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Should we be thinking more about imports?

Po Yin Wong's picture

The traditional view of international trade is a mercantilist one. That is, exports are good and imports are bad. Exports are considered good because they add to a country’s gold reserves while imports have the opposite effect. As it turns out, the mercantilist view now stands questioned given the number of theoretical and empirical studies showing the many benefits of imports. In fact, as Paul Krugman remarked, one could turn the mercantilist view on its head and argue that exports are the unfortunate necessity or cost of enjoying imports.  However, the cost-benefit calculus of imports is quite under-researched and in many areas the imports literature lags behind the voluminous literature on exports – perhaps a hangover from the mercantilist bias towards exports.

Poverty, Shared Prosperity, and Trade-Offs

Kathleen Beegle's picture

In April 2013, the World Bank Group endorsed two ambitious goals:  (1) to end extreme poverty by 2030, and; (2) to promote “shared prosperity” by boosting the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population in every country. The introduction of the second goal marked a shift in the World Bank Group’s poverty reduction mission. Some might consider the goal #2 to constitute a refinement of a longer-standing -- albeit implicit -- emphasis on growth, widely considered a necessary condition for poverty reduction. 

Is goal #1, ending extreme poverty by 2030, paramount and is goal #2 subsidiary to that first objective? On the other hand, if these two goals are prioritized equally, what might this mean for the extreme poor?  What are the trade-offs between boosting the incomes of the bottom 40 percent in every developing country and ending extreme poverty globally?

Reviewing the Facts on Top Incomes and Inequality in Egypt

Paolo Verme's picture

One of the puzzling aspects about Egypt is that income inequality measured through household surveys before the revolution was very low compared to the perceptions of inequality and injustice voiced by the people of Egypt during the revolution. A recent book on Egypt has tried to explain this apparent mismatch and found several leads that could explain why both the data and the people of Egypt may be right. Household data in Egypt are of good quality and measure income inequality well relative to other comparable surveys worldwide and the people of Egypt had good reasons to complain about social injustice as real incomes declined, prices increased and jobs and opportunities were scarce before the revolution.

Friday Roundup: Of drug resistant malaria, child labor in Brazil, microinsurance via mobile phones, and risky business

LTD Editors's picture

Kathleen McLaughlin writes in The Guardian about a new wave of drug-resistant malaria that may be spreading from Southeast Asia to other parts of the developing world, saying it threatens millions.

'Child Labor and Learning' is the title of a new working paper Patrick Emerson, Vladimir Ponczek and Andre Portela Souza. They use a unique micro panel dataset of Brazilian students to investigate the impact of working while in school on learning outcomes. The potential endogeneity is addressed through the use of difference-in-difference and instrumental variable estimators. A negative effect of working on learning outcomes in math and Portuguese is found. The effects of child work range from 3 to 8 percent of a standard deviation decline in test score, which represents a loss of about a quarter to a half of a year of learning on average.

Of peacocks, development theory and empirics: ABCDE 2014

Merrell Tuck-Primdahl's picture

Development economics may be having a bit of a coming out moment, like a peacock unfurling a sheen of multicolored feathers after a long time wandering around a dusty yard with its tail feathers modestly folded.

This was my impression at the 25th  Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics at the World Bank earlier this week. ‘The Role of Theory in Development Economics’ was the theme, but the proverbial church was broad.

Development Economics and Method: A Quarter Century of ABCDE

Kaushik Basu's picture

[Opening Remarks at the ABCDE 2014, Washington, D.C.]


It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you to the Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics (ABCDE) 2014.

The first time I attended an ABCDE was when Stanley Fischer used to do my job. A letter arrived, quite unexpectedly, in my Delhi mailbox inviting me to attend the ABCDE in Washington. The World Bank would cover all my expenses and, not just that, I was not given any specific task, like that of writing a paper or commenting on one. Several members of the eminences grises of the profession were at the conference and I remember feeling rather tongue tied. So, taking advantage of the fact that I did not have a specific brief, I hardly spoke during the two days. I later figured that if you measured the World Bank’s expenditure on different participants in terms of the amount spent for each word uttered, I was the most highly-paid person at that conference.

I made up for that a little in 1992, when Larry Summers was the Chief Economist, and I was invited once again from Delhi, this time to comment on Paul Romer’s paper (Romer, 1993). And I will make up for this today, since the Bank did not have to spend on my travel and I do intend to say a few things.

What do we know about preferential trade agreements and temporary trade barriers?

LTD Editors's picture

Two of the most important trade policy developments to take place since the 1980s are the expansion of preferential trade agreements and temporary trade barriers, such as antidumping, safeguards, and countervailing duties. Despite the empirical importance of preferential trade agreements and temporary trade barriers and the common feature that each can independently have quite discriminatory elements, relatively little is known about the nature of any relationships between them. A new World Bank policy research working paper by Chad P. Bown, Baybars Karacaovali, and Patricia Tovar surveys the literature on some of the political-economic issues that can arise at the intersection of preferential trade agreements and temporary trade barriers and uses four case studies to illustrate variation in how countries apply the World Trade Organization's global safeguards policy instrument. The four examples include recent policies applied by a variety of types of countries and under different agreements: large and small countries, high-income and emerging economies, and free trade areas and customs unions. The analysis reveals important measurement and identification challenges for research that seeks to find evidence of systematic relationships between the formation of preferential trade agreements, the political-economic implications of their implementation, and the use of subsequent temporary trade barriers.

Finance and growth in China and India

Sergio Schmukler's picture

China and India are hard to ignore. Over the past 20 years they have risen as global economic powers, at a very fast pace. By 2012, China has become the second-largest world economy (based on nominal GDP) and India the tenth. Together, they account for about 36% of world population.

Friday round up: Syria, Piketty pushes back, Universal Health Coverage, GMOs to fight hunger, and Brazil

LTD Editors's picture

Syria's economy is heading into ruin, warns a Reuters news story based on a new study by the Damascus based-Syrian Centre for Policy Research. Commissioned by the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) the study estimates that there was a 40 percent contraction in GDP since the start the conflict in 2011 and two-thirds of the nation's population is estimated to be living in extreme poverty.

Thomas Piketty, author of 'Capital in the 21st Century,' has responded in detail to the FT's recent assertion that his blockbuster book used erroneous computations.

A development e-story: Estonia

Swati Mishra's picture

"Once upon a time in the faraway Baltic region was a tiny nation of Estonia. Newly independent, with a population of 1.3 million, and with 50 percent of its land covered in forests, it was saddled with 50 years of under development. While it was operating with a 1938 telephone exchange, it’s once comparable neighbor across the gulf, Finland, had a 30 times higher GDP per capita and was waltzing its way into new technological advances. Estonia was faced with the challenge of catching-up with the rest of the world. It too embarked upon the technology bandwagon, but revolutionized it’s progression, by creating identity, secured digital Identity for its citizens. And finally, Estonia became a country teeming with cutting-edge technology. The end. “