nep-sea New Economics Papers
on South East Asia
Issue of 2013‒05‒24
six papers chosen by
Kavita Iyengar
Asian Development Bank

  1. Inflationary Implication of Gold Price in Vietnam* By Thi Kim Cuc Nguyen; Reza Yamora Siregar
  2. Parental education, gender preferences and child nutritional status: evidence from four developing countries By Novella, Rafael
  3. Impact of Growing Imports: A comparison of international and domestic firms in the Japanese manufacturing industry (Japanese) By ITO Koji
  4. What drives oil prices? Emerging versus developed economies By Knut Are Aastveit; Hilde C. BjØrnland (Corresponding author)
  5. The New Suburbs: Evolving travel behavior, the built environment, and subway investments in Mexico City By Guerra, Erick Strom
  6. Reforming Subsidies for Fossil Fuel Consumption: Killing Several Birds with One Stone By Charles E. McLure, Jr.

  1. By: Thi Kim Cuc Nguyen; Reza Yamora Siregar
    Abstract: The sustained elevated gold price domestically, hovering persistently above the global market price, underscores the peculiar nature of the gold market in Vietnam and the resiliently strong demand for gold in the local market. In particular, the movements in the price of gold seem to lead a symmetrical trend in the headline inflation since the outbreak of the 2007 global financial crisis. The primary objective of this study is therefore to assess possible inflationary consequence of the gold price movements in Vietnam. Past studies demonstrate that if gold could be viewed as a financial asset, shifts in the gold price should be monitored as one of the determining factors of inflation. Yet, hardly any study has assessed potential inflationary implication of gold in Vietnam, especially during the recent years of volatile and double-digit inflation rates.
    Keywords: Gold Price, Vietnam, Money Demand, and Inflation
    JEL: C24 E31 E41 E52
    Date: 2013–04
  2. By: Novella, Rafael
    Abstract: This paper examines whether the distribution of bargaining power between parents affects permanent and transitory nutritional indicators in the early stages of boys and girls life. I use the Young Lives sample, which is a survey of young children living in poor households in Ethiopia, India (Andhra Pradesh state), Peru and Vietnam. By adopting a methodology to disentangle gender differences produced by technology and preferences, I find evidence that the allocation of household resources varies with the gender of the child and the gender of the parents. After accounting for the potential endogeneity of the indicator of power distribution within the household, related to assortative mating in the marriage market, I find that maternal power has larger effects on girls health than on boys health in Peru and Vietnam. In contrast, in India, maternal bargaining power has a negative effect on girls health, whereas in Ethiopia no differential effect is found. Further analysis confirms that differences in parental behaviour drive the estimated effects and that these are robust to the inclusion of genetic information.
    Date: 2013–05–10
  3. By: ITO Koji
    Abstract: Emerging economies, with steady and high growth, have been increasing their share of the world trade, as well as strengthening their export competitiveness in industries where developed countries have captured the world market.<br />Based on recent trade theory and empirics, the commencement of exporting is a possible countermeasure against increasing import volume from emerging economies, aside from the downsizing of production or market exits. However, this is not applicable if the influence of imports is broadly spread across firms in the same industry.<br />Thus, this paper confirms the impact of imports on Japanese manufacturing firms classified by their internationalization status. In concrete terms, we classify the data from the "Basic Survey of Japanese Business Structure and Activities," implemented by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, into firms that are in charge of internationalization (exporting, importing, and having foreign affiliates) and others, and examine the significance of imports from three areas (Asian countries, other developing countries, and developed countries) on the variability in the number of employees, real turnover, etc.<br />The result shows that the impact of imports from all three areas on firms in charge of internationalization is weaker than the other firms in terms of employees, implying the potential of internationalization to weaken the influence of imports.
    Date: 2013–05
  4. By: Knut Are Aastveit; Hilde C. BjØrnland (Corresponding author)
    Abstract: This paper explores the role of demand from emerging and developed economies as drivers of the real price of oil. Using a method that allows us to identify and compare demand from different groups of countries across the world, we find that demand from emerging economies (most notably from Asian countries) is more than twice as important as demand from developed countries in accounting for the fluctuations in the real price of oil and in oil production. Furthermore, we find that different geographical regions respond differently to adverse oil market shocks that drive up oil prices, with Europe and North America being more negatively affected than emerging economies in Asia and South America. We demonstrate that this heterogeneity in responses is not only attributable to differences in energy intensity in production across regions but also to degree of openness and the investment share in GDP.
