World Economics

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Does Phillips Curve Really Exist in India?
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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.
If only we were all Japanese!
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World Economics, December 2019
Economists have a habit of dividing the world into four types of economies: developed, emerging, Argentina and Japan, is it time to remove Japan?
Disentangling Foreign Direct Investments
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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.
China’s Monetary Policy Functions from the Core Inflation Perspective
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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.
How Accurate are Global Trade-Finance Data?
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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.
National Output as Interest on National Capital
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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.
The NTV Model for Total Factor Productivity
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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.
The Informal Economy: Who Wins, Who Loses and Why We Care
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Giovanna Maria Dora Dore, World Economics, March 2019
The informal economy is one of the most complex economic and political phenomena of our time. It exists in rich and poor countries alike, and currently employs almost half of the world’s workers, about 1.8 billion people. •At a value of US$10 trillion, the informal economy is the second-largest economy in the world, after the economy of the United States (at US$14 trillion) and before that of China (at US$8.2 trillion). High taxes, labour costs and social security infrastructures, undeclared work and underreporting are among the most powerful drivers of informality. Measures promoting behavioural changes can help counter its growth, even though controls and penalties remain more popular as tools in the fight against the informal economy. The informal sector remains the fastest-growing part of the world economy and we need a better understanding of what it means for business and society and why it is the preferred operating sector for many entrepreneurs.
CryptoRuble: From Russia with Love
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Zura Kakushadze & Jim Kyung-Soo Liew, World Economics, December 2018
A large number of decentralized cryptocurrencies has emerged since the inception of Bitcoin in 2009, with a total market size exceeding $170bn. Recent reports suggest that Russia will issue its government-backed cryptocurrency, CryptoRuble, in the middle of 2019. Russia’s primary goal in issuing a government cryptocurrency is to free its monetary system from the controls exerted by the Federal Reserve and their allied central banks. Government-issued cryptocurrencies will increase: Large sovereign states have the technological know-how and means to do this, but small and/or developing countries may be forced to outsource issuance of their government-backed cryptocurrencies to larger states.
Measuring Greek Debt: The Difference between Market and Credit Perspectives
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Colin Ellis, World Economics, September 2018
It is likely to be several decades before data on government assets, off-balance sheet and contingent liabilities are consistently available across a wide range of countries. In the absence of data, GDP is a readily available scaling factor, but official sector agencies such as the IMF and private sector analysts recognise the insufficiency of debt–GDP ratios. Some commentators claim that, using international standards, Greek government debt could be only around 75% of GDP, compared with official figures of around 180%. Fundamentally, such discrepancies reflects debt valuation variations related to the difference between market risk and credit risk.
Error in Demographic and Other Quantitative Data and Analyses
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Thomas Burch, World Economics, June 2018
Statistical data consumed, analysed and produced contain errors from more sources than is often recognised and the commercialisation of survey and other statistical research and ‘inventions’ such as ‘big data’ has led to naïve and faulty analysis and propaganda. Oskar Morgenstern has noted that, in contrast to physics, there is no estimate of statistical error within economics and the various sources of error that come into play in the social sciences suggest that the error in economic observations is substantial. It is important to recognise the phenomenon of the propagation of errors; errors in our results may be disproportionate to errors in our input data. Despite documented problems social scientists cannot give up on quantitative data since many of the most important questions in social science are matters of more or less, not either/or.
Debt, Economic Growth and Data Adequacy
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Vighneswara Swamy, World Economics, June 2018
The effects of government debt on economic growth has become of immense importance in the backdrop of the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis and Reinhart & Rogoff’s related research. This study is based on a sizeable dataset which extends the horizon of analysis to country groupings and makes it inclusive of economic, political, and regional diversities. The study overcomes issues related to data adequacy, coverage of countries, heterogeneity, endogeneity, and non-linear relationships by conducting a battery of robustness tests. An increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio is found to be associated with a reduction in average growth, but the relationship is nonlinear.
Measuring Illegal Activities in the National Accounts
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, June 2018
Until 2014 the only illegal activity measured in the UK National Accounts by the Office of National Statistics was the smuggling of alcohol and tobacco. The European System of National Accounts 2010 requires statistical bodies to measure consensual illegal economic activities such as drug consumption and prostitution. In 2014 the first estimates measured the contribution of illegal drugs and prostitution at 2009 prices to UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at just under £10 billion. The estimates are based on a flawed methodology using survey data while private sector figures suggest that the contribution of the cannabis market alone to GDP may be over three times the official value of £828 million .
