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  • Author: Elisabetta Bertero, Laura Rondi
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This study examines the effect of the hardening of the budget constraint on the investment behaviour of Italian state owned enterprises (SOEs). It carries out a natural experiment that exploits the 1987 shift of budget regimes due to the pressure of European Union economic policies on the Italian government.Drawing from the theory of capital market imperfections, we apply the empirical framework for the analysis of investment-cash flow sensitivity to a panel of state-owned manufacturing firms during the period 1977-93. We parallel state firms to Anglo-Saxon public corporations which, under separation of ownership and control, are afflicted by agency problems, managerial discretion, misallocation of free cash-flow and overinvestment. We argue that, under a soft budget constraint, state firms' managerial discretion and, in particular, collusion between managers and vote-seeking politicians, lead to wasteful investment.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Jonathan Conning, Michael Kevane
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper proposes to organize thinking about the opportunities for improving and extending financial markets and safety nets for the poor, by focusing on factors that may explain why the linkage of local financial networks and safety nets with the larger economy often fails or is incomplete. Understanding the nature of these impediments is the first step in proposing policies to help promote more effective linkage and intermediation. We propose four explanations for the slowness of adoption of intermediation (high costs of delegated monitoring aggravated by limited intermediary capital; lock-in and crowding out effects from local insurance arrangements, social norms against cooperation with intermediaries; and political resistance to new institutions that shift the balance of power in local polities). Of course, financial repression and weak legal systems remains important as cause of lack of intermediation. We conclude with a review of public policy for more effective intermediation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Author: Clas Wihlborg
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Insolvency and debt recovery procedures are as crucial to a well-performing financial sector as credit provision itself. They are even more important in Africa, where attempts are underway to create fully-fledged financial markets. For the financial system to be credible, creditors must be ensured that lenders will meet their obligations and that cases against them will be brought to closure. A good legal framework for insolvency also ensures distressed firms a form of orderly exit, thereby enabling their owners to start afresh. However, institutions of this nature take time to take effect, and need to be supported politically and by reforms in other sectors of the economy.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Jean-Philippe Platteau
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Customary rules governing access to land and other natural resources in village societies have characteristics that allow them to fulfil social security functions and achieve equity objectives. This is true of both common-property resources and land parcels held under individualized tenure. However, when land pressure increases under the combined influences of population growth and market integration, a shift occurs from extensive to intensive resource use patterns. As a result, the efficiency costs of erstwhile equity-and insurance-oriented arrangements rise, thus forcing them to evolve significantly. In particular, land tenure arrangements undergo a major transformation towards more individualized forms with the consequence that property rights in land are increasingly defined without regard for equity and insurance concerns.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • 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: 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: Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Although privatization has been a key feature of economic policy in Africa since the early 1990s its sequencing and intensity have varied from country to country, with donor leverage being an important determinant of the pace of implementation. However, although many privatization schemes were undertaken in response to donor demands for reduced government participation in business, the process soon achieved its own dynamics. The positive view of privatization suggests that it went ahead, in spite of domestic opposition, because politicians and bureaucrats perceived real benefits to themselves and their supporters. They could influence the sales to their own benefit, while, on the other hand, a more focused public sector improved service delivery.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Masahiko Aoki, Hirokazu Takizawa
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes the "Silicon Valley model" as a novel economic institution in the domain of technological product system innovation such as computers. We focus on the information structural relationship as well as governance relationships between venture capitalists and a cluster of entrepreneurial firms. The informational conditions under which the Silicon Valley model is efficient are identified, leading to understanding the significance of standardization of interfaces, modularization and information encapsulation. We then examine the governance/incentive aspect of the model by integrating the models by Aoki (2001) and Baldwin and Clark (2000) to give comparative statics results regarding the optimal number of entrepreneurial firms competing in the same component product. The analyses enable us to evaluate the applicability of the model beyond specific localities and industries.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Martin Ravallion, Jyotsna Jalan
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: It is well known in theory that certain forms of non-linear dynamics in household incomes can yield poverty traps and distribution-dependent growth. The potential implications for policy are dramatic: effective social protection from transient poverty will be an investment with lasting benefits, and pro-poor redistribution will promote aggregate economic growth. We test for non-linearity in the dynamics of household expenditures and incomes using panel data for rural south-west China. While we find evidence of non-linearity, there is no sign of a dynamic poverty trap. Existing private and social arrangements in this setting appear to protect vulnerable households from the risk of destitution. However, the concavity we find in the recursion diagram does imply that the speed of recovery from an income shock is lower for the poor, and that current inequality reduces growth in mean incomes.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • 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: Marcel Fafchamps
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: There has been a lot of interest in the risk coping strategies of the poor in the recent literature but little work on the relationship between these strategies and inequality (Fafchamps 1999). Some have begun to suspect that certain risk coping strategies further impoverish the poor (e.g. Dasgupta 1993, Sen 1981). Labor bonding and debt peonage are examples that have been discussed in the literature (e.e. Srinivasan 1989, de Janvry 1981). Patronage, that is, the protection of the poor by the rich in exchange for labor and services, is also suspected of perpetuating poverty (e.g. Platteau 1995, Platteau 1995, Fafchamps and Quisumbing 1999).
