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Mr. Jahangir Aziz
The standard growth accounting framework, which weights various inputs by their factor shares to measure their contributions to output growth, is known to underestimate the contribution of inputs in the presence of externalities and increasing returns. This paper develops a model in which, in the absence of such departures from the standard neoclassical framework, growth can occur through either embodied technological progress or firms replication of existing technology. The standard growth accounting framework fails to distinguish between these contrasting development processes. This failure thus reveals another limitation to the use of growth accounting in identifying the processes of economic developments.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

The spectacular growth of many economies in East Asia over the past 30 years has amazed the economics profession and has evoked a torrent of books and articles attempting to explain the phenomenon. Articles on why the most successful economies of the region Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan Province of China have grown, to say the least, robustly invariably refer to the phenomenon as “miraculous.” When practitioners of the Dismal Science have recourse to a Higher Power, the reader knows that he is in trouble. Confusion is compounded when he discovers that ideological debate has multiplied even further the analyses of this phenomenon. Rather than swelling the torrent of interpretations, this paper sets for itself the modest agenda of reviewing the weightiest arguments in the literature that attempt to identify the reasons for the extraordinary economic growth in East Asia and trying to decide which arguments make sense. The exercise has value because finding the right explanation might suggest how to replicate this success elsewhere and, as a bonus, might also satisfy the reader’s urge to solve an engaging intellectual puzzle. It is best if we start with the facts.

Mr. Michael Sarel
This paper examines the dynamics of economic growth. First, it demonstrates that the standard neoclassical growth model with constant elasticity of intertemporal substitution is not consistent with the patterns of development we observe in the real world, once we consider the initial conditions. Second, it examines an alternative growth model, which is consistent with endogenously determined initial conditions and also generates dynamics that are in accord with the historical patterns of growth rates, capital flows, savings rates and labor supply. The alternative model is a generalized version of the neoclassical growth model, with increasing rates of intertemporal substitution due to a Stone-Geary type of utility.
Ms. Laura E. Kodres

The June 2008 issue tackles the crisis in financial markets in industrial countries from a number of angles. Articles look at the origins of the crisis in the subprime mortgage market in the United States and track its spillover into other markets. Then authors examine what can be done to prevent future crises. Other articles look at bank capital adequacy rules and Basel II, whether emerging markets and industrial economies are decoupling or converging, capital flows to low-income countries, efforts to achieve the MDGs, and currency intervention. Back to Basics looks at over-the-counter (OTC) markets and the People in Economics column profiles Jacques Polak. Picture This is on the digital divide.

Bin Grace Li, James McAndrews, and Zhu Wang
It takes many years for more efficient electronic payments to be widely used, and the fees that merchants (consumers) pay for using those services are increasing (decreasing) over time. We address these puzzles by studying payments system evolution with a dynamic model in a twosided market setting. We calibrate the model to the U.S. payment card data, and conduct welfare and policy analysis. Our analysis shows that the market power of electronic payment networks plays important roles in explaining the slow adoption and asymmetric price changes, and the welfare impact of regulations may vary significantly through the endogenous R&D channel.
Mr. Roberto Cardarelli and Ms. Lusine Lusinyan
Total factor productivity (TFP) growth began slowing in the United States in the mid-2000s, before the Great Recession. To many, the main culprit is the fading positive impact of the information technology (IT) revolution that took place in the 1990s. But our estimates of TFP growth across the U.S. states reveal that the slowdown in TFP was quite widespread and not particularly stronger in IT-producing states or in those with a relatively more intensive usage of IT. An alternative explanation offered in this paper is that the slowdown in U.S. TFP growth reflects a loss of efficiency or market dynamism over the last two decades. Indeed, there are large differences in production efficiency across U.S. states, with the states having better educational attainment and greater investment in R&D being closer to the production “frontier.”
Mr. Bulent Unel and Mr. Harm Zebregs
China's growth record since the start of its economic reforms in 1978 has been extraordinary. Yet, this impressive performance has been associated with an increasing regional income disparity. We use a recently developed nonparametric approach to analyze the variation in labor productivity growth across China's provinces. This approach imposes less structure on the data than the standard growth accounting framework and allows for a breakdown of labor productivity into capital deepening, efficiency gains, and technological progress. Like other studies before us, we do not find strong evidence of convergence in labor productivity across China's provinces during 1978-98. However, our results show that provinces converged in efficiency levels, while they diverged in capital deepening and technological progress.