Middle East and North Africa
Author Name Variants
Fields of Specialization
Macroeconomics, Egypt, International Finance, Expenditure Efficiency Measurement and Benchmarking, Latin America
Middle East and North Africa
Externally Hosted Work
Last updated February 1, 2023
Santiago Herrera Aguilera is the Lead Country Economist for Egypt in the Middle East and North Africa region at the World Bank. He has been in this position since September of 2008. He first joined the Bank in May of 1998 as a Senior Economist working for the Latin America and Caribbean Region. In February of 2004 he became the Lead Economist for economic policy at the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network in Washington. Prior to joining the Bank, Aguilera was the Deputy Minister of Finance in Columbia from 1995 to 1996. Before that, he was the Director of the National Budget also at the Columbian Ministry of Finance. Aguilera holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Economics from Columbia University in New York. He also holds a Masters degree in Economics from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Columbia.
Publication Search Results
Now showing 1 - 10 of 20
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-07) Herrera, Santiago ; Kouame, WilfriedThis paper examines the determinants of the productivity of Nigerian firms, using three waves of Enterprise Surveys from 2007, 2009, and 2014 and 7,670 firms. The paper uses three alternative measures of productivity, which are found to be highly correlated: labor productivity, value added per worker, and total factor productivity. The more notable trends in the data show: a rise in productivity, with the output of exporting firms decreasing; increasing concentration of production, reflected in the rise of the Herfindahl-Hirschman index by a factor of three; increasing costs of crime, power outages, lack of security, and bribery; significant heterogeneity of these costs along several dimensions, such as firm size, age, location, and the exporting or domestic nature of the market it serves. These costs are inversely related with investment. Regardless of the measure of productivity, its main determinants are the education of the worker, size of the firm, availability of credit, and business climate variables. When labor productivity is used, the stock of capital is also a major determinant of productivity. Within the investment climate variables, power outages and the corruption index are the more significant ones. Power outages are negatively associated with productivity. Bribery is positively related, supporting the "greasing the wheels" hypothesis of bribery as a factor that reduces transaction costs. The impact is nonlinear, as it decreases with firm size. The results also show a positive association between productivity and exporting, but the causality is reversed when the analysis controls for endogeneity: productivity is a weak determinant of the likelihood of a firm becoming an exporter.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-08) Herrera, Santiago ; Badr, KarimThis paper describes stylized facts about internal migration and the labor force in Egypt, and shows how internal migration in the country is low compared with international standards. Using aggregate labor force survey data, the paper shows how individuals migrate to governorates with higher wages. With a Mincerian equation, the analysis finds that migrants earn premiums with respect to non-migrants, except for those migrants with low education levels. The aggregate labor statistics reveal lower unemployment rates among migrants, a phenomenon that is verified by an employment equation. According to the econometric results, migrants are more likely to be employed, even after controlling for other observable individual characteristics. Finally, the paper estimates a Probit model for the decision to migrate, finding that more educated individuals are more likely to migrate, agricultural workers have a lower probability of migrating, and individuals from governorates in which food production for own consumption is higher are less likely to migrate. These results suggest that low educational attainment and the "food problem", which ties resources to food production to meet subsistence requirements, are at the root of low migration in Egypt.