Jayant Menon, Thiam Hee Ng, Thursday, October 1, 2015

Malaysia’s fortunes have taken a turn for the worse in recent years, both in manufacturing and across the economy in general. This column argues that the country is moving back to processing its agricultural and mineral resources, and that such ‘premature deindustrialisation’ is mostly policy driven. The biggest concern with such structural shifts is that they lead to low-productivity, low-wage manufacturing. Malaysia must address these issues and improve its business environment if it wants to realise its aspirations.

Toshihiro Okubo, Yukako Ono, Yukiko Umeno Saito, Friday, September 4, 2015

The productivity of a firm depends on its interaction with its suppliers and customers. This column uses unique data from Japan to investigate the wholesalers’ role in transaction networks, considering both sides of the transaction. The likelihood that a firm uses wholesalers increases with smaller buyer-side firms and larger seller-side firms. In addition, wholesalers tend to be located closer to their manufacturing buyers and further from their manufacturing sellers than manufacturers are to their direct manufacturing partners.

Nicholas Crafts, Alex Klein, Thursday, July 30, 2015

There is increasing evidence that cities offer externalities that raise labour productivity. This column looks at the contribution of US cities to productivity growth at the turn of last century. The findings show that increased specialisation, promoted by improved transportation, was the key to productivity growth. Today’s policymakers should heed this lesson.

Johan Hombert, Adrien Matray, Saturday, July 11, 2015

The rise of China has been identified as a major source of disruption for the manufacturing sector in high-income economies. This column argues that innovation helps firms to escape import competition from low-wage countries. It uses variation in R&D tax credits across years and US states to show that firms' R&D capital stock has a causal effect on their resilience to trade shocks.

Petr Matous, Yasuyuki Todo, Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Japanese business groups, or keiretsu – cartels of companies with interlocking interests – have contributed much to the success of Japanese manufacturing in the 20th century. This column explores the future of this form of corporate governance, amid increasing calls for their dissolution. An examination of trade networks in the automotive industry shows that automakers no longer exhibit a preference for dealing with keiretsu partners. Globalisation, procurement scandals, and advances in modularisation have helped to erode the benefits of these long-term relationships.

Ejaz Ghani, William Kerr, Alex Segura, Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The vast informal sector in India affects everything from poverty to growth. This column presents new facts on how Indian job growth in manufacturing is concentrated in informal tradable industries, especially one-person establishments. These features are most closely linked to the urbanisation of informal Indian manufacturing, but subcontracting and rising female participation also appear to play noteworthy roles.

Catherine Hausman, Ryan Kellogg, Friday, May 15, 2015

The economic and environmental impacts of the US fracking boom are hotly debated. This column argues that there’s been a large positive impact on the US economy, estimating that the benefits to producers and consumers totalled $48 billion in 2013, or around one-third of 1% of US GDP. The climate change impacts have been large, but they do not outweigh the private gains. However, a lack of data on the impacts to water, air, and seismic activity hamper policymakers effectively targeting the areas of greatest concern and hamper them drawing up effective regulation.

Uri Dadush, Friday, March 13, 2015

Manufacturing is often seen as the key to sustainable export and productivity growth in developing countries. This column argues that, while manufacturing played a key role in some countries’ development, high growth can be sustained without relying primarily on manufacturing. A process of learning, productivity improvement, and investment that touches all sectors characterises the most successful economies. Policies that artificially favour manufacturing should instead give way to maximising learning from the frontier in all sectors of the economy.

Samuel Marden, Sunday, December 28, 2014

It is often argued that for poor countries, increases in agricultural productivity result in higher non-agricultural output, but the theory is ambiguous and the empirical evidence is limited. This column presents evidence from a natural experiment provided by China’s early 1980s agricultural reforms. Higher agricultural output induced by the reforms led to quantitatively important growth in non-agricultural output. This growth appears to be primarily due to rural savings increasing the supply of capital to the non-agricultural sector.

