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Intertwining Inequality and Labor Market under the New Normal
This paper builds on a life cycle model of occupational choices and financial frictions to understand the main channel through which demography and inequality influence the economy. Based on household data from Thailand, younger cohorts are likely to be workers and older cohorts are likely to be entrepreneurs due to age-dependent skills and asset accumulation. Under the new normal faced by the Thai economy as well as others, aging population can lower overall total factor productivity and increase inequality. An increase in equilibrium wage due to shortage of labor supply drives mediocre entrepreneurs to become self-employed – a low-income and low-productivity occupation – and worsens total factor productivity and hence inequality. Moreover, a decline in world interest rates associated with global aging population will exacerbate this negative effect. Reducing financial frictions or alleviating a borrowing constraint of talented entrepreneurs can mitigate this effect while extending retirement age will only improve output per capita while total factor productivity and inequality worsen.
Bunching for Free Electricity
This paper documents the impacts of Thailand’s Free Basic Electricity program on electricity consumption behavior. Under the program, households who use less than 50 units are exempt from paying their electricity bill in that month, while households who use more than 50 units have to pay for the full amount. The program thus creates a large notch in the household’s budget set. In contrast to existing literature that finds little or no bunching, we observe a distinct bunching of electricity consumption around the threshold. Nonetheless, the excess bunching is still small compared to the overall distribution. We provide possible explanations on the role of various optimization frictions.
Heterogeneous Exporters' Responses to Trade Liberalization in a Two-Dimensional Product Space
Multiproduct firms are responsible for the majority of the global trade network. The majority of studies on multiproduct firms that incorporate the notion of core competency – the idea that a firm is more efficient in some products than others – find success in explaining observed empirical patterns. However, because products in these models are represented on a one dimensional interval, the models are unable to capture the fact that products are inherently hierarchical and multidimensional. This paper proposes a way to extend the concept of core competency into a two-dimensional space with an introduction of industries. This allows for a richer prediction on the exporters’ responses to a reduction in trade cost. In particular, the differential responses of large and small firms depend on the convexity of the cost function. Using a novel dataset on Thai exporters’ responses to Vietnam’s tariff reductions in 2001-2008, I find that while all exporters respond to foreign tariff reduction on the intensive margin, they respond differently on the extensive margin. While large firms tend to introduce products within the industry they already have presence in, small firms tend to start exporting products in new industries. This suggests that the cost curve is concave in the product dimension, but is convex in the industry dimension.
Uncovering Productivity Puzzles in Thailand: Lessons from Microdata
The Asian financial crisis in 1997 has an impact on Thailand’s productivity both in the short run and in the long run. The post-crisis productivity growth rate dropped to merely 1% per year in comparison to the pre-crisis level at 2% per year. Thus, a better understanding about the factors determining Thailand’s aggregate productivity is a key to raising Thailand’s output in the long run. Recent literature has identified resource misallocation as an important factor to explain the difference in the productivity levels between developed and developing economies. This paper uses the plant-level data to estimate the allocative efficiency and to identify the source of resource misallocation in the Thai manufacturing sector. The results suggest that the size-dependent policies could contribute to the factor misallocation and that market concentration, foreign investment, and financial deepening could help alleviate the misallocation problem at the sector level. However, R&D activities intensifies resource misallocation that calls for well-defined policies to promote knowledge spillover within industry and to reduce the frontier-laggard gap. Dynamic resource reallocation helps shore up TFP growth over the business cycle that emphasizing a set of policy to reinforce the mechanism of creative destruction.
Foreign Exchange Order Flows and the Thai Exchange Rate Dynamics
Applying the microstructure approach to exchange rates, this paper aims to shed light on the price formation process in the Thai foreign exchange market using a unique supervisory dataset of daily foreign exchange transactions from all licensed dealers in Thailand. We examine the main drivers of different types of order flows and the effect of resident and non-resident customer order flows on the Thai exchange rate. The results suggest that non-resident order flows have an important influence on movements in the Thai baht, while resident order flows do not. Regarding investors’ trading behavior, we find that non-resident order flows are driven by both fundamentals and movements of the Thai baht. Specifically, non-resident players appear to be ‘trend-followers’ with regard to exchange rate returns, exerting buying pressure when the baht recently appreciated. In contrast, domestic players tend to behave as ‘contrarians’, by buying the Thai baht after it depreciates.
