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New Structuralism and the balance-of-payments constraint

Gabriel Porcile and Giuliano Toshiro Yajima

Keywords: balance-of-payments-constrained growth models; technological innovation; structural change

Structuralists and Post-Keynesians share the perspective that in the long run economic growth is shaped by the income elasticity of exports and imports, and that such elasticities are a positive function of the degree of diversification and technological intensity of the pattern of specialization. Since the mid 1970s, New Structuralists began to stress the role of two sets of variables in driving the pattern of specialization: a stable and competitive real exchange rate, and the relative intensity of innovation and diffusion of technology in the center and periphery. In this paper we modify the balance-of-payments-constrained growth model to include these two sets of variables. The model provides a mechanism that ensures the validity of the original Thirlwall perspective, namely that adjustment to the balance-of-payments-constrained equilibrium takes place through changes in the rate of growth of aggregate demand rather than through changes in relative prices. In addition, it shows that a macroeconomic policy aimed at sustaining a competitive real exchange rate is a necessary complement to an active industrial policy for fostering international convergence.

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