What I learnt about growth policy at the World Bank
Brian Pinto 17 December 2014
Since the Global Crisis, concerns have grown that advanced economies are suffering from secular stagnation. This column discusses the lessons that can be learnt from the economic transition of central and eastern Europe and the emerging-market crises of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Structural reform is particularly costly in the context of a debt overhang and an overvalued exchange rate. However, the crux is not debt restructuring per se, but whether economic governance changes credibly for the better following it.
Growth concerns have gone global. Advanced economies are beset by fears of secular stagnation, the IMF recently cut estimates of potential growth in emerging markets by 1.5 percentage points relative to 2011, and G20 leaders approved 800 new measures at Brisbane 2014 for raising G20 GDP by an incremental 2.1% by 2018.1
Development Institutions and economics
growth, secular stagnation, emerging markets, World Bank, structural reform, Transition economies, financial crisis, global crisis, debt overhang, exchange rates
Growth slowdowns: Middle-income trap vs. regression to the mean
Lant Pritchett, Lawrence H. Summers 11 December 2014
Dozens of nations think they are in the ‘middle-income trap’. Lant Pritchett and Larry Summers present new evidence that this trap is actually just growth reverting to its mean. This matters since belief in the ‘trap’ can lead governments to misinterpret current challenges. For lower-middle-income nations the 21st century beckons, but there are still 19th century problems to address. Moreover, sustaining rapid growth requires both parts of creative destruction, but only one is popular with governments and economic elites.
No question is more important for the living standards of billions of people or for the evolution of the global system than the question of how rapidly differently economies will grow over the next generation. We believe that conventional wisdom makes two important errors in assessing future growth prospects.
middle-income trap, slowdown, growth, creative destruction, mean reversion
Is growth in East Africa for real?
Nikoloz Gigineishvili, Paolo Mauro, Ke Wang 07 October 2014
Sustained rapid growth in many African economies has generated a debate on the sources and likely persistence of a so-called 'African growth miracle'. This column looks at the factors underlying growth in an especially vibrant part of the continent – the East African Community. It suggests that rapid growth has been for real and reasonably well diversified.
Sustained rapid growth in many African economies has generated a debate on the sources and likely persistence of a so-called 'African growth miracle' (see McMillan, 2014). The East African Community (EAC) countries’ have been an especially vibrant part of the continent. Its economic growth performance during the past decade has been impressive. At 6.2%, the EAC’s average growth rate (unweighted, see Figure 1) in 2004-2013 is in the top one-fifth of the distribution of ten-year growth-rate episodes experienced by all countries worldwide since 1960.
Development International trade
Africa, diversification, growth
Rapid growth in emerging markets and developing economies: Now and forever?
Giang Ho, Paolo Mauro 12 September 2014
Forecasters often predict continued rapid economic growth into the medium and long term for countries that have recently experienced strong growth. Is this optimism warranted by past international growth experience? This column explores this question by looking at economic growth forecasts at longer-term horizons.
Projecting a country’s economic growth into the medium term and beyond is notoriously difficult. At the same time, getting the growth projections wrong has major adverse consequences. For fiscal policymakers, overestimating future economic growth implies underestimating the government debt-to-GDP ratio that will be reached at the end of the projection period (in the absence of corrective policy measures).
Development Macroeconomic policy
optimism bias, forecasting, growth, IMF, World Bank
The US economy performs better under Democratic presidents. Why?
Alan S. Blinder, Mark Watson 04 September 2014
Since World War II, economic growth has been faster in the US under Democratic presidents than under Republican ones. This column documents that which party controls Congress does not matter for growth, that the Democratic growth advantage is concentrated in the first two years of a presidency, and that presidential party affiliation Granger-causes growth. Neither fiscal nor monetary policy can account for this gap. Instead, the factors that have explanatory promise are: shocks to oil prices, total factor productivity, European growth, and consumer expectations of future economic conditions.
Economists and political scientists – not to mention the political commentariat – have devoted a huge amount of attention to the well-established fact that faster economic growth helps re-elect the incumbent party (see, for example, Fair 2011 for the US). But what about causation in the opposite direction – from election outcomes to economic performance? It turns out that the US economy grows faster – indeed, performs better by almost every metric – when a Democratic president occupies the White House.
