Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Migrated

This blog has migrated to Adakalanya. Thanks, Blogger.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Adios, SBIs

Bank Indonesia is going to scrap the SBI papers (The Jakarta Post, 4/1). The SBIs are short term promissory notes used by the central bank as part of its open-market operations. Thus far, however, these certificates have served more as safe haven to many investors (and even banks) as it carries relatively low risks with more certain yields. Scrapping this will leave the investors with government debt papers - those with higher risks.

As SBI is no longer an effective tool to control the money supply, this move is justified. It obviously will help the central bank cut the costs of its market operation. However, as the alternative, ie the government debt papers, carry higher risks, banks would be more careful. As a consequence, some banks might hedge against the higher uncertainty by keeping interest rate high. These days Bank Indonesia has been urging banks to lower their interest rates, following the consecutive cuts in the central bank's policy rate. While this stands on a shaky ground for justification, the central bankers should realize that scrapping SBI papers might not be in-line with their other objective to reduce the interest rates.

On bonded zones regulations

The Jakarta Post today (4/1) reported the new regulations on bonded zones. The Ministry of Finance Regulation PMK 147/2011 and PMK 143/2011 have ruled that, among all, 1) bonded zones of less than 10,000 square meters are to be (re-)located in industrial estates, 2) 75% of output should be exported (up from 50%), and 3) firms in bonded zones can do subcontract except for early checking, sorting, final packing or packaging.

The Post reported complaints from business community saying that the regulations are too strict and might backfire to the ongoing practices. They claimed that relocation would mean high costs as they have to re-invest in new plants, etc. I agree. Why doesn't the government just limit point one above to new firms and let the existing ones stay where they are? The businessmen also complain about obligation to export 75% of their outputs. I don't think this complaint is well justified. In fact, the main idea of bonded zones is to facilitate export. So, I actually think it has to be 100%. As for the third point above, I don't think it's necessary to restrict sub-contracting. The firms know what's the most economical way of producing. And they know better than the government. If the production sees it more profitable to sub-contract part of the manufacturing processes out to other firms, then let them do it. The government can just focus on monitoring the flow of goods, namely export.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Picks from The Latest NBER Research (2012-01-02)

The Competitiveness Impacts of Climate Change Mitigation Policies
by Joseph E. Aldy, William A. Pizer  -  #17705 (EEE ITI)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17705

Abstract:

In order to clarify ongoing debates over the competitiveness impacts of climate change regulation, we develop a precise definition that can be estimated with available domestic production, trade, and energy price data.  We use this definition and a 20+ year panel of 400+ U.S. manufacturing industries to estimate and predict the effects a U.S.-only $15 per ton CO2 price.  We find competitiveness effects on the order of a 1.0 to 1.3 percent decline in production among energy-intensive manufacturing industries, representing about one-third of the policy's impacts on these firms' output.

==

Organization of Disaster Aid Delivery: Spending Your Donations
by J. Vernon Henderson, Yong Suk Lee  -  #17707 (PE)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17707

Abstract:

This paper analyzes how different organizational structures between funding and implementing agencies affect the quality of aid delivered and social agendas pursued across neighboring villages in a set disaster context.  We model the implied objective functions and trade-offs concerning aid quality, aid quantity, and social agendas of different types of agencies.  We analyze three waves of survey data on fishermen and fishing villages in Aceh, Indonesia from 2005-2009, following the tsunami.  Different organizational structures result in significantly different qualities of hard aid, differential willingness to share aid delivery with other NGOs in a village, and differential promotion of public good objectives and maintenance of village religious and occupational traditions.  This is the first time these aspects have been modeled and quantified in the literature.  Some well known international NGOs delivered housing with relatively low rates of reported faults such as leaky roofs and cracked walls; others had relatively high rates.  For boats, some had very high rates of boat "failure", boats that sank upon launch, were not seaworthy, or fell apart within a month or two.  We also document how a social agenda of particular agencies to promote greater equality can be thwarted and distorted by village leaders, potentially increasing inequality.

==

Trade And Industrialisation After Globalisation's 2nd Unbundling: How Building And Joining A Supply Chain Are Different And
Why It Matters
by Richard Baldwin  -  #17716 (ITI)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17716

Abstract:

Revolutionary transformations of industry and trade occurred from 1985 to the late-1990s - the regionalisation of supply chains. Before 1985, successful industrialisation meant building a domestic supply chain.  Today, industrialisers join supply chains and grow rapidly because offshored production brings elements that took Korea and Taiwan decades to develop domestically.  These changes have not been fully reflected in "high development theory" - a lacuna that may lead to misinterpretation of data and inattention to important policy questions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Right diagnosis, wrong prescription

From Kompas today (28/12) we read that Minister of Agriculture, Suswono, has a solution to Indonesia's low competitiveness in agriculture products. Rightly, he points out that the reason for the low competitiveness is high transportation costs due to poor infrastructure. So, again rightly, the country needs to improve the road infrastructure.

But, now comes the tricky part, he also says that the government is preparing "cheap car for farmers" program. It will sell a 700 cc energy efficient car at the price of Rp 60 million per unit. He believes this will help reduce the costs faced by the farmers - and hence logistics costs will go down, then competitiveness will improve.

Good intention, however, usually comes with unintended consequences. Imagine you're an average farmer. What would you do with such car? I would use it for many activities outside farming. Or I will resell it with some extra margin. Or I will just rent it out in daily basis. So, rather than increasing the productivity of agriculture sector, the car might be good for other things, which leads to lower-than-expected impact on the competitiveness of ag products.

The news also reports that the government is ready for the first 1000 units. Presumably, there will be follow up batches. I wonder if the money can be of better use should it be directed towards improving the road condition, or building railway access to the bulky ag products rather than "cheap car program". We, by the way, experienced a program like this before. It was called "people's car". And it was a major failure.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Pick from The NBER Digest -- December 2011

ORGAN ALLOCATION POLICY AND ORGAN DONATION DECISIONS

Judd B. Kessler and Alvin E. Roth

The "priority rule," which grants priority on organ waiting lists to those who have previously registered as organ donors, can significantly raise the number of potential donors.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

In Organ Allocation Policy and the Decision to Donate (NBER Working Paper No. 17324), Judd Kessler and Alvin Roth find that an organ allocation policy known as the "priority rule," which grants priority on organ waiting lists to those who have previously registered as organ donors, can significantly raise the number of potential donors. Their results suggest that the priority rule, which is currently used in Singapore and which is being introduced in Israel, is a potentially powerful policy tool for encouraging donor registration.

