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Mr. Subir Lall and Mr. Li Zeng
Intangible investment is growing as a share of economic activity. We present a simple framework incorporating its distinguishing characteristic of generally greater scalability and lower marginal costs than tangible investment. We show evidence that this may have contributed to more elastic aggregate supply in recent years, which is consistent with lower inflation and a flattening of the Phillips curve. This framework also highlights the channels through which technological change, a large constituent of intangible investment, may be leading to wage stagnation and greater market concentration.
Mr. Serkan Arslanalp, Mr. Marco Marini, and Ms. Patrizia Tumbarello
Vessel traffic data based on the Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a big data source for nowcasting trade activity in real time. Using Malta as a benchmark, we develop indicators of trade and maritime activity based on AIS-based port calls. We test the quality of these indicators by comparing them with official statistics on trade and maritime statistics. If the challenges associated with port call data are overcome through appropriate filtering techniques, we show that these emerging “big data” on vessel traffic could allow statistical agencies to complement existing data sources on trade and introduce new statistics that are more timely (real time), offering an innovative way to measure trade activity. That, in turn, could facilitate faster detection of turning points in economic activity. The approach could be extended to create a real-time worldwide indicator of global trade activity.
Mrs. Swarnali A Hannan
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has reinvigorated research on the ex-ante impact of trade agreements. The results from these ex-ante models are subject to considerable uncertainties, and needs to be complimented by ex-post studies. The paper fills this gap in recent literature by employing synthetic control methods (SCM) – currently extremely popular in micro and macro studies – to understand the impact of trade agreements in the period 1983–1995 for 104 country pairs. The key advantage of using SCM to address selection bias – one of the persisting issues in trade literature – is that it allows the effect of unobserved confounder to vary with time, as opposed to traditional econometric methods that can deal with time-invariant unobserved country characteristics. Using SCM approach, the paper finds that trade agreements can generate substantial gains, on average an increase of exports by 80 percentage points over ten years. The export gains are higher when emerging markets have trade agreements with advanced markets. The paper shows that all the countries in NAFTA have substantially gained due to NAFTA. Finally, there is some evidence that trade agreements can potentially lead to slight import diversion, but not export diversion.
Mr. Alberto Behar and Benjamin D. Nelson
We present a gravity model that accounts for multilateral resistance, firm heterogeneity and country-selection into trade, while accommodating asymmetries in trade flows. A new equation for the proportion of exporting firms takes a gravity form, such that the extensive margin is also affected by multilateral resistance. We develop Taylor approximated multilateral resistance terms with which to capture the comparative static effects of changes in trade costs. For isolated bilateral changes in trade frictions, multilateral resistance effects are small for most countries. However, if all countries reduce their trade frictions, the impact of multilateral resistance is so strong that bilateral trade falls in most cases, despite the larger trade elasticities implied by firm heterogeneity. As a consequence, the world-wide trade response, though positive, is much lower.
Mr. Bogdan Lissovolik
Italy's medium-term economic performance has raised "standard" competitiveness concerns as unit labor costs surged, and real export growth fell. But the recent economic upturn, low current account deficit, and robust nominal exports argue for less pessimism. An empirical analysis confirms the standard concerns, but also suggests that "residual" factors, which partly reflect nonprice economic restructuring, have supported Italy's real exports after 2005 (as in Germany but less so in France or Spain). An investigation of selected structural trends over the past decade offers some substantiation to Italy's "restructuring story," including quality upgrading, geographical trade diversification, and outsourcing. But sluggish services, low FDI, and modest "technological" upgrading indicate limits to Italy's restructuring.
International Monetary Fund
In recent years, the IMF has released a growing number of reports and other documents covering economic and financial developments and trends in member countries. Each report, prepared by a staff team after discussions with government officials, is published at the option of the member country.
Mr. Bogdan Lissovolik, Mr. Julio Escolano, Ms. Stefania Fabrizio, Mr. Werner Schule, Mr. Herman Z Bennett, Mr. Stephen Tokarick, Mr. Yuan Xiao, Ms. Marialuz Moreno Badia, Miss Eva Gutierrez, and Mr. Iryna V. Ivaschenko
This collection of studies analyzes developments in nonprice external competitiveness of France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. While France, Italy, and Portugal have experienced substantial export market share losses, Greece and Spain performed relatively well. Export market share losses appear associated with rigidities in resource allocation (sectoral, geographical, technological) relative to peers and lower productivity gains in high value-added sectors. Disaggregated analysis of goods and services export markets provides insights on aspects such as quality, market concentration, growth of destination markets, and geographical and sectoral diversification. Also, increased import penetration, offshoring and FDI could improve productivity and export performance.
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
De Rato on global imbalances; Committee to study IMF finances; IMF management change; Country briefs: Maldives, Israel; Emerging soverign debt markets; Euro area imbalances; Preference erosion; Import protection; Effects of IMF program; ECOSOC meeting.
International Monetary Fund
Spain has experienced income convergence consistently in the past decade, despite gradual losses in competitiveness. The empirical evidence indicates that overall EU enlargement offers a range of opportunities for Spain, points to potential pressures in specific sectors, and offers challenges, and tackling the challenges requires a flexible economy. The pattern of Spanish exports is dominated by its off-center location in the Southern part of the EU. Geographical location also plays a central role in determining the origin of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to Spain.
R. Scott Hacker and Mr. Qaizar Hussain
This paper uses the three-country duopoly model to examine the effects of lowered trade barriers when a new entrant joins a trading bloc. There are two firms—a small-country firm and a large-country firm within the bloc—and three markets—two within and one (new entrant’s) outside the bloc. The analysis generally shows greater gains for the small-country than for the large-country firm. The small-country firm will export more to the external country than the large-country firm. But if tariffs decline, the export share of the large-country firm will increase relative to the small-country firm’s, though profits will improve more for the latter.