This is an archived version of the PW Sources newsletter from Saturday, February 3, 2024. Sign up to receive PW Sources directly to your inbox here.


New data released by China’s General Administration of Customs in January provides insight into China’s economic relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean. Since the pandemic, China has substantially recalibrated its direct investment, moving away from large-scale infrastructural projects associated with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

A new report by MARGARET MYERS, ÁNGEL MELGUIZO, and YIFANG WANG contextualizes China’s declining investment in the region. 

From the text

“The term ‘new infrastructure,’ which emerged as a concept in 2018 and featured in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), is woven throughout Chinese policy documents, alongside other modernization-related lexicon. It is understood in relation to “new industrialization,” for instance, which featured in the 2022 20th Party Congress, and refers to the realization of ‘informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization.’ Both ‘new infrastructure’ and ‘new urbanization’ would appear to support ‘China-Style Modernization,’ which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) aims to achieve by 2035. In China’s 2022 Government Work Report, ‘new infrastructure’ was positioned alongside ‘new urbanization’ and ‘major project construction,’ which together were dubbed the ‘Two News and One Major.’ China’s focus on ‘new infrastructure’ also coincides with a growing focus on ‘small and beautiful’ projects along the BRI. China has described these projects as smaller investments of a shorter overall duration, and which are better aligned with countries’ social welfare needs. According to Wang Jian, director and researched at the Institute of International Studies of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, this concept gained traction as China recognized the need for enhanced ‘[prudence in assessing] the environmental and financial sustainability of projects…[a]gainst the backdrop of global economic downturn, the appreciation of the US dollar, and the further shrinking of the fiscal space for some developing countries to undertake large-scale projects.’ “

+  “A large greenfield project involving opencast mining or oil extraction in an environmentally sensitive area is more likely to generate debate (and, therefore, a political backlash) than is an acquisition in which a Chinese company becomes part of a larger entity.” By Adriana Erthal Abdenur. Link. Also see a Reuters report on China’s rising greenfield investments in European EV manufacturing. Link.

+  A 2022 report by Myers and Brian Fonseca examines China’s educational partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean. Link.

+  “In July 2020, to deal with the breakup of global supply chains and the economic downturn, the central government proposed establishing ‘a new development’ pattern centered on ‘internal circulation.’ ” Sit Tsui, Erebus Wong, Lau Kin Chi, and Wen Tiejun on China’s domestic economy. Link. And James Fok argues that China’s weak domestic markets have necessitated more private savings invested internationally. Link.


Inequities in Cancer Treatment

SASMITA BEHERA recently obtained her PhD in health economics from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela in Odisha, India. A recent paper, co-authored with Jalandhar Pradhan, analyzes inequities in out-of-pocket expenditures for cancer patients in India. 

From the abstract:

“Cancer patients in India often face the burden of paying out-of-pocket (OOP) for their treatment that is not covered by any health insurance. Moreover, inequities in OOP payment are also found among these patients. This study aims to determine horizontal and vertical inequity in OOP expenditure associated with cancer hospitalisation in India and analyse the demographic and socio-economic determinants of these expenditures. Data has been retrieved from 75th round of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), conducted by the Government of India between July 2017 and June 2018. The result of vertical inequity shows that the predicted mean OOP expenditure is more for lower-income quintiles, indicates a regressive nature of health financing for cancer treatment in India. Non-schedule caste and tribe (SC/ST) people have a higher percentage of OOP expenditure as compared to their SC/ST counterparts in the poor and middle-income quintiles, whereas for the richer income quintiles, OOP expenditure is higher for SC/ST population. The mean OOP cost is also higher for the male respondents than the female across all the quintiles. The result of GLRM shows that predicted OOP expenditure is significantly associated with residence, gender, insurance coverage, and level of care.”

+ + +

+   Yen Chen on the immediate and long-term impacts of the UAW-Detroit Three 2023 National Contracts on the U.S. automotive sector. Link.

+   “Spending on basic school infrastructure such as HVAC raises test scores but not house prices, while capital spending on athletic facilities raises house prices but not test scores.” Barbara Biasi, Julien M. Lafortune, and David Schönholzer on school capital investment. Link. And see David Backer’s PW essay on green investment in school infrastructure. Link

+   First direct estimates of the Bolsa Familia transfer program on relative state-level GDP in Brazil, from the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco. Link.

+   “Four firms would have experienced a collective $1.6 billion drop in operating profits in 2022 had the market been integrated.” Catherine Hausman on the US electricity transmission network. Link

+   Yu Luo, Ming-ang Zhang, and Sihan Zhang leverage the implementation of the Golden Tax Project III in China to explore how tax enforcement contributes to the improvement of air quality. Link.

+   “Through the utilization of the geographical factors, the Houthi insurgents managed to execute maritime operations and challenge the superior coalition with limited naval capabilities and unconventional tactics.” By Khaldoon Ahmed Hasson Abdulla. Link

+   “The Kenyan High Court ruling provides the international community an opportunity to replace its plans for a mission that has almost no chance of bringing sustainable security or democracy to Haiti with support for a Haitian-led transition to democracy.” An interview with Brian Concannon. Link.

+   “As America’s entrance into the war restructured Haiti’s trade, customs revenues fell precipitously. Customs receipts in 1941–42 were lower than at any point in the previous 20 years, including every year of the Depression. The fall came because the war diverted high-tariff imports like cars and cement. Unlike previous revenue shortfalls in the decade, customs remained persistently low for years. Anticipating a sustained shock, President Élie Lescot’s administration rushed to find new sources of revenue. ‘Before many weeks of war had passed, it became evident that new methods would have to be devised and special arrangements made in order to enable the country to ride out the storm.’ The administration appealed to the United States for help, received a line of credit from the Export-Import Bank, and passed a special tax on the country’s largest export, coffee. But its efforts were insufficient.” By Craig Palsson. Link.

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