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  • Author: Rasmus Heltberg
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: How much does economic growth contribute to poverty reduction? I discuss analytical and empirical approaches to assess the growth elasticity of poverty, and emphasize that the relationship between growth and poverty change is non-constant. For a given poverty measure, it depends on initial inequality and on the location of the poverty line relative to mean income. In most cases, growth is more important for poverty reduction than changes in inequality, but this does not render inequality unimportant. Reduction in inequality may be triple effective: (1) it will reduce poverty for a given level of income, (2) it will accelerate the poverty reducing impact of economic growth, and (3) according to cross-country growth regressions, it may contribute to a larger rate of growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Peter G. Warr
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In recent decades, absolute poverty incidence declined in most countries of Southeast Asia, even though in some of these countries inequality increased at the same time. This paper examines the relationship between these outcomes and the rate of economic growth in the agricultural, industrial and services sectors. It develops a time series of available data on the headcount measure of poverty incidence for Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines over the period from the 1960s to 1999, in aggregate and in both rural and urban areas. It then uses this pooled data set to analyze the economic determinants of changes in poverty incidence.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Peter G. Warr, George Fane
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Do changes in poverty and inequality depend directly on the rate of economic growth, or does the source of the growth also matter? This paper uses a computable general equilibrium model of the Indonesian economy to explore this question by simulating increases in GDP arising from (i) technical progress in each of seven broad sectors, and (ii) the accumulation of each of six types of physical and human capital. The more a given amount of growth raises the returns to the factors that are more important sources of income for the poor than for the non-poor, the more it reduces poverty and inequality. Different sources of growth affect poverty and inequality differently because they affect factor returns differently, and because the poor and the non-poor own factors in different proportions.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Ricardo Ffrench-Davis, Guillermo Larraín
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: During the Asian crisis, intermediate exchange rate regimes vanished. It has been argued that those regimes were no longer useful and only the extremes remained valid. The paper analyses three foreign exchange regimes: Argentina (pegged), Chile (band) and Mexico (float). The Argentinean currency board delivered low financial volatility while it was credible, but even then it displayed high real volatility. Mexican float performed well in periods of instability isolating the real sector. The Chilean band delivered a mixed outcome as compared to Argentina and Mexico. This is linked apparently to a loss in the band's credibility, associated to policy mismanagement and an over-appreciation in the biennium before the crisis. Optimal exchange rate regimes vary across time and the conjuncture. Exit strategies are part of the election of the optimal system, including a flexible policy package rather than a single rigid policy tool.
  • Topic: Development, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia, Argentina, South America, Latin America, Mexico, Chile
  • Author: Elisabetta Bertero, Laura Rondi
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper contributes to the literature on the role of decentralization in hardening the budget constraint of public enterprises. Following Qian and Roland the study adopts a 'federalist' approach. However, it interprets federalism as the upward devolution of domestic economic policies to a supranational authority and examines its role in disciplining public enterprises operating in a soft budget regime. The methodology is a case study of the shift in budget regime in Italy in the late 1980s. The study shows that a determinant role in driving this shift was played by European economic policies. The discipline imposed by participation in the EMS, the Single Market Programme and, later, the requirements to enter the EMU pushed the Italian government toward a much tougher approach to its budget deficit.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stuart L. Gillan, Laura T. Starks
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: We examine the role of institutional investors in financial markets and in corporate governance. In many countries, institutional investors have become the predominant players in financial markets and their influence worldwide is growing, chiefly due to the privatization and development of pension fund systems. Moreover, foreign institutional investors are becoming a significant presence, bringing their trading habits and corporate governance preferences to international markets. In fact, we argue that the primary actors prompting change in many corporate governance systems are institutional investors, often foreign institutional investors. In other countries the role of institutional investors is limited. Instead, large blockholders, often in the form of individuals, family groups, other corporations, or lending institutions are the dominant players. We present the theoretical arguments for the involvement of investors in shareholder monitoring and a brief history of institutional ownership and activism in the United States and other countries. We also discuss studies of the efficacy of such activism.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper examines what might be done to limit the boom-bust cycle in the flow of capital to emerging markets. Although the paper accepts that some types of capital flow (notably foreign direct investment) are much less problematic in this respect than others (notably short-term bank loans), it argues that influencing the mix would have to be done by capital controls by capital-importing countries rather than supply-side policies. Where supply-side reforms might help is in making some types of flow less unstable: for example, the Buiter/Sibert proposal for a Universal Debt Rollover Option (which needs amendment to alter the term for which rollover might apply); allowing investors with fiduciary responsibilities to hold (though not to buy) bonds of sub-investment grade; penalizing put options in bond contracts and inserting collective action clauses; requiring foreign loans to be denominated in domestic currency; and modifying the remuneration practices of portfolio managers.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Helmut Reisen
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The increased importance of rating agencies for emerging-market finance has brought their work to the attention of a wider group of observers - and under criticism. This paper evaluates whether the importance of ratings for developing-country finance has changed since the Asian Crisis and whether rating agencies have modified the determinants for their rating decisions. It also provides an analysis on recent suggestions by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, as these are very important for gauging the future role of sovereign ratings for foreign debt finance in developing countries. While the explanatory power of conventional rating determinants has declined since the Asian crisis, recent rating performance for Argentina and Turkey can still be qualified as lagging the markets, as variables of financial-sector strength and the endogenous effects of capital flows on macroeconomic variables seem to remain underemphasized in rating assessments. The market impact of sovereign ratings is predicted to decline as agencies have started to modify their country ceiling policy and as market participants try to exploit bond trading opportunities arising from the lagged nature of ratings. The paper presents theory and evidence to suggest that the Basel II Accord will destabilise private capital flows to the developing countries, if the current proposal to link regulatory bank capital to sovereign ratings is maintained: Assigning fixed minimum capital to bank assets whose risk weights are in turn determined by market-lagging cyclically determined ratings will reinforce the tendency of the capital ratio to work in a pro-cyclical way.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Asia, Argentina
  • Author: Harry Flam, Per Jansson
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The partial effect of nominal exchange rate volatility on exports from each EMU member to the rest of the EMU is estimated on annual data for 1967-97, using modern time-series methods. The long-run relations between exchange rate volatility and exports are mostly negative and in several cases insignificantly different from zero. Thus, these estimates do not provide much support for the hypothesis that the elimination of nominal exchange rate volatility will significantly increase trade within the EMU. However, the EMU will presumably lead to geographical concentration of production and therefore indirectly to increased trade within the EMU and, during a transitional stage, to increased foreign direct investment, both within the EMU and between the EMU and the rest of the world.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe