Syndicate content

October 2013

The Connection Between Wall-Street and Main-Street: Measurement and Implications for Monetary Policy

Maya Eden's picture

Monetary policy is widely considered as an effective tool for short-term stabilization. However, in recent decades, evidence suggests that its effectiveness in the US has been somewhat dampened. What is the reason behind this trend? Can it inform us about the relationship between monetary policy transmission and the complexity of the financial system?

In a recent paper, Alessandro Barattieri, Dalibor Stevanovic, and I document a rising trend in the fraction of financial claims which have direct counterparts in the financial sector (rather than the non-financial sector, which includes traditional borrowers such as firms, households and governments). We estimate that, up until the 1970s, close to 100% of financial assets had direct non-financial counterparts; today these traditional claims represent a mere 70% of financial assets, while the rest represent loans between financial institutions. We point out that this trend roughly coincides with the declining impact of monetary policy shocks, and propose a model that links these two trends.

Resilience is a worthy goal...

Kyla Wethli's picture

...but is only one aspect of what we can achieve with effective risk management.

Resilience has become a sexy word in development. Ban Ki Moon has said that resilience should be an important component of the post-2015 agenda; there is a blooming industry of publications with the term resilience incorporated into their titles; daily google searches for the word resilience have roughly doubled in the past few years.

From a risk management perspective, resilience can be understood as the ability of a system to withstand and recover from negative shocks. Given the plethora of risks people face in their daily lives, and the damaging and sometimes permanent effect that negative shocks can have, resilience is clearly a worthy goal of improved risk management.  This is especially the case for the poor: with few assets to help them prepare for these risks, and often without good access to markets and government services, they are often disproportionately exposed to and affected by negative shocks.

The Academic Sting Operation

Adam Wagstaff's picture

Nobody likes to be stung. Doctors regard it as unethical. Publishers say it betrays the trust of their profession. But the fact is, as three recent studies have demonstrated, sting operations can be extremely effective at exposing questionable professional practices, and answering questions that other methods can't credibly answer.

Sting #1: Are open-access journals any good? 

Much of the world has gotten fed up with the old academic publishing business. Companies like the Anglo-Dutch giant Elsevier and the German giant Springer earn high profit margins from their academic journals (Elsevier earns 36% profit, according to The Economist), through a mix of ‘free’ inputs from academics (the article itself and the peer-review process) and high (and rapidly rising) subscription charges that impede access by academics working in universities whose libraries can’t afford the subscriptions. Of course, many of these universities paid for the authors’ time in the first place, and/or that of the peer-reviewers; tax-payers also contributed, by direct subsidizing universities and/or by the research grants that supported the research assistants, labs, etc. Unsurprisingly, libraries, universities, academics and tax-payers aren’t happy.

Friday Roundup: Inequality demystified, CCTs, GiveDirectly, post offices to expand financial inclusion, and malaria in Africa

LTD Editors's picture

Globalization has benefited an emerging “global middle class,” mainly people in places such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil, along with the world’s top 1 percent, said Branko Milanovic at a recent Policy Research Talk. But people at the very bottom of the income ladder, as well as the lower-middle class of rich countries, lost out.

In an article published by The Economist today, World Bank researcher Berk Ozler contends that conditional cash transfers work better when the problems individuals face go beyond mere shortage of cash.  If families do not appreciate the real value of education, for instance, or if part of the benefit of doing something comes when everyone does it (vaccination is a case in point), people left to themselves may not spend enough on education or health. CCTs help to overcome that.

Economic Analysis and Knowledge Agenda: Keeping the World Bank Group at the forefront?

Sudharshan Canagarajah's picture

Over the past sixty years, the World Bank has been at the forefront of economic analysis through the projects and programs it has designed and financed in the developing world. The robust economic analysis that was carried out for many early infrastructure and later social sector projects helped client countries to learn the key cost and benefit parameters that underlay these projects. When I was at university, cost benefit analysis (CBA) publications of World Bank were used to illustrate how to carry out economic analysis of projects, including what factors to consider, the limitations of standard methods, the nuances which need to be considered, and the sensitivity analysis that needed to be carried out to ensure that the analysis is technically robust.

Piloting the 2014 Findex

Leora Klapper's picture

As President Kim pointed out earlier this month at the plenary of the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, 2.5 billion adults worldwide aren’t using the formal financial system. He used the statistic to illustrate the Bank’s new commitment to harnessing knowledge and becoming a bolder institution, a pledge he quickly followed through on by launching a new initiative to provide universal financial access to all working-age adults by 2020.

We’re thrilled to see high-level citations of Global Findex data, particularly in the context of spurring greater action to increase financial access for the world’s poor. We certainly believe that the 2011 Findex data have been a valuable tool for benchmarking, diagnostics, and cross-sectional analyses related to financial inclusion. But the best is yet to come.