    Keywords: Oil prices, emerging and developed countries, demand and supply shocks, factor augmented vector autoregressions
    JEL: C32 E32 F41
    Date: 2013–02
  5. By: Guerra, Erick Strom
    Abstract: Mexico City is a suburban metropolis, yet most of its suburbs would be unfamiliar to urbanists accustomed to thinking about US metropolitan regions. Mexico City’s suburbs are densely populated—not thinly settled—and its residents rely primarily on informal transit rather than privately-owned automobiles for their daily transportation. These types of dense and transit-dependent suburbs have emerged as the fastest-growing form of human settlement in cities throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Wealthier and at a later stage in its economic development than other developing-world metropolises, Mexico City is a compelling place to investigate the effects of rising incomes, increased car ownership, and transit investments in the dense, peripheral areas that have grown rapidly around informal transit in the past decades, and is a bellwether for cities like Dakar, Cairo, Lima, and Jakarta. I begin this dissertation with a historical overview of the demographic, economic, and political trends that have helped shape existing urban form, transportation infrastructure, and travel behavior in Mexico City. Despite an uptick in car ownership and use, most households—both urban and suburban—continue to rely on public transportation. Furthermore, suburban Mexico City has lower rates of car ownership and use than its central areas. In subsequent chapters, I frame, pose, and investigate three interrelated questions about Mexico City’s evolving suburban landscape, the nature of households’ travel decisions, and the relationship between the built environment and travel behavior. Together, these inquiries tell a story that differs significantly from narratives about US suburbs, and provide insight into the future transportation needs and likely effects of land and transportation policy in these communities and others like them in Mexico and throughout the developing world. First, how has the influence of the built environment on travel behavior changed as more households have moved into the suburbs and aggregate car use has increased? Using two large metropolitan household travel surveys from 1994 and 2007, I model two related-but-distinct household travel decisions: whether to drive on an average weekday, and if so, how far to drive. After controlling for income and other household attributes, I find that the influence of population and job density on whether a household undertakes any daily car trips is strong and has increased marginally over time. By contrast, high job and population densities have a much smaller influence on the total distance of weekday car travel that a household generates. For the subset of households whose members drive on a given weekday, job and population densities have no statistical effect at all. Contrary to expectations, a household’s distance from the urban center is strongly correlated with a lower probability of driving, even after controlling for income. This effect, however, appears to be diminishing over time, and when members of a household drive, they drive significantly more if they live farther from the urban center. The combination of informal transit, public buses, and the Metro has provided sufficient transit service to constrain car use in the densely populated suburban environments of Mexico City. Once suburban residents drive, however, they tend to drive a lot regardless of transit or the features of the built environment. Second, how much are the recent trends of increased suburbanization, rising car-ownership, and the proliferation of massive commercially-built peripheral housing developments interrelated? To investigate this question, I first disentangle urban growth and car ownership trends by geographic area. The fastest-growing areas tend to be poorer and have had a much smaller impact on the size of the metropolitan car fleet than wealthier, more established neighborhoods in the center and western half of the metropolis. I then zoom in to examine several recent commercial housing developments. These developments, supported by publicly-subsidized mortgages, contain thousands of densely-packed, small, and modestly-priced housing units. Their residents remain highly reliant on public transportation, particularly informal transit, and the neighborhoods become less homogenous over time as homeowners convert units and parking spaces to shops and offices. Finally, I use the 2007 household travel survey to model households’ intertwined decisions of where to live and whether to own a car. As expected, wealthier and smaller households are more likely to purchase vehicles. However, they prefer to live in more central areas where households with cars tend to drive shorter distances. If housing policy and production cannot adapt to provide more centrally-located housing, growing incomes will tend to increase car ownership but concentrate more of it in areas where car-owning households drive much farther. Third, how has the Metro’s Line B, one of the first and only suburban high-capacity transit investments, influenced local and regional travel behavior and land use? To explore this question, I compare travel behavior and land use measures at six geographic scales, including the investment’s immediate catchment area, across two time periods: six years before and seven years after the investment opened. Line B, which opened in stages in 1999 and 2000, significantly expanded Metro coverage into the densely populated and fast-growing suburban municipality of Ecatepec. While the investment sparked a significant increase in local Metro use, most of this increase came from people relying on informal transit, rather than cars. While this shift reduced transit fares and increased transit speeds for local residents, it also increased government subsidies for the Metro and had no apparent effect on road speeds. Furthermore, the Metro remains highly dependent on informal transit to provide feeder service even within Ecatepec. In terms of land use, the investment increased density around the stations but appears to have had little to no effect on downtown commercial development, where it might have been expected to have a significant influence. In short, the effects of Line B demonstrate much of the promise and problem with expanding high capacity transit service into the suburbs. Ridership is likely to be high, but so too will be the costs and subsidies, while the effects on car ownership and urban form are likely to be modest. Individually, each chapter contributes to a specific body of transportation and planning literature drawn from the US as well as developing countries. Collectively, they point to connection between land use and transportation in Mexico City that is different from the 3 connection in US and other rich-world cities. In particular, there is a physical disconnect between the generally suburban homes of transit users and the generally central location of high-capacity public transit. Addressing this disconnect by shifting housing production from the periphery to the center or by expanding high-capacity transit to the periphery would require significant amounts of time and public subsidy. Thus, contemporary policies to reduce car use or increase accessibility for the poor in the short and medium term would do well to focus on improving the flexible, medium-capacity informal transit around which the city’s dense and transit-dependent suburbs have grown and continue to grow.
