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  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: My recent research paper “India's GDP Mis-estimation: Likelihood, Magnitudes, Mechanisms, and Implications,” (hereafter “GDP paper”) and the associated op-ed in the Indian Express on June 11, 2019 have generated considerable debate. This is encouraging because serious argument and counter-argument are the basis for good policy-making. Since the issue itself is of great importance, the counter-arguments to my analysis warrant a considered response. That is the aim of this note, which is a complement to the original paper, addressing both the larger issues and some of the specific points that have been raised. The note is structured as follows. Section II describes my engagement with India’s GDP estimation when I was Chief Economic Adviser. Section III elaborates on the framework/approach underlying the GDP paper. Section IV makes explicit the key puzzle surrounding India’s growth estimates, and addresses the possible explanations for it. Section V explores the puzzle in greater detail. Section VI provides additional cross-country evidence on growth and price deflators, which support the findings of the original paper, namely that growth during 2011-16 was likely overestimated by a significant margin. Section VII addresses two broad objections to the main findings. Section VIII discusses some of the methodological critiques of the paper. Section IX offers some thoughts on the way forward.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, International Development, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Alice Evans
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Support for gender equality has risen, globally. Analyses of this trend focus on individual and/or country-level characteristics. But this overlooks sub-national variation. Citydwellers are more likely to support gender equality in education, employment, leadership, and leisure. Why is this? This paper investigates the causes of rural-urban differences through comparative, qualitative research. It centres on Cambodia, where the growth of rural garment factories enables us to test theories that female employment fosters support for gender equality: potentially closing rural-urban differences; or whether other important aspects of city-living accelerate support for gender equality. Drawing on this rural and urban fieldwork, the paper suggests why social change is faster in Cambodian cities. First, cities raise the opportunity costs of gender divisions of labour – given higher living costs and more economic opportunities for women. Second, cities increase exposure to alternatives. People living in more interconnected, heterogeneous, densely populated areas are more exposed to women demonstrating their equal competence in socially valued, masculine domains. Third, they have more avenues to collectively contest established practices. Association and exposure reinforce growing flexibility in gender divisions of labour. By investigating the causes of subnational variation, this paper advances a new theory of growing support for gender equality.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Urbanization, Women, Inequality
  • Political Geography: Cambodia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Alice Evans
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper shows that countries may reduce labour repression if they perceive this as conducive to export growth. This paper traces what happened before, in the presence of, and then following the withdrawal of international economic incentives for pro-labour reforms in Vietnam and Bangladesh. The Government of Vietnam announced it would allow independent trade unions, in order to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and increase market access. Similarly, the Government of Bangladesh rescinded restrictions on unions, following global condemnation of Rana Plaza and fear of buyers leaving en masse. Both governments reduced labour repression to promote export growth. With high-level authorisation, Vietnamese and Bangladeshi activists and reformists became less fearful, and mobilised for substantive change. However, these economic incentives were short-lived: after Trump’s election, the USA withdrew from TPP; buyers continued to source from Bangladesh, and squeezed prices (without requiring labour reforms). Both governments then amped up labour repression - notwithstanding private regulation, economic upgrading, industry growth, and mass strikes.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Reform, Economic growth, Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, Vietnam
  • Author: Garcia Isabella