The researchers devise an experimental game which captures some of the key features of the organ donation problem and collect data when students play this game. Each player begins the experiment with "kidneys" that may, with some probability, "fail" during the game. Players receive monetary compensation for each round of the game in which they remain alive. A player may "die" from "kidney failure" if he cannot obtain donated organs. He may also "die" during the game for other reasons - that creates a potential supply of donors whose "kidneys" may be assigned to still-living players who face organ failure. A player gives up some money if he registers to donate his "kidneys" in the event of death -- this captures what the authors view as the psychic cost of registering as an organ donor. A larger pool of potential donors conveys benefits for all players, because it raises the likelihood that if a player experiences "kidney failure" a replacement organ will be available.

The authors compare the effect of reducing this cost of donation, which in their game is a monetary cost, with the effect of adopting a priority rule. Both approaches increase the number of registered donors, but the "priority rule" performs at least as well as, and sometimes better than, an equivalent decrease in the cost of donation. The authors try introducing the priority rule after subjects have made donation decisions a number of times, as well as at the start of the game. In the latter case, the increased performance of the priority rule is even greater. With regard to actual policy design, Kessler and Roth point out that one advantage of the priority rule over strategies for compensating registered donors, and thereby reducing their costs of registering, is that the priority rule seems feasible and can be implemented without any additional costs to the system.

--Matt Nesvisky

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17324


Saturday, December 03, 2011

Mitigating the crisis?

Kompas today (3/12) reports that the government is preparing a mitigation scenario to anticipate the impact of the crisis of Eurozone on Indonesia. Good.

But some of the efforts listed in the newspaper might not be feasible. For example, budget absorption. The state budget aims a deficit of 2.1% this year. That translates into around IDR 150 trillion. The last updated data of government expenditure that I have shows by October the net spending totaled to positive IDR 4.8 trillion. Now we've entered December. I don't think the government can meet the deficit target - just like in the previous years.

Secondly, the news mentions about Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization. This is still a tall order. In the midst of the Lehman crisis, nobody could use it, due to small scale amount of fund and more importantly, the strict conditionality linked to IMF if you asked a bigger amount. Until CMIM is reformed further, it will not serve as a good shock cushion in the region. We still remember that Korea didn't get helped from Chiang Mai. They got it from US Fed.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Our product is expensive. We demand yours to be equally expensive

Minister of Trade Gita Wiryawan, as quoted by Kompas (2/12) said that foreign products should not enter directly into "the heart of Java", namely Jakarta. Because, here is his reason: our Pontianak mandarin orange has to take a rough and long way to Jakarta leading to its expensive price. So foreign goods should also experience the same difficulty. The policy to do that is to send foreign goods to a quarantine located far from Java.

So, by Gita's logic, if our product is expensive, we should tell foreign products to be equally expensive. His solution is not to fix the root of the problem, i.e the poor infrastructure and logistics across regions in Indonesia, but rather to punish the more efficient albeit foreign products at the cost of domestic consumers' welfare.

Very bad, Minister.

Addendum: On the same newspaper, Chairman of Indonesia's Transportation Community Danang Parikesit offers a better solution: improve the transportation infrastructure. The Deputy Head of Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Trade Natsir Mansyur shares this view, namely to improve on the logistics. Way to go, gentlemen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Picks from The Latest NBER Research (2011-11-28)

The Euro and European Economic Conditions
by Martin S. Feldstein  -  #17617 (EFG IFM ME)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17617

Abstract:

The creation of the euro should now be recognized as an experiment that has led to  the sovereign debt crisis in several countries, the fragile condition of major European banks, the high levels of unemployment, and the large trade deficits that now exist in most Eurozone countries.  Although the European Central Bank managed the euro in a way that achieved a low rate of inflation, other countries both in Europe and elsewhere have also had a decade of low inflation without incurring the costs of a monetary union.

The emergence of these problems just a dozen years after the start of the euro in 1999 was not an accident or the result of bureaucratic mismanagement but the inevitable consequence of imposing a single currency on a very heterogeneous group of countries, a heterogeneity that includes not only economic structures but also fiscal traditions and social attitudes.

This paper reviews (1) the reasons for these economic problems, (2) the political origins of the European Monetary Union, (3) the current attempts to solve the sovereign debt problem, (4) the long-term problem of inter-country differences of productivity growth and competitiveness, (5) the special problems of Greece and Italy, (6) and the pros and cons of a Greek departure from the Eurozone.


=====

Diversity and Donations: The Effect of Religious and Ethnic Diversity on Charitable Giving
by James Andreoni, Abigail Payne, Justin D. Smith, David Karp  -  #17618 (PE)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17618
 
Abstract:

We explore the effects of local ethnic and religious diversity on individual donations to private charities.  Using 10-year
neighborhood-level panels derived from personal tax records in Canada, we find that diversity has a detrimental effect on charitable donations.  A 10 percentage point increase in ethnic diversity reduces donations by 14%, and a 10 percentage point increase in religious diversity reduces donations by 10%.  The ethnic diversity effect is driven by a within-group disposition among non-minorities, and is most evident in high income, but low education areas.  The religious diversity effect is driven by a within-group disposition among Catholics, and is concentrated in high income and high education areas.  Despite these large effects on amount donated, we find no evidence that increasing diversity affects the fraction of households that donate.  Over the period studied, ethnic diversity rises by 6 percentage points and religious diversity rises by 4 percentage points; our results suggest that charities receive about 12% less in total donations.  As areas like North America continue to grow more diverse over time, our results imply that these demographic changes may have significant implications for the charitable sector.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Picks from The Latest NBER Research (2011-11-14)

Substitution and Stigma: Evidence on Religious Competition from the Catholic Sex-Abuse Scandal
by Daniel M. Hungerman  -  http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17589

Abstract:

This paper considers substituting one charitable activity for another in the context of religious practice.  I examine the impact of the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal on both Catholic and non-Catholic religiosity.  I find that the scandal led to a 2-million-member fall in the Catholic population that was compensated by an increase in non-Catholic participation and by an increase in non-affiliation. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest the scandal generated over 3 billion dollars in donations to non-Catholic faiths.  Those substituting out of Catholicism frequently chose highly dissimilar
alternatives; for example, Baptist churches gained significantly from the scandal while the Episcopal Church did not. These results challenge several theories of religious participation and suggest that regulatory policies or other shocks specific to one religious group could have important spillover effects on other religious groups.