Politics and economics
US, politics, Democrats, Republicans, growth, macroeconomics, self-fulfilling prophecies
Growth escalators and growth convergence
Ejaz Ghani 17 August 2014
Just like the East Asian Tigers, the Lions of Africa are now growing much faster than the developed economies. However, this column shows that the growth escalators in Africa are different than in East Asia. The East Asian Tigers benefitted from a rapidly expanding manufacturing sector. The African Lions are benefitting from increases in productivity in the service sector, while the agricultural sector remains unproductive.
The literature on global growth convergence and divergence is vast and deep. And it is still evolving. Some have argued that global growth is actually diverging across countries. Pritchett (1977) called this “divergence, big time”, whereby the living standards of a few countries pulled away from the rest in the aftermath of the industrial revolution. Others have found evidence in favour of growth convergence.
growth, Africa, convergence
African growth looking forward
Marco Annunziata 16 August 2014
Africa has generated a lot of enthusiasm lately. The cynical view of the continent as a hopeless basket case has been replaced by the lofty narrative of Africa Rising. This column argues that Africa’s progress is impressive, and there is more to the story than a commodity boom. But Africa is at a crossroads. The opportunities are huge, but the road ahead is long, and will require persistent and patient effort from policymakers as well as business.
Views on Africa’s growth prospects have jumped from utter pessimism to extreme enthusiasm. The latter has been centre-stage with the US–Africa Summit hosted in Washington DC from 4–6 August 2014, with the participation of top political and business leaders. My coauthors Todd Johnson and Shlomi Kramer and I have tried to take a sober assessment of Africa’s progress and prospects, looking beyond the current hype and the inevitable frustration that doing business in the region still generates (Annunziata et al. 2014).
development, growth, Africa, human capital, trade, innovation, infrastructure, commodity boom
Protection of intellectual property to foster innovations in the service sector
Masayuki Morikawa 20 July 2014
Innovation is a key driver of productivity growth, but innovation in the service sector has received relatively little attention. This column shows that the total factor productivity gap between Japanese firms with and without innovations is larger in services than in manufacturing. Whereas the percentage of firms holding patents is much higher in manufacturing than in services, trade secrets are just as important in both sectors. These results suggest that the protection of trade secrets makes an important contribution to productivity growth.
Given the declining labour force due to population ageing, accelerating the productivity growth of industries – especially the service industries – is an important element of the growth strategy in Japan and most advanced countries. While there are a variety of factors affecting productivity, innovation is one of the key determinants of productivity growth. However, innovation in the service sector has not been studied well. I present findings on innovation in the service sector by focusing on the effect of intellectual property rights on innovation.
Productivity and Innovation
R&D, growth, productivity, patents, Japan, innovation, services, intellectual property, trade secrets
Connecting Brazil to the world
Patricia Ellen, Jaana Remes 12 July 2014
Brazil has grown rapidly and reduced poverty over the past decade, but it has grown more slowly than other emerging economies and its income per capita remains relatively low by global standards. This column points out that sectors of the Brazilian economy that have been opened up to international competition have outperformed those that remain heavily protected. Deeper integration into global markets and value chains could provide competitive pressures that would improve Brazil’s productivity and living standards.
Despite a decade of rapid growth and falling poverty rates, Brazil has failed to match the global average for income growth – let alone to achieve the kind of impressive gains posted by other rapidly transforming emerging economies. As of 2012, Brazil had become the world’s seventh-largest economy, but it ranked only 95th in the world for gross national income per capita (IHS Economics and Country Risk data). To raise household living standards, Brazil needs to find a new formula for accelerating productivity growth.
Development International trade Productivity and Innovation
development, growth, productivity, globalisation, MERCOSUR, trade, openness, Brazil, global value chains
Growing through cities in India
Ejaz Ghani, William Kerr, Ishani Tewari 11 July 2014
Some cities grow through specialisation others through diversity. This column measures specialisation and diversity for the manufacturing and services sectors in India. It finds that Indian districts with a broader set of industries exhibit greater employment growth. This is particularly true for low population densities, rural areas and unorganised sector, reflecting knowledge flow and the inclusive nature of employment growth due to diversity.
Urbanisation and development are tightly linked (Duranton and Puga 2013). Developing countries are urbanising at a much faster pace than developed countries. For instance, China’s and India’s economic transformation and urbanisation is happening at 100 times the scale of the first country in the world to urbanise – the UK – and in just one-tenth of the time.
growth, India, urbanisation