This paper evaluates what type of models can account for the recent episodes of output drops in Latin America. I develop an open economy version of the business cycle accounting methodology (Chari, Kehoe, and McGrattan, 2007) in which output fluctuations are decomposed into four sources: total factor productivity (TFP), a labor wedge, a capital wedge, and a bond wedge. The paper shows that the most promising models are the ones that induce fluctuations of TFP and the labor wedge. On the other hand, models of fnancial frictions that translate into a bond or capital wedge are not successful in explaining output drops in Latin America. The paper also discusses the implications of these results for policy analysis using alternative DSGE models.
Luis Franjo, Nathalie Pouokam, and Francesco Turino
In this paper we build a model of occupational choice with informal production and progressive income taxation. We calibrate the model to the Brazilian economy to evaluate the impact of removing financial frictions on informality. We find that financial deepening leads to a drop in the size of the informal sector (from 37 percent to 22 percent of official GDP), to an increase in measured TFP (by 4 percent), to an increase in official GDP (by 27 percent), to a decrease in tax evasion (by 17 percent) and to an increase in fiscal revenues (by 15 percent). When assessing the response of this policy at different levels of financial development, we find a non-linear relationship between the credit-to-GDP ratio on the one hand, and either the size of the informal economy, or GDP per capita on the other hand. We test these features with cross-country data and find evidence in favor of both types of non-linearity. We also investigate changes in the income tax progressitivity as an alternative policy and find it to be more effective in countries with a medium to high level of financial markets development.