==

Trade Prices and the Global Trade Collapse of 2008-2009
by Gita Gopinath, Oleg Itskhoki, Brent Neiman  http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17594

Abstract:

We document the behavior of trade prices during the Great Trade Collapse of 2008-2009 using transaction-level data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  First, we find that differentiated manufactures exhibited marked stability in their trade prices during the large decline in their trade volumes.  Prices of non-differentiated manufactures, by contrast, declined sharply. Second, while the trade collapse was much steeper among differentiated durable manufacturers than among non-durables, prices in both categories barely changed.  Third, despite this lack of movement in average price levels, the frequency and magnitude of price adjustments at the product level noticeably changed with the
onset of the crisis.


==

Gold Sterilization and the Recession of 1937-38
by Douglas A. Irwin http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17595

Abstract:

The Recession of 1937-38 is often cited as illustrating the dangers of withdrawing fiscal and monetary stimulus too early in a weak recovery.  Yet our understanding of this severe downturn is incomplete:  existing studies find that changes in fiscal policy were small in comparison to the magnitude of the downturn and that higher reserve requirements were not binding on banks.  This paper focuses on a neglected change in monetary policy, the sterilization of gold inflows during 1937, and finds that it exerted a powerful contractionary force during this period.  The transmission of this monetary shock to the real economy appears to have worked through lower asset (equity) prices and higher interest rates.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New comment note

Arianto A. Patunru, 2011. "Comments", a comment to Yung Chul Park and Chi-Young Son, "Renminbi Internalization: Prospect and Implications for Economic Integration in East Asia", Asian Economic Papers, 10(3): 73-4

Upcoming seminar

Paris conference this weekend here

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Crossing or Turning Point?

Got an email, kind of blessing. Significant change in life path is coming.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Picked from The Latest NBER Research (2011-07-25)

1. Network Stability, Network Externalities and Technology Adoption
by Catherine Tucker  -  #17246 (PR) http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17246

This paper investigates how the destabilizing of a social network may increase the scope of network externalities, using data on sales of a video-calling system made to an investment bank's employees and subsequent usage by these customers.  The terrorist attacks of 2001 led potential customers in New York to start communicating with a new and less predictable set of people when their work teams were reorganized as a result of the physical displacement that resulted from the attacks.  This did not happen in other comparable cities. These destabilized communication patterns were associated with potential adopters in New York being more likely to take into account a wider spectrum of the user base when deciding whether to adopt relative to those in other cities.  Empirical analysis suggests that the aggregate effect of network externalities on adoption was doubled by this instability.


2. The Value of Honesty: Empirical Estimates from the Case of the Missing Children
by Sara LaLumia, James M. Sallee  -  #17247 (PE) http://papers.nber.org/papers/W17247

How much are people willing to forego to be honest, to follow the rules? When people do break the rules, what can standard data sources tell us about their behavior? Standard economic models of crime typically assume that individuals are indifferent to dishonesty, so that they will cheat or lie as long as the expected pecuniary benefits exceed the expected costs of being caught and punished.  We
investigate this presumption by studying the response to a change in tax reporting rules that made it much more difficult for taxpayers to evade taxes by inappropriately claiming additional dependents.  The policy reform induced a substantial reduction in the number of
dependents claimed, which indicates that many filers had been cheating before the reform.  Yet, the number of filers who availed themselves of this evasion opportunity is dwarfed by the number of filers who passed up substantial tax savings by not claiming extra
dependents.  By declining the opportunity to cheat, these taxpayers reveal information about their willingness to pay to be honest.  We
present a novel method for inferring the characteristics of taxpayers in the absence of audit data.  Our analysis suggests both that this willingness to pay to be honest is large on average and that it varies significantly across the population of taxpayers.

Influential papers

Just came across this ranking of top influential economic papers. In restrospect, I think I wasn't too far off the literature then, luckily. My senior undergraduate thesis ("skripsi") - hence long time ago -  built on the works of Lucas (number 1 on the list), MRW (#4), and Romer (#5, #6). But to my surprise, the key reference of all these works (and hence mine), i.e. Solow's neoclassical growth model is not on the list.

Friday, May 06, 2011

RIP: Jamie Mackie

One of the most enlightened Indonesianists, Jamie Mackie passed away on April 21st, 2011.

Today The Jakarta Post runs a nice obit written by Thee Kian Wie.

I'm grateful to have known Jamie. He once commented on my draft paper. A rarity, for it was like a master giving a tap on a rookie's shoulder.

Rest in peace, Pak Jamie.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Pick from The Latest NBER Research (2011-04-25)

Exporting Christianity:  Governance and Doctrine in the Globalization of US Denominations
by Gordon H. Hanson, Chong Xiang  -  #16964 (ITI)
http://papers.nber.org/papers/W16964

Abstract:

In this paper we build a model of market competition among religious denominations, using a framework that involves incomplete contracts and the production of club goods.  We treat denominations akin to multinational enterprises, which decide which countries to enter based on local market conditions and their own "productivity." The model yields predictions for how a denomination's religious doctrine and governance structure affect its ability to attract adherents.  We test these predictions using data on the foreign operations of US Protestant denominations in 2005 from the World Christian Database. Consistent with the model, we find that (1) denominations with stricter religious doctrine attract more adherents in countries in which the risk of natural disaster or disease outbreak is greater and
in which government provision of health services is weaker, and (2) denominations with a decentralized governance structure attract more adherents in countries in which the productivity of pastor effort is higher.  These findings shed light on factors determining the
composition of religion within countries, helping account for the rise of new Protestant denominations in recent decades.




