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Networks and Connectivity Tools: Applying a New Understanding to International Economics

Sponsor: Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network

Networks conference header

Washington, DC | World Bank HQ, I Building
1850 I Street NW (Corner of 19th St NW & I St NW), Room 2-250

Organized by the International Trade Department at the World Bank

and the Research Department at the International Monetary Fund

This full-day event was intended to bring practitioners in international development and economics up to date on the latest understanding of networks and connectivity, and how it can be applied to practical fields such as trade, finance/banking. transportation (aviation and shipping), and urban connectivity. The event brought together practitioners, economists, industry regulators, academic experts in network theory, and private sector representatives operating in real-world networks to exchange ideas. It showcased research and related projects, increased awareness, and applied the most current and state-of-the-art thinking on connectivity to real network operations and issues.

  • Conference Video -- Note for viewers outside the Bank: Please use Windows-based PC (not Mac, Unix); use Internet Explorer (not Chrome, Firefox); and use Windows Media Player

Moderators & Discussants

STIJN CLAESSENS, International Monetary Fund
MONA HADDAD, International Trade Department, World Bank
JEFF LEWIS, Economic Policy, Debt and Trade Department, World Bank
JEAN FRANCOIS ARVIS, International Trade Department, World Bank
MARIANNE FAY, Sustainable Development Network, World Bank
EJAZ GHANI, Economic Policy and Debt Department, World Bank
ANDREAS KOPP, Transport Anchor, World Bank

Speakers (bios)

Alessandro Vespignani,
Northeastern University

Complex Networks

Ben Shepherd,
Developing Trade Ltd

An Air Transport Connectivity Indicator and its Applications

Jan Hoffmann,

Liner Shipping Connectivity

Charles Moret,
Oceo Trade

Liner Shipping Optimization

Tomohiro Ota,
Bank of England

Marginal Contagion: A New Approach to Systemic Credit Risk

Serafin Martinez-Jaramillo,
Banco de Mexico

Financial Contagion: Extending the Exposures Network of the Mexican Financial System

Camelia Minoiu,
International Monetary Fund

Channels of Crisis Transmission Through the Global Banking Network

Giorgio Fagiolo,
Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy

The International Trade Network: Empirics and Modeling

Forhad Shilpi,
Development Research Group, World Bank

Connectivity and Rural-Urban Transformation

Francesca Medda,
UCL QASER Lab, University College London

Modeling the Spatial Elements of Networks and Investment: Kenya Lamu Project


Conference Background

Connectivity has become a buzz word in development and international economics, from finance, trade, and infrastructure to urban and regional development. Viewing economic and social ties as isolated point-to-point interactions is losing ground to more comprehensive approaches, in which "networks" are increasingly becoming the unit of analysis.

For instance, in the realm of trade, commerce and transport, goods move so frequently and so far within value chains that a country's ability to physically connect to global and regional networks is a key determinant of its degree of integration into the international economy. In finance and banking, millions of transactions occur daily, with individuals and entities exchanging financial assets in highly connected markets. At the same time, denser information networks allow individuals to make better economic decisions, such as what the best price for farmers to sell their produce in local markets should be.

Tools to describe networks have dramatically improved in relevance and practicality over the last decade, thanks to the emergence of social networks in cyberspace and data mining, as well as the success of internet search engines. These tools are already elements of everyday life, from the discovery of small world effects in networks--usually illustrated in popular culture with the term 'six degrees of separation'--to Google's famous PageRank algorithm, which weighs the importance of various hyperlinked documents and websites on the internet, in a way reflecting the connectivity of real-world networks.

Though connectivity and "networks theory" are old hat in mathematics and other disciplines, few have applied their analysis to international economics. At the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and other organizations, the concepts of networks and connectivity are either not explicitly defined or they tend to have sector-specific connotations. In place of consensus, there is a fundamental lack of clarity or unified understanding of this issue beyond the use of simple descriptive and graphical tools. It is important to better understand the concepts and tools available and how they can be applied to development challenges across sectors. This conference brought together scientists, practitioners and regulators of international economic networks to do just that.

For Information: Daniel Mario Saslavsky

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