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: In 2018/2019 the CGPE launched an annual Gender & Global Political Economy Undergraduate Essay Prize competition, open to all undergraduate students within the School of Global Studies. The winner of the 2018/2019 competition is Isabella Garcia for the essay “How do global supply chains exacerbate gender-based violence against women in the Global South?” Isabella graduated with a BA in International Relations and Development in July and will join the MA cohort in our Global Political Economy programme for 2019/2020. Given the very strong field of submissions, the award committee further decided to award a second-place prize to Yume Tamiya for the essay “Does the rise of the middle class disguise existing inequalities in Brazil?”. Yume graduated with a BA in International Development with International Education and Development. We are delighted to publish both of these excellent essays in the CGPE Working Paper series.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Women, Gender Based Violence , Global South
  • Political Geography: Africa, Latin America, Mexico, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Author: Yume Tamiya
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: In 2018/2019 the CGPE launched an annual Gender & Global Political Economy Undergraduate Essay Prize competition, open to all undergraduate students within the School of Global Studies. The winner of the 2018/2019 competition is Isabella Garcia for the essay “How do global supply chains exacerbate gender-based violence against women in the Global South?” Isabella graduated with a BA in International Relations and Development in July and will join the MA cohort in our Global Political Economy programme for 2019/2020. Given the very strong field of submissions, the award committee further decided to award a second-place prize to Yume Tamiya for the essay “Does the rise of the middle class disguise existing inequalities in Brazil?”. Yume graduated with a BA in International Development with International Education and Development. We are delighted to publish both of these excellent essays in the CGPE Working Paper series.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Inequality, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Saliha Metinsoy
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: Why does the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assign more stringent labor conditions in some cases and not others? This paper argues that the Fund’s bureaucratic organizational culture and neoliberal economic beliefs dictate its interpretation of international economics and predict the stringency of labor conditions in its programs. Particularly, the Fund staff envisage that lower unit labor costs would indirectly increase competitiveness, boost exports, and contribute to the balance of payments in fixed exchange rate regimes, where currency depreciation is not possible. To this end, the Fund assigns more stringent labor conditions in fixed regimes compared to floating ones. To test this theory, the paper uses a mixed method. It firstly demonstrates the association between exchange rate regimes and the stringency of labor conditions in Fund programs in a global sample. It then complements this analysis by showing particular organizational habits and beliefs at work in two cases, namely in Latvia and Hungary in 2008 under their respective IMF programs. Furthermore, the paper shows that distribution of income away from labor groups (i.e. lowered wages) is in fact by design in IMF programs in an attempt to increase competitiveness in fixed regimes.
  • Topic: Economics, International Monetary Fund, International Development, Neoliberalism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Hungary, Latvia
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Carlo Pietrobelli, Miguel Angel Santos
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The literature on income gaps between Chiapas and the rest of Mexico revolves around individual factors, such as education and ethnicity. Yet, twenty years after the Zapatista rebellion, the schooling gap between Chiapas and the other Mexican entities has shrunk while the income gap has widened, and we find no evidence indicating that Chiapas indigenes are worse-off than their likes elsewhere in Mexico. We explore a different hypothesis. Based on census data, we calculate the economic complexity index, a measure of the knowledge agglomeration embedded in the economic activities at a municipal level in Mexico. Economic complexity explains a larger fraction of the income gap than any individual factor. Our results suggest that chiapanecos are not the problem, the problem is Chiapas. These results hold when we extend our analysis to Mexico’s thirty-one federal entities, suggesting that place-specific determinants that have been overlooked in both the literature and policy, have a key role in the determination of income gaps.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Migration, Political Economy, Economic Inequality
  • Political Geography: Central America, Mexico, Chiapas
  • Author: Andreas Antoniades, Stephany Griffith-Jones
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: This paper analyses the nature and characteristics of global debt dynamics in the post global financial crisis (GFC) period. First, we attempt to map the ways in which debt has been moving from sector to sector, and from one group of countries to another within the global economy. By capturing this inter-sectorial, inter-national, inter-regional movements of global debt we aspire to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of global debt and its mode of operation. Second, we attempt to analyse what is wrong with global debt dynamics, i.e. we examine the broken link between what global debt was supposed to do and what it does. Here, we point to three interrelated dynamics: the accumulation of unproductive debt, growing inequalities of income and wealth, and the increase in privately-created, interest-bearing money.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Global Recession, Financial Crisis, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus, Global Markets
