Friday, May 17, 2013

Links of Interest (2013-05-17)

Both participants and non-participants have gained as the economy has grown; however, the rates of poverty reduction have been higher for participants.The paper's econometric estimates show significant welfare gains resulting from microcredit participation, especially for women. They also show that the accrued benefits of borrowing outweigh accumulated debt. As a result, households' net worth has increased, and both poverty and the debt-asset ratio have declined.

There is now evidence that, for example, lending by state-owned banks has helped in mitigating the impact of the crisis on aggregate credit. But evidence also points to negative longer-term effects of direct interventions on resource allocation and quality of intermediation. This suggests a need to rebalance the state's roles from direct to less direct involvement, as the crisis subsides. The state does have very important roles, especially in providing well-defined regulations and enforcing them, ensuring healthy competition, and strengthening financial infrastructure. One of the crisis lessons is the importance of getting the basics right first: countries with complex but poorly enforced regulations suffered more during the global crisis. Evidence also suggests that instead of restricting competition, the state needs to encourage contestability through healthy entry of well-capitalized institutions and timely exit of insolvent ones

The impact of a negative rainfall shock on optimal import tariffs is generally ambiguous, depending on the weight placed by the domestic policy maker on tariff revenue, profits and the consumer surplus. The more weight placed on domestic profits, the more likely it is that the policy maker will respond to a rainfall shortage by reducing import tariffs. These findings are robust to alternative assumptions about market structure and the timing of the game. Using detailed panel data on applied tariffs and rainfall for 70 nations, the authors find robust evidence that rainfall shortages generally induce policy makers to set lower tariffs on agricultural imports.

A political process is modeled whereby a promise of low fuel prices is used in democracies to attract voters, and in autocracies to mobilize support among key groups. Subsidies to fuels are viewed as either easier to observe, easier to commit to, easier to deliver, or better targeted at core groups, than other public goods or favors offered by rulers. Easier commitment and delivery than for regular public goods can explain the high prevalence of such policies in autocracies, and also in young democracies where the capacity to commit to or deliver complex public goods is not yet fully developed.

Growth and structural transformation

Structural transformation refers to the reallocation of economic activity across the broad sectors agriculture, manufacturing and services. This review article synthesizes and evaluates recent advances in the research on structural transformation. We begin by presenting the stylized facts of structural transformation across time and space. We then develop a multi–sector extension of the one–sector growth model that encompasses the main existing theories of structural transformation. We argue that this multi–sector model serves as a natural benchmark to study structural transformation and that it is able to account for many salient features of structural transformation. We also argue that this multi–sector model delivers new and sharper insights for understanding economic development, regional income convergence, aggregate productivity trends, hours worked, business cycles, and wage inequality. We conclude by suggesting several directions for future research on structural transformation.