. Lozada
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: The fundamental originating principle of law and economics (L&E) is that legal decisions should be (and are) based on maximizing efficiency. But L&E proponents do not define “efficiency” in the way agreed to by most economists, as Pareto Efficiency. A Pareto optimal condition is obtained when no one can be made better off without making someone worse off. Pareto Improvements are win-win changes where no losers exist. In the judicial system, however, there are always winners and losers, because under Article III § 2 of the Constitution a legal case does not exist unless there is a justiciable “case or controversy” in need of resolution. Unable to use Pareto Efficiency, L&E scholars have been forced to adopt alternative definitions of efficiency. Most L&E scholars claim to define “efficiency” based on the work of Kaldor and Hicks, but (perhaps unwittingly) instead use a definition of “efficiency” derived from the 19th century idea of consumer surplus, which encompasses L&E notions such as “wealth maximization,” and “consumer welfare” in antitrust. Neither of these alternative definitions is viable, however. Outside of L&E, the Kaldor-Hicks approach has long been recognized to be riddled with logical inconsistencies and ethical failures, and the surplus approach is even more deficient. Remarkably, virtually none of the numerous L&E textbooks even hint at such problems. Critically, all definitions of efficiency improvements in economics are biased in favor of wealthy individuals or firms, either because they are dependent on the status quo ante distribution of assets, or because they bestow large advantages on parties with political influence or who can afford to bring lawsuits quickly. Many L&E practitioners treat efficiency improvements instead as being objectively good, an error revealing that L&E is primarily motivated by its neoliberal policy agenda.
  • Topic: Economics, Law, Neoliberalism, Efficiency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Cécile Couharde, Carl Grekou
  • Publication Date: 10-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII)
  • Abstract: This paper proposes a new de facto classification of exchange rate regimes, the synthesis classification. The proposed framework has several advantages over existing de facto classifications. First, it offers a unified framework based on the most divergent classifications, the RR and LYS classifications, leading not only to a broader coverage but also to encompass a broad spectrum of exchange systems. Second, it fits better with the known history of exchange rate regimes developments in the post-Bretton Woods era. Among others, it brings an interesting nuance to the so-called hollowing-out hypothesis by showing that the evolution of de facto regimes —especially in emerging economies since the late 1990s— has essentially involved movement toward more tightly “managed” intermediate regimes and not a shift away from such regimes. As an illustration of the insightfulness of our classification, we empirically revisit the nexus between currency crises and exchange rate regimes. In addition to associate a higher probability of currency crisis to both intermediate and floating regimes, our classification, also displays better statistical performances than other classifications in predicting currency crises.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Exchange Rate Policy, Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Keith Head, Thierry Mayer
  • Publication Date: 12-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII)
  • Abstract: Constant elasticity of substitution (CES) demand for monopolistically competitive firm-varieties is a standard tool for models in international trade and macroeconomics. Inter-variety substitution in this model follows a simple share proportionality rule. In contrast, the standard toolkit in industrial organization (IO) estimates a demand system in which cross-elasticities depend on similarity in observable attributes. The gain in realism from the IO approach comes at the expense of requiring richer data and greater computational challenges. This paper uses the dataset of Berry et al. 1995, who established the modern IO method, to simulate counterfactual trade policy experiments. We use the CES model as an approximation of the more complex underlying demand system and market structure. Although the CES model omits key elements of the data generating process, the errors are offsetting, leading to reasonably accurate counterfactual predictions. For aggregate outcomes, it turns out that incorporating non-unitary pass-through matters more than fixing over-simplified substitution patterns. We do so by extending the commonly used methods of Exact Hat Algebra and tariff elasticity estimation to take into account oligopoly.
