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Maloney, William

Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Innovation, Labor Economics, Trade, Productivity, Private Sector Development, Financial Sector, Spatial economics
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Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Last updated: April 10, 2024
Biography
William F. Maloney is Chief Economist for the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Mr. Maloney, a U.S. national, joined the Bank in 1998 as Senior Economist for the Latin America and Caribbean Region. He held various positions including Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist for Latin America, Lead Economist in the Development Economics Research Group, Chief Economist for Trade and Competitiveness and Global Lead on Innovation and Productivity. He was most recently Chief Economist for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI) Vice Presidency. From 2011 to 2014 he was Visiting Professor at the University of the Andes and worked closely with the Colombian government on innovation and firm upgrading issues. Mr. Maloney received his PhD in Economics from the University of California Berkeley (1990), his BA from Harvard University (1981), and studied at the University of the Andes in Bogota, Colombia (1982-83). His research activities and publications have focused on issues related to international trade and finance, developing country labor markets, and innovation and growth, including several flagship publications about Latin America and the Caribbean.He has published in academic journals on issues related to international trade and finance, developing country labor markets, and innovation and growth as well as several flagship publications of the Latin American division of the Bank, including Informality: Exit and Exclusion;  Natural Resources: Neither Curse nor Destiny and Lessons from NAFTA, Does What you Export Matter: In Search of Empirical Guidance for Industrial Policy. Most recently, he published The innovation paradox: Developing Country Capabilities the Unrealized Potential of Technological Catch-Up and Harvesting Prosperity: Technology and Productivity Growth in Agriculture as part of the World Bank Productivity Project.  
Citations 202 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
  • Publication
    Comparative Analysis of Labor Market Dynamics Using Markov Processes : An Application to Informality
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-12) Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William
    This paper discusses a set of statistics for examining and comparing labor market dynamics based on the estimation of continuous time Markov transition processes. It then uses these to establish stylized facts about dynamic patterns of movement using panel data from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The estimates suggest broad commonalities among the three countries, and establish numerous common patterns of worker mobility among sectors of work and inactivity. As such, we offer some of the first comparative work on labor dynamics. The paper then particularly focuses on the role of the informal sector, both for its intrinsic interest, and as a case study illustrating the strengths and limits of the tools. The results suggest that a substantial part of the informal sector, particularly the self-employed, corresponds to voluntary entry although informal salaried work may correspond more closely to the standard queuing view, especially for younger workers.
  • Publication
    The Determinants of Rising Informality in Brazil : Evidence from Gross Worker Flows
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-10) Bosch, Mariano; Goni, Edwin; Maloney, William
    This paper studies gross worker flows to explain the rising informality in Brazilian metropolitan labor markets from 1983 to 2002. This period covers two economic cycles, several stabilization plans, a far-reaching trade liberalization, and changes in labor legislation through the Constitutional reform of 1988. First, focusing on cyclical patterns, the authors confirm that for Brazil, the patterns of worker transitions between formality and informality correspond primarily to the job-to-job dynamics observed in the United States, and not to the traditional idea of the informal queuing for jobs in a segmented market. However, the analysis also confirms distinct cyclical patterns of job finding and separation rates that lead to the informal sector absorbing more labor during downturns. Second, focusing on secular movements in gross flows and the volatility of flows, the paper finds the rise in informality to be driven primarily by a reduction in job finding rates in the formal sector. A small fraction of this is driven by trade liberalization, and the remainder seems driven by rising labor costs and reduced flexibility arising from Constitutional reform.
  • Publication
    Informal Self-Employment and Macroeconomic Fluctuations
    (2010) Fiess, Norbert M.; Fugazza, Marco; Maloney, William F.
    Informal self-employment is a major source of employment in developing countries. Its cyclical behavior is important to our understanding of the functioning of LDC labor markets, but turns out to be surprisingly complex. We develop a flexible model with two sectors: a formal salaried (tradable) sector that may be affected by wage rigidities, and an informal (non tradable) self-employment sector faced with liquidity constraints to entry. This labor market is then embedded in a standard small economy macro model. We show that different types of shocks interact with different institutional contexts to produce distinct patterns of comovement between key variables of the model: relative salaried/self-employed incomes, relative salaried/self-employed sector sizes and the real exchange rate. Model predictions are then tested empirically for Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. We confirm episodes where the expansion of informal self-employment is consistent with the traditional segmentation views of informality. However, we also identify episodes where informal self-employment behaves "pro-cyclically"; here, informality is driven by relative demand or productivity shocks to the non tradable sector.
  • Publication
    Cyclical Movements in Unemployment and Informality in Developing Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William
    This paper analyzes the cyclical properties of worker flows in Brazil and Mexico, two important developing countries with large unregulated or informal sectors. It generates three stylized facts that are critical to the accurate modeling of the sector and which suggest the need to rethink the approaches to date. First, the unemployment rate is countercyclical essentially because job separations of informal workers increase dramatically in recessions. Second, the share of formal employment is countercyclical because of the difficulty of finding formal jobs from inactivity, unemployment and other informal jobs during recessions rather than because of increased separation from formal jobs. Third, flows from formality into informality are not countercyclical, but, if anything, pro-cyclical. Together, these challenge the conventional wisdom that has guided the modeling the sector that informal workers are primarily those rationed out of the formal labor market. They also offer a new synthesis of the mechanics of the cyclical adjustment process. Finally, the paper offers estimates of the moments of worker flows series that are needed for calibration.
  • Publication
    Does Formality Improve Micro-firm Performance? Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES Program
    (2011) Fajnzylber, Pablo; Maloney, William F.; Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V.
    This paper exploits an extensive Brazilian micro-enterprise survey and the 1996 introduction of a business tax reduction and simplification scheme (SIMPLES) to examine three questions. First, do high tax rates and complex tax regulations really constitute a barrier to the formalization of micro-firms? Second, does formalization improve firm performance measured along several dimensions, including revenues, employment and capital stock? Third, what are the channels through which this occurs? We find that SIMPLES led to a significant increase in formality in several dimensions. Moreover, newly created firms that opt for operating formally show higher levels of revenue and profits, employ more workers and are more capital intensive (only for those firms that have employees). The channel through which this occurs is not access to credit or contracts with larger firms. Rather, it appears that the lower cost of contracting labor leads to adopting production techniques that involve a permanent location and a larger paid labor force.