  • Author: Felipe Antunes de Oliveira
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: Latin America is once again passing through a crisis. After initially showing promising results, the neodevelopmentalist strategy adopted in Brazil and Argentina has reached its limits. The attempt at 21st century socialism in Venezuela derailed, tearing the country apart. Finally, the neoliberal path dutifully followed by Mexico, Chile, Colombia and smaller countries perpetuated social inequalities, and is now menaced by President Trump's protectionist turn. The current Latin American crisis goes much beyond the reversion of the so-called "Pink Tide". It affects all ideological colours, raising again an old theoretical-political question that stood in the core of dependency theory: is development even possible in Latin America? The key to answer this question – a concept of development that captures non-converging transformation – was not available to Frank, Marini, Bambirra and Dos Santos, among other dependency theorists. Too easily conflating development with catching-up, they reached a dead end. Indeed, as they could see, Latin America was constantly changing, but not in the expected ways. In this paper, I suggest that the concept of uneven and combined development allows for a renewed engagement with dependency theory's core problem, by representing mixed forms of development as the norm, not the exception.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Economics, International Development, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Colombia, Latin America, Venezuela, Mexico, Chile
  • Author: Jeffrey Frankel
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Countries that specialize in commodities have in recent years been hit by high volatility in world prices for their exports. This paper suggests four ways that commodity-exporters can make themselves less vulnerable. (1) Option contracts can be used to hedge against short-term declines in the commodity price without giving up the upside, as Mexico has shown. (2) Commodity-linked bonds can hedge longer-term risk, and often have a natural ultimate counter-party in multinational corporations that depend on the commodity as an input. (3) The well-documented pro-cyclicality of fiscal policy among commodity exporters can be reduced by insulating official forecasters against an optimism bias, as Chile has shown. (4) Monetary policy can be made automatically more counter-cyclical, judged by the criterion of currency appreciation in reaction to positive terms-of-trade shocks, under either of two regimes: peggers can add the export commodity to a currency basket (CCB, for “Currency-plus-Commodity Basket”) and others can target Nominal Income instead of the CPI.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Oil, Commodities, Currency Basket, Indexed Bonds
  • Political Geography: South America, Mexico, Chile
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Miguel Angel Santos, Juan Obach
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: This report aims to summarize the main findings of the project as gathered by the three baseline documents, and frame them within a coherent set of policy recommendations that can help Panama to maintain their growth momentum in time and make it more inclusive. Three elements stand out as cornerstones of our proposal: (i) attracting and retaining qualified human capital; (ii) maximizing the diffusion of know-how and knowledge spillovers, and (iii) leveraging on public-private dialog to tackle coordination problems that are hindering economic activity outside the Panama-Colón axis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Economic growth, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Central America, Panama
  • Author: Jeffrey Frankel
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: The paper proposes an exchange rate regime for oil-exporting countries. The goal is to achieve the best of both flexible and fixed exchange rates. The arrangement is designed to deliver monetary policy that counteracts rather than exacerbates the effects of swings in the oil market, while yet offering the day-to-day transparency and predictability of a currency peg. The proposal is to peg the national currency to a basket, but a basket that includes not only the currencies of major trading partners (in particular, the dollar and the euro), but also the export commodity (oil). The plan is called Currency-plus-Commodity Basket (CCB). The paper begins by fleshing out the need for an innovative arrangement that allows accommodation to trade shocks. The analysis provides evidence from six Gulf countries that periods when their currencies were “undervalued”, in the sense that the actual foreign exchange value lay below what it would have been under the CCB proposal, were periods of overheating as reflected in high inflation and of external imbalance as reflected in high balance of payments surpluses. Conversely, periods when the currencies were “overvalued,” in the sense that their foreign exchange value lay above what it would have been under CCB, featured unusually low inflation and low balance of payments. These results are suggestive of the implication that the economy would have been more stable under CCB. The last section of the paper offers a practical blueprint for detailed implementation of the proposal.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil, Exchange Rate Policy, Commodities, Currency Basket
