nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2016‒09‒25
four papers chosen by

  1. The Growth-Employment-Poverty Nexus in Latin America in the 2000s: Cross-Country Analysis By Guillermo Cruces; Gary S. Fields; David Jaume; Mariana Viollaz
  2. Where are natural gas prices heading, and what are the environmental consequences for Latin America? By Arturo L. Vásquez Cordano; Abdel M. Zellou
  3. Gone with the Wind: Demographic Transition and Domestic Saving By Cavallo, Eduardo; Sanchez, Gabriel; Valenzuela, Patricio
  4. The Incidence of Subsidies to Residential Public Services in Argentina: The Subsidy System in 2014 and Some Alternatives By Christoph Lakner; Maria Ana Lugo; Jorge Puig; Leandro Salinardi; Martha Viveros

  1. By: Guillermo Cruces (CEDLAS - UNLP , CONICET y IZA); Gary S. Fields (Cornell University y IZA); David Jaume (Cornell University); Mariana Viollaz (CEDLAS - UNLP)
    Abstract: In the great majority of Latin American countries in the 2000s, economic growth took place and brought about improvements in almost all labour market indicators and consequent reductions in poverty rates. Across countries, economic growth was not all that mattered; external factors were particularly important for changes in labour market conditions, while reductions in poverty were strongly related to improvements in earnings and employment indicators. Although the 2008 crisis affected some countries differently from others, nearly all labour market indicators were at least as high or higher by 2012 than immediately before the crisis in all countries but one.
    JEL: J21 J30 O10 O54
    Date: 2016–07
  2. By: Arturo L. Vásquez Cordano (GERENS Graduate School of Business and Osinergmin); Abdel M. Zellou (Clear Future Consulting)
    Abstract: There was an upward trend in energy commodity prices since 2000, but with the surge in supply coming from unconventional oil and gas resources in North and South America, the trend in natural gas prices has become downward in recent years. However, the exploitation of these resources is generating public concerns due to the possible adverse environmental impacts of using hydraulic fracturing and other techniques on underground water. The purpose of this paper is to address the following questions: are there super cycles in natural gas prices? What are the environmental consequences in Latin America of the exploitation of unconventional gas given the cyclical behavior of gas prices and how can governments implement environmental policies to regulate unconventional gas extraction? Three super cycles in natural gas prices are identified with the last peak occurring in 2006. Our analysis indicates that the instable political situation and institutional weakness, the governmental intervention through asset nationalization and state-owned oil companies, the lack of transparent investment rules, high capital expenditures to develop LNG export projects and the exploration of shale resources, as well as the pre-salt discoveries in Brazil make uncertain that the shale gas boom achieve a large impact in Latin America during the current gas price super cycle.
    Keywords: Super Cycles, Long Cycles, Exhaustible Resources, Natural Gas Prices, Environment, Shale Gas, Trend-Cycle Decomposition, Christiano-Fitzgerald Band-Pass Filter
    JEL: E32 L71 Q41 E37 L51 Q48 Q58
    Date: 2016–09
  3. By: Cavallo, Eduardo (Inter-American Development Bank); Sanchez, Gabriel (Inter-American Development Bank); Valenzuela, Patricio (University of Chile)
    Abstract: This study explores the relationship between demographic factors and saving rates using a panel dataset covering 110 countries between 1963 and 2012. In line with predictions from theory, this paper finds that lower dependency rates and greater longevity increase domestic saving rates. However, these effects are statistically robust only in Asia. In particular, Latin America, which is a region that has undergone a remarkably similar demographic transition, did not experience the same boost in saving rates as Asia. The paper highlights that the potential dividends arising from a favorable demographic transition are not automatically accrued. This is a sobering message at a time when the demographic tide is shifting in the world.
    JEL: E21 J10 O16
    Date: 2016–04
  4. By: Christoph Lakner (Poverty and Equity Global Practice - World Bank); Maria Ana Lugo (Poverty and Equity Global Practice - World Bank); Jorge Puig (CEDLAS - UNLP); Leandro Salinardi (CEDLAS - UNLP); Martha Viveros (Poverty and Equity Global Practice - World Bank)
    Abstract: More than a decade of energy and transport subsidies have weakened Argentina’s fiscal capacity. Following the 2001 crisis, public services tariffs were frozen in an attempt to offset the negative effects on households’ real purchasing power. However, these subsidies steadily increased over the years, particularly since 2006, becoming a significant fiscal burden. Though subsidies can be a tool to protect the poor, in Argentina they led to distortions and a large share have been absorbed by upper classes and non-residential consumers. This paper first analyzes the incidence of the 2014 system of residential federal subsidies to residential public services (defined as electricity, gas, water and transport) and then simulates the distributional impacts of alternative subsidy structures. Simulations on the electricity sector suggest that targeting consumption levels through a simple lifeline tariff is not sufficient to achieve a propoor incidence of subsidies. Instead, explicit targeting is necessary (though not sufficient) and needs to ensure comprehensive coverage of the poorest households. Similarly, on the transport sector show that the existing tariffs are not well-targeted, but that an expanded set of social programs could improve coverage of the poorest. Gas subsidy simulations showed that a social tariff would virtually eliminate the subsidy, suggesting that there is little overlap between the receipt of social programs and access to piped gas.
    Date: 2016–08

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