Macroeconomics Trade & Investment
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Macroeconomics Trade & Investment
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Last updated January 31, 2023
Caroline Freund is Director of Trade, Regional Integration and Investment Climate. Previously she was a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. She has also worked as Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa at the World Bank, after working for nearly a decade in the international trade unit of the research department. Freund began her career in the international finance division of the Federal Reserve Board and spent a year visiting the research department of the IMF. She has published extensively in academic journals and is the author of Rich People Poor Countries: The Rise of Emerging Market Tycoons and their Mega Firms. She is a US national and received a PhD in economics from Columbia University.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 16
Publication(World Bank, 2011-10-18) Freund, Caroline ; Rocha, NadiaAfrica's share of global exports has dropped by 50 percent over the last three decades. To stem this decline, aid for trade to the region has increased rapidly in recent years. Assistance can target improvements in three important components of trade facilitation: transit times, documentation, and ports and customs. Of these, transit delays have the most economically and statistically significant effect on exports. Specifically, a one day reduction in inland travel times leads to a 7 percent increase in exports, after controlling for the standard determinants of trade and potential endogeneity. Put another way, a one day reduction in inland travel times translates into a 2 percentage point decrease in all importing-country tariffs. By contrast, longer delays in the other areas have a far smaller impact on trade. Large transit delays are relatively more harmful because they are associated with high (within-country) variation, making delivery targets difficult to meet. Finally, the results imply that transit times are primarily about institutional features—such as border delays, road quality, fleet class and competition and security—and not geography.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, D.C., 2004-09) Freund, Caroline ; Özden, ÇağlarThis paper provides new survey evidence showing that loss aversion and reference dependence are important in shaping people's perception of trade policy. Under the assumption that agents' welfare functions exhibit these behavioral elements, we analyze a model with a welfare-maximizing government and with the lobbying framework of Grossman and Helpman (1994). The policy implications of the augmented models differ in three important ways. One, there is a region of compensating protection, where a decline in the world price leads to an offsetting increase in protection, such that a constant domestic price is maintained. Two, protection following a single negative price shock will be persistent. Three, irrespective of the extent of lobbying, there will be a deviation from free trade that tends to favor loss-making industries. The augmented models are more consistent with the observed structure of protection, and in particular, explain why many trade policy instruments are explicitly designed to maintain prices at a given level.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-03) Rijkers, Bob ; Freund, Caroline ; Nucifora, AntonioThis paper examines the relationship between regulation and the business interests of President Ben Ali and his family, using firm-level data from Tunisia for 1994-2010. Data on investment regulations are merged with balance sheet and firm-level census data in which 220 firms owned by the Ben Ali family are identified. These connected firms outperform their competitors in terms of employment, output, market share, profits, and growth and sectors in which they are active are disproportionately subject to authorization requirements and restriction on foreign direct investment. Consistent with theories of capture, performance differences between connected firms and their peers are significantly larger in highly regulated sectors. In addition, the introduction of new foreign direct investment restrictions and authorization requirements in narrowly defined five-digit sectors is correlated with the presence of connected firms and with their startup, suggesting that regulation is endogenous to state capture. The evidence implies that Tunisia's industrial policy was used as a vehicle for rent creation for the president and his family.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-05) Amiti, Mary ; Freund, CarolineDecomposing China's real export growth, of over 500 percent since 1992, reveals a number of interesting findings. First, China's export structure changed dramatically, with growing export shares in electronics and machinery and a decline in agriculture and apparel. Second, despite the shift into these more sophisticated products, the skill content of China's manufacturing exports remained unchanged, once processing trade is excluded. Third, export growth was accompanied by increasing specialization and was mainly accounted for by high export growth of existing products (the intensive margin) rather than in new varieties (the extensive margin). Fourth, consistent with an increased world supply of existing varieties, China's export prices to the United States fell by an average of 1.5 percent per year between 1997 and 2005, while export prices of these products from the rest of the world to the United States increased by 0.4 percent annually over the same period.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-10) Freund, Caroline ; Pierola, Martha DenisseHow can countries stimulate and sustain strong export growth? To answer this question, the authors examine 92 episodes of export surges, defined as significant increases in manufacturing export growth that are sustained for at least seven years. They find that export surges in developing countries tend to be preceded by a large real depreciation-which leaves the exchange rate significantly undervalued-and a reduction in exchange rate volatility. In contrast, in developed countries, the role of the exchange rate is less pronounced. The authors examine why the exchange rate is so important in developing countries and find that the depreciation leads to a significant reallocation of resources in the export sector. In particular, depreciation generates more entries into new export products and new markets, and the percentage of new entries that fail after one year declines. These new products and new markets are important, accounting for 25 percent of export growth during the surge in developing countries. The authors argue that maintaining a competitive currency leads firms to expand the product and market space for exports, inducing a large reorientation of the tradable sector.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-05) Djankov, Simeon ; Freund, Caroline ; Pham, Cong S.The authors determine how time delays affect international trade using newly collected World Bank data on the days it takes to move standard cargo from the factory gate to the ship in 126 countries. They estimate a modified gravity equation, controlling for endogeneity and remoteness. On average, each additional day that a product is delayed prior to being shipped reduces trade by at least 1 percent. Put differently, each day is equivalent to a country distancing itself from its trade partners by 70 kilometers on average. Delays have an even greater impact on developing country exports and exports of time-sensitive goods, such as perishable agricultural products. In particular, a day's delay reduces a country's relative exports of time-sensitive to time-insensitive agricultural goods by 6 percent.
