Economics, Finance, Poverty Reduction

Distortions, growth catch-up, and the middle-income trap

Distortions, growth catch-up, and the middle-income trap
In theory, a distortion refers to a departure from the perfect competitive equilibrium with no externalities and in which resources have been optimally allocated so that each economic agent maximizes his or her own welfare. Thus, distortions are closely associated with market imperfections. In reality, an economy with no distortions does not exist—both advanced and developing economies use government interventions, such as stabilization policies, development strategies, industrial policies, administrative regulations, and so forth, which can be viewed as distortions, broadly defined. Read more.

Energy, Environment, Governance, Infrastructure

Propelling ASEAN towards clean coal technology

Propelling ASEAN towards clean coal technology
Coal, the most abundant and reliable energy resource, will continue to be the dominant energy source in power generation to meet the fast-growing electricity demand in the emerging economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The share of coal use in power generation was 32% in 2015, and this is projected to increase to 42% by 2040. Read more.

Economics, Energy, Finance, Governance

Twenty years after the Asian financial crisis: The evolution of Asian financial cooperation

Twenty years after the Asian financial crisis: The evolution of Asian financial cooperation
When Asia was hit by its regional financial crisis 20 years ago, Asian policy makers were quick to call for regional solutions to what was perceived to be a common problem: Asian countries’ dependence on foreign finance. Prominent political figures and scholars argued for a greater regional focus of monetary and economies policies, suggesting the introduction of currency baskets modeled on trade patterns, financial structures, and even Asian currency units akin to the European Currency Unit, the euro’s predecessor. Read more.

Economics, Education, Finance, Governance, Infrastructure

Kick-start private infrastructure with future tax-sharing bonds

Kick-start private infrastructure with future tax-sharing bonds
Everybody from President Trump to the Global Infrastructure Forum is trying to think of innovative ways to attract long-term private and institutional investors to pay for the huge and largely unmet demand for new highways, railways, and dams. Promising ideas, including guarantees or gap funding, the concessional blending of finance, and bankability enhancements, have been tried but are not enough to convince overseas pension schemes or high net worth individuals to invest their idling funds in worthwhile projects, especially in emerging economies with untried issuers (Regan, 2017). Read more.

Economics, Education, Finance

Monetary policy spillovers in emerging Asia

Monetary policy spillovers in emerging Asia
For a number of years, the central banks of the major advanced economies have pursued historically unprecedented ultra-low interest rate policies and negative interest rate policies. Facing the zero lower bound problem, they have also implemented various asset purchase programs, known as “quantitative easing,” with the aim of reducing long-term interest rates. There has been growing evidence that advanced countries’ unconventional monetary policies (UMPs) have caused significant spillovers to the financial markets of emerging market economies (EMEs). Read more.

Economics, Education, Finance

Asia’s financial connections with the rest of the world: Changing patterns

Asia’s financial connections with the rest of the world: Changing patterns
As economies in East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) have developed, they have also become important in international financial transactions, both as sources and destinations of cross-border bank lending, foreign direct investment (FDI), and portfolio investments. But, as we document in a new paper (Didier, Llovet, and Schmukler 2017), the composition of these financial connections has been changing in recent years on at least two fronts: (i) the partners with which EAP countries interact, and (ii) the type of financial transactions conducted. Read more.

Information and Communications Technology, Trade

Digital trade needs more coordination, leadership

Digital trade needs more coordination, leadership
Electronic documentation in trade has made impressive recent gains in Asia and the Pacific. Up to 38% of banks in the region report progress in digitizing their operations in 2015, and more than a third of countries had partially or fully implemented electronic customs systems by the end of last year. Read more.

Economics, Energy, Environment, Governance, Infrastructure

Electrifying emerging ASEAN through off-grid distributed renewable energy systems

Electrifying emerging ASEAN through off-grid distributed renewable energy systems
Some 134 million people in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region do not have access to electricity (IEA and ERIA, 2013). At the end of 2015, the ASEAN Community declared that the lack of power and energy access could threaten the region’s economic growth and its economic transition. Read more.

Gender, Health

Economic impacts of obesity in the Republic of Korea

Economic impacts of obesity in the Republic of Korea
Obesity is a state of excessive body fat accumulation and is difficult to measure. Body mass index (BMI)—defined as weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters—has been used traditionally for its simplicity and the availability of data. Although shortcomings of using BMI have been acknowledged, its correlation with body fat percentage and its sensitivity in diagnosing obesity based on the body fat percentage have been verified for Korean people (Chung et al. 2016). Read more.

Economics, Finance, Trade

How does exchange rate volatility affect value added and gross trade?

How does exchange rate volatility affect value added and gross trade?
The rise of Donald Trump has reignited the debate on the link between exchange rates and trade. The Trump administration has blamed the exchange rate policies of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Japan, and Germany for the current account deficit in the United States (US), and the president’s Twitter posts have put many major currencies on a roller coaster ride. Now, policy makers around the globe are concerned about the negative impact of exchange rate volatility on world trade. Read more.