Kozo Kiyota, Thursday, November 27, 2014

A major concern with multinationals is that they can cause disemployment (also called job offshoring). However, FDI could offset or even exceed such a negative effect. This column examines to what extent disemployment in Japan is related to FDI. The results suggest that disemployment in Japan is driven by substitution between capital and labour, rather than the reallocation of labour caused by FDI.

Daron Acemoglu, David Autor, David Dorn, Gordon H. Hanson, Brendan Price, Sunday, September 28, 2014

Manufacturing in the US has rebounded after the Great Recession, but employment levels have not recovered from their steep decline in the decade before the recession. This column examines to what extent the sector’s fall is a result of the rise of China. The authors estimate direct effects of import competition from China, as well as labour market and buyer-seller indirect effects that operate at the local level. China’s impact has been strong, and employment in US manufacturing is unlikely to recover.

Giuseppe Berlingieri, Thursday, September 25, 2014

Advanced nations are shedding manufacturing jobs and gaining service jobs – a trend that has been in place for decades. Some of the shift, however, is a reclassification effect. Corporate outsourcing of tasks like marketing means workers doing the same task as before now show up as working for a firm in the service sector. Using US data from the past 60 years, this column shows that the evolution of the input-output structure – which is mostly due to professional and business services outsourcing – accounts for 36% of the increase in services and 25% of the fall in manufacturing.

Arik Levinson, Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pollution emitted by manufacturers has been falling in Europe and the US. A concern with this clean-up is that developed countries have been offshoring the production of pollution-intensive parts and products. This column presents evidence refuting this concern. Using a new approach, the author calculates that almost all of the clean-up in US manufacturing can be explained by technological changes.

Benedicta Marzinotto, Alessandro Turrini, Friday, September 5, 2014

The link between public- and private-sector compensation has important implications for the labour market and price competitiveness. This column reports that manufacturing and government wages co-move both in the long and short run, but that the long-run co-movement is much stronger where the government is an important employer. This co-movement tends to break down during fiscal consolidation periods, except in large-government countries. Moreover, manufacturing wages exhibit a stronger co-movement with productivity in countries where government wages are set via collective bargaining. 

Oya Celasun, Gabriel Di Bella, Tim Mahedy, Chris Papageorgiou, Monday, February 24, 2014

The strong rebound of manufacturing production following the Great Recession of 2008–09 has generated renewed interest in the sector among analysts and policymakers. This column argues that a detailed look at the data suggests that claims of a US manufacturing renaissance are unwarranted. Yet, there remain factors that could support a greater contribution from the manufacturing sector to overall US growth in the years ahead.

Leonardo Iacovone, Aaditya Mattoo, Andrés Zahler, Sunday, September 15, 2013

Service exports and innovation may be a source of dynamic growth for countries in the middle-income trap. This column presents new research showing some support for this optimistic view. That said, it’s clear that researchers need to improve their understanding of how firms in the services sector innovate and increase productivity, and whether better-tailored policies can promote trade and innovation in services.

Richard Dobbs, Friday, February 8, 2013

Surprisingly, manufacturing in some advanced economies is experiencing something of a renaissance. This column argues that the renaissance will unfold in new, unexpected ways. Manufacturing value added will continue to rise, but the impact on jobs will be muted – particularly for the unskilled. A range of innovations has opened a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build new platforms, but better skills and new strategies will be needed.

Klaus Desmet, Ejaz Ghani, Stephen D O'Connell, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg , Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Will India’s rapid growth in the services sector lead to overcrowding of its cities? This column compares India’s experience to that of other countries.

Ejaz Ghani, Monday, January 23, 2012

Mention China and India to economists and their first thought will be rapid growth. Their second thought might be how differently the two economies are achieving this: China through manufacturing, India through services. This column asks whether that stereotype may be changing.

Thibault Fally, Tuesday, January 10, 2012

As the oft-cited iPhone example illustrates, production has become increasingly fragmented across countries. This column presents recent research, however, suggesting that this trend may be reversing for manufacturing plants in the US. It shows that intermediate goods account for a decreasing fraction of output value, while industries that are closer to the final consumer contribute to an increasing share of GDP.