Financial Engineering and Economic Development
The vast literature on financial development focuses mostly on the causal impact of the quantity of financial intermediation on economic development and productivity. This paper, instead, focuses on the role of the financial sector in creating securities that cater to the needs of heterogeneous investors. We describe a dynamic extension of Allen and Gale (1989)?s optimal security design model in which producers can tranche the stochastic cash flows they generate at a cost. Lowering security creation costs in that environment leads to more financial investment, but it has ambiguous effects on capital formation, output, and aggregate productivity. Much of the investment boom caused by increased securitization activities can, in fact, be spent on securitization costs and intermediation rents, with little or even negative effects on development and productivity.
AUTHORS: Quintin, Erwan; Amaral, Pedro S.; Corbae, Dean
Financial crises and total factor productivity
Total factor productivity (TFP) falls markedly during financial crises, as we document with recent evidence from Mexico and Asia. These falls are unusual in magnitude and present a difficult challenge for the standard small open economy neoclassical model. We show in the case of Mexicos 1994-95 crisis that the model predicts that inputs and output should have fallen much more than they did. Using models with endogenous factor utilization, we find that capital utilization and labor hoarding can account for a large fraction of the TFP fall during the crisis. However, these models also predict that output should fall significantly more than in the data. Given the behavior of TFP, the biggest challenge may not be explaining why output falls so much following financial crises, but rather why it falls so little.
AUTHORS: Quintin, Erwan; Meza, Felipe
We present a model in which the importance of financial intermediation for development can be measured. We generate financial differences by varying the degree to which contracts can be enforced. Economies where enforcement is poor employ less capital and less efficient technologies. Yet, accounting for all the observed dispersion output requires a higher capital share or a lower elasticity of substitution between capital and labor than usually assumed. We find that the effects of changes in those technological parameters on output are markedly larger when financial frictions are present. Finance, that is, matters.
AUTHORS: Amaral, Pedro S.; Quintin, Erwan
Why do financial systems differ? History matters
We describe a dynamic model of financial intermediation in which fundamental characteristics of the economy imply a unique equilibrium path of bank and financial market lending. Yet we also show that economies whose fundamental characteristics have converged may continue to have very different financial structures. Because setting up financial markets is costly in our model, economies that emphasize financial market lending are more likely to continue doing so in the future, all else equal.
AUTHORS: Monnet, Cyril; Quintin, Erwan
The implications of capital-skill complementarity in economies with large informal sectors
In most developing nations, formal workers tend to be more experienced, more educated, and earn more than informal workers. These facts are often interpreted as evidence that low-skill workers face barriers to entry into the formal sector. Yet, there exists little direct evidence that such barriers are important. This paper describes a model where significant differences arise between formal and informal workers even though labor markets are perfectly competitive. In equilibrium, the informal sector emphasizes low-skill work because informal managers have access to less outside financing, and choose to substitute low-skill labor for physical capital.
AUTHORS: Amaral, Pedro S.; Quintin, Erwan
Limited enforcement and the organization of production
This paper describes a dynamic, general equilibrium model designed to assess whether contractual imperfections in the form of limited enforcement can account for international differences in the organization of production. In the model, limited enforcement constrains some agents to operate establishments below their optimal scale. As a result, economies where contracts are enforced more efficiently tend to be richer and emphasize large scale production. Calibrated simulations of the model reveal that these effects can be large and account for a sizeable part of the observed differences in the size distribution of manufacturing establishments between Mexico and the United States. ; Economic Research Working Paper 0109
AUTHORS: Quintin, Erwan
Are labor markets segmented in Argentina? a semiparametric approach
A large part of the theoretical literature on informal economic activities in developing nations is founded on the assumption that labor markets are segmented. In this paper, we evaluate this premise with data from Argentina's permanent household survey for the 1993-1995 time period. We consider various definitions of informality based on the benefits mandated by Argentina's labor laws. We find that average wages are significantly higher in the formal sector than in the informal sector. We proceed to use a matching estimator to correct for the possible endogeneity of employment outcomes. The wage premium becomes much smaller when one controls for individual characteristics such as age, education and gender, and establishment characteristics, notably size. We then make use to the panel structure of our data to compute a difference-indifference estimate of the formal wage premium. This estimate does not significantly differ from zero, suggesting that unobserved ability accounts for the remaining wage differences across sectors. We conclude that the assumption that labor markets are competitive in Argentina cannot be rejected. The paper also provides a list of facts with which a satisfactory theory of informality for Latin America should be consistent. ; Economic Research Working Paper 0110
AUTHORS: Quintin, Erwan; Pratap, Sangeeta
Inequality and growth: challenges to the old orthodoxy
Discussions of how best to alleviate poverty often center on the relative merits of policies that boost growth and those that promote redistribution. If greater inequality allows economies to expand faster, or if it?s an inevitable consequence of pro-growth measures, the two principles seem incompatible. Under such a scenario, societies seeking rapid growth rates have to forgo redistribution from rich to poor. Conversely, choosing a high degree of redistribution implies the decision to accept lower growth rates.
AUTHORS: Saving, Jason L.; Quintin, Erwan
Mexico's financial vulnerability: then and now
Financial turmoil dots Mexico?s recent economic history. Between 1975 and 1995, the nation experienced recurrent currency, debt and banking crises with devastating effects on real economic activity. ; In Mexico, election years often heighten the risk of financial instability. Debt defaults or massive devaluations?or both?have accompanied three of the past five presidential elections. Given that history, it?s not surprising that questions about Mexico?s financial vulnerability have arisen with the approach of July?s presidential election. ; While the concerns may be understandable, Mexico has come a long way in recent years. The 2000 elections took place without financial repercussions, and this year the country isn?t nearly as vulnerable as it was prior to the 1994 Tequila Crisis. Mexico is by no means immune to crises; recent history tells us that few nations are. But Mexico has taken important steps to reduce the likelihood of another financial collapse, and the country appears well positioned to maintain economic stability through the election year.
AUTHORS: Lopez, Jose Joaquin; Quintin, Erwan
The real impact of financial crises
Output falls precipitously in most emerging nations that experience financial crises. The authors conjecture that a significant part of the real impact of financial crises is due to the fact that during turbulent times firms choose to leave a large fraction of productive resources idle until business conditions improve. In the case of Mexicos 199495 crisis, they calculate that capital utilization could account for as much as half the drop in standard measures of total factor productivity. Capital utilization matters much more during financial crises than during other periods, they argue, because crises create ideal conditions for large swings in utilization rates.
AUTHORS: Dressler, Scott; Brandt, Elias; Quintin, Erwan