Both consumers and businesses have felt the effects of ongoing backlogs in global supply chains. The world’s largest retailers have been integral in shaping these supply chains, especially in the global South, where changing patterns of consumption have been met by corresponding production shifts.

A 2019 article by MARTÍN ARBOLEDA looks at the expansion of Walmart in Chile over the last decade and its implications for finance and agricultural supply chains.

From the text:

“Building upon the synergistic combination of cutting-edge logistical infrastructure, mass issuance of retail financial instruments, and innovation in digital platform technology, Walmart Chile is spearheading interlocking transformations in the organization of capitalist agriculture and of spaces of urban mass consumption. As of 2017, the company had issued nearly 1.4 million credit cards, a figure that represents more than 10% of all active credit cards in Chile. In 2018, Walmart Chile acquired Cornershop, an online platform for on-demand delivery for supermarkets, an acquisition that reflects the company’s global strategy to overhaul its supply chain capacity by more comprehensively harnessing new developments in digital technology and freelance, contingent labour. As a result, the sales of Walmart Chile increased by 63.4% between 2011 and 2016, a period in which the productivity of agriculture also grew by leaps and bounds. The dramatic enlargement of effective demand accomplished by Walmart Chile and other supermarket chains, the paper intends to illustrate, has been premised on and also given momentum to the territorial expansion and productive reconfiguration of agro-industrial hinterlands.

In 2018, Walmart Chile embarked on a strategic partnership with Banco Banco de Crédito e Inversiones (BCI), one of the major banks in Chile, basically with the objective of expanding the company’s customer base into new socio-economic groups. As Popkin and Reardon’s groundbreaking study demonstrates, “diet changes have occurred in parallel to, and in two-way causality with, changes in the broad food system—the set of supply chains from farms, through midstream of processing, wholesale and logistics, to down-stream segments of retail and food service ….”

Link to the piece.

  • “Far from a monolithic force conquering the world, Walmart uses a global strategy and tactics that are contested and contradictory.” A 2018 volume compiles eight case studies of labor resistance to Walmart’s presence in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Link.
  • Thomas Reardon, C. Peter Timmer, Christopher B. Barrett and Julio Berdegué examine the rise of supermarkets across the world and their implications for agrifood supply chains in a 2003 article. Link.
  • “Walmart and “Made in China” are practically synonymous; Walmart imports some 70 percent of its merchandise from China.” Anita Chan’s edited book investigates the retailer’s distinct import and retail operations in China. Link.


Gender & Job Vacancies

PhD Student in Economics at HEC University of Lausanne FABRIZIO COLELLA studies firm labor demand and hiring. A recent working paper co-authored with David Card and Rafael Lalive investigates the elimination of gender preferences in job advertisements in Austria.

From the abstract:

“In spring 2005, Austria launched a campaign to inform employers and newspapers that gender preferences in job advertisements were illegal. At the time over 40% of openings on the nation’s largest job-board specified a preferred gender. Over the next year the fraction fell to under 5%. We merge data on filled vacancies to linked employer-employee data to study how the elimination of gender preferences affected hiring and job outcomes. Prior to the campaign, most stated preferences were concordant with the firm’s existing gender composition, but a minority targeted the opposite gender – a subset we call non-stereotypical vacancies. We find that the elimination of gender preferences led to a rise in the fraction of women hired for jobs likely to be targeted to men (and vice versa), increasing the diversity of hiring workplaces. Partially offsetting this effect, we find a reduction in the success of non-stereotypical vacancies in hiring the targeted gender, and indications of a decline in the efficiency of matching. For the much larger set of stereotypical vacancies, however, vacancy filling times, wages, and job durations were largely unaffected by the campaign, suggesting that the elimination of stated preferences had at most small consequences on overall job match efficiency.”

Link to the paper, link to Colella’s website.

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations:

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  • “Is stock index membership for sale?” By Kun Li, Xin (Kelly) Liu, and Shang-Jin Wei. Link.
  • Radha Sarkar examines alliances between leftists and evangelicals in Latin America. Link.
  • The economic drivers of biodiversity loss from 1965 to 2015, by Yuanning Liang, Ivan J. Rudik, and Eric Zou. Link.
  • Christopher R. Tamborini and Andrés Villarreal on immigrant men’s employment instability after the Great Recession. Link.
  • Comparing three illicit supply networks: cocaine, illegally-traded wildlife, and illegally-mined sand. By Nicholas Magliocca et al. Link.
  • “It looks like a liability bomb that’s destined to explode.” A Bloomberg investigation by Zachary Mider and Rachel Adams-Heard into old gas wells and methane leaks. Link.
  • Michael Pettis on Beijing’s common prosperity policy. Link.
  • On US glove makers’ 1977 failed campaign for protection from Chinese textile imports & tensions between labor and diplomats, by Elizabeth O’Brien Ingleson. Link.
  • “Two of Europe’s historically most powerful states, France and Britain, were fierce competitors for many centuries and usually of comparable military strength. Their capitals, Paris and London, are relatively close: about 400 km as the crow flies. So why did neither of them ever dominate and/or absorb the other? And how come they so often ended up fighting each other far beyond their own state territories? This paper proposes that the location of state capitals and a region’s overall state structure (i.e., the territorial size of states) both depend on geography. Specifically, we argue that terrain that slows down military incursions makes state capitals more secure, in effect allowing them to locate closer to each other, and also gives rise to a less unified state structure, i.e., many small states rather than one single unified state.” By Shuhei Kitamura and Nils-Petter Lagerlöf. Link.

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations:

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