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Matt Andrews, Peter Harrington
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many countries, like Sri Lanka, are trying to diversify their economies but often lack the capabilities to lead diversification programs. One of these capabilities relates to targeting new sectors to promote and pursue through a diversification policy: countries know they are ‘doomed to choose’ sectors to target,1 but lack effective capabilities to do the targeting. This paper narrates a recent (and ongoing) initiative to establish this kind of capability in Sri Lanka. The initiative adopted a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) process, where a team of Sri Lankan officials worked with Harvard Center for International Development (CID) facilitators to build capabilities. The paper tells the story of this process, providing documented evidence of the progress over time and describing the thinking behind the PDIA process. It shows how a reliable targeting mechanism can emerge in a reasonably limited period, when a committed team of public officials are effectively authorized and engaged. The paper will be of particular interest to those thinking about targeting for diversification and to those interested in processes (like PDIA) which are focused on building state capability and fostering policy implementation in public contexts.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Economic growth, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka
  • Author: Michele Coscia, Timothy Cheston, Ricardo Hausmann
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Are regions poor because they have bad institutions or are they poor because they are disconnected from the social channels through which technology diffuses? This paper tests institutional and technological theories of economic convergence by looking at income convergence across Colombian municipalities. We use formal employment and wage data to estimate growth of income per capita at the municipal level. In Colombia, municipalities are organized into 32 departamentos or states. We use cellphone metadata to cluster municipalities into 32 communication clusters, defined as a set of municipalities that are densely connected through phone calls. We show that these two forms of grouping municipalities are very different. We study the effect on municipal income growth of the characteristics of both the state and the communication cluster to which the municipality belongs. We find that belonging to a richer communication cluster accelerates convergence, while belonging to a richer state does not. This result is robust to controlling for state fixed effects when studying the impact of communication clusters and vice versa. The results point to the importance of social interactions rather than formal institutions in the growth process.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Science and Technology, Economic growth, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Colombia, South America
  • Author: Hans Martin Sieg
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Transatlantic Relations
  • Abstract: This paper is part of CTR's Working Paper Series: "Eastern Voices: Europe's East Faces an Unsettled West." Since Moldova's November 2014 election, the country's image has changed drastically from the “success story” of the EU´s Eastern Partnership to that of a “captured state.” Moldova's politics continue to be defined by corruption and vested interests, which take advantage of weak state institutions and public administration, an ineffective judiciary and law enforcement agencies. This environment has enabled hostile takeovers of financial companies, often through concealed offshore operations, for criminal purposes, money-laundering schemes and a spectacular banking fraud, which was uncovered in autumn 2014. Low incomes have prompted hundreds of thousands of Moldovans to leave the country in search of a better life. Rivalries for political power, control over institutions, and economic assets have generated growing crises within different ruling coalitions, resulting in rapid changeover in governments, the break-up of major political parties and the formation of new parliamentary majorities with precarious democratic legitimacy. All of these factors have subjected Moldova to an unrelenting series of governmental, economic, financial and social crises since early 2015. The deeper causes of these crises can be traced to much earlier developments, however, and are deeply rooted in local structures.