Inclusive Growth Revisited: Measurement and Evolution

Saurabh Mishra's picture

Inclusive growth refers to both the pace and distribution of economic growth. For growth to be sustainable and effective in reducing poverty, it needs to be inclusive (Berg and Ostry 2011a, Kraay 2004). Traditionally, poverty (or inequality) and economic growth analyses have been conducted separately. Recent work indicates that there may not be a trade-off between equity and efficiency, as suggested by Okun (1975), and “that it would be a big mistake to separate analyses of growth and income distribution” (Berg and Ostry 2011b). Ianchovichina and Gable (2012) describe inclusive growth as raising the pace of growth and enlarging the size of the economy by providing a level playing field for investment and increasing productive employment opportunities.

Phailin: Lessons Learned and More

Swati Mishra's picture

“How can risk be measured and managed better globally? “

 ADRA India/European Commission, Creative Commons.This was the question posed to the panelists of the “Risk and Opportunity” event on Oct 9, 2013. It was ironic that a World Development Report (WDR) on risk, which I supported through online publicity, was launching at the same time that a serious storm was threatening Odisha, my home state in India.  As the Annual Meetings of top ministers, policy experts and civil society organizations progressed, so did cyclone Phailin, and the importance of the theme of the WDR 2014 couldn’t have been more pronounced.

Friday Roundup: Globalization, schooling gaps, the five hour energy guy, inequality, Phailin's wake and China in world trade

LTD Editors's picture

Simon J Evenett and Douglas Irwin debate on the future and prospects of globalization in the latest edition of the Economist Debates.

In 'The Gap Between Schooling and Education' on the NYT Economix blog, Annie Lowrey interviews CGD's Lant Pritchett about his new book, "The Gap Between Schooling and Education."

The WSJ's 'At Work' blog carries an interview by Rachel Feintzeig with Manoj Bhargava, a CEO who dropped out of Princeton and lived like a monk in India for 12 years before making it big.

Joe Stiglitz has a piece titled 'Inequality is a Choice' on the NYT's opinionator blog.

An EU-US trade pact: Good or bad for developing countries?

Aaditya Mattoo's picture

For a world weary of waiting for the WTO’s Doha trade round to conclude, even a bilateral trade initiative may seem like a boon, especially when “bilateral” covers half of the world’s economy. But there is a serious downside:  the deal could hurt developing-country exporters unless the EU and US make a special effort to protect their interests. 

The feature of the proposed pact that elicits the most excitement – its focus on regulatory barriers like mandatory product standards – should actually incite the greatest concern. Given low tariffs in the EU and the US – less than 5%, on average – further preferential reductions will not seriously handicap outsiders. But, when it comes to standards – such as those governing safety, health, and the environment – the market-access requirements are brutal and binary: either you meet the established standard or you do not sell.

Champions of risk management

Rasmus Heltberg's picture

The declaration, in 1979, of the worldwide eradication of smallpox marked a highly unusual achievement. The only human disease ever to be eradicated, the eradication of smallpox is also unusual in being an instance of successful risk management that many people have actually heard about. When it comes to risk management, there is often more attention to the failures than to the successes. While crises, crimes, disasters, and social unrest dominate the front pages, and the attention of our leaders, the champions of risk management whose foresight averts damage and destruction rarely get the credit they deserve.

That is a shame because many development problems have a basis in deficient risk management. Take poverty. While every year many families escape from poverty, others fall on hard times. Illness, for example, is a frequent cause of poverty in developing countries where most people have no health insurance and friends and family provide the only safety net. In fact, the toxic mix of high risk and inadequate risk management are implicated in a host of development problems, ranging from malnutrition, infant mortality, civil strife, crime, violence, to sclerotic private sector investment and job creation. To overcome these problems and prosper, the developing world needs champions of risk management.

Stiglitz on Milanovic and inequality

LTD Editors's picture

In today's NYT opinionator blog, Joe Stiglitz writes about inequality and the research of Branko Milanovic, World Bank lead economist and inequality expert. In his post, Stiglitz draws from Milanovic's research on long range inequality trends to ponder who the winners and losers of globalization have been and how the most recent worldwide financial crisis affected both the level of global inequality and the relative importance of differences in mean country income vs. nationally based inequalities. His post explores whether we envisage a situation where income inequality continues, by and large, to increase within nations, but, spurred by the high growth of China and India, decreases globally. Stiglitz also ponders the hollowing-out of traditional middle classes in rich countries.

Running a Horse Race Among Institutions for Investment

Jamus Lim's picture

The variation in investment among developing countries is truly remarkable. Over the course of the 30-year period between 1980--2010---a period of relative calm in the global economy that is often referred to as the "Great Moderation"[*]---the investment rate in developing countries ranged from a whopping 90 percent (Armenia in 1990) to a dismal 1 percent (Liberia in 2003). This variability is more than twice that of variance in economic growth---a topic that has preoccupied many more generations of researchers---and much of this variability stems from the developing world.

Friday Roundup: From Poverty to Prosperity, Risk & Opportunity, MDGs Beyond 2015 & World Bank-IMF 2013 Annual Meetings

LTD Editors's picture

As the World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings unfold, the two organizations have been buzzing with activity - a lot of which has revolved around themes discussed on Let's Talk Development in the past few months.

