This issue of the IMF Research Perspective looks at the inter-connectedness of the world economic system and how diverse shocks can affect global supply chains. The articles in this issue track the way COVID-19 triggered disruptions in the supply chain and explains why trade networks are so difficult to disentangle. However, the pandemic is not the only event affecting global supply chains; cross-border spillovers of technology wars and natural disasters are other factors to consider. The overarching message from these articles is clear: there is a need for international cooperation to deal with the consequences of these shocks—whether it is ending the COVID-19 pandemic or mitigating climate change.
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Africa's Middle-Class Motor finds growing evidence that a recent resurgence in the continent's economic well-being has staying power. In his overview article, Harvard professor Calestous Juma says the emphasis for too long has been on eradicating poverty through aid rather than promoting prosperity through improved infrastructure, education, entrepreneurship, and trade. That is now changing: there is a growing emphasis on policies that produce a middle class. The new African middle class may not have the buying power of a Western middle class but it demands enough goods and services to support stronger economic growth, which, as IMF African Department head Antoinette Sayeh points out, in turn helps the poorest members of society. Oxford University economist Paul Collier discusses a crucial component of Africa's needed infrastructure: railways. It is a continent eminently suited to rail, development of which has been held back more by political than economic reasons. But even as sub-Saharan African thrives, its largest and most important economy, South Africa, has had an anemic performance in recent years. We also profile Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria's colorful economic czar. "Picture This" mines current trends to predict what Africa will look like a half century from now and "Data Spotlight" looks at increased regional trade in Africa. Elsewhere, Cornell Professor Eswar Prasad, examines a global role reversal in which emerging, not advanced, economies are displaying resilience in the face of the global economic crisis. The University of Queensland's John Quiggin, who wrote Zombie Economics, examines whether it makes sense in many cases to sell public enterprises. Economists Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago and Rodney Ramcharan of the U.S. Federal Reserve find clues to current asset booms and busts in the behavior of U.S. farmland prices a century ago.
Evidence from historical and epidemiological literatures shows that epidemics tend to spread in the population according to a logistic pattern. We conjecture that the impact of new technologies on output follows a pattern of spread not unlike that of typical epidemics. After reaching a critical mass, rates of growth will accelerate until the marginal benefits of technology are fully utilized. We estimate spline functions using a GMM dynamic panel methodology for 79 countries. We use imports of machinery and equipment as a fraction of gross domestic product as a proxy for the process of technological adoption. Results confirm our hypothesis. [JEL O39, O40, O1]
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
As part of an ongoing effort to increase the transparency of the IMF’s finances, the IMF’s Treasurer’s Department, with the assistance of the External Relations Department and the Bureau of Information and Technology Services, has designed a new page for the IMF’s external website (www.imf.org), entitled “IMF Finances.” The page, launched in August, may be reached by clicking on www.imf.org/external/fin.htm.
The paper estimates an empirical relation based on Krugman’s “technological gap” model to explore the influence of the pattern of international trade and production on the overall productivity growth of a developing country. A key result is that increased import competition in medium-growth (but not in low- or high-growth) manufacturing sectors enhances overall productivity growth. The authors also find that a production-share weighted average of (technological leaders’) sectoral productivity growth rates has a significant effect on the rate of aggregate productivity growth. [JEL F10, F43, O10, O40]