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09 декабря 2014, 08:00

Addressing access and behavioral constraints through social intermediation services : a review of Chile Solidario and Red Unidos

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Social programs are often designed under the assumption that individuals make rational decisions that improve their welfare. Yet, informational and behavioral constraints limit the extreme and chronic poor's access and participation in social programs. This paper reviews the implementation and performance of two "social intermediation services" that were designed to address these constraints, improve beneficiaries' access to social programs, and help the poor surmount poverty: Chile Solidario, the first such service in Latin America, and Red Unidos, implemented later in Colombia. The analysis provides insights on key factors influencing performance, cost effectiveness, and the impacts that such services can be expected to have.

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08 декабря 2014, 08:00

Economic effects of the Syrian war and the spread of the Islamic state on the Levant

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This paper uses a global computable general-equilibrium framework with new detail on six Levant countries -- the Arab Republic of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Turkey -- to quantify the direct and indirect economic effects of the Syrian war and the advance of the Islamic State on the Levant. Syria and Iraq bear the brunt of the direct economic costs, while the other Levant countries lose in per capita but not in aggregate terms. The fact that the Islamic State's spread has undermined regional trade adds to varying degrees to the direct costs in all Levant economies and in the case of Syria and Iraq doubles the welfare losses. All these countries are foregoing opportunities to expand intra-Levant trade and the associated gains in economic efficiency and diversification. The average welfare effects are not indicative of within-country incidence, which varies among workers, landowners, and capitalists.

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04 декабря 2014, 08:00

Sukuk markets : a proposed approach for development

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The issuance of sukuk, as an instrument in Islamic finance, has been growing in recent years. Many policy makers and businesses are looking at the sukuk markets as sources of long-term financing. The paper identifies key issues impeding further development of sukuk markets globally, namely, standardization of structures and practices, investor protection concerns relating to insolvency and governance regimes, and market liquidity. The paper also offers approaches in developing domestic sukuk markets and in accessing the international market. The authors suggest that, in developing domestic sukuk markets, policy makers use a framework similar to that of the development of conventional bond markets, that is, by establishing (1) well-functioning money markets, (2) efficient primary markets and securities-offering regimes, (3) a robust and diversified investor base, (4) a market infrastructure that facilitates trading, price transparency, and efficient clearing and settlement of transactions, (5) derivatives market and hedging tools to support risk management by issuers and investors, and (6) a credible legal and regulatory framework. In accessing the international market, the issues policy makers or potential sukuk issuers should consider include awareness of and knowledge of sukuk, legal foundation, taxation, governance, and obligors' credit rating.

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03 декабря 2014, 08:00

Incomplete integration and contagion of debt distress in economic unions

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This paper compares different fiscal integration schemes on the basis of their ability to finance public investments and resilience to debt distress and contagion. Complete integration schemes, where a central authority chooses the level of public investments with productivity-enhancing externalities across different jurisdictions, are shown to be superior to incomplete integration schemes, where member governments choose public investments unilaterally. As a result, equilibrium income is greater for citizens of member states under a complete integration scheme. Moreover, complete integration schemes are shown to be more resilient to idiosyncratic shocks and more effective in limiting contagion of debt distress. This is mainly because the central authority can credibly borrow more without risking default than member states taken together can and it can "transfer resilience" across them if needed. These findings inform discussions on structural aspects of secular stagnation in Europe by emphasizing a potential challenge in the institutional design of fiscal responsibilities.

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25 ноября 2014, 08:00

Structural reforms and labor market outcomes : international panel data evidence

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This paper explores the impact of structural reforms on a comprehensive set of macro-level labor-market outcomes, including the unemployment rate, the average wage index, and overall and female employment levels and labor force participation rates. Together these outcome variables capture the overall health of the labor market and the aggregate welfare of workers. Yet, there seems to be no other comprehensive empirical investigation in the existing literature of the impact of structural reforms at the cross-country macro level on labor-market outcomes other than the unemployment rate. Data were collected from a variety of sources, including the World Bank World Development Indicators, the International Monetary Fund International Financial Statistics, and the International Labor Organization Key Indicators of the Labor Market. The resulting dataset covers up to 88 countries, the majority being developing, for 10 years on either side of structural reforms that took place between 1960 and 2001. After documenting the average trends across countries in the labor-market outcomes up to 10 years on either side of each country’s structural reform year, the authors run fixed-effects ordinary least squares as well as instrumental variables regressions to account for the likely endogeneity of structural reforms to labor-market outcomes. Overall the results suggest that structural reforms lead to positive outcomes for labor. Unlike related literature, the paper does not find conclusive evidence on unemployment. Redistributive effects in favor of workers, along the lines of the Stolper-Samuelson effect, may be at work.

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17 ноября 2014, 08:00

What makes a currency procyclical ? an empirical investigation

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This paper looks at the correlation between the cyclical components of gross domestic product and the exchange rate and classifies countries' currencies as procyclical if they appreciate in good times, countercyclical if they appreciate in bad times, and acyclical otherwise. With this classification, the paper shows that: (i) the countries that are commodity exporters and experience procyclical capital flows tend to have procyclical currencies; (ii) countries with procyclical currencies tend to restrict their capital accounts, perhaps as an attempt to reduce the degree of procyclicality; (iii) countries with procyclical currencies pursue procyclical monetary policy; (iv) however, in the last decade, there is a disconnect between the cyclicality of currency and monetary policy; and (v) the disconnect may reflect a decline in the fear of floating, which can be partially attributed to an improvement in countries' net foreign asset positions.