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-06) Herrera, Santiago ; Pang, GaoboGovernment spending in developing countries typically account for between 15 and 30 percent of GDP. Hence, small changes in the efficiency of public spending could have a major impact on GDP and on the attainment of the government's objectives. The first challenge that stakeholders face is measuring efficiency. This paper attempts such quantification and has two major parts. The first part estimates efficiency as the distance between observed input-output combinations and an efficiency frontier (defined as the maximum attainable output for a given level of inputs). This frontier is estimated for several health and education output indicators by means of the Free Disposable Hull (FDH) and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) techniques. Both input-inefficiency (excess input consumption to achieve a level of output) and output-inefficiency (output shortfall for a given level of inputs) are scored in a sample of 140 countries using data from 1996 to 2002. The second part of the paper seeks to verify empirical regularities of the cross-country variation in efficiency. Results show that countries with higher expenditure levels register lower efficiency scores, as well as countries where the wage bill is a larger share of the government's budget. Similarly, countries with higher ratios of public to private financing of the service provision score lower efficiency, as do countries plagued by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and those with higher income inequality. Countries with higher aid-dependency ratios also tend to score lower in efficiency, probably due to the volatility of this type of funding that impedes medium term planning and budgeting. Though no causality may be inferred from this exercise, it points at different factors to understand why some countries might need more resources than others to achieve similar educational and health outcomes.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-08) Herrera, Santiago ; Munoz, ErcioThis paper explores the determinants of public employment across the world and finds that it is negatively associated with country size (by population) and positively associated with the income level. The findings show that a country's openness to trade is positively associated with public employment in low- and middle-income countries, but inversely related in high-income countries. The estimated models are used to predict the expected public employment for a country given its income, population, and openness to trade, and to compare the actual levels with the predicted ones. In general, public employment in Latin American countries is below the predicted levels, except for Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the República Bolivariana de Venezuela. Public employment in the Middle East and North Africa is above the predicted levels, particularly in the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Islamic Republic of Iran. East Asian and Pacific countries' public employment is significantly below the predicted levels, particularly in Hong Kong SAR, China; Japan; the Republic of Korea; and Mongolia. Countries in Europe and Central Asia show higher than predicted public employment, mostly in Romania, Denmark, Sweden, Armenia, and Belorussia. Public employment in Sub-Saharan Africa appears to be below the predicted levels, with the notable exceptions of Botswana and South Africa. The deviations from predicted levels are positively correlated with the union density rate, which is negatively associated with private employment rates. Finally, the study finds no statistical association between public and private employment, suggesting the absence of crowding-out in the employment levels.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication( 2008) Herrera, Santiago ; Pang, GaoboThis paper gauges efficiency in container ports. Using non-parametric methods, we estimate efficiency frontiers based on information from 86 ports across the world. Three attractive features of the method are: 1) it is based on an aggregated measure of efficiency despite the existence of multiple inputs; 2) it does not assume particular input-output functional relationships; and 3) it does not rely on a priori peer selection to construct the benchmark. Results show that the most inefficient ports use inputs in excess of 20 to 40 percent. Since infrastructure costs represent about 40 percent of total maritime transport costs, these could be reduced by 12 percent by moving from the inefficient extreme of the distribution to the efficient one.
No Thumbnail AvailablePublication
The Impact of Food Inflation on Urban Poverty and Its Monetary Cost : Some Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations( 2008) Dessus, Sebastien ; Herrera, Santiago ; De Hoyos, RafaelThis article uses a sample of 72 developing countries to estimate the change in the cost of alleviating urban poverty brought about by the recent increase in food prices. This cost is approximated by the change in the poverty deficit (PD), that is, the variation in financial resources required to eliminate poverty under perfect targeting. The results show that, for most countries, the cost represents less than 0.2% of gross domestic product. However, in the most severely affected, it may exceed 3%. In all countries, the change in the PD is mostly due to the negative real income effect of those households that were poor before the price shock, while the cost attributable to new households falling into poverty is negligible. Thus, in countries where transfer mechanisms with effective targeting already exist, the most cost-effective strategy would be to scale up such programs rather than designing tools to identify the new poor.