    Keywords: City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning
    Date: 2013–05–01
  6. By: Charles E. McLure, Jr. (Hoover Institution, Stanford University)
    Abstract: This paper examines subsidies for the consumption of fossil fuels provided by developing countries and oil-exporting countries. (In what follows all unqualified references to fuel subsidies are to subsidies for the consumption of fossil fuels, including electricity that is generated by combusting fossil fuel. Thus neither production subsidies nor subsidies for other types of energy, such as hydro, solar, wind, and nuclear, are considered.6 In this context, “consumption” does not mean only household consumption; it includes consumption by business and governments.) The next section describes the negative effects of fuel subsidies mentioned above in greater detail. Although emphasis in this paper, as in most of the literature and in policy discussions, is on eliminating fuel subsidies, it should be emphasized that reforming fuel subsidies does not necessarily mean eliminating them quickly. There may be cases in which temporary, limited, and well-targeted fuel subsidies are appropriate. No effort has been made to identify these cases, which would require case-by-case analysis of the situation in particular countries. Progress has been made in recent years in reducing or eliminating subsidies to the consumption of fossil fuels, but much remains to be done.7 Section III discusses briefly how fuel subsidies are defined, describes the price-gap methodology commonly used in cross-country comparisons of consumption subsidies, indicates some shortcomings in that methodology, and notes that the level of subsidies is quite sensitive to international fuel prices, moving in concert with them. Section IV presents estimates of fossil fuel consumption subsidies for the 37 countries on which the International Energy Agency has complete data. The section then briefly describes some of the implications of eliminating subsidies, focusing on potential budget impacts in countries that, as a fraction of GDP, run significant budget deficits and spend significant amounts on fuel subsidies. Fuel consumption subsidies are often defended as alleviating poverty, and some subsidies may further this objective. But, because fuel subsidies are often poorly targeted, the distributional impact of many subsidies is regressive, or at best proportionate to income. Regressivity is especially likely in most of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and some of those in Asia, where only a small minority of the population – fewer than 10 percent in many countries – uses modern fuels and may not even have access to them. It is often the middle class who benefit the most from fuel subsidies – and who defend them most adamantly.8 Section V discusses the distributional impact of eliminating subsidies, which varies from country to country, as well as by the type of fuel subsidized. Although fuel subsidies are costly and are not well-targeted to relieve poverty, eliminating subsidies may impose onerous burdens on the poor. It may thus be necessary, for humanitarian as well as political reasons, to accompany subsidy reform with measures to alleviate the burden on the poor. Section VI examines measures that can be used to protect the poor when fuel consumption subsidies are reformed. Lack of space and expertise precludes discussion of the important issues involved in implementing fuel subsidy reform, including means of increasing support for reform by addressing distributional concerns.9 The use of biomass (firewood, charcoal, straw, agricultural residue, or dung) or coal for cooking and heating has several serious disadvantages: inter alia, emissions of GHGs are greater than with fossil fuels other than coal, dangerous indoor air pollution leads to impaired health, especially for women and small children, use of biomass often requires devotion of many hours to gathering fuel, again commonly by women and children, and, where dung is used for fuel, it causes deterioration of soil fertility. In recent years substantial attention has been devoted to assuring access to clean energy for all.10 An alternative argument for subsidizing the use of fossil fuels, albeit one that probably does not explain the prevalence of subsidies, is thus to induce poor households to shift from biomass and coal (solid or “traditional fuels”) to modern (non-solid) fuels (kerosene, gas, and electricity). Section VII discusses the use of fuel subsidies to encourage consumers to switch from traditional fuels to modern fuels. A short concluding section draws some tentative conclusions, based on the analysis presented earlier. There is clearly a strong case for reforming subsidies to the consumption of fossil fuels, as reform would improve environmental, economic, and budgetary, performance in countries now providing fuel subsidies. Care must be taken, however, to avoid or offset adverse effects on the real income of the poor.
    Date: 2013–04–07

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