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Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, and Lichen Wang
We shed new light on the determinants of growth by tackling the blunt and weak instrument problems in the empirical growth literature. As an instrument for each endogenous variable, we propose average values of the same variable in neighboring countries. This method has the advantage of producing variable-specific and time-varying—namely, “sharp”—and strong instruments. We find that export sophistication is the only robust determinant of growth among standard growth determinants such as human capital, trade, financial development, and institutions. Our results suggest that other growth determinants may be important to the extent they help improve export sophistication.
Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Kevin J Carey, and Mr. Ulrich Jacoby

Abstract

What is the impact on trade in sub-Saharan Africa of the recent rapid growth in China and other Asian countries, and the associated commodity price boom? This paper looks at how trading patterns (both destinations and composition) are changing in sub-Saharan Africa. Has the region managed to diversify the products it sells from commodities to manufactured goods? Has it expanded the range of countries to which it exports? And what about the import side? The time is ripe for sub-Saharan African countries to climb up the value chain of their commodity-based exports and/or achieve an export surge based on labor-intensive manufacturing.

Domenico Lombardi and Stephen Bond
This study investigates the relationship between uncertainty and investment using U.K. data at different levels of aggregation. Motivated by a comparative econometric analysis using a firm-level panel and aggregate time-series data, we analyze the implications of aggregating nonlinear microeconomic processes. Replicating firm-level evidence that uncertainty influences investment dynamics proves to be challenging. Even using perfectly consistent data sources, this requires both exact aggregation of the underlying micro equations, and controlling for the unobserved influences on investment that are commonly subsumed into time dummies in panel studies. These conditions are unlikely to be satisfied in most aggregate econometric studies.
Domenico Lombardi and Stephen Bond
This study tests for the presence of real options effects induced by uncertainty and (partial) irreversibility on fixed capital investment using Italian company data. The approach recognizes that firm-level investment spending may, itself, be aggregated over multiple investment decisions in separate types of capital goods and emphasizes effects of uncertainty on short-run investment dynamics. Using a survey-based measure of uncertainty related to the assessment of managers responsible for the firms' investment plans, the study finds evidence of heterogeneous and nonlinear dynamics pointing to a slower adjustment of investment in response to demand shocks at higher levels of uncertainty. The results also point to an additional source of nonlinearity originating from a convex response of investment to demand shocks.
Ms. Petya Koeva Brooks
This paper incorporates time-to-build into the standard investment model with convex adjustment costs. The empirical Euler equation is estimated using a U.S. firm-level panel from Compustat. In spite of the introduction of time-to-build, the magnitude of the implied adjustment costs is unrealistically high. Exploiting another approach, I test directly the restrictions imposed by time-to-build on the investment equation. The results indicate that these restrictions cannot be rejected for five of the sixteen industries in the sample. Finally I show that time-to-build can explain approximately one-third of the variation in persistence of structure investment across four-digit industries.
Mr. R. G Gelos and Mr. Alberto Isgut
This paper examines capital adjustment patterns using two large and largely novel data sets from the manufacturing sectors of Colombia and Mexico. The findings show that investment patterns in these countries resemble those reported for the United States to a surprising extent. Capital adjustments beyond maintenance investment occur only rarely, but large spikes account for a significant fraction of total investment. Although duration models do not provide strong evidence for the presence of substantial fixed costs, nonparametric adjustment function estimates reveal the presence of irreversibilities in investment. These irreversibilities are important for understanding aggregate investment behavior.
Ms. Catherine A Pattillo
Panel data on Ghanaian manufacturing firms are used to test predictions from models of irreversible investment under uncertainty. Information on the entrepreneur’s subjective probability distribution over future demand for the firm’s products is used to construct the expected variance of demand, which is used as a measure of uncertainty. Empirical results support the prediction that firms wait to invest until the marginal revenue product of capital reaches a firm-specific hurdle level. Moreover, higher uncertainty raises the hurdle level that triggers investment, and uncertainty has a negative effect on investment levels that is greater for firms with more irreversible investment.