Remittances and COVID-19: A Tale of Two Countries
Looking at the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers’ remittances flowing from the United States, this article focuses on the experiences of two countries, El Salvador and Mexico, which account for approximately 30 percent of all immigrants currently residing in the United States. Following the second quarter’s economic lockdown, transfers to these countries experienced perplexing dynamics. Specifically, remittances to El Salvador witnessed a record 40 percent sudden drop, while Mexico recorded an unexpected 35 percent increase. We discuss some of the narratives proposed to explain ...
Financial development, remittances, and real exchange rate appreciation
For developing countries, remittances are an important and expanding source of capital, equivalent to two-thirds of overall foreign direct investment and nearly 2 percent of gross domestic product. ; This article examines the relationship between remittance inflows, financial sector development, and the real exchange rate. The authors test whether financial sector development can prevent appreciation of the real exchange rate. In particular, they show that well-developed financial sectors can more effectively channel remittances into investment opportunities. ; Using panel data for 109 ...
Labor market polarization and international macroeconomic dynamics
During the last thirty years, labor markets in advanced economies were characterized by their remarkable polarization. As job opportunities in middle-skill occupations disappeared, employment opportunities concentrated in the highest- and lowest-wage occupations. I develop a two-country stochastic growth model that incorporates trade in tasks, rather than in goods, and reveal that this setup can replicate the observed polarization in the United States. This polarization was not a steady process: the relative employment share of each skill group fluctuated significantly over short-to-medium ...
Business cycles: a role for imperfect competition in the banking system
This paper studies the cyclical pattern of ex post markups in the banking system using balance-sheet data for a large set of countries. Markups are strongly countercyclical even after controlling for financial development, banking concentration, operational costs, inflation, and simultaneity or reverse causation. The countercyclical pattern is explained by the procyclical entry of foreign banks, which occurs mostly at the wholesale level and signals the intention to spread to the retail level. My hypothesis is that wholesale entry triggers incumbents' limit-pricing strategies, which are aimed ...
Remittances ebb and flow with the immigration tide
Many people in developing countries rely on the remittance payments sent back home by family members working abroad. An economic slowdown in the United States has dampened the growth of this payment method. Changing migration patterns, economic developments, and new technologies and policies are affecting how - and how many - remittances are sent abroad.
Immigration, remittances and business cycles
We use data on border enforcement and macroeconomic indicators from the U.S. and Mexico to estimate a two-country business cycle model of labor migration and remittances. The model matches the cyclical dynamics of labor migration to the U.S. and documents how remittances to Mexico serve an insurance role to smooth consumption across the border. During expansions in the destination economy, immigration increases with the expected stream of future wage gains, but it is dampened by a sunk migration cost that reflects the intensity of border enforcement. During recessions, established migrants ...
Offshoring, low-skilled immigration, and labor market polarization
During the last three decades, jobs in the middle of the skill distribution disappeared, and employment expanded for high- and low-skill occupations. Real wages did not follow the same pattern. Although earnings for the high-skill occupations increased robustly, wages for both low- and middle-skill workers remained subdued. We attribute this outcome to the rise in offshoring and low-skilled immigration, and we develop a three-country stochastic growth model to rationalize this outcome. In the model, the increase in offshoring negatively affects the middle-skill occupations but benefits the ...
Business cycles and monetary regimes in emerging economies: a role for a monopolistic banking sector
Starting from a variant of the New Keynesian model for a small open economy, I extend the standard credit channel framework to show that the presence of imperfect competition in the banking system propagates external shocks and amplifies the business cycle. This novel modeling of the banking system captures various well-documented facts in developing economies. I show that strategic limit pricing, aimed at protecting retail niches from potential competitors, generates countercyclical bank markups. Markup increments, as a consequence of sudden capital outflows, end up increasing borrowing ...
COVID-19 International Evidence: Some Notable Puzzles
This article uses international evidence to argue that we still have limited knowledge about the efficacy of widely used preventive actions, such as social distancing and face masks, in containing the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus. I document three puzzles. One, Peru enacted unprecedented lockdowns early in the pandemic, which led to a record contraction in economic activity. The country’s residents also adopted near-universal face mask usage. None of these actions, however, prevented Peru from experiencing the world’s highest per capita mortality rate from the virus. Second, ...
Remittances, entrepreneurship, and employment dynamics over the business cycle
We incorporate remittances and microentrepreneurship (self-employment) into a small open-economy business cycle model with capital and labor market frictions. Countercyclical remittances moderate the decline of households' consumption during recessions. These remittances also are used to finance the start-up costs of microenterprises that bolster households' income during economic downturns. However, the positive income effect from countercyclical remittances also leads to a decrease in salaried labor supply, which generates offsetting upward pressure on wages during recessions and adversely ...