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Ms. Natasha X Che and Xuege Zhang
This paper studies the relationship between export structure and growth performance. We design an export recommendation system using a collaborative filtering algorithm based on countries' revealed comparative advantages. The system is used to produce export portfolio recommendations covering over 190 economies and over 30 years. We find that economies with their export structure more aligned with the recommended export structure achieve better growth performance, in terms of both higher GDP growth rate and lower growth volatility. These findings demonstrate that export structure matters for obtaining high and stable growth. Our recommendation system can serve as a practical tool for policymakers seeking actionable insights on their countries’ export potential and diversification strategies that may be complex and hard to quantify.
Ms. Monique Newiak, Mr. Abdoul A Wane, and Mr. Alex Segura-Ubiergo

Abstract

Governance and corruption issues have taken the center stage in international discussions, especially after the adoption by the IMF in 2018 of a new framework for engagement on governance and corruption. Sound institutions that guarantee integrity in the management of public affairs are critical on the path toward higher and more inclusive growth. Corruption undermines the quality of institutions, weakens the effectiveness of government programs, and compromises social trust in government policies. Indeed, countries around the world that improved their governance systems are reaping a “governance dividend,” and governance-enhancing reformist countries in sub-Saharan Africa include Botswana, Rwanda, and Seychelles. In addition, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Angola demonstrate that important reforms are possible, including in fragile environments. The importance of good governance has acquired even more importance as countries try to introduce policies to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Special attention to governance in an emergency context, including situations associated with conflict, other health crises and natural disasters, is therefore essential. Innovation and new technologies are critical instruments that policymakers can use in their efforts to improve governance and transparency.

Pierre Mandon and Martha Tesfaye Woldemichael
This paper employs a meta-regression analysis of 473 estimates from 15 studies to take stock of the empirical literature on Chinese aid effectiveness. After accommodating publication selection bias, we find that, on average, Beijing’s foreign assistance has had a positive impact on economic and social outcomes in recipient countries but an opposite effect on governance, albeit negligible in size. We also show that (i) studies that fail to uncover statistically significant effects are less likely to be submitted to journals, or accepted for publication; and (ii) results are not driven by authors’ institutional affiliation. Differences in study characteristics such as the type of development outcome considered, how the Chinese aid variable is measured, the geographic region under study, and publication outlet explain the heterogeneity among Chinese aid effectiveness estimates reported in the literature.
Juan Pablo Cuesta Aguirre and Mrs. Swarnali A Hannan
To shed light on the possible scarring effects from Covid-19, this paper studies the economic effects of five past pandemics using local projections on a sample of fifty-five countries over 1990-2019. The findings reveal that pandemics have detrimental medium-term effects on output, unemployment, poverty, and inequality. However, policies can go a long way toward alleviating suffering and fostering an inclusive recovery. The adverse output effects are limited for countries that provided relatively greater fiscal support. The increases in unemployment, poverty, and inequality are likewise lower for countries with relatively greater fiscal support and relatively stronger initial conditions (as defined by higher formality, family benefits, and health spending per capita).
Ms. Kimberly Beaton, Ms. Valerie Cerra, and Metodij Hadzi-Vaskov
This paper examines the impact of trade on employment, wages, and other outcomes across countries and explores the conditions and policies that help spread the gains from trade more evenly throughout the population. We exploit a large global firm-level dataset to examine the impact of import competition on employment, wages, and firm performance, as well as the firm, industry, and country factors that mitigate any negative impact of an import shock. In contrast to the results of some well-known single-country studies, we find limited adverse impact of import competition. In some countries and industries, import competition actually strengthens employment growth. In addition, import competition tends to improve average wages, investment, and firm profitability. Country characteristics, such as educational attainment, can also improve employment prospects in response to trade shocks. Finally, we find that firms experiencing greater import competition start with higher average wages; thus any relatively slower employment growth in this group of firms could lead to lower inequality.