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Zsoka Koczan
The boom and bust in capital flows to the New Member States of the European Union have received a considerable amount of attention; foreign direct investment and bank flows to the region and countries’ participation in regional supply chains have been well-documented. Relatively little has, however, been written about capital flows to the Western Balkans economies, which are often perceived to be ‘late arrivals’ to large capital flows. This paper aims to examine how capital flows to the Western Balkans compare with flows to the New Member States, in terms of levels as well as dynamics. We find that while financial integration took off somewhat later in the Western Balkans than in the New Member States, it has increased rapidly, despite still much lower capital account openness. Capital inflows as a share of GDP are comparable to those observed in the New Member States, (perhaps surprisingly) diverse in terms of source countries and broadly similar in composition, though with equity shares higher than they were in the New Member States at comparable levels of GDP per capita.
Nordine Abidi, Ms. Burcu Hacibedel, and Ms. Mwanza Nkusu
This paper investigates to what extent low-income developing countries (LIDCs) characterized as frontier markets (FMs) have begun to be subject to capital flows dynamics typically associated with emerging markets (EMs). Using a sample of developing countries covering the period 2000–14, we show that: (i) average annual portfolio flows to FMs as a share of GDP outstripped those to EMs by about 0.6 percentage points of GDP; (ii) during years of heightened stress in global financial markets, portfolio flows to FMs dried up like those to EMs; and that (iii) FMs have become more integrated into international financial markets. Our findings confirm that, in terms of portfolio flows, FMs have become more similar to EMs than to the rest of LIDCs and are therefore more vulnerable to swings in global financial markets conditions. Accordingly, it is important to have in place frameworks to strengthen FMs’ resilience to adverse capital flows shocks.
Mr. Sergi Lanau and Petia Topalova
This paper examines the role of removing obstacles to competition in product markets in raising growth and productivity. Using firm-level data from Italy during 2003–13 and OECD measures of product market regulation, we estimate the effect of deregulation in network sectors on value added and productivity of firms in these sectors, as well as firms using these intermediates in their production processes. We find evidence of a significant positive impact. These effects are more pronounced in Italian provinces with more efficient public administration, underscoring the complementarities of advancing public administration and product market reforms simultaneously.
Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Yan Ji, Robert M. Townsend, and Ms. Filiz D Unsal
We develop a micro-founded general equilibrium model with heterogeneous agents to identify pertinent constraints to financial inclusion. We evaluate quantitatively the policy impacts of relaxing each of these constraints separately, and in combination, on GDP and inequality. We focus on three dimensions of financial inclusion: access (determined by the size of participation costs), depth (determined by the size of collateral constraints resulting from limited commitment), and intermediation efficiency (determined by the size of interest rate spreads and default possibilities due to costly monitoring). We take the model to a firm-level data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey for six countries at varying degrees of economic development—three low-income countries (Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique), and three emerging market countries (Malaysia, the Philippines, and Egypt). The results suggest that alleviating different financial frictions have a differential impact across countries, with country-specific characteristics playing a central role in determining the linkages and tradeoffs between inclusion, GDP, inequality, and the distribution of gains and losses.
Yongzheng Yang, Hong Chen, Shiu raj Singh, and Baljeet Singh
This study aims to test within a relatively homogeneous group of small states what differentiates the growth performance of Pacific island countries (PICs) from their peers. We find that PICs are disadvantaged by distance and hampered by lower investment and exports compared with other small island states, but greater political stability, catch-up effects from lower initial incomes, and slower population growth have helped offset some of these disadvantages. On balance, policy-related factors, together with geography-related disadvantages, have led to growth rates in PICs that are much lower than in other small states. We also examine how real exchange rate appreciation, unfavorable developments in the external trade environment, and rising international transport costs may have contributed to PICs’ slower growth over the past decade.
Mr. Serhan Cevik and Mr. Mohammad Rahmati
This paper investigates the causal relationship between financial development and economic growth in Libya during the period 1970–2010. The empirical results vary with estimation methodology and model specification, but indicate the lack of long-run relationship between financial intermediation and nonhydrocarbon output growth. The OLS estimation shows that financial development has a statistically significant negative effect on real nonhydrocarbon GDP per capita growth. However, the VAR-based estimations present statistically insignificant results, albeit still attaching a negative coefficient to financial intermediation. It appears that nonhydrocarbon economic activity depends largely on government spending, which is in turn determined by the country’s hydrocarbon earnings.
Luc Eyraud
The purpose of this paper is to examine factors that have constrained South Africa's growth since the end of apartheid by comparing its GDP components and its saving and investment performance with those of 10 faster-growing countries. The study finds that sluggish investment has undermined growth since 1996 and that the underinvestment is in part explained by limited saving. Thus, over the last decade, interactions between investment, saving, and production may have perpetuated slow growth in South Africa.
Mr. Mark W Lewis, Ms. Aurelie Martin, and Gabriel Di Bella
Assessing a country's competitiveness routinely starts with an analysis of the real exchange rate. However, in low-income countries, empirical analysis of the real exchange rate is often subject to important limitations that seriously weaken the results. This paper summarizes the methodologies used to assess real exchange rate misalignments and discusses the range of obstacles common to low-income countries. Recognizing the importance of using a wide range of indicators for assessing competitiveness in low-income countries, the paper discusses alternative competitive measures and then proposes a template of indicators to allow for a systematic assessment of competitiveness in low-income countries. The template is then used to rank countries according to their competitiveness performance in 2006.