The Impact of LTV policy on Bank Lending: Evidence from Disaggregate Housing Loan Data
How did the Loan-to-Value (LTV) measures aimed at increasing resilience of the banking system affect banks’ lending? This paper utilizes bank-level and contract-level data of housing credit in Thailand spanning from 2004 to 2017, and applies the panel data and probit approaches in evaluating the impact of LTV measures introduced in 2009, 2011 and 2013 on the housing loans. We find that the LTV measures had an impact on banks’ risk-taking behavior in ways consistent with the policy’s objectives. The effects manifest in a reshaping of LTV distribution of the targeted loan sector rather than a credit growth slowdown at the bank level. In addition, the size of adjustment varies across different types of banks, with stronger response from large and small banks compared with medium banks. Overall, our results suggest that certain macroprudential policies can achieve target-specific outcome, but with differential impact across banks. Nevertheless, questions remain regarding the channels through which LTV measures impact bank lending and factors underlying diverging response among banks.
Bank Profitability and Risk-Taking in a Low Interest Rate Environment: The Case of Thailand
This paper studies the effects of monetary policy on the bank profitability and risk-taking. Using banklevel and account-level data sets of Thai banks during the period 2004-2017, we find that lower interest rates tend to reduce profitability. The effect works mainly through the impact of the interest rates on bank net interest income. At the bank level we find limited evidence of increased riskiness in the overall balance sheet of Thai banks when interest rates are low. However, the account-level results from a duration analysis suggest that low rates may lead to higher loan default risk and lower loan quality for long-term loans, particularly those in the portfolio of small and medium banks. Small firms seem to be more affected by bank risk-taking behavior. We also find that when the interest rate remains low for a protracted period, this tends to further increase bank risk-taking in new loans, though it helps lower the default risk for existing loans. The findings overall point to the potential unintended consequences of a low-for-long monetary policy accommodation with implications on financial stability.
Welfare Analysis of the Universal Health Care Program in Thailand
I estimate and decompose the welfare benefit of Thailand’s universal health care policy, also known as the 30 Baht program. The total welfare impact of the 30 Baht program is defined as the amount of consumption that an enrollee would need to give up that would leave her at the same expected utility as without the 30 Baht program. I find that the total welfare benefit is approximately 75 cents per one dollar of government spending. The main source of the welfare effect can be attributed to improved consumption smoothing rather than increases in the consumption level. Using difference in differences method, I find that the effect of the 30 Baht program on income is signicantly positive, while the effect on consumption is slightly negative but not significant. This implies that the 30 Baht program has a positive impact on savings and future consumption, rather than current consumption.
ESG and Creditworthiness: Two Contrary Evidence from Major Asian Markets
Assets managed under sustainable investment criteria have been massively growing during the recent years. Among the criteria, environmental, social and governance (ESG) score leads the group as an important indicator of non-financial quality of a firm, which may reflect value to investors either through higher expected profit or lower risk. In this paper, we focus on the latter by exploring whether ESG score has any impact on the credit rating of firms due to the risk mitigation effect. Ordered logistic regressions were applied on a panel dataset of listed companies in Shanghai and Tokyo Stock Exchanges over 2009 – 2018. The results suggest that only in Japan, having ESG coverage is greatly associated with being awarded higher credit rating. However, just the environmental and governance pillars positively affect the Japanese firms’ credit ratings, while the social pillar shows negative effect.
FX Hedging Behavior among Thai Exporters: A Micro-level Evidence
Over the past 20 years, Thailand’s FX hedging market has evolved to accommodate demands from rising trade and investment activities. Notwithstanding the growth in the use of FX derivative instruments for investment risk management by outward investment funds and non-residents, FX hedging demand from merchandise trade remains a significant part of the market. This paper utilizes a transactional database that disaggregates exporters according to their firm-level characteristics in order to explain their hedging behavior over periods of exchange rate fluctuation. FX hedging by exporters is found to be sensitive to the movement in exchange rate and past hedging experience. These sensitivities give rise to periods of panic or complacency. The effects also vary across exporters with different sizes.
Overoptimistic Entrepreneurs: Predicting Wellbeing Consequences of Self-Employment
Reto Odermatt, Nattavudh Powdthavee and Alois Stutzer
The formation of expectations is a fundamental part of the process when people decide about engaging in an entrepreneurial venture. We evaluate the accuracy of newly self-employed people’s predictions of their overall future wellbeing. Based on individual panel data for Germany, we find that they are overly optimistic when we compare their predicted life satisfaction with their actual life satisfaction five years later on. This overoptimism also holds for those entrepreneurs who successfully remain in business for at least five years. A possible reason might be that they underestimate the heavy workload reflected in higher working hours than desired and the drop in leisure satisfaction.