  • Topic: Economics, Business , Monopoly, Trade, Models
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lionel Fontagné, Erica Perego, Gianluca Santoni
  • Publication Date: 12-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales (CEPII)
  • Abstract: What will the global economy look like in a generation? The answer depends on the multiple forces driving long-term growth (demography, education, diffusion of technical progress, energy costs, investment and saving behaviour, international capital mobility) and requires a comprehensive framework to conceptualise them. We re-estimate the three-factor (capital, energy, labour) MAcro-econometric model of the Global Economy (MaGE), initially developed by Fouré et al. (2013), with a database covering 170 countries using state-of-the-art methods. We thus establish the long-term structural relationships that drive the dynamics of the World economy. The model projections to 2050 illustrate the expected changes in the World economy and their driving forces. In light of the projected volume of energy consumption, making these projections compatible with climate imperatives calls for increased technology sharing at the international level in order to decouple economic growth from energy use.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jie Bai
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: There is often a lack of reliable quality provision in many markets in developing countries and firms generally lack a reputation for quality. One potential explanation is that mistrust due to past bad behavior can make reputation-building difficult. I examine this hypothesis in a setting that features typical market conditions in developing countries: the retail watermelon markets in a major Chinese city. I first demonstrate empirically that there is substantial asymmetric information between sellers and buyers on quality and a stark absence of quality premium at baseline. I then randomly introduce one of two branding technologies into 40 out of 60 markets–one sticker label that is widely used and counterfeited and one novel expensive laser-cut label. The experiment findings show that laser-branding induced sellers to provide higher quality and led to higher sales profits. However, after the intervention was withdrawn, all markets reverted back to baseline. I incorporate the experimental variation into an empirical model of consumer learning and seller reputation building. The results suggest that consumers are hesitant to upgrade their perception under stickers, which makes reputation-building a low-return investment. While the new technology enhances learning, the resulting increase in profits is not sufficient to cover the fixed cost of the technology for small individual sellers. Counterfactual analysis shows that information friction and fragmented market lead to significant under-provision of quality.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Developing World
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Muhammad A. Yildirim
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Assignment models in trade predict that countries with higher productivity levels are assortatively matched to industries that make better use of these higher levels. Here, we assume that the driver of productivity differences is the differential distribution of factors among countries. Utilizing such a structure, we define and estimate the average factor level (AFL) for countries and products using only the information about the production patterns. Interestingly, our estimates coincide with the complexity variables of (Hidalgo and Hausmann, 2009), providing an underlying economic rationale. We show that AFL is highly correlated with country-level characteristics and predictive of future economic growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Economic Growth, Trade, Industry, Productivity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lant Pritchett
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The enthusiasm for the potential of RCTs in development rests in part on the assumption that the use of the rigorous evidence that emerges from an RCT (or from a small set of studies identified as rigorous in a “systematic” review) leads to the adoption of more effective policies, programs or projects. However, the supposed benefits of using rigorous evidence for “evidence based” policy making depend critically on the extent to which there is external validity. If estimates of causal impact or treatment effects that have internal validity (are unbiased) in one context (where the relevant “context” could be country, region, implementing organization, complementary policies, initial conditions, etc.) cannot be applied to another context then applying evidence that is rigorous in one context may actually reduce predictive accuracy in other contexts relative to simple evidence from that context—even if that evidence is biased (Pritchett and Sandefur 2015). Using empirical estimates from a large number of developing countries of the difference in student learning in public and private schools (just as one potential policy application) I show that commonly made assumptions about external validity are, in the face of the actual observed heterogeneity across contexts, both logically incoherent and empirically unhelpful. Logically incoherent, in that it is impossible to reconcile general claims about external validity of rigorous estimates of causal impact and the heterogeneity of the raw facts about differentials. Empirically unhelpful in that using a single (or small set) of rigorous estimates to apply to all other actually leads to a larger root mean square error of prediction of the “true” causal impact across contexts than just using the estimates from non-experimental data from each country. In the data about private and public schools, under plausible assumptions, an exclusive reliance on the rigorous evidence has RMSE three times worse than using the biased OLS result from each context. In making policy decisions one needs to rely on an understanding of the relevant phenomena that encompasses all of the available evidence.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus