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How to Increase your Countries GDP
World Economics Research Programme
World Economics, December 2019
There are three ways to increase the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country. First, by producing more goods and services in a given time frame. This is not easy. Second, by fiddling the figures, a method often adopted by politicians of all kinds, as the economist John Kay illustrated in an article in the Financial Times titled: “Politicians will always succumb to the need to bend data“ (and this in relation to the UK!) There are many ways to do this, and it’s the easiest, cheapest and quickest method. There are only two downsides. First you may be found out. Second, “bending “or otherwise fiddling GDP data may lead to the adoption of seriously erroneous policy decisions. It’s all too easy to believe your own lies... A third method, and the one on which this paper will focus is to measure the output already produced more accurately. Usually but not universally this produces a significant increase in GDP, with many beneficial effects. This method is also relatively easy (no rocket science involved), and cheap (and can easily pay for itself in reduced debt servicing charges). Furthermore, unlike actually producing more goods and services, it doesn’t contribute to global warming.
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Global Trade Data
World Economics Research Programme
World Economics, December 2019
There are serious problems with official trade statistics since according to the IMF in 2016 the world imported US$339 billion more than it exported. The Ricardian concept of comparative advantage in final goods is no longer fully relevant to explain trade between countries and the solution is to operate a paradigm shift in the packaging and interpretation of trade data. The accuracy and reliability of data is affected by a number of key biases separate from data quality issues and misreporting. The main problems are trade data asymmetries; the Rotterdam Effect and the impact of global value chains. Until this happens international trade statistics will be used as evidence of global trade imbalances and form the basis of potentially misguided policies aimed at their correction.
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Global Population Data Accuracy Ratings
World Economics Research Programme
World Economics, December 2019
The accuracy of population data varies widely across countries. The most comprehensive data on the number of people living in a territory and their demographic profile, a vital component for public sector economic and social planning and also for private sector needs, is only available from the result of a census. National statistics offices produce only estimates of total population numbers and the demographic breakdown for the intervening years. The accuracy of these estimates depends on the coverage of the last census and the elapsed time since the census, the data and assumptions about births, deaths and net migration and a host of other factors related to the capacity of the national statistical office and its ability to carry out its functions unimpaired by political interference. There are a number of problems which limit the accuracy of these between census population estimates. Unfortunately, national censuses require a large amount of resources to carry out and often vary in accuracy even for developed countries. In many developing countries there are large gaps in terms of the years between holding a census. This means that population estimates made become less and less accurate as time elapses.
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Central Banking and Climate Change: A Policy Revolution Under Way
Stuart P.M. Mackintosh, World Economics, December 2019
A central bank revolution on climate change policy parallel to the 2015 Paris Agreement on steps to limit global temperature increases in this century may be under way, to achieve the essential collective carbon neutrality goals. In 2015 Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, warned of a series of climate change-related risks to the financial sector which could result from the process of adjustment towards a lower-carbon economy. A new organisation, the Network for the Greening of the Financial System (NGFS), was announced by eight central banks and supervisors in December 2017, growing to 46 by September 2019. The world’s central banks can and should set incentives to penalise carbon polluters and support the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. Empirical evidence demonstrates changing incentives are effective in changing investment behaviours.
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Thrown Away Thrice: The global second-hand clothes trade expires on the beaches of Africa
Lionel Stanbrook, World Economics, December 2019
Thousands of garment-making businesses throughout West Africa have been destroyed over the past few generations by his shabby international exploitation which was been hand in glove with the elimination of traditional garment-making businesses by aggressive European, US, and Chinese clothes manufacturing in factories located in Africa over the same period. The grim result is that Africans have fewer choices in domestically made clothes now than twenty, thirty, or even fifty years ago. Even the famous waxed cloth pagnes (kaftans or bou-bous) which seem quintessentially West African, are very largely imported from Europe (the largest production company is the Dutch VLISCO) although there remain important pockets of original African textile production, although unfortunately with products that are beyond the economic means of ordinary Africans. The shabby value chain in second-hand clothes starts in glitzy shopping malls in the most developed countries, with excessive and unnecessary purchases of clothes by consumers hungry for a new look.
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The Cause of Disinflation
Jang C. Jin, World Economics, December 2019
An empirical model estimates the effects of central bank independence and increasing globalisation on recent disinflation. The model that includes the globalisation measure is found to fit the data better than the one with central bank independence alone. Using pooled sample periods gives further information on recent disinflation that was largely caused by globalisation, and partly by central bank independence. The results suggest that many industrialised countries, including the United States, benefited from globalisation lowering inflation rates during the late twentieth century.
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Resurrecting Industrial Policy as Development Policy based on Korean Experiences
Sung-Hee Jwa & Sung-Kyu Lee, World Economics, December 2019
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the key economic policy paradigm of the Park Chung-hee administration in Korea was based on a ‘heavy-chemical industrialisation policy’, not ‘export-led growth policy’ as insisted by mainstream economics academia. It also aims to suggest a new theory of industrial policy based on both the General Theory of Economic Development and Korea’s experiences of successful industrial policies. A pro-market industrial policy is a prerequisite for a country’s economic leap forward, and this is evident in Korea’s experiences of successful industrial policies. It is suggested that the market, the corporation and the government need to complement each other in order to contribute to a leapfrogging economic development, and the government should carry out ‘industrial policies by promoting the corporate growth through the principle of economic discrimination based on reward and penalty’, thereby reinforcing the market’s discrimination function. In Korea’s experience, the economies based on the principle of economic discrimination achieved success while those based on egalitarianism and the ideology of economic democratisation ended in failure or achieved only minor success. Therefore, the presented theory of industrial policy based on the principle of economic discrimination advocated by the General Theory of Economic Development is consistent with Korea’s past experiences with industrial policies.
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Exchange Rate Policy in Emerging Economics: Should Floating Be Clean or Dirty?
Graham Bird, World Economics, December 2019
In the period since the global economic and financial crisis in 2008/09, emerging economies have encountered both surges and reversals of international capital. Rising interest rates and economic growth in the USA may in the future lead to them facing further relatively sharp capital reversals. To what extent should they allow such capital reversals to affect their exchange rates; should they opt for free (clean) floating or managed (dirty) floating? They have not all opted for the same exchange rate regime. In an era of high international capital mobility, exchange rate policy in emerging economies becomes more complicated than it used to be, and depends on a wide range of factors upon which there is considerable uncertainty. This article provides a systematic review of the issues involved.
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Measuring the Effects of Regional Trade Agreements in South Africa: A Comprehensive Review
Kore Marc Guei, World Economics, December 2019
There is strong evidence that regional trade agreements in force have caused South Africa to increase its aggregate trade with less efficient member countries at the expense of the more efficient ones. Using disaggregated data the European Union Free Trade Agreement has produced mixed results. Trade in goods classified as beverages/tobacco and manufactured goods (machinery and transport equipment, and miscellaneous manufactured articles) have been diverted from more efficient countries outside the regional trade agreements to less efficient member countries. This article finds evidence of trade expansion only for chemical products. The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) has diverted trade from more efficient to less efficient member countries in all commodities. Regional trade agreements in South Africa (SADC and the European Union Free Trade Agreement) increase trade with less efficient partners by approximately 4% and 6%, respectively.
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iCurrency?
Zura Kakushadze & Willie Yu, World Economics, December 2019
We discuss the idea of a purely algorithmic universal world iCurrency in light of recent developments, including Libra. We analyze the Libra proposal, including the stability and volatility aspects, and discuss various issues to be addressed. For example, one cannot expect a cryptocurrency such as Libra to trade in a narrow band without a robust monetary policy. A technical appendix (available online) provides a detailed mathematical description of the (crypto) FX rate dynamics in target zones.
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Combining Growth and Gender Diagnostics for the Benefit of Both
Elena Ianchovichina & Danny Leipziger, World Economics, December 2019
Women’s economic empowerment is not a new issue, but it continues to challenge both governments and development assistance agencies. Progress in closing the gender gap in labor force participation has stalled despite closing the gender gap in education. One reason for this may be that gender advocates and growth devotees are not pursuing both agendas simultaneously when there is a huge space for them to collaborate effectively. Gender-enhanced growth diagnostics offers a ‘win-win’ solution to this problem. It identifies distortions that constrain both economic growth and female labor force participation and can therefore point to efficient welfare-enhancing interventions that close gender gaps. Applied to Turkey, this approach reprioritizes the constraints to economic growth and inclusion.
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Does Phillips Curve Really Exist in India?
Tariq Ahmad Bhat, Tariq Ahmad Lone & Towseef Mohi ud Din, World Economics, December 2019
The hypothetical trade-off relationship between inflation and unemployment rate known as the Phillips Curve. It plays an important role in the decision-making process, to stabilise the economy and to target these variables to keep them as low as possible. This study analyses the empirical relationship between unemployment and the inflation rate in order to predict the trade-off between these two variables and to estimate its existence in the context of Indian economy over the period of 1991 to 2017. It finds both short and long run causal relationship between unemployment and inflation rate in India.
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A Statistician’s Ordeal - The Case of Andreas Georgiou
Miranda Xafa, World Economics, September 2019
For the past eight years Andreas Georgiou has been facing prosecution for the way he discharged his duties while he was president of Greece’s statistical agency (ELSTAT) in 2010-15. His detractors claim that Greece was forced to face harsher conditionality because the deficit was revised upwards, thus helping to justify externally imposed austerity. Despite overwhelming evidence that Mr. Georgiou correctly applied EU rules in revising Greece’s fiscal deficit and debt figures, and despite strong international support for his case, some Greek courts continued the pursuit. The Georgiou case tested the independence of the Greek judiciary, as some senior prosecutors and judges would appear to have repeatedly failed to act in accordance with the rule of law and due process. With a solid majority in parliament, the newly-elected center-right New Democracy government has the opportunity to deliver deep institutional and economic reforms. Ensuring the independence of the judiciary should be a top priority.
Measuring Natural Capital and the Causes of Deforestation
Brian Sturgess, World Economics, September 2019
This study looks at the measurement of the extent, causes and consequences of deforestation as a depletion of a stock of natural capital, a topic of interest to national statistics offices (NSO) in the preparation of satellite accounts. Currently many anomalies and unresolved issues affect the construction of forest databases, although efforts are currently under way to resolve these data problems. Brazil and Indonesia account for 35% of global forest loss in the sample of countries studied in this paper between 1990 and 2015. This has called beef and palm oil to international attention, especially from environmental activists. The case of Malaysia, where consistent data show that reforestation has followed rising GDP per capita and strong policy on forest management, provides strong empirical support for Forest Transition Theory.
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A Comparison of Different Methods of Estimating the Size of the Shadow Economy
Friedrich Schneider & Stefan D. Haigner, World Economics, September 2019
This paper describes and criticizes the MIMIC estimation method due to a double counting problem; a correction is suggested. The measurement methods used for National Accounts Statistics are discussed – the discrepancy method and two new micro survey methods – are described and a third, a micro method, using a combination of company manager surveys and their knowledge to calibrate the size of the shadow economy in firms, is presented. A detailed comparison of the four micro estimation methods with the MIMIC and the corrected MIMIC method are offered. One major result is that the corrected MIMIC method, especially, comes quite close to various types of lately developed micro survey methods.
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Disentangling Foreign Direct Investments
Michael Plouffe, World Economics, September 2019
I describe multinational corporations’ (MNCs’) motivations for engaging in foreign direct investment (FDI) rather than other forms of internationalisation. When it comes to understanding the underlying determinants of an investment, some of the issues presented by FDI studies relying on high levels of aggregated FDI measures are caused by aggregation, and others are driven by data. There are gains from disaggregation in existing studies of both FDI and global supply chains and benefits for policymakers of pursuing and promoting such an approach.
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The Changing Quality of Employment and the Sequencing of Reforms in China
Nomaan Majid, World Economics, September 2019
The paper charts the process through which employment has been transformed in China. Measures of employment quality captured by estimates of regular and non-regular employment and unemployment are used to form a view of the changing employment situation. The increase in the share of regular employment in total employment, from 40.1% in 1990 to 62.7% in 2011, is staggering for the most populous country in the world. This is what lies behind the improvement in employment in China. This paper argues that factors behind the improvement in employment in China can be traced to sequenced policy shifts in sector growth strategies on one hand, and the gradual removal of effective constraints on the physical movement of labour on the other. In other words China has managed its process of structural change.
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China’s Monetary Policy Functions from the Core Inflation Perspective
Yu Li Zhu & Lu Chang Rong, World Economics, September 2019
Based on the open-economy new Keynesian model, this paper studies the influence of core inflation on the central bank’s monetary policy reaction rules by optimising the multi-target welfare loss functions, and draws three conclusions. Sustainable balance of payments should be considered as a goal rather than a tool for monetary policy. The central bank should focus more on core inflation than normal inflation in its daily operations. An authoritative core inflation sequence should be established as a focal point in the policymaking process. In addition, we emphasise that the central bank should accurately judge the impacts of real exchange rate changes, and adjust how frequently it intervenes in interest rates.
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Data Quality Rating: China
World Economics
World Economics, September 2019
The quality of GDP data in China is improving, and up to date in many respects. But is still some way from good quality. Use with caution!
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Is the Business Environment a Matter of Political Economy and Convergence?
Michael Chibba & John M. Luiz, World Economics, September 2019
In this article, the central question addressed is: does the business environment entail a complex nexus of political economy and other factors (government, business, ideology, and leadership) that may or may not manifest convergence? Also, the role of metrics and data is appropriately discussed. Current theories fail to impart an understanding of what the nature of the business environment is, or of the multifaceted nexus and convergence (or divergence) that it may entail. The strength of convergence involved is directly related to the integrity of the business environment and also reflects the overall dynamics in the country of focus. Each of the three country cases examined is fundamentally different, but offers important lessons. The overarching conclusion is that political economy and convergence often play a critical role in the business environment—though certainly not always, as in South Africa, where there is divergence, and in the case of metrics and data on the business environment, which, by design, do not focus on convergence.
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The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China’s European Ambitions
Theodore Pelagidis & Hercules Haralambides, World Economics, September 2019
Recent research shows that a 10% improvement in connectivity between countries along the “Maritime Silk Road” would deliver a 3% decrease in Chinese trade costs, which would in turn boost China’s imports and exports by around 6% and 9% respectively. We identify two ‘missing links’ of BRI: a) connecting the Caspian- to the Black Sea, from Turkmenistan to Romania (branching to Istanbul), and from there – through the port of Constanza and the Danube-Rhine fluvial corridor- all the way up to the North Sea, to Rotterdam in particular; b) connecting the Upper Persian Gulf port system to the Mediterranean. COSCO’s target for Piraeus is for it to become the biggest European port over the next decade, doubling its cargo handling capacity.
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Monetary Integration in the Eurasian Economic Union: What are the Issues?
Marina Hamilton & Graham Bird, World Economics, September 2019
The members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) are continuing to discuss establishing a currency union. Do the characteristics of the EEU economies meet the criteria identified by optimum currency area theory, covering fiscal convergence, exchange rate stability, the symmetry of shocks, the dispersion of inflation and interest rates, and the synchronization of business cycles? This article suggests that the empirical evidence is nuanced. The gains and losses from monetary integration in the EEU would not be equally distributed across member states. As has been the case with the Eurozone, the future prospects for monetary integration in the EEU depend very much on political factors.
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The NTV Model for Total Factor Productivity
Andrew Smithers, World Economics, June 2019
The consensus model for total factor productivity is unsatisfactory; the alternative, non-technology variables (‘NTV’) model resolves the objections to it and should therefore be preferred by economists. The key objections to the consensus model are that it is untestable, its assumption about corporate behaviour is falsified when tested and, for the accounting framework to function, the labour/capital ratio has to be as flexible on old capital as it is on new: an assumption which seems most unlikely. The differences in the results are non-trivial and the NTV model has positive implications for economic policy by showing how they could be changed to boost growth. NTV comprises all the variables, other than changes in labour and technology, that determine the level of investment and the capital stock. Changes in NTV are the net impact on the incentive to invest resulting from changes in the individual constituents, which are profit margins, the cost of equity, the cost of debt, leverage, corporation tax and the hurdle rate, which is the minimum expected return on equity needed to make new investment worthwhile in the opinion of management. The consensus model assumes that investment is partly determined by changes in the cost of capital while ignoring the impact of changes in the cost of equity and debt and in leverage. I show that this assumption is unjustified and why it is preferable to use NTV.
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National Output as Interest on National Capital
John Hartwick, World Economics, June 2019
Current national output can be consider as deriving from a collection of capital goods, including a natural capital good. A model is created which considers Net National Product as interest on capital in the economy: a new approach which touches in a non-trivial way on green national accounting. One important implication is that trading nation draws in part on the capital, including natural capital, of its trading partners and exports in part some of its own capital in its exports. It is also necessary to incorporate pollution spillovers Net National Product which is a hugely vexing issue.