  • Topic: International Relations, Corruption, Development, Economics, Reform, Elections, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Moldova, European Union
  • Author: Stephen L. Magiera
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: Foreign investors can lodge a complaint against a host country for alleged treaty violations under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of bilateral investment treaties (BITs). The complaints are arbitrated internationally outside the host country's domestic court, sometimes involve claims exceeding US$1 billion, and give rise to significant financial risk of international arbitration for host countries. Because of this, Indonesia has recently cancelled many of its BITs. But at the same time, Indonesia has agreed to ISDS under the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) and ASEAN's five agreements with Dialogue Partners. Furthermore, President Joko Widodo has expressed strong interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which contains provisions for ISDS. ASEAN's Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will also provide for ISDS. This note reviews the status of Indonesia's international obligations with respect to ISDS, evaluates some of the benefits and costs of ISDS, and reviews the extent to which Indonesia would be undertaking new ISDS obligations under TPP. The note concludes with a discussion of ways that Indonesia can reduce the risk of international arbitration through domestic regulatory reforms.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Yakov Ben-Haim, Maria Demertzis, Jan Willem Van Den End
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: This paper applies the info-gap approach to the unconventional monetary policy of the Eurosystem and so takes into account the fundamental uncertainty on inflation shocks and the transmission mechanism. The outcomes show that a more demanding monetary strategy, in terms of lower tolerance for output and inflation gaps, entails less robustness against uncertainty, particularly if financial variables are taken into account. Augmenting the Taylor rule with a financial variable leads to a smaller loss of robustness than taking into account the effect of financial imbalances on the economy. However, in some situations, the augmented model is more robust than the baseline model. A conclusion from our framework is that including financial imbalances in the monetary policy objective does not necessarily increase policy robustness, and may even decrease it
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Georgios Petropoulos
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: This Policy Contribution tackles the definition and benefits of collaborative economy, as well as the distinction between professional and non-professional services, recommendations on safety and transparency for users, and the way to approach regulatory concerns.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ahmad Alili, Victoria Bittner
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Economic and Social Development (CESD)
  • Abstract: Azerbaijan’s membership in the EITI is considered a key asset to the country’s oil and natural gas economy. As a result of leaving the EITI, Azerbaijan might be regarded as ineligible for future loans by the World Bank and other international institutions for projects, such as the Southern Gas Corridor Project (TAP&TANAP). It is quite an important decision for the country, which was a founding member of the initiative, to leave it. It is going to have considerable effects on the economy and civil society in Azerbaijan. This article aims to shed light on the possible domestic developments of Azerbaijan’s suspension of the EITI.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Azerbaijan
  • Author: Rashad Hasanov
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Economic and Social Development (CESD)
  • Abstract: Without a doubt, 2016 is considered as one of the painful years for the economy of the country. That is to say, the economy of the country encountered nearly 4.0 % decline [during January-November 2016 GDP fell by 3.9% compared with the previous year, SSCRA1], the depreciation of national currency continued, as a result, manat lost its value by 12.5% during the year. The depreciation of national currency reached 57% from January, 2015 until December, 2016. Inflation rate increased to 12.1%, hitting a two-digit level first time since 2008 and consequently, real income of population shrank by 3.2%. The tight monetary and credit policies of the government led to weakening economic activity, lending level fell to the minimum, 11 banks were closed (one of them being systematically important). The state budget revenues and expenditures executed with respectively 16.1% and 10% decrease in 2016, compared with the January-November, 2015.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Finance
  • Political Geography: Azerbaijan
  • Author: Samuel Knafo, Benno Teschke
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: Marxism has often been associated with two different legacies. The first rests on a strong exposition and critique of the logic of capitalism, which has been grounded in a systematic analysis of the laws of motion of capitalism as a system. The second legacy refers to a strong historicist perspective grounded in a conception of social relations and an emphasis on the centrality of power and social conflict to analyse history. In this article, we challenge the prominence of structural accounts of capitalism, which are inspired by the first of these legacies and argue for the need to radicalize the agent-centered and historicist contribution of Marx that derive from the second. Our claim is that Marxists operating within a structural framework systematically fall into economistic readings of capitalism, which hinder the practice of historicisation Marxism was supposed to buttress. To make this argument, we show how this tension between these legacies has played out within Political Marxism (PM). We argue that both orientations – encapsulated in the simultaneous programmatic emphasis on historically specific social conflicts and determinate rules of reproduction that are logically deduced from definitive social property relations – co-existed already uneasily in Robert Brenner’s original contributions to the Transition Debate. We proceed by critically exploring the increasing reliance on a structural conception of the ‘rules of reproduction’ in later works of PM’s early proponents and by some of its contemporary followers. This, we argue, has led to the reification of capitalism and a growing divide between theoretical premises and historical explanation. In response, we seek to return to the early historicist innovation of PM and to recover and develop its commitment to a more contextualised and open-ended interpretation of social conflicts. Through this internal critique and re-formulation of PM, we wish to open a broader debate within Marxism on the need for a more agency-based account of capitalism, which builds more explicitly on the concept of social relations.
  • Topic: Economics, Socialism/Marxism, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Eastern Europe, Germany, Western Europe