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13 ноября 2014, 08:00

The post-crisis growth slowdown in emerging economies and the role of structural reforms

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This paper constructs indicators of structural bottlenecks arising from barriers to open markets, obstacles to business operations, and constraints to access to finance. Empirical evidence from a sample of 30 emerging economies indicates that barriers to open markets and access to finance are significantly associated with differences in total factor productivity growth in the post-global financial crisis period compared with the pre-crisis period -- with countries with fewer barriers showing stronger recovery and resilience. Barriers to access to finance are also associated with differences in the performance of private investment. Reforms to improve the policy framework in these areas, up to the level of the best-ranking countries, could offset the recently observed growth slowdown in emerging economies. These reforms would revitalize potential growth and mitigate the risks from external shocks associated with the global environment in the transition from the global financial crisis.

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13 ноября 2014, 08:00

The economic effects of a borrower bailout : evidence from an emerging market

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This paper studies the credit market implications and real effects of one the largest borrower bailout programs in history, enacted by the government of India against the backdrop of the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The study finds that the stimulus program had no effect on productivity, wages, or consumption, but led to significant changes in credit allocation and an increase in defaults. Post-program loan performance declines faster in districts with greater exposure to the program, an effect that is not driven by greater risk-taking of banks. Loan defaults become significantly more sensitive to the electoral cycle after the program, suggesting the anticipation of future credit market interventions as an important channel through which moral hazard in loan repayment is intensified.

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13 ноября 2014, 08:00

Urbanization and housing investment

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This paper provides the first systematic empirical assessment of the pace at which housing investment has responded to rising demand from urbanization. The assessment used National Accounts Statistics to build a data set of residential housing investment for more than 90 countries. The data set explicitly accounts for investment by households, the government, and the private sector. The analysis finds that housing investment follows an S-shaped trajectory taking off around per capita GDP of about $3,000 (US$2005) and tapering down at per capita GDP around $36,000 (US$2005). The analysis also finds that between 2001 and 2011, housing investment in low-income economies averaged 4.56 percent of gross domestic product and 9.12 percent in upper-middle-income economies. An important finding is that countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have housing elasticities similar to comparable low-income and lower-middle-income economies. In financing housing investment, the paper finds that developing countries tend to rely much more on domestic savings and government debt, whereas high-income Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries lever capital markets by tapping foreign savings. Not only does excessive reliance on domestic savings and government debt increase the sensitivity of housing investment to the cyclicality of growth of gross domestic product, it also can potentially crowd out investments in health and education.

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13 ноября 2014, 08:00

Durable goods and poverty measurement

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The paper focuses on durable goods and their role in the measurement of living standards. The paper reviews the theoretical underpinnings of the methods available to estimate the value of the services flowing from consumer durable goods. It also provides a unified framework that encompasses the acquisition approach, the rental equivalent approach, and the user cost approach. The pros and cons of each method are discussed in the context of poverty and inequality analysis and it is argued that the user cost should receive the highest consideration.

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10 ноября 2014, 08:00

Estimates of ad valorem equivalents of barriers against foreign suppliers of services in eleven services sectors and 103 countries

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A new database on the barriers faced by foreign suppliers of services has been produced by the World Bank. Data for 103 countries are available on 11 of the most important services sectors in international trade. Based on these data and building on the methodology and publications supported by the Australian Productivity Commission, this paper produces estimates of the ad valorem equivalents of the barriers for all these sectors and countries. Compared with estimates available in the literature that are based on assessments of country- and sector-specific barriers to services providers, the estimates expand the set of sectors and more than triple the set of countries for which estimates of the ad valorem equivalents of the services barriers are available.

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10 ноября 2014, 08:00

Success in difficult environments : a portfolio analysis of fragile and conflict-affected states

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The World Bank Group has identi?ed support to fragile and con?ict-affected states as a strategic priority. This paper provides a systematic portfolio review of the International Development Association-funded projects in fragile and conflict-affected states during 2001 to 2013 and a detailed empirical analysis of the correlations between project and country-level characteristics with project outcome ratings. The portfolio review identi?es a decline in the proportional amount of resources directed to fragile and conflict-affected states and a decline in the number of internationally recruited staff based in these countries. The empirical analysis ?nds no statistical difference in whether projects obtain at least a moderately satisfactory outcome rating between countries that are fragile and conflict-affected states and those that are not. Examination of the distribution of project outcome ratings indicates that projects in fragile and conflict-affected states obtain slightly lower ratings conditional on being unsatisfactory or satisfactory. Detailed cross-section regression analysis ?nds that indicators of project complexity, such as supervision costs, staff time, preparation time, and ?nancing, are correlated with lower outcome ratings. Project leader characteristics are correlated with project outcome ratings, but to a lesser degree in fragile and conflict-affected states, potentially indicating that it is more difficult for project leaders to in?uence project outcomes in these environments. Last, a new approach to control for unobservable project characteristics, such as inherent complexity or ambition, shows preliminary evidence that changes in the project leader and increases in the supervision budget are correlated with improvements in project performance.