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A Modest Challenge to GDP Reforms: An Economist’s View
Mitsuhiko Iyoda, World Economics, June 2019
This paper explores the importance and possibility of GDP reform by examining the weaknesses of the current GDP concept. The GDP concept itself involves flawed metrics; there are more effective measures of economic and societal well-being. Here we limit our argument to economic well-being. The weaknesses of GDP can be broadly divided into two primary categories: market workability and the GDP framework. We present four types of GDP reform, among which, we consider further, is a modest improvement on current GDP. If not dealt with, the misleading aspects of GDP are likely to produce a misguided economic growth strategy and reduce the likelihood of a ‘positive sum’ result.
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Did Rating Agencies Make the Euro Crisis Worse?
Colin Ellis, World Economics, June 2019
There is a commonly held belief that the euro debt crisis was exacerbated by a spiral of higher yields resulting from rating agencies downgrading euro area sovereigns, but there has been little formal analysis of this hypothesis. Data on ratings and market signals on credit can be made comparable by transforming market metrics into measures that correspond to the same rating scale, known as ‘market-implied ratings’. These signals can be based on bond yields, credit default swaps (CDS) or equity prices. The available data provide no consistent evidence that sovereign rating downgrades led to greater market stresses across so-called ‘peripheral’ euro-area countries. Sovereign ratings were relatively slow to react when the crisis erupted, compared with market signals, but there is also no evidence that they amplified the crisis in terms of triggering further increases in sovereign yields and CDS prices.
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Estimating Loss-in-Output as a Cost of a Financial Crisis
Vighneswara Swamy, World Economics, June 2019
The global financial crisis caused a huge loss of economic output, depletion of financial wealth, extended unemployment, psychological consequences and other significant costs. A quantitative exploration of modelling loss-in-output as a cost of financial crisis using macroeconomic indicators is useful in understanding the impact of a crisis. The conservative estimates for India suggest that, over a period of ten years, a financial crisis can cause a cumulative loss-in-output ranging from 48% of GDP to 59% of GDP after discounting at 0.025 and 0.07 respectively. Intermediate values are also explored. Estimating loss-in-output in terms of GDP simplifies estimation of the impact of financial crises. Policymakers and regulators must be more prudent and alert in sensing the early indicators of a financial crisis and act swiftly in containing its perils.
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How Accurate are Global Trade-Finance Data?
Brian Sturgess, World Economics, June 2019
Over 80% of international trade is financed by some form of credit, but the size of the trade finance market has received little attention by economists. It has been estimated that there is currently a world trade finance gap of around US$1.5 trillion acting as a drag on international trade and GDP growth. Survey-based estimates of traditional trade finance provided by banks at US$4.6 trillion in 2017 are highly inconsistent and are based on flawed data and opaque methodologies. The problem of collecting reliable data needed to promote trade growth and to monitor financial stability is being exacerbated as the trade finance sector is undergoing rapid structural change.
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Income Inequality and Foreign Direct Investment in Australia: A Comprehensive Review
Anna Ploszaj, Tarlok Singh & Jen-Je Su, World Economics, June 2019
Income, wealth and consumption are three main factors that determine people’s standard of living. Many organisations in Australia report that in recent years the Australian standard of living has been changing, with some people falling behind. This paper examines the magnitude of and the factors contributing towards the growing income inequality in Australia. The data shows that income inequality, which in Australia in the mid-1990s was around the same level as in other developed countries, has recently outpaced their levels. The data on FDI shows that, at the same time as income inequality was on the rise, the amount of FDI inflows to Australia increased and despite a higher FDI restrictiveness index than the average for OECD countries Australia holds its position in the top ten countries in terms of the preferred destination of FDI.
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Why Do Currency Crises Recur?: Lessons from Argentina and Turkey
Graham Bird, Graham Bird & Graham Bird, World Economics, June 2019
Argentina and Turkey experienced currency crises in 2018, having also had crises in 2001. Why do crises recur? There are three generations of model that help to explain in theory why currency crises occur, although in practice the theories need to be amalgamated. The recurrence of currency crises implies that either appropriate lessons have not been learnt or, for some reason, countries have been unable to convert learning into actions. Key lessons are first, avoid excessively large fiscal deficits, rapid credit creation and debt accumulation, and second, reduce economic and financial vulnerability and create better insulation from external shocks. Empirical analysis shows that the causes of the crises in Argentina and Turkey in 2018 were different from those in 2001.
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