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 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 the United States, Mexico and Argentina.
AUTHORS: Quintin, Erwan
Capital goods trade, relative prices, and economic development
International trade in capital goods has quantitatively important effects on economic development through two channels: capital formation and aggregate TFP. We embed a multi country, multi sector Ricardian model of trade into a neoclassical growth framework. Our model matches several trade and development facts within a unified framework: the world distribution of capital goods production and trade, cross-country differences in investment rate and price of final goods, and cross-country equalization of price of capital goods. Reducing barriers to trade capital goods allows poor countries to access more efficient means of capital goods production abroad, leading to relatively higher capital output ratios. Meanwhile, poor countries can specialize more in their comparative advantage?non-capital goods production?and increase their TFP. The income gap between rich and poor countries declines by 40 percent by eliminating barriers to trade capital goods.
AUTHORS: Mutreja, Piyusha; Sposi, Michael J.; Ravikumar, B.
Capital goods trade and economic development
Almost 80 percent of capital goods production in the world is concentrated in 10 countries. Poor countries import most of their capital goods. We argue that international trade in capital goods has quantitatively important effects on economic development through two channels: (i) capital formation and (ii) aggregate TFP. We embed a multi country, multi sector Ricardian model of trade into a neoclassical growth model. Barriers to trade result in a misallocation of factors both within and across countries. We calibrate the model to bilateral trade flows, prices, and income per worker. Our model matches several trade and development facts within a unified framework. It is consistent with the world distribution of capital goods production, cross-country differences in investment rate and price of final goods, and cross-country equalization of price of capital goods and marginal product of capital. The cross-country income differences decline by more than 50 percent when distortions to trade are eliminated, with 80 percent of the change in each country?s income attributable to change in capital. Autarky in capital goods results in an income loss of 17 percent for poor countries, with all of the loss stemming from decreased capital.
AUTHORS: Ravikumar, B.; Mutreja, Piyusha; Sposi, Michael J.
Escaping the Middle-Income Trap: A Cross-Country Analysis on the Patterns of Industrial Upgrading
With rapid industrial upgrading along the global value chain of manufactured goods, China has transformed, within one generation, from an impoverished agrarian society to a middle-income nation as well as the largest manufacturing powerhouse in the world. This article identifies the pattern of China?s industrial upgrading and compares it with those of other successfully industrialized economies and the failed ones. We find that (i) China (since 1978) followed essentially the same path of industrial upgrading as that of Japan and the ?Asian Tigers.? These economies succeeded in catching up with the developed western world by going through three developmental stages sequentially; namely, a proto-industrialization in the rural areas, a first industrial revolution featuring mass production of labor-intensive light consumer goods, and then a second industrial revolution featuring mass production of the means of mass production (i.e., capital-intensive heavy industrial good s such as steel, machine tools, electronics, automobiles, communication and transport infrastructures). (ii) In contrast, economies stuck in the low-income trap or middle-income trap did not follow the above sequential stages of industrialization. For example, many Eastern European and Latin American countries after WWII jumped to the stage of heavy industrialization without fully developing their labor-intensive light industries, and thus stagnated in the middle-income trap. Also, there is a clear lack of proto-industrialization in the rural areas for many African economies that have remained in the low-income trap. We believe that laissez-faire and ?free market? alone is unable to trigger industrial upgrading. Instead, correct government-led bottom-up industrial policies are the key to escaping the low- and middle-income traps.
AUTHORS: Wang, Lili; Wen, Yi
Natural Resources and Global Misallocation
Are production factors allocated efficiently across countries? To differentiate misallocation from factor intensity differences, we provide a new methodology to estimate output shares of natural resources based solely on current rent flows data. With this methodology, we construct a new dataset of estimates for the output shares of natural resources for a large panel of countries. In sharp contrast with Caselli and Feyrer (2007), we find a significant and persistent degree of misallocation of physical capital. We also find a remarkable movement toward efficiency during last 35 years, associated with the elimination of interventionist policies and driven by domestic accumulation. Interestingly, when both physical and human capital can be reallocated, capital would often flow from poor to rich countries.
