Technology and Engineering > Inventions

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Mr. Arnoud W.A. Boot, Peter Hoffmann, Mr. Luc Laeven, and Mr. Lev Ratnovski
We study the effects of technological change on financial intermediation, distinguishing between innovations in information (data collection and processing) and communication (relationships and distribution). Both follow historic trends towards an increased use of hard information and less in-person interaction, which are accelerating rapidly. We point to more recent innovations, such as the combination of data abundance and artificial intelligence, and the rise of digital platforms. We argue that in particular the rise of new communication channels can lead to the vertical and horizontal disintegration of the traditional bank business model. Specialized providers of financial services can chip away activities that do not rely on access to balance sheets, while platforms can interject themselves between banks and customers. We discuss limitations to these challenges, and the resulting policy implications.
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.
Fumiko Hayashi, Ms. Grace B Li, and Zhu Wang
This paper examines innovation, deregulation, and firm dynamics over the life cycle of the U.S. ATM and debit card industry. In doing so, we construct a dynamic equilibrium model to study how a major product innovation (introducing the new debit card function) interacted with banking deregulation drove the industry shakeout. Calibrating the model to a novel dataset on ATM network entry, exit, size, and product offerings shows that our theory fits the quantitative pattern of the industry well. The model also allows us to conduct counterfactual analyses to evaluate the respective roles that innovation and deregulation played in the industry evolution.
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.”
Ms. Laura Valderrama
This paper studies the effect of individual uncertainty on collective decision-making to implement innovation. We show how individual uncertainty creates a bias for the status quo even under irreversible voting decisions, in contrast with Fernandez and Rodrik (1991). Blocking innovation is rooted in the aversion to the potential loss of political clout in future voting decisions. Thus, risk neutral individuals exhibit what we call political risk aversion. Yet individual uncertainty is not all bad news as it may open the door to institutional reform. We endogenize institutional reform and show a non-monotonic relationship between institutional efficiency and the size of innovation.
Mr. Bernhard Eckwert and Mr. Burkhard Drees
This paper analyzes the dynamic interactions between the precision of information, technological development, and welfare within an overlapping generations model. More precise information about idiosyncratic production shocks has ambiguous effects on technological progress and welfare, which depend critically on the risk sharing capacity of the economy's financial system. For example, we show that with efficient risk sharing more precise information adversely affects the equilibrium risk allocation and creates a negative uncertainty-related welfare effect, at the same time as it accelerates technological progress and increases R&D investment.
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.
Mr. Rodolfo Luzio, Mr. Steven V Dunaway, and Mr. Martin D Kaufman
This paper presents a simple framework that illustrates the link between skill-based wage differentiation and human capital acquisition given skill-biased technical progress. The analysis points to the economic costs resulting from labor market and income redistribution policies that prevent the skill premium from playing its role in fostering human capital accumulation and the adoption of new technologies. The study compares key economic indicators among Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Differences in wage differen-tiation and investment in new technologies among these countries could be related to policies affecting labor markets; such practices may reflect social choices.
Mr. Ales Bulir and Ms. Zuzana Brixiova
Bureaucratically organized systems tend to be less efficient than economies in which agents are free to choose their output targets, as well as the means to meet them. This paper presents a simple model of planner-manager interactions and shows how bureaucratic economies can end up in a low-effort, low-growth equilibrium even though they may have started in high-effort , high-growth equilibrium. The empirical evidence from eight Central and Eastern European countries during 1948-49 is consistent with our model results, namely, that the growth decline was systemic in nature. The results are applicable to countries in other regions with heavy bureaucratic involvement in the economy.
Yong-jin Kim and Mr. Se-Jik Kim
This paper presents a multisector growth model where education enhances general human capital, which is essential for increasing or maintaining the mobility of workers across industries. The paper shows that education, combined with international trade, can affect growth positively in the long run by raising workers’ ability to adapt and move easily to industries with the greatest productivity in each period. Depending on the initial ratio of general-to-specific human capital stock, multiple equilibrium growth paths can exist, including a poverty trap. If the ratio is not substantially low, trade liberalization can allow an economy in a poverty trap to transform into one with continuous education and higher output growth.