nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2015‒02‒05
ten papers chosen by

  1. Comparative-historical Analysis of Aging Policy Reforms in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico By Esteban Calvo
  2. Corporate Financing Trends and Balance Sheet Risks in Latin America By Fabiano Rodrigues Bastos; Herman Kamil; Bennett Sutton
  3. On the Interaction Between Economic Growth and Business Cycles By Ivan Mendieta-Muñoz
  4. Monetary Policy Independence under Flexible Exchange Rates: An Illusion? By Sebastian Edwards
  5. Violence and birth outcomes: evidence from homicides in Brazil By Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner; Marco Manacorda
  6. Top income shares, business profits, and effective tax rates in contemporary Chile By Tasha Fairfield; Michel Jorratt
  7. Biotechnological firms in Uruguay 2010-2012 By Carlos Bianchi
  8. Investment-specific technological change and the Brazilian macroeconomy By Kuhl Teles, Vladimir; Jr, Celso José Costa; Rosa, Rafael Mouallem
  9. Sources of wage inequality By Anders Akerman; Elhanan Helpman; Oleg Itskhoki; Marc-Andreas Muendler; Stephen Redding
  10. Varying Political Economy Weights of Protection: The Case of Colombia By Baybars Karacaovali

  1. By: Esteban Calvo (Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales)
    Abstract: This study reviews developments in national aging policies in four Latin American countries: Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Using case studies and a comparative-historical analysis, we focus on social policy reforms aiming to promote the well-being of older adults. We aim to determine whether a common profile of characteristics making up a particular aging policy could be identified across countries, and whether systematic differences between national aging policies could be uncovered. We find that similarities outweight differences. Although the timing and magnitude of the changes differ, historical trends are largely similar in substance: The initial charity-based approach to poverty and illness has been gradually replaced by a rights-based approach to broader notions of well-being, which have been formally promoted by newly created national aging offices. Current reforms are at different levels of development and emphasize diverse themes, but they advance in largely similar directions across the countries analyzed: Heavily influenced by the 2002 Madrid Plan, current reforms emphasize the need of intersectoral policies of national scope, with active participants of older adults, including specific efforts to train specialized professional on aging, and implementing the first steps toward building evidence-based policy. Results from this project have implications for understanding aging policy in Latin America and informing the reforms currently being implemented in developing countries worldwide.
    Date: 2014–12
  2. By: Fabiano Rodrigues Bastos; Herman Kamil; Bennett Sutton
    Abstract: Easy global liquidity conditions, stronger risk appetite and a retrenchment in cross-border bank lending led to a surge in emerging market firms’ bond issuance in international markets (what we term “The Bon(d)anzaâ€). Using firm-level data for five large Latin American economies, we provide evidence of a significant change in companies’ external funding strategies and liability structures after 2010, as well as in the balance sheet risks that firms face. We find that stepped up bond issuance was mostly aimed at re-financing rather than funding investment projects, as firms extended the average duration of their debt while securing lower fixed-rates, reducing roll-over and interest rate risks. The shift towards safer maturity structures has come at the expense of a leveraging-up in foreign-currency-denominated financial debt in several countries— reversing a de-dollarization trend seen during the last decade. We also provide evidence that a substantial part of these bonds were issued through offshore vehicles, suggesting regulatory and tax arbitrage strategies. For some corporations, rising dollar debt and high leverage will be particularly taxing in an environment of US dollar strengthening, less buoyant commodity prices and slowing domestic activity.
    Keywords: Corporate finance;Latin America;Corporate debt;Bonds;International capital markets;Bond issues;Financial risk;Balance sheets;Bond issuance, financial markets, corporate leverage, Latin America
    Date: 2015–01–22
  3. By: Ivan Mendieta-Muñoz
    Abstract: The present paper studies the interaction between short-run fluctuations and economic growth by presenting empirical evidence of the impact of business cycle fluctuations on the rate of growth consistent with a constant unemployment rate in 13 Latin American and 18 OECD countries during the period 1981-2011. The results of both parametric (OLS and a panel estimator that allows for parameter heterogeneity and cross section dependence) and non-parametric (a penalized regression spline estimator) econometric techniques show that this measure of potential output experiences positive (negative) changes in periods of high (low) growth in the majority of countries, and, hence, that business cycles fluctuations have statistically significant effects on potential output. However, in contrast to the sample of OECD countries, less than half of the sample of Latin American countries experience statistically significant changes of this measure of potential output in periods of low growth.
    Keywords: growth and cycles; potential rate of growth; rate of growth consistent with a constant unemployment rate
    JEL: E32 O40 O51 O54
    Date: 2014–12
  4. By: Sebastian Edwards
    Abstract: I analyze whether countries with flexible exchange rates are able to pursue an independent monetary policy, as suggested by traditional theory. I use data for three Latin American countries with flexible exchange rates, inflation targeting, and capital mobility – Chile, Colombia and Mexico – to investigate the extent to which Federal Reserve actions are translated into local central banks’ policy rates. The results indicate that there is significant “policy contagion,” and that these countries tend to “import” Fed policies. The degree of monetary policy independence is lower than what traditional models suggest.
    JEL: E5 E52 E58 F30 F31 F32
    Date: 2015–01
  5. By: Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner; Marco Manacorda
    Abstract: This paper uses microdata from Brazilian natality and mortality vital statistics between 2000 and 2010 to estimate the impact of in-utero exposure to local violence - measured by homicide rates - on birth outcomes. The estimates shows that exposure to violence during the first trimester of pregnancy leads to a small but precisely estimated increase in the risk of low birthweight and prematurity. Effects are found in both rural areas, where homicides are rare, and in urban areas, where violence is endemic. Our estimates imply that homicides in Brazil are responsible for at least 0.5 percent of the incidence of low birthweight (<=2.5 kg) and 3 percent of the incidence of extremely low birthweight (<=1 kg).
