One of the most puzzling facts in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is that output across advanced and emerging economies recovered at a much slower rate than anticipated by most forecasting agencies. This paper delves into the mechanics behind the observed slow recovery and the associated permanent output losses in the aftermath of the crisis, with a particular focus on the role played by financial frictions and investment dynamics. The paper provides two main contributions. First, we empirically document that lower investment during financial crises is the key factor leading to permanent loss of output and total factor productivity (TFP) in the wake of a crisis. Second, we develop a DSGE model with financial frictions and capital-embodied technological change capable of reproducing the empirical facts. We also evaluate the role of financial policies in stabilizing output and TFP in response to disruptions in financial markets.
We discuss regional disparities in economic performance and living standards. We first set out some key facts, and provide a conceptual framework to help analyze whether such disparities are efficient, or instead reflect market and/or policy failures. We examine whether policy attempts to reduce regional disparities necessarily involve a trade-off between equity and efficiency. We then investigate whether policymakers should focus on boosting the economic performance of lagging regions—or, conversely, accept the presence of regional disparities, and instead assist households in lagging regions through transfer payments, investments in education, health, and other basic services, and by facilitating out-migration.
Uruguay experienced one of its biggest economic booms in history during 2004-2014. Since then, growth has come down significantly. The paper investigates the various causes of the boom and discusses the sustainability of these causes. It then compares Uruguay against high-growth countries that were once at a similar income level, across a broad set of structural indicators, to identify priority reform areas that could improve long-term growth prospect.
Frederic Lambert, Mr. Andrea Pescatori, and Mr. Frederik G Toscani
Labor market informality is a pervasive feature of most developing economies. Motivated by the empirical regularity that the labor informality rate falls with GDP per capita, both at business cycle frequency and in a cross-section of countries, and that the Okun's coefficient falls with the level of labor informality, we build a small open-economy dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with two sectors, formal and informal, which can replicate these key stylized facts. The model is calibrated to Colombia. The results show that labor market and tax reforms play an important role in changing the informality rate but also caution against over-optimism - with low GDP per capita, informality will always be relatively high as there is insufficient demand for formal goods. Quantitatively we find that higher productivity in the formal sector is key in explaining the difference between Colombia and countries with significantly lower informality. We use the model to study how labor informality and labor market frictions mediate the cyclical response of the economy to shocks, including commodity price shocks which are particularly relevant in Latin America. Informality is shown to play an important role as a shock absorber with the informal-formal margin limiting movements in the employed-unemployed margin.
Mr. Antonio David, Mr. Takuji Komatsuzaki, and Samuel Pienknagura
This paper estimates the macroeconomic effects of structural reforms in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) using the dataset constructed by Alesina et al. (2020). We find that large changes in the reform index have positive effects on GDP and employment that reach 2 percent after 5 years. Furthermore, reforms boost investment, exports, imports, and reduce export concentration, in addition to favoring tradable sectors. Nonetheless, the results also indicate that the effects of reforms have not been uniform across different segments of the population. These findings bring to the forefront the need to consider accompanying policies to ensure that reforms promote inclusive growth. Moreover, evidence from country case studies using the synthetic control method point to heterogeneous effects of reforms on income per capita.
Mr. Antonio Spilimbergo and Mr. Krishna Srinivasan
Brazil is at crossroads, emerging slowly from a historic recession that was preceded by a huge economic boom. Reasons for the historic bust following a boom are manifold. Policy mistakes were an important contributory factor, and included the pursuit of countercyclical policies, introduced to deal with the effects of the global financial crisis, beyond the point where they were helpful. More fundamentally, it reflects longstanding structural weaknesses plaguing the economy, that also help explain Brazil’s uninspiring growth performance over the past four decades.
Over the last few decades, Brazil has experienced relatively weak economic growth due to stagnant productivity. To boost productivity, Brazil should embark on an ambitious structural reform process. In doing so, it is crucial that authorities select a few reform priorities to avoid dispersing political capital on an overly broad reform agenda. The paper aims to identify Brazil’s reform priorities in two steps. First, it estimates the impact that different reforms have on Brazil’s productivity. Second, it analyzes survey data to assess the extent of public support for reforms. The results show that banking sector reforms would generate the largest productivity gains and have the highest level of public support. Moreover, they would also be relatively easy to legislate and generate significant fiscal savings.
Manoj Atolia, Mr. Prakash Loungani, Milton Marquis, and Mr. Chris Papageorgiou
This paper takes a fresh look at the current theories of structural transformation and the role of private and public fundamentals in the process. It summarizes some representative past and current experiences of various countries vis-a-vis structural transformation with a focus on the roles of manufacturing, policy, and the international environment in shaping the trajectory of structural transformation. The salient aspects of the current debate on premature deindustrialization and its relation to a middle-income trap are described as they relate to the path of structural transformation. Conclusions are drawn regarding prospective future paths for structural transformation and development policies.