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Author: Pedro Albarran, Orazio P. Attanasio
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The paper will use the data from the PROGRESA evaluation to show the extent to which such a programme crowds out private transfers. An interesting aspect of the paper is the fact that it can use the randomization (one-third of the villages in the sample were randomized in the programme for evaluation purposes).
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Latin America, North America, Mexico
  • Author: Hulya Dagdeviren, Rolph van der Hoeven, John Weeks
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Recent development literature has placed priority on poverty reduction, and on possible growth enhancement from a more equal distribution of assets and income. At the same time, empirical work consistently shows that economic growth is no more than distribution neutral. In that context, this paper explores the relationship among growth, inequality and poverty, and demonstrates the following general conclusions: 1) a redistributive growth path is always likely to be superior to a distribution neutral path ('trickle down') for reducing poverty; 2) a redistributive growth path is always superior if a country's per capita income and inequality are relatively high; and 3) a static redistribution from the rich to the poor is superior to a redistributive growth path in its effect on poverty for most countries, but not for all. The paper then considers policy that might be used to make growth more equitable.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Poverty
  • 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: Youssoufou Congo
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This study tests the performance of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Burkina Faso using indicators such as the sustainable interest rate and the subsidy dependence index. The results indicate that MFIs outreach performance remains very low compared with potential demand, and the factors responsible appear to be both the refusal of most MFIs to mobilize local savings and the high costs of supply of microfinancial services. The results also show that MFIs are not viable and sustainable. Their interest rates are kept low and do not allow them to cover all the costs. In addition, the results indicate that MFIs are dependent on subsidies. However, the oldest MFIs and/or institutions providing deposit services have the lowest subsidy dependence index. It is suggested that more attention should be placed on savings mobilization and ceilings on interest rates should be removed in order to allow MFIs to charge sustainable interest rates.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Deepak Nayyar, Julius Court
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: It is now more than fifty years since the United Nations system and the Bretton Woods institutions were created. However, the world has changed dramatically during the second half of the twentieth century. The technological revolution in transport and communications has eroded the barriers of distance and time. National economies have become ever more closely integrated through cross-border flows of trade, investment and finance. In the political realm, communism has collapsed and capitalism has emerged triumphant. The context has obviously changed. But thinking about development is also very different. And there is now a myriad of new actors—from transnational firms to NGO—participating in the global economy and polity.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Migration, United Nations
  • Author: Julius Court, Giovanni Andrea Cornia
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Eradicating poverty has become the international community's number one development objective. The overriding target—endorsed at the recent United Nations Millennium Summit by virtually all world leaders—is to reduce the incidence of income-poverty in developing countries from 30 percent to 15 percent between 1990 and 2015. The problem is that that further progress has stalled and the number of people living in poverty has remained at around 1.2 billion people—a fifth of the world's population.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Cooperation, Poverty