Wednesday, December 29, 2010

JEL Picks (Dec 2010 issue)

Designing Climate Mitigation Policy
Joseph E. Aldy, Alan J. Krupnick, Richard G. Newell, Ian W. H. Parry and William A. Pizer

This paper provides (for the nonspecialist) a highly streamlined discussion of the main issues, and controversies, in the design of climate mitigation policy. The first part of the paper discusses how much action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the global level is efficient under both the cost-effectiveness and welfare-maximizing paradigms. We then discuss various issues in the implementation of domestic emissions control policy, instrument choice, and incentives for technological innovation. Finally, we discuss alternative policy architectures at the international level. (JEL Q54, Q58)
Full-Text Access | Supplementary Materials [AEA membership required to access all links]

Efficiency and Redistribution: An Evaluative Review of Louis Kaplow's The Theory of Taxation and Public Economics
Robin Boadway

Louis Kaplow proposes a two-step methodology for normative policy analysis and illustrates it using various policy reforms. The first step is to identify efficiency gains when hypothetical lump-sum taxes can undo redistributive consequences. The second step evaluates the redistributive effects using a strictly welfaristic social welfare function. I critically review the foundations for Kaplow's procedure and its reliance on strict welfarism. I argue that basing efficiency gains on hypothetical lump-sum tax adjustment can lead to social welfare reducing policies if such tax adjustments are not carried out. I also indicate some conceptual problems with translating welfarism into policy evaluation when individuals have different utility function, and review one promising alternative approach.(JEL H20, H41, H50)
Full-Text Access | Supplementary Materials

Does Network Theory Connect to the Rest of Us? A Review of Matthew O. Jackson's Social and Economic Networks
James E. Rauch

The ubiquity of networks in our social lives has long been recognized, and their importance in our economic lives is increasingly recognized as well. Yet the literature synthesized in Matthew O. Jackson's Social and Economic Networks, which covers the theory of how networks form, decay, and shape behavior at a general level, has had little influence on either applied theory or empirical work in this area. This is partly because of limitations of network theory as it has evolved in this literature. After describing the network theory presented in the book, I discuss these limitations and make some tentative suggestions as to how they might be overcome. (JEL D85, L14, Z13)
Full-Text Access | Supplementary Materials

Why Isn't Mexico Rich? [this was linked in this blog before as an NBER working paper] Gordon H. Hanson

Over the last three decades, Mexico has aggressively reformed its economy, opening to foreign trade and investment, achieving fiscal discipline, and privatizing state owned enterprises. Despite these efforts, the country's economic growth has been lackluster, trailing that of many other developing nations. In this paper, I review arguments for why Mexico hasn't sustained higher rates of economic growth. The most prominent suggest that some combination of poorly functioning credit markets, distortions in the supply of nontraded inputs, and perverse incentives for informality creates a drag on productivity growth. These are factors internal to Mexico. One possible external factor is that the country has the bad luck of exporting goods that China sells, rather than goods that China buys. I assess evidence from recent literature on these arguments and suggest directions for future research. (JEL E23, E65, F14, O10, O20, O47)
Full-Text Access | Supplementary Materials

Why Have Economic Reforms in Mexico Not Generated Growth?
Timothy J. Kehoe and Kim J. Ruhl

Following its opening to trade and foreign investment in the mid-1980s, Mexico's economic growth has been modest at best, particularly in comparison with that of China. Comparing these countries and reviewing the literature, we conclude that the relation between openness and growth is not a simple one. Using standard trade theory, we find that Mexico has gained from trade, and by some measures, more so than China. We sketch out a theory in which developing countries can grow faster than the United States by reforming. As a country becomes richer, this sort of catch-up becomes more difficult. Absent continuing reforms, Chinese growth is likely to slow down sharply, perhaps leaving China at a level less than Mexico's real GDP per working-age person. (JEL E23, E65, F14, O10, O20, O47)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

NBER picks this week: Arrow et al and Baldwin

Sustainability and the Measurement of Wealth
by Kenneth J. Arrow, Partha Dasgupta, Lawrence H. Goulder, Kevin J. Mumford, Kirsten Oleson  -  #16599 (EEE EFG)

Abstract:

We develop a consistent and comprehensive theoretical framework for assessing whether economic growth is compatible with sustaining well-being over time.  The framework focuses on whether a comprehensive measure of wealth - one that accounts for natural
capital and human capital as well as reproducible capital - is maintained through time.  Our framework also integrates population
growth, technological change, and changes in health.  We apply the framework to five countries that differ significantly in stages of
development and resource bases:  the United States, China, Brazil, India, and Venezuela.  With the exception of Venezuela, significant
increases in human capital enable comprehensive wealth to be maintained (and sustainability to be achieved) despite significant
reductions in the natural resource base.  We find that the value of "health capital" is very large relative to other forms of capital.
As a result, its growth rate critically influences the growth rate of per-capita comprehensive wealth.

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W16599


Unilateral Tariff Liberalisation
by Richard Baldwin  -  #16600 (ITI)

Abstract:

Unilateral tariff liberalisation by developing nations is pervasive but our understanding of it is shallow.  This paper strives to partly
redress this lacuna on the theory side by introducing three novel political economy mechanisms with particular emphasis is on the role
of production unbundling.  One mechanism studies how lowering frictional barriers to imported parts can destroy the correlation of
interests between parts producers and their downstream customers.  A second mechanism studies how Kojima's pro-trade FDI raises the political economy cost of maintaining high upstream barriers.  The third works via a general equilibrium channel whereby developing
country's participation in the supply chains of advanced-nation industries undermines their own competitiveness in final goods, thus
making final good protection more politically costly.  In essence, developing nations' pursuit of the export-processing industrialisation undermines their infant-industry industrialisation strategies.

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W16600


McCulloch on Deaton

Interesting read:

Angus Deaton's paper is fascinating – and depressing in almost equal measure. Deaton is the nearest thing to God in the field of measuring development. He is perhaps the single most respected economist working in this field having built a reputation over decades for his meticulous unpicking of all manner of development data – when Deaton says something, you listen.

That is from my colleague Neil McCulloch. Read here


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Terms of endearment?

From NBER Research.

Terms of Endearment: An Equilibrium Model of Sex and Matching
by Peter Arcidiacono, Andrew W. Beauchamp, Marjorie B. McElroy  -  #16517

Abstract:

We develop a directed search model of relationship formation which
can disentangle male and female preferences for types of partners and
for different relationship terms using only a cross-section of
observed matches.  Individuals direct their search to a particular
type of match on the basis of (i) the terms of the relationship, (ii)
the type of partner, and (iii) the endogenously determined
probability of matching.  If men outnumber women, they tend to trade
a low probability of a preferred match for a high probability of a
less-preferred match; the analogous statement holds for women.  Using
data from National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health we
estimate the equilibrium matching model with high school
relationships.  Variation in gender ratios is used to uncover male
and female preferences.  Estimates from the structural model match
subjective data on whether sex would occur in one's ideal
relationship.  The equilibrium result shows that some women would
ideally not have sex, but do so out of matching concerns; the reverse
is true for men.