Most visibly, President Jim Yong Kim has laid out his vision for the future of the World Bank Group.  Kim has given over this week numerous speeches and views on the two goals of ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity, including a stated target of reducing extreme poverty to 9% by 2020.  See Kim, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, South Africa Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Chief Economist Kaushik Basu and the IDB's Santiago Levy discuss their thoughts in a panel titled 'From Poverty to Shared Prosperity.'

The Growth Agenda: Centrality of Structural Reforms

Zia Qureshi's picture

Much of the G20’s agenda following the global financial crisis has been focused on crisis response—on short-term crisis management and recovery. In the aftermath of a major crisis, economic stabilization of course is the first order of business. And the G20 has done reasonably well in that respect. But economic stabilization alone will not restore strong and sustained growth, as global growth faces deeper structural challenges.

In advanced economies, some of the structural weaknesses have accumulated over time, such as the labor market rigidities in Europe, the deficiencies in tax and expenditure structures and associated fiscal problems in a broad range of advanced economies, including the US, and the challenges arising from ageing populations. The global financial crisis has added to these challenges by causing supply-side disruptions that lower potential growth, including the destruction of capital stock, financial sector dislocations, and increases in structural unemployment—as well as adding to the fiscal woes. Challenges also arise from a changing pattern of competitiveness and comparative advantage as emerging economies increasingly penetrate global production and trade. So future growth in advanced economies will require not just supporting a recovery of demand but also a reallocation of resources to new sources of growth—new products, new services, new jobs.

The inside story of WDR 2014, Risk and Opportunity: Managing Risk for Development

Norman Loayza's picture

The King of Egypt dreamt that seven strong and healthy cows were eaten by seven scrawny and ugly ones. Then, he dreamt that seven hearty ears of corn were replaced with seven scorched and damaged corncobs. He didn’t know what to make of these dreams and asked his advisors to interpret them. No one could. From his cell in prison, Joseph learned of the King’s dreams and interpreted their meaning: Seven years of abundance would be followed by seven years of drought in the land of Egypt. The years of famine would be so abysmal that they would erase the memory of the plentiful years. Joseph advised the King to prepare, using the bounty of the good harvest to withstand the calamity of the times to come. The King followed Joseph’s advice and saved the people of Egypt from hunger and disaster.     

This story presents in a nutshell the message that we wanted the World Development Report 2014 (WDR 2014) to convey: In the face of an uncertain world, preparation in good times is essential for resilience in bad times and for prosperity always.

Bali Holds the Key to Progress on International Trade

John Wilson's picture

Bali, Indonesia has become the epicenter of critical new action on international trade. Between now and the end of 2013, the resort island in the Pacific will host two major international meetings where the focus will be on thinking differently about how the international community approaches trade policy.  The focus, as our World Bank colleagues have urged in the past,  will be on trade along global supply chains.

In December, the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference will convene in Bali.  Expectations run high for a new agreement on trade facilitation.  This agreement would concentrate not on traditional tariff barriers to trade, but rather on issues that have a particularly strong impact on supply chain performance – issues like customs modernization, streamlining import and export procedures, and regulatory transparency.  Addressing these issues can dramatically reduce the costs associated with trade in goods and services and boost international trade.  In fact, our World Bank research  shows tremendous potential returns on aid to trade facilitation – returns of $697 in increased trade for every $1 of aid to trade policy and regulatory reform.

Long term impacts of household electrification in rural India

Dominique Van De Walle's picture

It is estimated that 1.3 billion people in 2009 were still without electricity. Many rural households in the developing world continue to cook with wood and biomass (mainly dung), and spend a lot of time collecting and preparing fuel for domestic use. Across the world, these time (and resulting health) burdens are thought to be higher for women and the children under their care. 

One popular argument is that by relieving time burdens spent in collecting and preparing fuel, household electricity results in rural women engaging in market-based work — judged to be a good thing since women’s empowerment has been linked to having one’s own income.  In fact, a number of studies show that the introduction of household electrical appliances accounts for a large share of the increase in married American women’s labor force participation in the 20th century. For the developing world, a recent paper by Taryn Dinkelman finds similar and large effects on female employment (and not on male employment) for South Africa, which are attributed to the use of electric stoves and other time saving appliances. 

Why risk management for development organizations is important

Magda Stepanyan's picture

The following post is a part of a series that discusses 'managing risk for development,' the theme of the World Bank’s upcoming World Development Report 2014.

There are three fundamental challenges in mainstream risk management for development organisations: a culture of blame, lack of adaptive capacity on the part of development organisations and the lack of a shared concept of risk management.

Quite often the manifestation of risks is associated with failure, which subsequently leads to blame. This in turn hinders proactive risk-taking behavior among development organisations and limits their performance. Often we forget that only by failing can we learn to succeed. At the same time, there are also failures that are unnecessary and avoidable if risks are systematically taken into account. Failing to prevent recurrent crises, for example, is unjustified. Recurring drought and hunger are not typical of the Horn of Africa as a geographical region. They are signs of continuing failure on the part of local governments and the international community to address the risks of drought and hunger, which then results in recurrent crises.