Thursday, August 20, 2009

Remittances up in these hard times

Two remittances-related blog posts popped up on my feed reader today. The first, from International Political Economy Zone, is about how, despite economists' expectations, remittances in the Philippines are still increasing. This post, from the World Bank's Private Sector Development blog, discusses how the World Bank and the Economist believe that immigrants are engaging in currency speculation on the margin – the strengthening of first-world currencies compared to developing countries' currencies is causing immigrants to send more money home, since they know their families will get more local currency for their dollars/euros/pounds.

The overall remittance picture according to a World Bank report (.pdf) is that remittances to Latin America (presumably mostly from the US and Spain) are mostly down, whereas they are still growing in countries in South and Southeast Asia, albeit at slower rates. That is, with the exception of Pakistan, whose growth rate in remittances is actually up so far for 2009. The Philippines' growth rate in remittances slowed from 14% from 2007-08 to 3% so far in 2009 – obviously lower because of the economic slowdown in the US, with its 4 million Filipino immigrants, but perhaps mitigated due to the fact that demand for healthcare, where many Filipinos in America work, has been more robust than the demand for construction, where many Mexicans work[ed]. The growth in the rate of growth of remittances to Pakistan baffles me though – I'd suspect that most overseas Pakistanis worked in the Gulf and the UK, which haven't exactly been thriving as of late. Perhaps the growth is driven by Pakistanis in India? Is there even significant immigration from Pakistan to India?

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