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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 - 10 of 30
  • Publication
    Lessons from NAFTA for Latin America and the Caribbean
    (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004-11) Lederman, Daniel; Maloney, William F.; Servén, Luis
    Analyzing the experience of Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), "Lessons from NAFTA" aims to provide guidance to Latin American and Caribbean countries considering free trade agreements with the United States. The authors conclude that the treaty raised external trade and foreign investment inflows and had a modest effect on Mexico's average income per person. It is likely that the treaty also helped achieve a modest reduction in poverty and an improvement in job quality.
  • Publication
    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.
  • Publication
    Trade Structure and Growth
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2003-04) Lederman, Daniel; Maloney, William F.
    Lederman and Maloney examine the empirical relationships between trade structure and economic growth, particularly the influence of natural resource abundance, export concentration, and intra-industry trade. They test the robustness of these relationships across proxies, control variables, and estimation techniques. The authors find trade variables to be important determinants of growth, especially natural resource abundance and export concentration. In contrast with much of the recent literature, natural resource abundance appears to have a positive effect on growth, whereas export concentration hampers growth, even after controlling for physical and human capital accumulation, among other factors.
  • Publication
    Spatial Dimensions of Trade Liberalization and Economic Convergence: Mexico 1985-2002
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2005-10) Aroca, Patricio; Bosch, Mariano; Maloney, William F.
    This paper studies the spatial dimension of growth in Mexico over the past three decades. The literature on regional economic growth shows a decrease in regional dispersion from 1970 to 1985, and a sharp increase afterward coinciding with the trade liberalization of the Mexican economy. Using spatial econometric, tools the authors analyze how the process of convergence/divergence has mapped spatially and whether it makes sense to talk about spatial regions in Mexico. Although the rich North-poor South dichotomy has dominated this phenomenon, interesting patterns emerge. Namely the distribution of growth after Mexico's post-liberalization seems to be much less associated with distance to the United States than the authors had initially expected.
  • Publication
    Innovation Shortfalls
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-07) Maloney, William
    There is a common perception that low productivity or low growth is due to what can be called an "innovation shortfall," usually identified as a low rate of investment in research and development (R&D) when compared with some high innovation countries. The usual reaction to this perceived problem is to call for increases in R&D investment rates, usually specifying a target that can be as high as 3 percent of GDP. The problem with this analysis is that it fails to see that a low R&D investment rate may be appropriate given the economy's pattern of specialization, or may be just one manifestation of more general problems that impede accumulation of all kinds of capital. How can we know when a country suffers from an innovation shortfall above and beyond the ones that should be expected given the country's specialization and accumulation patterns? This is the question the authors tackle in this paper. First, they show a simple way to estimate the R&D gap that can be explained by a country's specialization pattern, illustrating it for the case of Chile. For this country they find that although its specialization in natural-resource-intensive sectors explains part of its R&D gap, a significant shortfall remains. Second, the authors show how a calibrated model can be used to determine the R&D gap that should be expected given a country's investment in physical and human capital. If the actual R&D gap is above this expected gap, then one can say that the country suffers from a true innovation shortfall.
  • Publication
    Income Risk, Income Mobility and Welfare
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-10) Krebs, Tom; Krishna, Pravin; Maloney, William F.
    This paper develops a framework for the quantitative analysis of individual income dynamics, mobility and welfare. Individual income is assumed to follow a stochastic process with two (unobserved) components, component representing measurement error or transitory income shocks and an Autoregressive (AR(1)) component representing persistent changes in income. The analysis uses a tractable consumption-saving model with labor income risk and incomplete markets to relate income dynamics to consumption and welfare, and derive analytical expressions for income mobility and welfare as a function of the various parameters of the underlying income process. The empirical application of the framework using data on individual incomes from Mexico provides striking results. Much of measured income mobility is driven by measurement error or transitory income shocks and therefore (almost) welfare-neutral. A smaller part of measured income mobility is due to either welfare-reducing income risk or welfare-enhancing catching-up of low-income individuals with high-income individuals, both of which have economically significant effects on social welfare. Decomposing mobility into its fundamental components is thus seen to be crucial from the standpoint of welfare evaluation.
  • Publication
    Exchange Rate Appreciations, Labor Market Rigidities, and Informality
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2002-02) Fiess, Norbert M.; Fugazza, Marco; Maloney, William
    This paper works at the interface of the literature exploring the raison d'etre of the informal labor market and that explaining the real exchange rate appreciations occurring in many Latin American countries during periods of reform. The authors first build a small country-Australian style model where the informal sector is seen as an unregulated non-tradables sector, augmented by heterogeneity in entrepreneurial ability and capital adjustment costs. They then examine the behavior of the model with and without a formal sector rigidity. It shows that the co-movements of relative formal/informal incomes, formal/informal sector size, and the real exchange rate can offer insight into the level of distortion in the labor market and the source of exchange rate fluctuations. The paper then explores time series data from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico using multivariate co-integration techniques to establish what "regime" each country is in at various periods of time. Mexico appears to be relatively undistorted and the 1987-92 appreciation appears to be largely a function of a boom in the non-tradables sector rather than wage inertia. In spite of a secular expansion of the informal sector there is little evidence of dualism or of a rigidity driven appreciation of the Real, from 1993-1996. Post 1995 Colombia corresponds to a classic segmented labor market and an appreciation partly driven by labor market rigidities. Graphical analysis suggests that neither the Argentine appreciation (1988-1992) or the celebrated Chilean appreciation (1975-1982) were driven by inertial forces
  • Publication
    Engineers, Innovative Capacity and Development in the Americas
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-03) Maloney, William F.
    Using newly collected national and sub-national data, and historical case studies, this paper argues that differences in innovative capacity, captured by the density of engineers at the dawn of the Second Industrial Revolution, are important to explaining present income differences, and, in particular, the poor performance of Latin America relative to North America. This remains the case after controlling for literacy, other higher order human capital, such as lawyers, as well as demand side elements that might be confounded with engineering. The analysis then finds that agglomeration, certain geographical fundamentals, and extractive institutions such as slavery affect innovative capacity. However, a large effect associated with being a Spanish colony remains suggesting important inherited factors.
  • Publication
    Human Capital, Trade Liberalization, and Income Risk
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-07) Krebs, Tom; Krishna, Pravin; Maloney, William
    Using data from Mexico, the authors study empirically the link between trade policy and individual income risk and the extent to which this varies across workers of different human capital (education) levels. They use longitudinal income data on workers to estimate time-varying individual income risk parameters in different manufacturing sectors in Mexico between 1987 and 1998, a period in which the Mexican economy experienced substantial changes in trade policy. In a second step, they use the variations in trade policy across different sectors and over time to estimate the link between trade policy and income risk for workers of varying education levels. The authors' findings are as follows. The level of openness of an economy is not found to be related to income risk for workers of any type. Furthermore, changes in trade policy (that is, trade policy reforms) are not found to have any effect on the risk to income faced by workers with either low or high levels of human capital. But workers with intermediate levels of human capital are found to experience a statistically and economically significant increase in income risk immediately following liberalization of trade. The findings thus point to an interesting non-monotonicity in the interaction between human capital, income risk and trade policy changes.
  • Publication
    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.