    Keywords: birth outcomes; birthweight; homicides; stress; Brazil
    JEL: I12 J13
    Date: 2015–01
  6. By: Tasha Fairfield; Michel Jorratt
    Abstract: This paper contributes to the burgeoning research on inequality and top incomes around the globe by presenting the first available estimates of top income shares and effective income tax rates in contemporary Chile based on analysis of anonymous income tax return microdata. We pay special attention to business income, which dominates at the top of the distribution. Our analysis includes not only distributed profits, but also the large proportion of accrued profits retained by firms. Our most conservative estimate of the income share received by the top 1 per cent of Chileans, constructed directly from income reported to the tax agency, is 15 per cent for 2005 and 2009 – the fifth highest share reported in the top incomes literature. When distributed profits are adjusted for widespread under-reporting, we estimate that the top 1 per cent share increases to roughly 22 per cent. When distributed profits are replaced by accrued profits in our definition of income, we obtain 19 per cent as our lowest estimate for the top 1 per cent share. Despite this impressive income concentration, the rich in Chile pay modest effective income tax rates. The top 1 per cent pay an average effective rate of 16-17 per cent when distributed profits are not adjusted for under-reporting, and less than 9 per cent when distributed profits are adjusted to national accounts. When we include corporate income tax and accrued profits in our analysis (without adjustments), the effective tax burden for the top 1 per cent is 16 per cent.
    Keywords: top incomes; inequality; taxation; effective tax rates; Chile; Latin America
    JEL: M40 F3 G3
    Date: 2014–01
  7. By: Carlos Bianchi (Universidad de la República (Uruguay). Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y de Administración. Instituto de Economía)
    Abstract: Biotechnology has been identified as one of the strategic areas in the current innovation and productive policies of Uruguay. In line with what happens worldwide, policy documents highlight the growing importance of these technologies and their potential transversal impact in several productive areas. There are indicators and systematic data sources about research skills in biotech - research groups, number of researchers, institutions and infrastructure - accumulated in several research institutes and universities. However there is scarce information about biotechnology in firms, which are a key agent of any innovation system. This paper presents evidence about biotechnology activities in Uruguayan firm between 2010 and 2012, surveyed through methodologies that allow international comparison. Based on the results of this survey this paper discusses the growth path of biotech firms in Uruguay. The conclusions show that the gathered evidence, offers good indications about an ongoing process of resource based growth path. However, it is not possible to conclude if it is a critical mass building process or a set of encapsulated individual firms’ paths.
    Keywords: biotechnology survey, critical masses, capabilities
    JEL: L65 L25 D24
    Date: 2014–12
  8. By: Kuhl Teles, Vladimir; Jr, Celso José Costa; Rosa, Rafael Mouallem
    Abstract: We studied the effects of changes in banking spreads on distributions of income, wealth and consumption as well as the welfare of the economy. This analysis was based on a model of heterogeneous agents with incomplete markets and occupational choice, in which the informality of firms and workers is a relevant transmission channel. The main finding is that reductions in spreads for firms increase the proportion of entrepreneurs and formal workers in the economy, thereby decreasing the size of the informal sector. The effects on inequality, however, are ambiguous and depend on wage dynamics and government transfers. Reductions in spreads for individuals lead to a reduction in inequality indicators at the expense of consumption and aggregate welfare. By calibrating the model to Brazil for the 2003-2012 period, it is possible to find results in line with the recent drop in informality and the wage gap between formal and informal workers.
    Date: 2014–12–12
  9. By: Anders Akerman; Elhanan Helpman; Oleg Itskhoki; Marc-Andreas Muendler; Stephen Redding
    Abstract: Recent theories of firm heterogeneity emphasize between-firm wage differences as a new mechanism through which trade can affect wage inequality. Using linked employer-employee data for Sweden, we show that many of the stylized facts about wage inequality found in Helpman et al. (2012) for Brazil also hold for Sweden. Much of overall wage inequality arises within sector-occupations and for workers with similar observable characteristics. One notable difference is a smaller contribution from between-firm differences in wages in Sweden, which could reflect the influence of Swedish labor market institutions in dampening the scope for variation in wages between firms through collective wage agreements.
    JEL: F13 F16 J24 J31
    Date: 2013–05
  10. By: Baybars Karacaovali (University of Hawaii at Manoa)
    Abstract: In this paper, we examine trade policy determinants and trade reform in a devel-oping country setting by using a political economy of trade policy model where the government determines tariffs by balancing the political support from the producers against consumers and places a higher political weight on producersÂ’welfare relative to average citizens. We then expand it in several directions to guide our subsequent estimations at the three-digit industry level for Colombia between 1983 and 1998. We account for import substitution motives for protection and the government's move away from these policies leads to unilateral trade liberalization. We innovatively allow the political weights to vary based on key industry variables beyond a common denominator. The sectors with higher employment, labor cost, and preferential trade agreement (PTA) import shares receive a larger political weight compared to otherwise similar sectors. The novelty of our approach is estimating the effect of sectoral characteristics on protection Â…ltered through the political weights. We obtain more realistic estimates for these weights and provide some evidence for a slowing down effect of PTAs for trade liberalization.
    Keywords: Political economy of trade policy, trade liberalization, preferential trade agreements, empirical trade
    JEL: F13 F14 F15
    Date: 2015–01

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