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Elissa Braunstein

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Elissa Braunstein

This chapter develops a thematic overview of financial crises among emerging and developing economies between 1980 and 2007. It covers four major waves of crises, and then identifies a set of stylized themes emergent in all four. The main narrative is that financial liberalization provides an opening for booms in capital inflows and domestic credit markets. The consequent build-up in financial fragility, driven by largely private speculation and risk-taking, is often swiftly unwound by a crisis, with substantial negative real effects and an (often explosive) increase in public debt. Although fiscal malfeasance is a frequent refrain in mainstream accounts of financial crises, it is typically the public fielding of the bust that inevitably proceeds after the boom, and all the costs associated with it (e.g., nationalizing private debt, recapitalizing banks, and the impact of currency devaluation on the value of foreign currency liabilities) that runs up public debt.

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Elissa Braunstein

While the wisdom of encouraging short-term capital flows is increasingly questioned, foreign direct investment (FDI) is still viewed as a central element of development strategy by international financial institutions. Many contentious issues remain in the literature about FDI. These pertain to both the growth and development effects of FDI as well as the appropriate kinds of regulatory frameworks that would render FDI flows more development oriented. However, while the development effects of FDI are debated, the literature on FDI and economic development has generally been gender blind. Nevertheless, a small but growing literature addresses the gender dimensions of FDI in the context of efforts to understand how neoliberal economic policies and globalization patterns have different impacts on women and men. This chapter summarizes some of the stylized facts and policy insights that can be drawn from this emerging work.

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Elissa Braunstein and Stephanie Seguino

Latin America experienced a decline in household income inequality in the 2000s, in sharp contrast to growing inequality in other regions of the world. This has been attributed to macroeconomic policy, social spending, and increased returns to education. This paper explores this issue from a gender perspective by econometrically evaluating how changes in economic structure and policy have impacted gendered employment and unemployment rates, as well as gender inequality in these variables, using country-level panel data for a set of 18 Latin American countries between 1990 and 2010. Three variables stand out as having consistent gender-equalizing effects in the labor market: social spending, minimum wages, and public investment. Less important or consistent were the effects of external factors (such as terms of trade), economic structure, and GDP growth.

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Elissa Braunstein and James Heintz