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W16517


Most recent thorough overview on Indonesia's growth dynamics

From the inbox:

Indonesia's Growth Dynamics
M. Chatib Basri and Hal Hill

Working Paper in Trade and Development No. 2010/10, Australian National University


This paper provides an analytical narrative of Indonesian economic growth over the past two decades. Particular attention is paid to the key economic crisis events of 1997-98 and 2008-09, and how and why Indonesia's response to them was completely different. We emphasize and illustrate how the years 1997-98 were a watershed in the country's economic history and political economy. We underline the country's generally good economic performance, especially the rapid recovery over the past decade, while also highlighting the fact that its economic growth has never quite matched that of the very high growth East Asian economies. The final section analyzes some key policy challenges, including embedding reforms in a highly fluid political environment, maintaining a broadly open commercial policy regime, the regional and international architecture, macroeconomic management, and 'connectivity' and regional (sub- national) development.

The paper is forthcoming in Asian Economic Policy Review


Decentralization: friend or not-yet?

From the inbox: 

Decentralization and Economic Performance in Indonesia
Thomas B Pepinsky and Maria M Wihardja (2010)


Indonesia's 1999 decentralization law gave local governments in Indonesia an unprecedented opportunity to adopt pro-development policies. We estimate the effect of decentralization (enacted in 2001) on national economic performance using a synthetic case control methodology. Our results indicate that decentralization has had no discernable effect on Indonesia's economic output as measured by gross domestic product. To explain this finding, we use subnational data to probe two mechanisms—interjurisdictional competition and democratic accountability—that underlie all theories linking decentralization to better economic outcomes. Our findings suggest that extreme heterogeneity in endowments, factor immobility, and the endogenous deterioration of local institutions can each undermine the supposed development-enhancing promises of decentralized government in developing countries.

Another call for more case studies, I suppose.

From Yokohama for Doha

Excerpt from APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration as a result of the Yokohama meeting in November 13-14, 2010:

We reaffirm our strong commitment to bring the Doha Development Agenda to a prompt and successful conclusion.  Bearing in mind that 2011 will be a critically important "window of opportunity," we direct our Ministers to empower our representatives to engage in comprehensive negotiations with a sense of urgency in the end game, built on the progress achieved, including with regard to modalities, consistent with the Doha mandate.  We affirm our commitment to win domestic support in our respective systems for a strong agreement.  In our continued efforts to resist protectionism, we agree to extend our commitment on standstill made in 2008 to the end of 2013 to refrain from raising new barriers to investment or to trade in goods and services, imposing new export restrictions, or implementing World Trade Organization inconsistent measures in all areas, including those that stimulate exports.  We commit to take steps to rollback trade distorting measures introduced during the crisis.  Furthermore, we will continue to exercise maximum restraint in implementing measures that may be considered to be consistent with WTO provisions if they have a significant protectionist effect and promptly rectify such measures where implemented.

Good. 

Is being formal good?

New in inbox:

In this paper we analyze the decision of small and micro firms to formalize, i.e. to obtain business and other licenses in rural Indonesia. We use the rural investment climate survey (RICS) that consists of non-farm rural enterprises, most of them microenterprises, and analyze the effect of formalization on tax payments, corruption, access to credit and revenue, taking into account the endogeneity of the formalization decision to such benefits and costs. We show, contrary to most of the literature, that formalization reduces tax and corruption payments. The benefits of formalization, and therefore the likelihood of being formal, also depend on characteristics such as firm size, as well as the education and ethnicity of the owner.

That is the abstract of a new paper by Neil McCulloch, Günther G. Schulze, and Janina Voss, "What Determines Firms' Decision to Formalize? Evidence from Rural Indonesia" (2010), Discussion Paper Series Nr. 13, Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg, Germany.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

China facts 10/23

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reports that the number of people above 60 years of age would cross 200 million sometime between 2011 and 2015, while those between 15 and 64 years old drop 23%. China's "baby boomers" generation will start retiring by 2015. Demographic bonus will expire in 2025. The working age population will peak in 2020, totaling 940 million. Population may reach 1.46 billion in 2035 (via China Daily)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Papers to read

Bend It Like Beckham: Ethnic Identity and Integration
by Alberto Bisin, Eleonora Patacchini, Thierry Verdier, Yves Zenou  -  #16465 (POL)

Abstract:

We propose a theoretical framework to study the determinants of ethnic and religious identity along two distinct motivational processes which have been proposed in the social sciences:  cultural conformity and cultural distinction.  Under cultural conformity, ethnic identity is reduced by neighborhood integration, which weakens group loyalties and prejudices.  On the contrary, under cultural distinction, ethnic minorities are more motivated in retaining their own distinctive cultural heritage the more integrated are the neighborhoods where they reside and work.  Data on ethnic preferences and attitudes provided by the Fourth National Survey of Ethnic Minorities in the UK enables us to test the relative significance of these two identity processes.  We find evidence consistent with intense ethnic and religious identity mostly formed as a cultural distinction mechanism.  Consistently, we document that ethnic identities are more intense in mixed than in segregated neighborhoods.

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W16465



Why Isn't Mexico Rich?
by Gordon H. Hanson  -  #16470 (ITI)

Abstract:

Over the last three decades, Mexico has aggressively reformed its economy, opening to foreign trade and investment, achieving fiscal discipline, and privatizing state owned enterprises.  Despite these efforts, the country's economic growth has been lackluster, trailing that of many other developing nations.  In this paper, I review arguments for why Mexico hasn't sustained higher rates of economic growth.  The most prominent suggest that some combination of poorly functioning credit markets, distortions in the supply of non traded inputs, and perverse incentives for informality creates a drag on productivity growth.  These are factors internal to Mexico.  One possible external factor is that the country has the bad luck of exporting goods that China sells, rather than goods that China buys. I assess evidence from recent literature on these arguments and suggest directions for future research.

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W16470


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2020

According to The Economist, in 2020 the (median) age on an Indian is 28, Chinese 37, American 38, European 45, and Japan 49.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Paper to read

Does Culture Matter?
by Raquel Fernandez - #16277 (EFG LE LS PE POL)

Abstract:

This paper reviews the literature on culture and economics, focusing primarily on the epidemiological approach. The epidemiological approach studies the variation in outcomes across different immigrant groups residing in the same country. Immigrants presumably differ in their cultures but share a common institutional and economic environment. This allows one to separate the effect of culture from
the original economic and institutional environment. This approach has been used to study a variety of issues, including female labor force participaiton, fertility, labor market regulation, redistribution, growth, and financial development among others.

http://papers.nber.org/papers/W16277

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Duck, The City, and The Chairman

The Duck, The City, and The Chairman

Posted in Facebook by Arianto A. Patunru on Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 5:11pm

“What’s up, Mister Chairman? Long time no see!”
Ni-ho-ma? How’re you doing?”
“Great, Chairman. Just finished with a conference on…”
“Crisis? I bet you did! Seriously, don’t you people have anything else to do? This crisis is peanuts! It’s a small, tiny hiccup for China!”
“I reckoned that, Sir. I can’t believe you rebounded that quickly! Approaching two digits again next year? Impressive!”
“That’s okay. Singapore would impress you, too. And look at your own country; it’s also doing very well. So what crisis are you guys talking about? C’mon, we’ve seen harder times, have we not? Don’t be sissy…”
“Yes, Sir…”
“So now, how do you like your visit?”
“Well, it’s fantastic! I didn’t get the chance to see the Great Wall, nor could I go to the Forbidden City – conference was tight. But I sneaked out to Tiananmen Square and …”
“Ah, those stuff. Standard! You can visit them anytime. They’re eternal. But how about food? Now, that is important…”
“Sure thing, Chairman. This great conference organizer took us to Duck King…”
“Wait! Did you just say Duck King? The one in Beijing? The original, authentic, first-timer Duck King? No kidding!”
“You heard me, Chairman. Duck King. The original Peking Duck, Beijing’s most precious gift to the entire civilization!”
“Ah, that is an understatement, my friend. We believe God has created only ten sets of masterpiece in the history of universe. Two of them are Peking ducks and Chinese cooks. They are so good I don’t really care about the remaining eight…”
“Well, that sounds a bit of an exaggeration, Sir. But I won’t argue you on that. As a matter of fact, we have this best restaurant in Jakarta serving Peking duck. Now I feel like I have been cheated the entire time. Why can’t they make it like this here?”
“Hahaha… that’s true. We can make iPhones better than Americans and send them out to the world. We make Lenovos, send them out. We even created the ugly looking Crocs and made you East Asians love ‘em. But listen, dude. You want Pecking duck, you come eat it here. Right in Beijing! Because Beijing, the duck, and the cook are one package, my friend! They’re perfect complements as you economists would call ‘em”
“I guess you’re right, Mr. Mao”

“Now what else have you seen?”
“Oh, I have this friend from newspaper. She took us to … let me remember the name … ah, Shichahai! It’s a really cool place, they have…”
“Oh, that! Of course. I love that place too. Where else can you relax, sipping Chinese tea, and listening to Santana? And they’ve got Starbucks, too, you noticed?”
“Yup. Your country is so globalized…”
“Excuse me? Watch your words, young man. You are in the most capitalistic country in the world! Did I say we invented … well, we made iPhone? Do you know we have our own state in US called Walmart? And by the way, that Blackberry you Indonesians are so crazy about? Man, that thing’s ridiculously expensive! Them Canadians are ripping you off. What are they, bloodsuckers? Just be patient, we’ll make it cheaper very soon!”
“Err, I’m sure you will, Sir”
“Trust me. We’re the most efficient neoliberal in the world”
“You think so?”
“Hell yes! Not only that. We have produced all market icons fancied even by them socialist street activists. Did you see those t-shirts with my picture or Che’s on them? They’re bestsellers! Everybody from London to Buenos Aires, from Jakarta to Caracas buy them. Hail capitalism! Now you tell this to Chavez or that guy Morales”
“I’ll do. And ugh, speaking about t-shirt, I saw one with your trade mark logo – except that they replaced your face with Obama’s…”
“Hahaha! Is that right? Well, I don’t mind. I like this dude Obama. I heard he just won an, what, Oscar?”
“No, it’s the Nobel, Sir”
“Whatever. But see? This guy, I knew he’s got talent. Unlike Bush…”
“Alrite, Chairman. I think I should be boarding now”
“OK. Have a safe flight. Say hi to Soesilo”
“Bye”
Cai jian!” 

Phantomizing Keynes

Phantomizing Keynes

Posted in Facebook by Arianto A. Patunru on Saturday, May 2, 2009 at 1:26pm

17:00 - 18:30

"Maynard, very nice to meet you"
"Same here. What brings you to London?"
"Some conference. How's life?"
"You mean death? Either way I'm good. What conference are you having?"
"Was. Finished yesterday, that's why I'm here now. It was some kind of reassessment of orthodox and heterodox approaches to investment and growth. Great debate there"
"Ah, that. Boring"
"We talked about you a bit"
"That's not surprising. But rather unfortunate. People remember me only when the economy is in crisis"
"Oh don't be too sentimental, Maynard. Take it as a complement: yes there's a lack of demand and yes monetary policy is rather impotent. A vindication to partof your General Theory, I suppose"
"You have problem with my book?"
"Yes, I do, a bit. Wanna discuss this now?"
"Of course not. We're sipping coffee in Trafalgar Square and you want to talk about liquidity trap? No way"
"Right, Maynard. Let's talk about something more fun then. What are you up to?"
"I'm setting up a school. Call it 'I-Told-You-So-School-of-Economics'. Wanna join?"
"Sounds fun"
"Indeed. I'm hiring Krugman as the department head"
"Not Stiglitz?"
"No, I don't really like that guy"
"And what do you do apart from economics?"
"I'm writing a book about my wife Lydia. Just started it. Hey, what about you. What have you been doing. Apart from economics, I suppose"
"I'm rereading Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground and I just finished Gordimer's Beethoven was One Sixteenth Black"
"Great picks. Underground is different from Dostoevsky's other works. You know me, I like everything different. That's actually the strength of my works: different from mainstream"
"I see..."
"But I haven't read Nadine Gordimer. Is she good? Tell me about thisBeethoven..."
"Sure. Here goes..."

