Maloney, William Francis

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
Office of the Chief Economist Latin America and the Caribbean Region
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Last updated April 4, 2023
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 192 Scopus

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Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
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    Harvesting Prosperity: Technology and Productivity Growth in Agriculture
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2020) Fuglie, Keith ; Gautam, Madhur ; Goyal, Aparajita ; Maloney, William F.
    This book documents frontier knowledge on the drivers of agriculture productivity to derive pragmatic policy advice for governments and development partners on reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity. The analysis describes global trends and long-term sources of total factor productivity growth, along with broad trends in partial factor productivity for land and labor, revisiting the question of scale economies in farming. Technology is central to growth in agricultural productivity, yet across many parts of the developing world, readily available technology is never taken up. We investigate demand-side constraints of the technology equation to analyze factors that might influence producers, particularly poor producers, to adopt modern technology. Agriculture and food systems are rapidly transforming, characterized by shifting food preferences, the rise and growing sophistication of value chains, the increasing globalization of agriculture, and the expanding role of the public and private sectors in bringing about efficient and more rapid productivity growth. In light of this transformation, the analysis focuses on the supply side of the technology equation, exploring how the enabling environment and regulations related to trade and intellectual property rights stimulate Research and Development to raise productivity. The book also discusses emerging developments in modern value chains that contribute to rising productivity. This book is the fourth volume of the World Bank Productivity Project, which seeks to bring frontier thinking on the measurement and determinants of productivity to global policy makers.
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    Place, Productivity, and Prosperity: Revisiting Spatially Targeted Policies for Regional Development
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-01-21) Grover, Arti ; Lall, Somik V. ; Maloney, William F.
    Place matters for productivity and prosperity. Myriad factors support a successful place, including not only the hard infrastructure such as roads, but also the softer elements such as worker skills, entrepreneurial ability, and well-functioning institutions. History suggests that prosperous places tend to persist, while “left-behind” regions—or those hurt by climatic, technological, or commercial shocks—struggle to catch up. This division gives rise to demands to “do something” about the subsequent spatial inequality. Such pressures often result in costly spatially targeted policies with disappointing outcomes because of a lack of analysis of the underlying barriers to growth and structural transformation and a fair appraisal of the possibility of overcoming them. The latest volume of the World Bank Productivity Project series, Place, Productivity, and Prosperity: Revisiting Spatially Targeted Policies for Regional Development makes three broad contributions. First, it provides new analytical and empirical insights into the three drivers of economic geography—agglomeration economies, migration, and distance—and the way in which these drivers interact. Second, it argues that these forces are playing out differently in developing countries than they have in advanced economies: urbanization is not accompanied by structural transformation, leaving cities crowded and accruing all the negative aspects of urbanization without being concentrated productively. Long-term amelioration of poverty in lagging regions requires advancing the overall national agenda of structural change and productivity growth. Third, it provides a heuristic framework with which to inform policy makers’ assessments of place-based policy proposals, helping them identify the regions where policy is likely to have an impact and those that would remain nonviable. The framework enables governments to clarify the implications of various policy options; to think critically about design priorities, including necessary complementary policies; and to navigate the implementation challenges.
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    Growth and Risk: A View from International Trade
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-06) Krishna, Pravin ; Levchenko, Andrei A. ; Maloney, William F.
    This paper studies the cross-country patterns of risky innovation and growth through the lens of international trade. It uses a simple theoretical framework of risky quality upgrading by firms under varying levels of financial development to derive two predictions. First, the mean rate of quality growth and the corresponding cross-sectional variance of quality growth in a country are positively correlated. Second, both the mean and variance of quality changes are positively correlated with the country's level of financial development. The paper tests these two hypotheses using data on disaggregated (Harmonized System 10- digit) bilateral exports to the United States. The patterns in the data are consistent with the theory. The mean and the variance of quality growth are strongly positively correlated with each other. Countries with greater financial depth are systematically characterized by higher mean and higher variance in the growth of product quality. The findings suggest a mean-variance trade-off in product quality improvements along the development path. Increases in financial depth do not imply lower variability of changes in the product space.
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    Proximity to the Frontier, Markups, and the Response of Innovation to Foreign Competition: Evidence from Matched Production-Innovation Surveys in Chile
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-08) Cusolito, Ana Paula ; Garcia-Marin, Alvaro ; Maloney, William F.
    This paper employs a matched firm production/innovation panel data set from Chile to explore the response of firm innovation to the increased competition arising from the China shock. In addition to covering a wider range of innovation inputs and outputs than previously possible, the data allow generating measures of markups and efficiency (physical total factor productivity) that correspond more closely to the concepts of rents and technological leadership envisaged in the Schumpeterian literature. Except for the 10 percent most productive plants, increased competition depresses most measures of innovation. Falling rents exacerbate declines among laggards, while rising rents further increase innovation among leaders.
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    Determinants of Social Distancing and Economic Activity during COVID-19: A Global View
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-05) Maloney, William ; Taskin, Temel
    The paper uses Google mobility data to identify the determinants of social distancing during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. The findings for the United States indicate that much of the decrease in mobility is voluntary, driven by the number of COVID-19 cases and proxying for greater awareness of risk. Non-pharmaceutical interventions such as closing nonessential businesses, sheltering in place, and school closings are also effective, although with a total contribution dwarfed by the voluntary actions. This suggests that much social distancing will happen regardless of the presence of non-pharmaceutical interventions and that restrictions may often function more like a coordinating device among increasingly predisposed individuals than repressive measures per se. These results are consistent across country income groups, with only the poorest countries showing limited effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions and no voluntary component, consistent with resistance to abandon sources of livelihood. The paper also confirms the direct impact of the voluntary component on economic activity, by showing that the majority of the fall in restaurant reservations in the United States and movie spending in Sweden occurred before the imposition of any non-pharmaceutical interventions. Widespread voluntary de-mobilization implies that releasing constraints may not yield a V-shaped recovery if the reduction in COVID risk is not credible.
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    Learning to Learn: Experimentation, Entrepreneurial Capital, and Development
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-12) Maloney, William F. ; Zambrano, Andres
    This paper models an entrepreneur’s choice between investing in a safe activity or experimenting with a new risky one, and how much to invest in the “entrepreneurial capital” that would permit more effective use of the arriving information on the latter- how much to learn how to learn. Optimal investment in entrepreneurial capital depends the expected return on the risky activity. It can lead to three learning regimes, two of which can generate a development trap where firms and countries are unable to assess the potential of newly arriving technologies and hence grow more slowly. The first arises purely because it is too expensive to learn to learn, the second because the returns to the new activity are so high that they obviate the need to distinguish between activities and hence invest in entrepreneurial capital. The paper draws on historical evidence to show how the model offers insights into three understudied features of the industrialization process in the Western Hemisphere at the beginning of the 20th century: the disproportionate influence of immigrant/foreign entrepreneurs in driving industrialization in Latin America; the emergence of selective exceptions to this pattern, as well as episodes of entrepreneurial retrogression; and the differing effects of similar economic structures across countries that suggest the possibility of a learning-displacing resource curse. The model can simulate the respective decline and boom in the Chilean and US copper industries at the turn of the century, arising either from initially high relative returns or low initial endowments of entrepreneurial capital in the latter.