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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.
Pierre Mandon
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.
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.
Mr. Gonzalo Salinas
The lack of a clear link between general economic fundamentals and export diversification indicators in the literature has fueled the believe that industrial policies are an absolute requisite to diversify exports. This paper, however, does find a strong statistical connection between horizontal policies and diversification by making two novel changes to traditional methodologies: using export categories that lead to diversification (for example, manufactures) as dependent variables, and using a gravity-equation regression setting. Proximity to other economies explains about a third of cross-country heterogeneity in targeted exports, and four fifths together with horizontal policies. Australia, Chile, and New Zealand emerge as new role models for diversification policies.
Ms. Natasha X Che
Uruguay experienced one of its biggest economic booms in history during 2004-2014. Since then, growth has come down significantly. The paper investigates the various causes of the boom and discusses the sustainability of these causes. It then compares Uruguay against high-growth countries that were once at a similar income level, across a broad set of structural indicators, to identify priority reform areas that could improve long-term growth prospect.
Ms. Natasha X Che
This paper presents a set of collaborative filtering algorithms that produce product recommendations to diversify and optimize a country's export structure in support of sustainable long-term growth. The recommendation system is able to accurately predict the historical trends in export content and structure for high-growth countries, such as China, India, Poland, and Chile, over 20-year spans. As a contemporary case study, the system is applied to Paraguay, to create recommendations for the country's export diversification strategy.
Mr. Henry Mooney and Constance de Soyres
This paper develops new error assessment methods to evaluate the performance of debt sustainability analyses (DSAs) for low-income countries (LICs) from 2005-2015. We find some evidence of a bias towards optimism for public and external debt projections, which was most appreciable for LICs with the highest incomes, prospects for market access, and at ‘moderate’ risk of debt distress. This was often driven by overly-ambitious fiscal and/or growth forecasts, and projected ‘residuals’. When we control for unanticipated shocks, we find that biases remain evident, driven in part by optimism regarding government fiscal reaction functions and expected growth dividends from investment.
Ms. Valerie Cerra
This paper investigates the determinants of sustained accelerations in goods and services exports. Strong predictors of export takeoffs include domestic and structural indicators such as lower macroeconomic uncertainty, improved quality of institutions, a depreciated exchange rate, and agricultural reforms. Lower tariffs, participation in global value chains and diversification also contribute to initiating export accelerations. The paper also finds heterogeneity, with somewhat different triggers for Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as for goods and services. Finally, despite the lack of a robust effect on output, export surges tend to be associated with lower post-acceleration unemployment and income inequality.