Serious Errors on UK Telecoms Data: Prices could have fallen by 90 Percent more than the official price index
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, April 2018
The Office of National Statistics (ONS), Britain’s official data agency, has admitted that it has made serious errors in its estimation of the output and productivity of the telecoms sector.
Trade Data: Use with Care
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Brian Sturgess, World Economics, December 2017
Politicians focus on trade deficits and surpluses between countries and threaten trade wars and retaliatory actions, but the conventional international trade statistics used by many commentators are inaccurate. World exports and imports do not balance, but asymmetries are also found in the balance of trade statistics between countries and regions and these discrepancies can be very large in emerging markets. The ‘Rotterdam effect’ distorts the measurement of trade flows and balances where goods are recorded as imports into one country, which subsequently re-exports them to third countries without taking note of the country of origin. The Apple ‘Made in China’ question, or the existence of global value chains where much trade is in intermediate inputs, indicates that conventional trade statistics involve double-counting and misallocated trade balances.
Measuring the Impact of the Internet on Retailing
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Julian Gough, World Economics, December 2017
The internet has radically changed the purchasing of goods and services leading to a rapid expansion of online retailers and a decline of many traditional shops on the high street. The UK is the leading nation in Europe in terms of online sales, after a remarkable change in consumers’ spending patterns, with a value of £67bn in 2017, 18% of total retail sales. Economists have neglected retailing as a subject area, perhaps reflecting the complexity of its operations, but it is possible to construct a model of retailing by adapting the conventional marginal theory of the firm. Online retailing has benefits—the ability to view, compare and choose products at competitive prices on screen, pay online with fast home delivery—and costs—the disappearance of small local shops with after-sales service.
Measuring GDP in Fragile States
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Barbro Hexeberg & Jose Pablo Valdes Martinez, World Economics, December 2017
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is central to measuring economic performance and productivity, and monitoring fiscal and monetary policies, as well as changes in poverty and shared prosperity. Compiling GDP in accordance with internationally agreed definitions and rules is a complex and data-intensive task, but it is especially challenging in fragile countries. Data are often lacking, of poor quality, or out of date. Much economic activity takes place outside the formal economy, and measuring real growth is more difficult for countries facing armed conflict or natural disasters. But fragile states need accurate measures of GDP, because their economic losses are commonly evaluated in terms of GDP prior to the design and implementation of any mitigation policies.
Making Data Measurement Errors Transparent: The Case of the IMF
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Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, World Economics, September 2017
In 1950 Morgenstern pointed out that absolute precision and certainty are impossible in economic observations, but estimates are often hampered by a substantial degree of measurement error. Unlike the natural sciences, economists in general do not report measurement errors for the key concepts such as prices, value or production that it seeks to define, measure and explain. For most macroeconomic concepts two approaches are available: the Implicit Minimal Measurement Error and the Maximum Ratio. Studying different vintages of the IMF World Economic Outlook data base it was found that the estimates on average have an implicit minimal measurement error of 4.3% and maximum ratio of 17.9%. An agenda is proposed for removing disincentives (creating incentives) for stakeholders (academics, data collectors and producers) since reporting measurement error will result in better research, better policy and ultimately better data.
The Data Quality Index
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World Economics, June 2017
GDP data is important used to apportion funds from international organisations, to influence rating agency decisions and much more, but official data is totally inadequate for the demands made of it. The notion of GDP data is flawed conceptually, but there are also severe methodological issues that need to be addressed prior to making international comparisons and assessing data reliability. World Economics has created an interactive Data Quality Index for users of economic data which considers five readily measurable factors that influence data reliability across countries. The Data Quality Index ranks 154 countries based on an equal weighting of the five factors, but users can adjust the importance of each to their data needs.
Data on Indicators of Governance: Handle with Care
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M.G.Quibria, World Economics, June 2016
This article provides a select review of data used as indicators of governance. Despite the popularity and considerable success of the existing body of governance indicators in putting the spotlight on governance inadequacies in developing countries, they are fraught with a whole host of statistical and measurement issues. It argues that these indicators should be applied with caution, keeping their shortcomings in mind.

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