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  • Author: Kate Bird, Martin Prowse
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper uses five life histories from three locations in Zimbabwe—one peri-urban, one urban and one rural—to provide a window on current processes of impoverishment and adverse coping. Each case and location highlight key aspects of Zimbabwe's recent economic and political turmoil. Together the cases suggest that, similar to Hoddinott's work on the persistence of the 1993-94 rainfall shock in rural Zimbabwe, above and beyond increased mortality rates and morbidity levels, current adverse forms of coping are creating widespread irreversible wellbeing losses. The persistent effects of the current crisis surely adds weight to arguments that the international community should be more, rather than less, proactive in delivering aid to the Zimbabwean people, despite the politicization of aid and logistical difficulties.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Calum G. Turvey, Rong Kong
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper investigates the economic conditions of rural households in China. Historical survey data indicate that over 80 per cent of rural households earn less than 4,500 yuan in net disposable income each year, that for the vast majority of rural households disposable income is insufficient to meet food consumption needs, and that in terms of economic growth rural households are receiving an ever decreasing percentage of China's growing economy with rural household incomes being only 31 per cent of urban household income in 2004.
  • Topic: Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Colin Andrews, Margarita Flores
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The paper examines the imperative for improved classification and analysis of food crises in different fragile contexts. Recognizing the persistence and protracted nature of food crises, the paper questions how prevention and response mechanisms could be improved to help decisionmakers better address the underlying causes of vulnerability and hunger. The paper draws on case study information to examine real life opportunities and constraints in applying a recently developed food security classification system, named the analytical frameworks at country level, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). Developed originally in Somalia, this classification framework is now being applied in a range of country contexts within and outside of Africa by national governments, UN agencies, donors and NGO organizations. The paper draws on early applications of the IPC to consider opportunities and constraints in the application of common classification systems, taking into account issues of institutional adaptation, methodologies, data and analysis.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Non-Governmental Organization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Liangzhi You
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper looks at differences in spatial and temporal variation of rice yields in China and Brazil. We find that rice yields in China have converged over time and that rice production has become more and more homogeneous. In contrast, rice yields in Brazil have diverged over time, primarily due to variations in upland rice yields. Three hypotheses are put forward to explain the different behaviour of rice yields in Brazil and China: (i) differences in production systems (i.e., irrigated in China versus upland in Brazil); (ii) changes in rainfall patterns and (iii) bias in agricultural R favouring irrigated rice. Our empirical analysis provides support to the first two hypotheses by establishing that upland rice is subjected to much greater variation in yields than irrigated rice and that changing rainfall patterns affect mostly upland rice. We also provide evidence of the bias towards irrigated systems by looking at the patterns of varietal release.
  • Topic: Agriculture
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Brazil, South America
  • Author: Davide Debortoli, Ricardo Nunes
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: We analyze how public debt evolves when successive policymakers have different policy goals and cannot make credible commitments about their future policies. We consider several cases to be able to disentangle and quantify the respective effects of imperfect commitment and political disagreement. Absent political turnover, imperfect commitment drives the long-run level of debt to zero. With political disagreement, debt is a sizeable fraction of GDP and increasing in the degree of polarization among parties, no matter the degree of commitment. The frequency of political turnover does not produce quantitatively relevant effects. These results are consistent with much of the existing empirical evidence. Finally, we find that in the presence of political disagreement the welfare gains of building commitment are lower.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David M. Arseneau, Sanjay K. Chugh
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: A growing body of evidence suggests that ongoing relationships between consumers and firms may be important for understanding price dynamics. We investigate whether the existence of such customer relationships has important consequences for the conduct of both long-run and short-run policy. Our central result is that when consumers and firms are engaged in long-term relationships, the optimal rate of price inflation volatility is very low even though all prices are completely flexible. This finding is in contrast to those obtained in first-generation Ramsey models of optimal fiscal and monetary policy, which are based on Walrasian markets. Echoing the basic intuition of models based on sticky prices, unanticipated inflation in our environment causes a type of relative price distortion across markets. Such distortions stem from fundamental trading frictions that give rise to long-lived customer relationships and makes pursuing inflation stability optimal.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Houtan Bastani, Luca Guerrieri
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: A key application of automatic differentiation (AD) is to facilitate numerical optimization problems. Such problems are at the core of many estimation techniques, including maximum likelihood. As one of the first applications of AD in the field of economics, we used Tapenade to construct derivatives for the likelihood function of any linear or linearized general equilibrium model solved under the assumption of rational expectations. We view our main contribution as providing an important check on finite-difference (FD) numerical derivatives. We also construct Monte Carlo experiments to compare maximum-likelihood estimates obtained with and without the aid of automatic derivatives. We find that the convergence rate of our optimization algorithm can increase substantially when we use AD derivatives.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stephanie E. Curcuru, Tomas Dvorak, Francis E. Warnock
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: Were the U.S. to persistently earn substantially more on its foreign investments ("U.S. claims") than foreigners earn on their U.S. investments ("U.S. liabilities"), the likelihood that the current environment of sizeable global imbalances will evolve in a benign manner increases. However, using a monthly dataset on the foreign equity and bond portfolios of U.S. investors and the U.S. equity and bond portfolios of foreign investors, we find that the returns differential for portfolio securities is near zero, far smaller than previously reported. Examining all U.S. claims and liabilities (portfolio securities as well as direct investment and banking), we find that previous estimates of large differentials are biased upward. The bias owes to computing implied returns from an internally inconsistent dataset of revised data; original data produce a much smaller differential. We also attempt to reconcile our finding of a near zero returns differential with observed patterns of cumulated current account deficits, the net international investment position, and the net income balance. Overall, we find no evidence that the U.S. can count on earning substantially more on its claims than it pays on its liabilities.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ricardo Correa
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper uses a unique database that includes deal and bank balance sheet information for 220 cross-border acquisitions between 1994 and 2003 to analyze the characteristics and performance effects of international takeovers on target banks. A discrete choice estimation shows that banks are more likely to get acquired in a cross-border deal if they are large, bad performers, in a small country, and when the banking sector is concentrated. Post-acquisition performance for target banks does not improve in the first two years relative to domestically-owned financial institutions. This result is explained by a decrease in the banks' net interest margin in developed countries and an increase in overhead costs in emerging economies.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Author: Joseph W. Gruber, Steven B. Kamin
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: U.S. Government
  • Abstract: This paper addresses the popular view that differences in financial development explain the pattern of global current account imbalances. One strain of thinking explains the net flow of capital from developing to industrial economies on the basis of the industrial economies' more advanced financial systems and correspondingly more attractive assets. A related view addresses why the United States has attracted the lion's share of capital flows from developing to industrial economies; it stresses the exceptional depth, breadth, and safety of U.S. financial markets.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States