Publication( 2010-10-01) Herrera, Santiago ; Selim, Hoda ; Youssef, Hoda ; Zaki, ChahirThe paper analyzes the impact of the recent global crisis in the context of the previous two decades' growth and capital flows. Growth decomposition exercises show that Egyptian growth is driven mostly by capital accumulation. To estimate the share of labor in national income, the analysis adjusts the national accounts statistics to include the compensation of self-employed and non-paid family workers. Still, the share of labor, about 30 percent, is significantly lower than previously estimated. The authors estimate the output costs of the current crisis by comparing the output trajectory that would have prevailed without the crisis with the observed and revised gross domestic product projections for the medium term. The fall in private investment was the main driver of the output cost. Even if private investment recovers its pre-crisis levels, there is a permanent loss in gross domestic product per capita of about 2 percent with respect to the scenario without the crisis. The paper shows how the shock to investment is magnified due to the capital-intensive nature of the Egyptian economy: if the economy had the traditionally-used share of labor in income (40 percent), the output loss would have been reduced by half.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-06) Herrera, Santiago ; Hurlin, Christophe ; Zaki, ChahirBank credit to Egypt's private sector decreased over the last decade, despite a recapitalized banking system and high rates of economic growth. Recent macro-economic turmoil has reinforced the trend. This paper explains the decrease based on credit supply and demand considerations by 1) presenting stylized facts regarding the evolution of the banks' sources and fund use in 2005 to 2011, noting two different cycles of external capital flows, and 2) estimating private credit supply and demand equations using quarterly data from 1998 to 2011. The system of simultaneous equations is estimated both assuming continuous market clearing and allowing for transitory price rigidity entailing market disequilibrium. The main results are robust to the market clearing assumption. During the global financial crisis, a significant capital outflow stalled bank deposit growth, which in turn affected the private sector's credit supply. At the same time, the banking sector increased credit to the government. Both factors reduced the private sector's credit supply during the period under study. After the trough of the global crisis, capital flowed back into Egypt and deposit growth stopped being a drag on the supply side, but bank credit to the government continued to drive the decrease in the private sector's credit supply. Beginning in the final quarter of 2010, capital flows reversed in tandem with global capital markets, and in January 2011 the popular uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak added an Egypt-specific shock that accentuated the outflow. Lending capacity dragged again, accounting for 10 percent of the estimated fall in private credit. Credit to the government continued to drain resources, accounting for 70 - 80 percent of the estimated total decline. Reduced economic activity contributed around 15 percent of the total fall in credit. The relative importance of these factors contrasts with that of the preceding capital inflow period, when credit to the government accounted for 54 percent of the estimated fall, while demand factors accounted for a similar percentage.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-01) Herrera, Santiago ; Youssef, HodaFrom 2008 to 2011, Egypt was hit by significant shocks, both global and country-specific. This paper assesses the impact of the resulting macroeconomic instability on the banking sector, and examines its role as a shock absorber. The Central Bank of Egypt accommodated the shocks by supplying liquidity to the market. The paper verifies a change in the fiscal regime from one in which the primary fiscal balance was used an instrument to stabilize the public debt ratio to one in which the policy instrument stopped playing that role and affected investors' assessment of the risk of holding public debt. This pattern suggests that fiscal conditions influenced exchange rate and price expectations originating a fiscal dominance situation in which the Central Bank could not control inflation. Hence, the Central Bank lacked functional independence in spite of its de jure independence, which underscores the importance of strengthening institutions that facilitate policy coordination and allow policy to be more predictable. The government also funds itself through non-market mechanisms, in a typical financial repression scheme. The paper estimates the revenue from financial repression at about 2.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2011, which together with the revenues from seignoriage add up to close to 50 percent of the budgeted tax revenues, indicating the need for an in-depth review of the governance of the public banks and the funding of public sector activities. Finally, the paper estimates the impact of shocks to macroeconomic variables on loan portfolio quality and bank capital.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-02) Herrera, SantiagoDespite significant progress in economic reform throughout the 1990s, and an exemplary development of the policymaking framework in the second part of the decade, Brazil suffered a major public debt and currency crisis in 2002. Though the political origin of the uncertainty cannot be ignored, the author identifies other sources of uncertainty emanating from the policymaking framework: fiscal policy was not responsive to the shocks, public debt instruments were used with several objectives (to stabilize the currency and to lengthen maturity) and there was inadequate supervision of agents holding public debt. Most of the flaws have been fixed following the crisis: a) The primary fiscal balance has been increased, sending the signal that it is a flexible instrument that will be used to ensure commitment of the sovereign to honor its obligations. b) The central bank formally transferred to the Treasury the remaining debt-issuance functions, facilitating a more adequate balancing of different risks involved in debt management. c) Mutual funds' public debt holdings are better regulated, ensuring that end-investors have the proper information to assess the risk of the institutions in which they invest.