In 2014, Oxford University Press published How Does My Country Grow? Economic Advice Through Story-Telling. This is a book about what I learned about economics at the World Bank, and growth policy and sovereign debt in particular. It covers the period 1990-2008, starting with the economic transition in Central and Eastern Europe and ending with the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.
Purchase my book here.
Praise for my How Does My Country Grow?:
“Don’t be misled by the whimsical title. It’s a serious, and seriously enlightening, work.”
“Pinto argues that ‘country economics’ is in effect a separate branch of economics. Economic theory and the ‘conventional wisdom’ offer only starting points. He succeeds admirably in offering insights about what drives the growth experiences of developing countries, and points out the perils of conclusions drawn hastily from afar. Understanding the linkages between a country’s sovereign debt dynamics and its microfoundations of growth is the core of his investigation.”
Robert J. Shiller, Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Yale University, 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics
“This is a special and rare book, which builds on Brian Pinto’s deep experience. It shows how one uses theory, country knowledge, and practice, to analyze the world and make policy recommendations. It is a pleasure to read; the style is relaxed and clear, and the boxes are good.”
Olivier Blanchard, Economic Counsellor and Director of the Research Department, IMF
Three things about the book:
- ‘Country economics’, or the economic analysis of countries, is in effect a separate branch of economics. First, it is integrative in contrast to the growing fragmentation in the academic profession. You can’t say: Sorry, I’m just a trade economist, or I specialize in labour markets or the public finances. Second, you need to spend serious time in the country itself instead of coming up with policy prescriptions from behind a desk.
- Achieving faster growth is not mysterious: the political elite have to want growth. This is clear from the country stories on India, Kenya, Poland and Russia. The canonical growth package that emerges from country experience, good and bad, is built around three elements: the intertemporal budget constraint of the government—a fancy term for sustainable public finances; the “micropolicy trio” of hard budgets, competition and competitive real exchange rates—needed for spurring efficiency and innovation; and managing volatility—especially the avoidance of self-inflicted political and economic crises.
- “Economic truth” is not universal, but episodic. My learning was framed by the economic transition in Central and Eastern Europe and the emerging market crises that began with East Asia in 1997 and then spread to Russia, Brazil Argentina and Turkey. These crises prompted a hugely positive change in government behavior that was maintained until the global financial crisis of 2008-9 and accounted for the surprising resilience of emerging markets during the global crisis. While I distill growth and macroeconomic policy lessons from these these two episodes, I believe the lessons have general applicability and there is much to absorb, especially for low-income countries hoping to join the ranks of emerging markets.