Publication( 2012-10) Cebeci, Tolga ; Fernandes, Ana M. ; Freund, Caroline ; Pierola, Martha DenisseThis paper introduces the Exporter Dynamics Database. The database includes exporter characteristics and measures of exporter growth based on firm-level customs information from 38 developing and seven developed countries, primarily for the period between 2003 and 2010. The measures are available at different levels of aggregation, including: a) country-year, b) country-year-product, and c) country-year-destination. Several new stylized facts about exporter behavior across countries emerge from the database. (i) Larger or more developed economies have more exporters, larger and more diversified exporters, and lower entry and exit rates than smaller or developing economies. (ii) In the short run, expansions along the intensive margin (exporter size) contribute more to export growth than expansions along the extensive margin (number of exporters). (iii) Exit rates are highly correlated with entry rates and both are negatively correlated with survival rates, average exporter size, and diversification. (iv) The number of exporters and the entry and exit rates in a country-product group are partially driven by country and product-group effects; however, the average size of exporters in a country-product group is not. Although the first three facts can be explained by models incorporating firm heterogeneity and uncertainty, the fourth fact is more difficult to explain with existing models. Several findings are confirmed in this database, including the importance of large multi-product firms. This database can be a valuable tool to improve the understanding of the micro-foundations of export growth, by providing new insights about exporter characteristics and dynamics.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-10) Freund, Caroline ; Pierola, Martha DenisseThis paper shows that the top 1 percent of exporters critically shape trade patterns, using firm-level data from 32 countries. In particular, variation in average firm size (the intensive margin) explains over two thirds of the variation in the sector distribution of exports across countries, the remaining share is explained by variation in the number of firms (the extensive margin). Variation in average firm size across sectors is largely driven by variation in the sectoral distribution of exports from the top 1 percent of firms in a country -- export superstars. In contrast, the sectoral distribution of exports from the remaining 99 percent of firms is more similar across countries, and the distribution of the total number of firms across sectors is very similar across countries. This paper also finds that current export superstars typically entered the export market relatively large, reached the top 1 percent after less than three years of exporting, and account for more than half of a country's total exports, export growth and diversification. The results underscore the role of individual firms in determining both trade volumes and trade patterns.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-09) Freund, Caroline ; Spatafora, NikolaRecorded workers' remittances to developing countries have grown rapidly, to more than $100 billion in 2004, bringing increasing attention to these flows as a potential tool for development. But even these statistics are likely to significantly understate true remittances, as a large share is believed to flow through informal channels. Estimates of the importance of the informal sector vary widely, ranging from 35 percent to 250 percent of total remittances. The primary motivation of the authors is to develop the first empirical methodology to estimate informal flows. They use insights from the literature on shadow economies and empirically estimate informal remittances for more than 100 countries using historical data on the balance of payments (BOP), migration, transaction costs, and country characteristics. Their results imply that informal remittances amount to about 35-75 percent of official remittances to developing countries. There is significant regional variation: informal remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe and Central Asia are relatively high, while those to East Asia and the Pacific are relatively low. These estimates are supplemented with detailed household survey data on remittance receipts in a number of countries. The results also shed light on the determinants of recorded remittances and the associated fees in the formal sector. The authors find that the stock of migrants in OECD countries is the primary determinant of remittances. In addition, money transfer fees and the presence of dual exchange rates reduce the share of remittances reported in national accounts. In turn, transaction costs are systematically related to concentration in the banking sector, lack of financial depth, and exchange rate volatility. There is also evidence that remittances are misrecorded in the BOP as "errors and omissions."
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-01) Freund, Caroline ; Ianchovichina, ElenaThe report estimates Middle East and North Africa's (MENA's) infrastructure investment and maintenance needs through 2020 at 106 billion dollars per year or 6.9 percent of the annual regional gross domestic product (GDP). Developing oil exporting countries (OEC) will need to commit almost 11 percent of their GDP annually ($48 billion) on improving and maintaining their national infrastructure endowments, while the oil importing countries (OIC) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) oil exporters need approximately 6 and 5 percent of their GDP, respectively. Infrastructure investment has the potential to create jobs quickly, while providing a foundation for future growth. This is especially important in the oil importing countries, where the infrastructure gap is the greatest and employment needs are growing. However, it is also likely to be most difficult in these countries because of strained finances. Going forward, government decisions on what types of spending to expand and what to contract to achieve balanced budgets will have important implications for jobs. Prudent infrastructure development will be critical for short and long-term growth and job creation.