Impact of Lower Rated Journals on Economists’ Judgments of Publication Lists: Evidence from a Survey Experiment
Nattavudh Powdthavee, Yohanes E. Riyanto and Jack L. Knetsch
Publications in leading journals are widely known to have a positive impact on economists’ judgments of the value of authors’ contributions to the literature and on their professional reputations. Very little attention has been given, however, to the impacts of the addition of publications in lower rated journals on such judgments. In our main tests, we asked sub-samples of economist in 44 universities throughout the world to rate either a publication list with only higher rated journals or a list with all of these but with additional publications in nearly as many respected but lower rated journals. Our primary finding was that the inclusion of lower rated journals had a statistically significant negative impact on these economists’ judgments of the value of the author’s contribution. To the extent that such judgments may influence research and publication strategies our findings imply negative implications on social welfare.
Does Money Make People Right-Wing and Inegalitarian? A Longitudinal Study of Lottery Winners
Nattavudh Powdthavee and Andrew J. Oswald
The causes of people’s political attitudes are largely unknown. We study this issue by exploiting longitudinal data on lottery winners. Comparing people before and after a lottery windfall, we show that winners tend to switch towards support for a right-wing political party and to become less egalitarian. The larger the win, the more people tilt to the right. This relationship is robust to (i) different ways of defining right-wing, (ii) a variety of estimation methods, and (iii) methods that condition on the person previously having voted left. It is strongest for males. Our findings are consistent with the view that voting is driven partly by human self-interest. Money apparently makes people more right-wing.
Understanding the Bimodality of the Export Intensity Distribution in Thailand
The literature has established a pattern that exporters in developed countries sell most of their output in their domestic markets. However, recent evidence finds that firm-level export intensity, defined as the ratio of exports to revenue, in at least 47 countries is bimodally distributed. In this paper, we investigate the determinants of the bimodality of Thailand’s export intensity distribution by using Thailand’s manufacturing firm-level census data covering the period between 2007-2017. We do not find evidence that firm productivity can explain the variation in export intensity. We document that firms with export intensity at least 90 percent, so-called “pure exporters,” can be explained by (i) the firm’s characteristics, (ii) the demand-side factor, and (iii) the government’s policy. Pure exporters are relatively young, have foreign ownership, produce narrow product variety, and export to high-income countries. The government’s policy, such as investment promotion, can raise firms’ export intensity and encourage firms to become pure exporters, there by emphasizing another important channel through which the government can increase exports.
Trade, Wage Premia and Labor Shortages
Recent trade theories with heterogeneous firms build upon labor market frictions and search to generate rent sharing between firms and their employees and workforce adjustments following trade liberalization. However, little empirical attention has been paid to potential labor shortages. Using firm-level vacancy data from Thailand’s manufacturing sector for 2003-2006, I construct the ratios of vacancies to employment to measure the extent of labor shortages across firms. I find that a cut in input tariffs raises not only wages at firms that use imported intermediates, but also their vacancies to employment ratios relative to firms that only source inputs locally. Importantly, firms with high vacancies to employment ratios pay higher wages, and even more so for importers of intermediate inputs. This evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that labor shortages constitute one empirically documentable mechanism by which importing firms pay higher wages: they search more intensively for workers, suffer more from hiring constraints, and hence increase their wage offers to raise adequately skilled employment following input tariff cuts.
From Many to One: Minimum Wage Effects in Thailand
Dilaka Lathapipat and Cecilia Poggi
This article examines the effects of changing the minimum wage policy structure in Thailand, from multilevel wages set geographically to a single statutory minimum. It exploits the recent hike in the minimum wage to evaluate the effects on employment and wage distribution. We find that employment is weakly affected, with reductions in youth unskilled employment and localised downward adjustments for SMEs. Furthermore, wage distribution seems to have improved. Using an application of the Recentered Influence Function applied to provincial wage distributions, we show that wages are affected up to the 60th percentile, suggesting that minimum wage levels serve as numeraire for wage renegotiation in a Middle Income country context. The hike in the minimum has benefited workers in the 15-45th percentiles, with no discernible effects in the lowest quantiles which appear to be driven by non-compliance among microenterprises.