AUTHORS: Monge-Naranjo, Alexander; Sanchez, Juan M.; Santaeulalia-Llopis, Raul
Macroeconomic Effects of Government Spending in China
Government spending plays an important role in determining economic performances in China. Its macroeconomic effects are analyzed in this paper. We show that government spending in China (i) Granger-causes output, consumption and investment booms as well as inflation and (ii) has a multiplier larger than 1. The large multiplier effects are found not only in aggregate time-series data but also in panel data at the provincial level. We also provide a theoretical model and Monte Carlo analysis to rationalize our empirical findings. Our theoretical and Monte Carlo analyses support the large multiplier found in China but also suggests that government spending is not necessarily a free lunch in spite of the large multiplier effects.
AUTHORS: Wang, Xin; Wen, Yi
Should Capital Flow from Rich to Poor Countries?
Are human and physical capital stocks allocated efficiently across countries? To answer this question, we need to differentiate misallocation from factor intensity differences. We use newly available estimates on factor shares from Monge-Naranjo, Santaeullia-Llopis, and Snchez (2019) to correctly measure the factor shares of physical and human capital for a large number of countries and periods. We find that the global efficiency losses of the misallocation of human capital are much more substantial than those of physical capital, amounting to 40 percent of the world?s output. Moreover, contrary to the findings of Monge-Naranjo, Santaeullia-Llopis, and Snchez (2019) for physical capital, the global misallocation of human capital does not seem to be subsiding. We argue that the proper measure of global misallocation requires considering the potential gains of reallocating both physical and human capital. In this case, the implied efficiency loses from misallocation are up to 60 percent of global output. Attaining those gains, contrary to the prominent Lucas paradox (Lucas, 1990), would often require physical capital to flow from poor to rich countries.
AUTHORS: Santaeulalia-Llopis, Raul; Sanchez, Juan M.; Monge-Naranjo, Alexander; Sohail, Faisal
Relative Income Traps
Despite economic growth in the post-World War II period, few developing countries have been able to catch up to the income levels in the United States or other advanced economies. Such countries remain trapped at a relative low- or middle-income level. In this article, the authors redefine the concept of income traps as situations in which income levels relative to the United States remain constantly low and with no clear sign of convergence. This approach allows them to study the issue of economic convergence (or lack of it) directly. The authors describe evidence pointing to the existence of both relative low- and middle-income traps and examine cross-country historical transitions between income groups at the global and regional levels. Finally, they point out challenges to the benchmark neoclassical growth theory, which predicts convergence to the developed world over time, and discuss existing theories with the potential to explain income traps.
AUTHORS: Arias, Maria A.; Wen, Yi
Institutions Do Not Rule: Reassessing the Driving Forces of Economic Development
The pursuit to uncover the driving forces behind cross-country income gaps has divided economists into two major camps: One emphasizes institutions, while the other stresses non-institutional forces such as geography. Each school of thought has its own theoretical foundation and empirical support, but they share an implicit hypothesis?the forces driving economic development remain the same regardless of a country?s stage of development. Such hypothesis implies a theory that the process of development in human history is a continuous improvement in income levels, driven by the same forces, and that structural changes do not dictate the influences of geography and institutions on national income. This paper tests this theory and found it not supported by the data. Specifically, non-institutional factors predominantly explain the cross-country income variations among agrarian countries, while institutional factors largely account for the income differences across industrialized economies. In addition, we find evidence of developmental trap in which noninstitutional forces explain a country?s lack of industrialization, while institutions do not. The finding that institutions cannot account for the absence/presence of industrialization lends support to views held by many prominent historians who have cast serious doubts on the notion that institutional changes caused the British Industrial Revolution.
AUTHORS: Wen, Yi; Luo, Jinfeng
Externalities, Endogenous Productivity, and Poverty Traps
We present a version of the neoclassical model with an endogenous industry structure. We construct a distribution of firms? productivity that implies multiple steady-state equilibria even with an arbitrarily small degree of increasing returns to scale. While the most productive firms operate across all the steady states, in a poverty trap less productive firms operate as well. This results in lower average firm productivity and total factor productivity. The distributions of employment by firm size across steady states are consistent with the empirical observation that poor countries have a higher fraction of employment in small firms than rich countries. Differences in output and total factor productivity across steady states are increasing in the degree of returns to scale, the capital share, and the Frisch elasticity of labor supply.
AUTHORS: Barseghyan, Levon; DiCecio, Riccardo