Ajzenman, N., 2014. Fresh Tomatoes: Ideas to Build a Productive Ecosystem.Abstract

During the last years production of fresh vegetables in Albania had an important growth due to the increase in the number of Ha using Greenhouses technologies. Many of the new investments came from former expats who spent a few years working abroad and came back -in some cases because of the crisis in Greece - with money and some experience in the field. However, although exports showed an important growth (in tomatoes, for example exports doubled from 2013 to 2011!), the sector has not been able to definitely take off and be a relevant player in the international market. The problem is not only that the share of Albania in the European trade is almost negligible but also that diversification didn't happen, quality has not improved and as a consequence the prices that Albanian producers get is very low - the lowest in Europe for some products like tomatoes. In this context, Albania has been focusing on the regional markets (probably not consciously but as a consequence of not having established a commercial relation with higher-end markets and not having a proper quality produce to offer), has been excluded from the best markets and has not improved the productive methods, practices, etc. Given this situation the building of new capacity was not necessarily a success: local markets started to be oversupplied and production losses are very high as a consequence.

In this report we analyzed the value chain of the fresh vegetables sector, focusing on the production of tomatoes. We detail the problems of the whole value chain (from the production to the marketing), pointing out the "missing links" that are preventing Albania to become a major tomato exporter in the European market. We find that there is a huge potential for the country - in terms of the natural conditions and also in terms of competitiveness -, but it is very difficult to be reached without making a re-organization of the sector to make it more integrated and give the proper incentives to solve simultaneously all the problems.

We found that in order to improve the general productivity of the sector it is not necessary to make huge capital disbursements. Although some of the constraints are clearly money-related, most of them are organization-related.

What the propose in this report is a method to re-organize the sector in a way that makes it easier for the economic agents to vertically and horizontally integrate and transform the sector into a "factory", where every participant has its defined role and work is divided with specific roles. The role of the Government is twofold: first, to facilitate the organization of this model, find the actors that can lead the change and provide them the incentives to coordinate. Second, to provide all the public goods that are now missing or incomplete (not only in terms of infrastructure but also in terms of marketing, negotiations, etc). In the next sections we explain with detail the constraints and missing links we found throughout the value chain of tomatoes and propose a new model to solve them. We show that with little organizational changes, Albania could increase its tomato exports by four times in a few years.

Lawrence, R., Frasheri, E. & Qazi, M., 2014. Integration in the Balkans: Albania and Kosovo,Abstract

Despite their historic and ethnic ties, trade and investment between Albania and Kosovo remains underdeveloped. To be sure, even if fully developed, Kosovo is unlikely to play a major role in Albanian external economic relations. Nonetheless, increased economic integration between the two countries can serve as the basis not only for enhancing the ties between the two countries, but also for spurring the measures that could act as a springboard for Albania’s integration with respect to other countries in the Balkans as well as with the EU.  

Hausmann, R., Dell’Erba, S. & Panizza, U., 2013. Debt Levels, Debt Composition, and Sovereign Spreads in Emerging and Advanced Economies.Abstract

This paper studies the relationship between sovereign spreads and the interaction between debt composition and debt levels in advanced and emerging market countries. It finds that in emerging market countries there is a significant correlation between spreads and debt levels. This correlation, however, is not statistically significant in countries where most public debt is denominated in local currency. In advanced economies, the magnitude of the correlation between debt levels and spreads is about one fifth of the corresponding correlation for emerging market economies. In Eurozone countries, however, the correlation between spreads and debt ratios is similar to that of emerging market countries. The paper also shows that the financial crisis amplified the relationship between spreads and debt levels within the Eurozone but had no effect on the relationship between spreads and debt in standalone countries. Finally, the paper shows that the relationship between debt levels and spreads is amplified by the presence of large net foreign liabilities. This amplifying effect of net foreign liabilities is larger in the Eurozone than in standalone advanced economies. The paper concludes that debt composition matters and corroborates the original sin hypothesis that, rather than being a mere reflection of institutional weaknesses, the presence of foreign currency debt increases financial fragility and leads to suboptimal macroeconomic policies.

Frankel, J., 2012. What Small Countries Can Teach the World.Abstract

The large economies have each, in sequence, offered "models" that once seemed attractive to others but that eventually gave way to disillusionment. Small countries may have some answers. They are often better able to experiment with innovative policies and institutions and some of the results are worthy of emulation. This article gives an array of examples. Some of them come from small advanced countries: New Zealand’s Inflation Targeting, Estonia’s flat tax, Switzerland’s debt brake, Ireland’s FDI policy, Canada’s banking structure, Sweden’s Nordic model, and the Netherlands’ labor market reforms. Some examples come from countries that were considered "developing" 40 years ago, but have since industrialized. Korea stands for education; among Singapore’s innovative polices were forced saving and traffic congestion pricing; Costa Rica and Mauritius outperformed their respective regions by, among other policies, foreswearing standing armies; and Mexico experimented successfully with the original Conditional Cash Transfers. A final set of examples come from countries that export mineral and agricultural commodities -- historically vulnerable to the "resource curse" -- but that have learned how to avoid the pitfalls: Chile’s structural budget rules, Mexico’s oil option hedging, and Botswana’s "Pula Fund."

Rodrik, D., 2012. Who Needs the Nation State?.Abstract

The nation state has few friends these days. It is roundly viewed as an archaic construct that is at odds with 21st century realities. It has neither much relevance nor much power, analysts say. Increasingly, it is non-governmental organizations, global corporate social responsibility, or global governance on which pundits place their faith to achieve public purpose and social goals. It is common to portray national politicians as the sole beneficiary of the nation state, on which their privileges and lofty status depend.

The assault on the nation state transcends traditional political divisions, and is one of the few things that unite economic liberals and socialists. "How may the economic unity of Europe be guaranteed, while preserving complete freedom of cultural development to the peoples living there?" asked Leon Trotsky in 1934. The answer was to get rid of the nation state: "The solution to this question can be reached ... by completely liberating productive forces from the fetters imposed upon them by the national state."2Trotsky’s answer sounds surprisingly modern in light of the euro zone’s current travails. It is one to which most neoclassical economists would subscribe.