***

18:30 - 19.15

"It's getting colder. What's your plan?"
"Nothing in particular. I'm thinking of some play, Maynard. Any suggestion?"
"Play. Good idea. Anything you fancy?"
"Well I guess I'll go see Phantom of the Opera again. What about you? I heard Ian McKellen is playing Waiting for Godot"
"Yeah, but I've seen it. I'll go see Billy Elliot. Elton John does the scores"
"Now that I have seen twice. So I guess we'll go separate ways?"
"Yes. Shall we meet again afterward?"
"Yes, let's say 23:00?"
"OK. Let's do this. Since Billy is shorter than Phantom and the theater is two stations away from here, I'll come back again to this place..."
"Great. Let's meet up in front of Her Majesty's theater"
"OK, enjoy"
"You too, Maynard"

***

23:00 - 23:15

"Sorry for waiting"
"No, you're alright. Just got here. How's the play?"
"Terrific. How's Billy?"
"Not bad at all. Better than the movie. Tell me about Phantom. Who played Christine?"
"Gina Beck"
"Is she good?"
"Very good. She's amazing"
"Really? Better than Sarah Brightman?"
"Better than Sarah Brightman"
"Glad you enjoyed it. Hey let's go to this new cafe over at Piccadilly. I heard it's great"

***

23:15 - 02:05

"Alright. I'm tired. You're staying in London?"
"No, I'm going back to Brighton. Will fly back to Jakarta tomorrow"
"I'll see. OK then. I'm going back to Bloomsbury. Nice meeting you"
"Same here, Maynard. Keep in contact"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AP to PLN, eh?

So the embarassing blackouts in CGK is solved: the government orders PLN to takeover the power management in CGK from Angkasa Pura.

As if PLN is good.

Monday, August 09, 2010

On redenomination

We've got too many zeros on our currency vis-a-vis US dollar. Getting rid of some of them wouldn't hurt. In fact it simplifies our life.

This thought has been around for awhile. The recent brouhaha was just another example of government's bad PR.

Friday, August 06, 2010

2010H2

Growth data for second quarter is out. It's 6.2% yoy. With 5.7% in Q1, the growth of H1 is therefore 5.9%. GOI's target for 2010 ia 5.8% (BI's is 6.0%). Most likely, it's the latter that holds, if not surpassed.

Inflation in June and July has been higher than expected. As August/Sept will observe fasting month and eid days festivities, yearly inflation might also hit the upper bound (set at 6% by BI), hence a need for some tightening up.

As for employment, GOI expects unemployment to drop to 7.6%. With a growth target of 5.8%, that implies an assumption of 400,000 absorbtion per 1% growth. I guess we're not there yet.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Assignment for the upcoming semester

S1: Introduction to Microeconomics, co-teach with M. Pangestu (Main text: Mankiw)
S3: Advance Microeconomics (Main text: Mas-Colell)

Friday, March 19, 2010

New paper in BIES

Survey of Recent Developments
Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies 46(1):7-31, 2010

Arianto A. Patunru (University of Indonesia)
Christian von Luebke (Stanford University)

Abstract

Recent political developments are slowing reforms. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the finance ministry find themselves entrapped in legal inquiries and political wrangling that seem intended to weaken their reforming zeal. KPK's effectiveness has been undermined by legislative changes and the arrests of three of its commissioners. Meanwhile, the costly bail-out of a small bank has provided an opportunity for attacks on leading reformers - Vice President Boediono and the Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani Indrawati. The president's diffident stance in both instances has played into the hands of the opposition and, although key reformers are likely to remain in office, the political imbroglio has nonetheless eroded confidence in the government. 

Year-on-year GDP growth recovered strongly to 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 2009. Government spending has been the key driver, while household spending slowed and investment remained low. Both exports and imports have returned to modest growth. Although 2009 ended with low inflation, Bank Indonesia (BI) has set its target inflation rate for 2010 at double the rate it achieved in November. BI is likely to bow to populist demands to lower nominal interest rates rather than raising them somewhat to prevent inflation accelerating, even though its real policy rate has been consistent with significant acceleration of GDP growth. The 2009 budget outcomes confirm that the fiscal stimulus in response to the global financial crisis has been less than hoped for. As for 2010, high world oil prices will imply huge subsidies, given that the government is unwilling to increase domestic fuel and electricity prices commensurately. 

The president announced that virtually all the government's 'first 100 days' program targets have been met. However, half of the 'action plans' amounted to nothing more than issuing or announcing new regulations, plans, blueprints, guidelines, recommendations or policies, or simply preparing drafts of these. No real progress has been made in relation to the most urgent reforms, particularly on energy subsidies and labour market regulation. Realising that the whole population would benefit in net terms, the previous government signed the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) in November 2004. But just when the agreement was to take effect, strong resistance from business and parliamentarians emerged, leading to the government's decision to re-negotiate many tariffs with China. This is disappointing: failing to uphold its commitments under this long-standing agreement makes Indonesia appear unreliable as an economic partner.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Upcoming gig: Asian Economic Panel

Seoul, Korea next week:

...

3:30 - 5:00 pm

Yung Chul Park, Korea Univ., "RMB Internationalization: Its implications for 
Financial and Monetary Cooperation in East Asia"

 

Discussant
Arianto A. Patunru, Univ. of Indonesia

Georges de Menil, Paris School of Economics

Vu Quoc Huy, Institute of Economics/National Economics Univ.


Details here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Broken cartel -- don't tell us you're surprised

It is growingly clear that the political coalition of parties surrounding SBY is breaking up. The parties involved deny. The president asks the members to respect political ethics. And the usual story goes on.

Surprise?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Some quotes from Time (Bernanke's US Issue) that might as well be explaining Indonesia (ie, SMI-Boediono's rescue act and the noise that follows NOW)

"History is composed not only of what happened but of what didn't happen. The latter, of course, is impossible to really know" (Stengel, "To Our Readers")

"What we don't know is what the economy and our lives would look like if a few individuals had not acted on our behalf and had simply sat on their hands" (Stengel, "To Our Readers")

"Bank runs are even scarier now that they don't require an actual run on an actual bank. Billins of dollars can be withdrawn with a keystroke, and all sorts of nonbank players ar now dangerously intertwined with financial markets" (Grunwald, "Ben Bernanke")

"Now that the fire is out, it's easy to attack the firefighters for getting the furniture wet or holding their hoses improperly" (Grunwald, "Ben Bernanke")

"This wasn't a war of choice. It was a war of necessity" (Grunwald, quoting Tim Geithner, "Ben Bernanke")

"Bernanke has become a political victim of his apolitical success... It's now up to our dysfunctional political system to let him do his job -- and to fix the financial system so that he never has to save the world again" (Grunwald, "Ben Bernanke")

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's expectation, really

Alright if you insist Bank Century is small, it is small. If you therefore conclude such a small bank could not bring other banks down with it, then we should discuss about another concept: systemic risk.

