NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Alejandro Micco

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Working Papers and Chapters

September 2004Effective Labor Regulation and Microeconomic Flexibility
with Ricardo J. Caballero, Kevin N. Cowan, Eduardo M.R.A. Engel: w10744
Microeconomic flexibility, by facilitating the process of creative-destruction, is at the core of economic growth in modern market economies. The main reason for why this process is not infinitely fast, is the presence of adjustment costs, some of them technological, other institutional. Chief among the latter is labor market regulation. While few economists would object to such a view, its empirical support is rather weak. In this paper we revisit this hypothesis and find strong evidence for it. We use a new sectoral panel for 60 countries and a methodology suitable for such a panel. We find that job security regulation clearly hampers the creative-destruction process, especially in countries where regulations are likely to be enforced. Moving from the 20th to the 80th percentile in job s...
March 2004Microeconomic Flexibility in Latin America
with Ricardo J. Caballlero, Eduardo Engel: w10398
We characterize the degree of microeconomic inflexibility in several Latin American economies and find that Brazil, Chile and Colombia are more flexible than Mexico and Venezuela. The difference in flexibility among these economies is mainly explained by the behavior of large establishments, which adjust more promptly in the more flexible economies, especially when accumulated shocks are substantial. We also study the path of flexibility in Chile and show that it declined in the aftermath of the Asian crisis. This decline can account for a substantial fraction of the large decline in TFP-growth in Chile since 1997 (from 3.1 percent per year for the preceding decade, to about 0.3 percent after that). Moreover, if it were to persist, it could permanently shave off almost half of a percent fr...
Port Efficiency, Maritime Transport Costs and Bilateral Trade
with Ximena Clark, David Dollar: w10353
Recent literature has emphasized the importance of transport costs and infrastructure in explaining trade, access to markets, and increases in per capita income. For most Latin American countries, transport costs are a greater barrier to U.S. markets than import tariffs. We investigate the determinants of shipping costs to the U.S. with a large database of more than 300,000 observations per year on shipments of products aggregated at six-digit HS level from different ports around the world. Distance volumes and product characteristics matter. In addition, we find that ports efficiency is an important determinant of shipping costs. Improving port efficiency from the 25th to the 75th percentile reduces shipping costs by 12 percent. (Bad ports are equivalent to being 60% farther away from mar...

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