Khulan Altangerel, Jan van Ours, 06 October 2017

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 was the first major reform intended to control and deter illegal immigration to the US through legalisation of unauthorised immigrants, increased border security, and sanctions on employers that hired unauthorised immigrants. This column uses data from an annual survey of Mexican households to show that the Act had a negative and significant effect on undocumented migration. However, since the Act’s legalisation programme was active for only a few years, its long-term effects appear to have been limited.

Gordon Hanson, Chen Liu, Craig McIntosh, 04 October 2017

Rising inequality and stagnating manufacturing wages have many in the Western world questioning whether immigration may be responsible. This column takes a close look at data for the US, and reveals that tighter immigration controls are unlikely to improve the fortunes of low-skilled workers. Long-term demographic changes in the Americas imply that the pressure from illegal immigrants on US labour markets is already abating and will continue to do so.

Tom Krebs, Pravin Krishna, William Maloney, 22 September 2017

Research on economic mobility has failed to disentangle the underlying economic drivers. In particular, opportunities for upward movement represent welfare-enhancing mobility, while risky income shocks represent welfare-reducing mobility. This column presents a framework for differentiating between these factors, and applies the model to Mexican data. Results show that opportunity and risk are equally important drivers of income mobility, with large but opposing welfare effects. This challenges the idea that societies with higher measured income mobility are better.

Antoine Bouët, David Laborde, 06 September 2017

During his election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly announced that he would impose tariffs on imports from China, Mexico, and Germany. This column evaluates the likely outcomes should the US instigate trade wars by imposing such tariffs. In all scenarios, the net effect on US welfare and GDP is either zero or negative. Such trade wars would also have wider negative effects for the trading partners, and potentially, the world economy.

David Atkin, Benjamin Faber, Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, 21 June 2017

Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis, Hannah Postel, 19 April 2017

Many claim that immigrants negatively affect the labour market prospects of native workers in advanced countries. This column studies a large change in immigration restrictions in the US – the 1965 exclusion of almost half a million Mexican seasonal farm workers (braceros) from the US labour market. The bracero exclusion did not increase the employment or wages of native workers, and technology adoption was one of the adjustment channels. 

Keith Head, Thierry Mayer, 12 November 2016

Unlike technical progress in transport or communication technologies, regional trade agreements are political decisions that can be reversed, as Brexit and the campaign promises of President-elect Donald Trump to raise tariffs on imports from Mexico demonstrate. This column analyses the consequences for the car industry of these two examples of the dismantling of an RTA. Car production would fall significantly in the UK under Brexit and in Mexico under ‘Trumpit’ due to a combination of tariff-induced sales losses and increased plant costs.

Gary Hufbauer, Euijin Jung, 29 September 2016

Donald Trump has consistently made headlines with unusual and potentially dangerous economic policy proposals, including threatening to pull out of the WTO, renegotiating trade agreements, and imposing tariffs on imports from Mexico and China. This column explores the legal and economic dimensions of these proposals. Old and modern legal statutes could allow a US president to implement such policies, and the repercussions for the US economy could be severely negative.

Ralph De Haas, Steven Poelhekke, 22 September 2016

The extraordinary expansion in global mining activity over the last two decades, and its increasing concentration in emerging markets, has reignited the debate over the impact of mining on local economic activity. This column analyses how the presence of nearby mines influences firms in eight countries with large manufacturing and mining sectors. Mines are found to out-compete local manufacturing firms for inputs, labour, and infrastructure. However, mining activity is found to improve the business environment on a wider geographic scale.

Benjamin Faber, Cecile Gaubert, 29 June 2016

Governments around the world continue to fund tourism promotion policies, even while current economic literature debates whether tourism in the long run benefits the economy as a whole. This column uses the empirical context of Mexico to analyse the economic implications of international and domestic tourism, and the underlying mechanisms. It finds that tourism provides long-run economic gains to households, both at the local level and in the aggregate.

Eva Arceo, Rema Hanna, Paulina Oliva, 16 April 2016

Pollution levels are orders of magnitude higher in lower-income countries than in the developed world. This means that studies of the health effects of pollution based on data from the latter will not necessarily be relevant to the former. This column reports on the effect of air pollution on infant mortality in Mexico City. Significant effects are found that are much larger than found in earlier work based on US data. These findings highlight the potential pitfalls of naively extrapolating findings from high-income to developing countries.

Javier Cravino, Andrei Levchenko, 23 November 2015

Large exchange rate swings remain a prominent and recurring feature of the world economy. This column uses household consumption patterns to examine the distributional impact of the devaluation of the peso during Mexico’s ‘Tequila Crisis’. Cost of living increases are found to be 1.25 to 1.6 times higher for the poor compared to the rich. In the interests of equity, exchange rate policy should take account of such distributional impacts.

David Atkin, Benjamin Faber, Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, 08 June 2015

Much attention has been paid to supermarkets descending on developing nations, not least because retail is traditionally a big employer. Presenting evidence from Mexico, this column argues that the debate about new foreign retail outlets should focus far more on how supermarkets can greatly reduce the cost of living for the vast majority of local households rather than restricting attention to potentially adverse effects on nominal incomes within the retail sector.

Carlos Cantú, KeyYong Park, Aaron Tornell, 12 April 2015

The wisdom of structural reform during a crisis is a subject of heated debate. This column compares Greece’s experience to that of Mexico during the debt crisis of the 1980s. Mexico did not receive a haircut until seven years into the crisis – after structural reform was already underway. In Mexico that reform was the outcome of an internal conversation – not a diktat from the outside – and it happened during the height of the crisis.

Sebastian Edwards, 04 February 2015

The conventional ‘trilemma’ view is that countries that allow free capital flows can still pursue independent monetary policies as long as they allow flexible exchange rates. This column examines the pass-through of Federal Reserve interest rates to policy rates in Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. The author concludes that, to the extent that central banks take into account other central banks’ policies, there will be ‘policy contagion’ and that, even under flexible rates, monetary policy will not be fully independent.

Brian Cadena, Brian Kovak, 12 August 2013

In the US, fewer and fewer people are moving long distances to pursue job opportunities. Presenting new research on Mexican immigrants in the US, this column argues that there are large welfare gains from the efficient spatial allocation of labour. However, welfare gains from the movement of labour are woefully understudied. If immigrants are more willing to move for a job than natives, policymakers should allow them to do so with ease. Workers should be free to move to markets offering better opportunities.

Christian Daude, 10 December 2012

Latin American central banks are facing new challenges in the form of unprecedented levels of uncertainty and exchange rate appreciation pressures. This column, focusing on Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico, argues that there is an overestimation of the potential output in several Latin American economies, a lack of an explicit policy direction from central banks, and lacklustre frameworks for macroprudential policy. Although inflation targeting has served countries in Latin America well, significant risks remain.

Ernesto Zedillo, 22 April 2016

Illegal drugs are one of the planet’s most pressing problems. They shatter hundreds of millions of lives and wreak untold social, economic and political damage in both consuming and producing nations. In this column - originally published 22 May 2012 -- the ex-President of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, introduces an eBook he edited on the issue that points very strongly in the direction of a serious reconsideration of drug policy.