Essays on international lending and increasing returns to scale

Thomas Jack Snyder, Florida International University


Standard economic theory suggests that capital should flow from rich countries to poor countries. However, capital has predominantly flowed to rich countries. The three essays in this dissertation attempt to explain this phenomenon. The first two essays suggest theoretical explanations for why capital has not flowed to the poor countries. The third essay empirically tests the theoretical explanations.^ The first essay examines the effects of increasing returns to scale on international lending and borrowing with moral hazard. Introducing increasing returns in a two-country general equilibrium model yields possible multiple equilibria and helps explain the possibility of capital flows from a poor to a rich country. I find that a borrowing country may need to borrow sufficient amounts internationally to reach a minimum investment threshold in order to invest domestically.^ The second essay examines how a poor country may invest in sectors with low productivity because of sovereign risk, and how collateral differences across sectors may exacerbate the problem. I model sovereign borrowing with a two-sector economy: one sector with increasing returns to scale (IRS) and one sector with diminishing returns to scale (DRS). Countries with incomes below a threshold will only invest in the DRS sector, and countries with incomes above a threshold will invest mostly in the IRS sector. The results help explain the existence of a bimodal world income distribution.^ The third essay empirically tests the explanations for why capital has not flowed from the rich to the poor countries, with a focus on institutions and initial capital. I find that institutional variables are a very important factor, but in contrast to other studies, I show that institutions do not account for the Lucas Paradox. Evidence of increasing returns still exists, even when controlling for institutions and other variables. In addition, I find that the determinants of capital flows may depend on whether a country is rich or poor.^

Subject Area

Economics, General

Recommended Citation

Snyder, Thomas Jack, "Essays on international lending and increasing returns to scale" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3431311.