For wonkish, go google Diamond-Dybvig model.

But let's make it easier. Some people seem to think "systemic risk" here means the bank is related to other banks and therefore can affect the latter in a contagious process. Maybe I'm wrong, but Burhanuddin Abdullah and Anwar Nasution seemed to use this concept in their hearing with DPR's Pansus. According to their logic, since BC is small, it couldn't have systemic risk whatsover.

Some others believe it is expectation that really matters. (I got that impression from for example Boediono's and Miranda Goeltom's responses to questions from DPR's Pansus). As a depositor in Bank A, you, a risk-averse person (and by the way, that's a fair generalization), would feel anxious when you see people run Bank B across the street. No matter how small Bank B is and no matter how unrelated Bank A and Bank B is. The only connection between the two banks is what we call human expectation, driven by the act of observing something that you then expect might happen to you, too. Your reaction can vary. If, by any chance, you have the information that general situation is manageable (eg there hasn't been any news about world struck by crisis or something; or any other relevant information), you might not withdraw your money from Bank A. Yet. But, in many cases, you can't have full information on whether or not the situation is "manageable". It can take only a couple of depositors loudly saying "Gee, that bank is falling! This bank is next, I'm gonna withdraw!". Before you know it, Bank A is rushed, too. Then Bank C, D, so forth. It is therefore "systemic". This latter situation is sometimes affected by your perception on the authority, in this case Bank Indonesia and MOF. When you know (or are told) that BI and MOF are short of liquidity and fiscal capacity to deal with a crisis, your incentive to quickly withdraw and save your money at home rather than bank increases. In other time, you think BI and MOF can handle the situation well (even if Bank B is rushed, their depositors are saved, etc), in which case, your incentive to withdraw is relatively small.

So, it's about expectation. I'm more persuaded by this second understanding about the word "systemic risk".

Dahlan Iskan as new PLN Chief

The government has just inaugurated Dahlan Iskan as the new chief of PLN. He was the man behind the success of Jawa Pos, a media group. Beyond that, I don't know much about him. I just learned from today's news that he has served as president director of two independent power producers in East Kalimantan and Surabaya (The Jakarta Post, 24/12).

But I fully agree with State Minister for SOEs Mustafa Abubakar's remark: "The leader doesn't need just a technical capacity. It requires also leadership and good management capacity".

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trade war with China

This growing tension against China in the midst of ASEAN-China FTA should also look at some facts. Indonesia's import from China has grown from 2.4% in 1985 to 7.2% in 2006 (as shares of total import). The corresponding figures of export are 0.5% and 9.8%. Contrast this with our trade with Japan, US (let's make it North America), and EU15. Our import from Japan was 25.8% in 1985 and down to 14.2% in 2006; while export down from 46.2% to 37.3%. Import from US was down from 18.7% to 16.6% and export to them was down from 22% to 18.9%. Finally, import from EU15 went down from 19% to 8.3% while export increased from 6.4% to 18%.

So de facto, we have had an increasing trade with China. Not just import, but also export.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Award for Sorry Thief

I don't have problem with those NGOs giving an award to Prita for she has become the symbol of consumers' right against lousy business.

But I can't understand why you should give an award to a petty thief. The legal system is weak, yes. Big thieves should be punished big time. But that doesn't mean you can just forgive small thieves. Because thief is thief, regardless of the scale of the theft.

A sympathy for an old woman who "were forced by situation to steal something almost worthless" might sound just. But giving her an award is I think just too much. You're sending a very wrong signal to the populace.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar yes. Copenhagen whatever

What makes me more sympathetic to Mother Earth is Avatar the movie, not Copenhagen the wooshy wooshy.

Moral's immorality

On the call for suspension of VP and Minister of Finance by DPR's Inquiry Committe (and thus the President's refusal), Amien Rais and Din Syamsuddin are reportedly disappointed. They argue, even if the call is inconstitutional, it's "moral".

And disrespecting the law and constitution is moral, gentlemen?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who's afraid of free trade?

Deputy Minister of Agriculture defends ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, saying that it will benefit Indonesia (BusinessNews, 16/12).
Agreed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

15 focuses is no focus

According to an official at the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, GOI has decided 15 sectors as the priority in infrastructure development within the next five years (Bisnis Indonesia, 17/9).

Fifteen?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More cushy cushion needed

The government declares they need an extra Rp 3 to 5 trillion emegency reserve in the 2010 budget to anticipate threatening world oil price. That would add to the currently allocated Rp 5.6 trillion.

As known, the state budget has assumed an oil price of USD 60 per barrel. Now the price stands around USD 70 already. And might even increase in the near future, considering the world economic recovery.

Now the budget also assumes that every USD 1 increase beyond the assumed USD 60 would add Rp 0.1 trillion to the deficit. Now, if Indonesian Crude Price (ICP) is USD 65 per barrel (usually it is USD 5 below the world oil price quoted in US market) then there is an increase of USD 5 trillion on top of the assumed price. According to the elasticity assumption, it should add Rp 0.5 trillion to the deficit. But, why ask Rp 3 to 5 trillion?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stepping up the ladder

According to the IFC's Doing Business 2010, Indonesia is the most reformist country in East Asia and Pacific with regard to business regulation as observed in the latest IFC's survey. As a consequence, Indonesia's ranking is up to 122 from 129.

Congratulations.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The P in GDP stands for 'production', remember?

Joseph Stiglitz questions if statistics "are giving us the right signals" (Project Syndicate/Jakarta Post, 9/9). In the article that reads like advertisement of the chairman of the newly established Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, Stiglitz rightly says that GDP is not apt to reflect people well being.

Of course. It's just a measure of production. Yet, that's the best we have now -- for again, measuring production.

We already started "green GDP" here and there, taking account of natural resource depletion and environmental degradation. Despite the rough proxies used, it's a good way to remind us that the business-as-usual production might be harmful to the environment.

But many people push it even more to measure happiness (or in general, well-being). So far I'm skeptical. Production is measurable. So is green production. But happiness? It might be measurable on individual basis, or at least household. You might even come out with measures like aggregare willingness to pay to proxy demand for something (including intangible goods) at community level. But pushing it to grand scale like national GDP will encounter serious aggregation problem.

One of those happiness measures found that the most happy people live in Bhutan. I, for one, don't want to live in Bhutan.