Macroeconomics Trade & Investment
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Macroeconomics Trade & Investment
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Last updated November 1, 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 39
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-10) Estevadeordal, Antoni ; Freund, Caroline ; Ornelas, EmanuelThis paper examines the effect of regionalism on unilateral trade liberalization using industry-level data on applied most-favored nation tariffs and bilateral preferences for ten Latin American countries from 1990 to 2001. The findings show that preferential tariff reduction in a given sector leads to a reduction in the external (most-favored nation) tariff in that sector. External liberalization is greater if preferences are granted to important suppliers. However, these "complementarity effects" of preferential liberalization on external liberalization do not arise in customs unions. Overall, the results suggest that concerns about a negative effect of preferential liberalization on external trade liberalization are unfounded.
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( 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, 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, 2021-06) Freund, Caroline ; Mattoo, Aaditya ; Mulabdic, Alen ; Ruta, Michele ; Mattoo, AadityaTo understand the longer term consequences of natural disasters for global value chains, this paper examines trade in the automobile and electronic sectors after the 2011 earthquake in Japan. Contrary to widespread expectations, the analysis shows that the shock did not lead to reshoring, nearshoring, or diversification; and trade in intermediate products was disrupted less than trade in final goods. Imports did shift to new suppliers, especially where dependence on Japan was greater. But production relocated to developing countries rather than to other top exporters. Despite important differences, the observed pattern of switching may be relevant to disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2008) Berthelon, Matias ; Freund, CarolineUsing disaggregated bilateral trade data, we find that the elasticity of trade to distance increased (in absolute value) by about 10% since 1985. To explore the reasons for this shift, we decompose the change in the distance elasticity of trade into the part due to a shift in the composition of trade among industries and the part due to a change in the distance sensitivity within industries. We find that adjustment in the composition of trade had little effect, but for 40% of industries distance became more important, with nearly all of the remaining industries showing no significant change. We explore alternative hypotheses as to why the elasticity of trade to distance increased in some industries. We find that homogeneous goods, bulky goods, and high tariff goods became significantly more distance sensitive. In contrast, the evidence implies that changes in tariffs and freight costs have reduced the importance of distance on trade. We conclude that the increase in the importance of distance over time is related to the substitutability of goods and the level of trade costs, but not to changes in tariffs or freight costs.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2010) Freund, CarolineDoes regionalism negatively impact non-members? To answer this question, we examine the effect of regional trade agreements (RTAs) on imports from non-members and the tariffs that they face. Using data from six RTAs in Latin America and Europe, we do not find evidence that implementation of the regional agreements is associated with trade diversion from third countries to regional members. Using detailed industry data on preference margins and most-favoured nation (MFN) tariffs for three trade agreements in Latin America over 12 years, we find that greater preference margins do not significantly reduce imports from third countries. We also look at the effect of preferences on external tariffs. We find evidence that preferential tariff reduction tends to precede the reduction of external MFN tariffs in a given sector, offering evidence of tariff complementarity. Overall, the results suggest that regionalism does not significantly harm non-members.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2008) Freund, Caroline ; Bolaky, BineswareeWe examine the relationship between openness and per-capita income using cross-country data from 126 countries. We find that trade leads to a higher standard of living in flexible economies, but not in rigid economies. Business regulation, especially on firm entry, is more important than financial development, higher education, or rule of law as a complementary policy to trade liberalization. Specifically, after controlling for the standard determinants of per-capita income, our results imply that a 1% increase in trade is associated with more than a one-half percent rise in per-capita income in economies that facilitate firm entry, but has no positive income effects in more rigid economies. The findings are consistent with Schumpeterian "creative destruction", which highlights the importance of new business entry in economic performance, and with previous firm-level studies showing that the beneficial effects of trade liberalization come largely from an intra-sectoral reallocation of resources.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2010) Freund, Caroline ; Ornelas, EmanuelThis article reviews the theoretical and the empirical literature on regionalism. The formation of regional trade agreements has been, by far, the most popular form of reciprocal trade liberalization in the past 15 years. The discriminatory character of these agreements has raised three main concerns: that trade diversion would be rampant, because special interest groups would induce governments to form the most distortionary agreements; that broader external trade liberalization would stall or reverse; and that multilateralism could be undermined. Theoretically, all these concerns are legitimate, although there are also several theoretical arguments that oppose them. Empirically, neither widespread trade diversion nor stalled external liberalization has materialized, whereas the undermining of multilateralism has not been properly tested. There are also several aspects of regionalism that have received too little attention from researchers, but which are central to understanding its causes and consequences.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2008) Freund, Caroline ; Ozden, CaglarWe develop a political economy model where loss aversion and reference dependence are important in shaping people's preferences over trade policy. The policy implications of the augmented model differ in three ways: 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; protection following a single negative price shock will be persistent; and irrespective of the extent of lobbying, there will be a deviation from free trade that favors loss-making industries. The augmented model explains protections of the US steel industry since 1980.