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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.

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.

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.

Economics, Finance, Governance

Escaping the middle income trap: Innovate or perish

Escaping the middle income trap: Innovate or perish
The “middle income trap” captures the situation where a middle income country can no longer compete internationally in standardized, labor-intensive commodities because wages are relatively too high, and it can also not compete in higher value added activities on a broad enough scale because productivity is relatively too low. The result is slow growth, stagnant or falling wages, and a growing informal economy. Read more.

Economics, Education, Finance

Hometown investment trust funds: A sustainable solution for financing green energy projects

Hometown investment trust funds: A sustainable solution for financing green energy projects
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was an energy accident at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, Japan, initiated primarily by the tsunami that followed the Tohoku earthquake on 11 March 2011 and led to a nuclear shutdown in the country. Japan substituted the loss of nuclear power with fossil fuels, such as oil, gas, and coal, and became more dependent on their imports and consumption. Read more.

Economics, Finance, Governance

Assessing the BOJ’s yield curve control policy

Assessing the BOJ’s yield curve control policy
The Bank of Japan (BOJ) announced in September last year that it would be switching the focus of its quantitative easing program from monetary base targeting to controlling the shape of the yield curve (Bank of Japan, 2016). A brief comparison of the two frameworks is as follows. The previous monetary easing framework, Quantitative and Qualitative Monetary Easing (QQE) with a Negative Interest Rate, set out three policy dimensions: quantity, quality, and interest rates. Read more.

Economics, Finance, Governance

Ultra-low interest rates and wandering overinvestment cycles in East Asia

Ultra-low interest rates and wandering overinvestment cycles in East Asia
In the 1960s, Kaname Akamatsu (1961) described the gradual relocation of industries from the advanced industrialized countries in East Asia to the less advanced countries during the latter’s economic catch-up process as the “flying geese” pattern. For instance, the textile industry was clustered in Japan in the 1950s but then successively relocated to the newly industrialized economies (Hong Kong, China; Taipei,China; Singapore; and the Republic of Korea), the new generation of tiger countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand), the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and now increasingly to Viet Nam. Read more.