This Annual Review highlights the Americas Center's most significant projects, products, programs, and initiatives in 2011. These highlights reflect the accomplishments of committed staff from throughout our organization, often in partnership with colleagues from other institutions. We invite you to visit our website to learn more and to sign up to receive e-mail notices from the Americas Center.
Providing a leadership role in payments and facilitating bancarización for underserved consumers
FedGlobal ACH sponsored a number of outreach efforts throughout the year. These efforts promoted awareness of the potential of the remittance market for financial institutions and to coordinate efforts among our partners, including the FDIC and U.S. Department of the Treasury, to support underserved consumer markets with services such as Directo a México. Among the many notable promotional events was the official opening of the corridor between Kansas City and the town of Tangancicuaro, Mexico, during the Kansas City Fed's Financial Literacy Week in April.
FedGlobal ACH also participated in a celebration of the opening of the Directo a México account-to-receiver service with the Latino Community Credit Union and the Mexican Consulate in Raleigh, North Carolina. This celebration was scheduled to coincide with promotional events for the new service in the Mexican cities of Guanajuato, Hidalgo, and San Luis Potosí. In November, FedGlobal ACH participated in another promotional event for the account-to-receiver service at Family Federal Credit Union in Los Angeles. This event was attended by more than 300 people, including U.S. Representative Janice Hahn and California State Senator Ted Lieu, who presented awards to the Family Federal Credit Union for working with underserved communities through Directo a México.
At the regional Payments Week ("Semana de Pagos") meeting in Paraguay, FedGlobal ACH took a leadership role in supporting the Western Hemisphere Payments Initiative's goal of establishing a regional payments hub. The hub will link all of the payments systems in the Americas.
Broadening and deepening access to consumer banking products and services, financial education, and community outreach programs
Last May, more than 100 local and international participants attended the Americas Center's third Consumer Banking Conference, "Strengthening the Financial Safety Net in Emerging Markets," at Miami's Florida International University. Panelists representing several financial institutions and organizations in the region and the United States discussed strategies for developing banking products and services to meet community needs. They also examined how the provision of responsive and responsible financial services contributes to the growth and stability of communities and looked at the role of mobile payments in the evolution of financial services and money management in emerging markets. The keynote speaker was Ambassador Charles Shapiro of the U.S. State Department, who spoke about economic inclusion in the Western Hemisphere. The conference agenda and presentations are available on the Atlanta Fed's website.
In June, Regional Community Development Director Ana Cruz-Taura gave a presentation on remittances as a financial inclusion tool at the Latin American SWIFT User Community Conference (ELUS 2011) in the Dominican Republic. She provided an overview of the Federal Reserve System's FedGlobal ACH product and highlighted the important role of financial education in expanding access to banking for individuals and providing financial stability for communities.
In 2011, the Community and Economic Development team continued its small business initiative, which seeks to identify barriers to entrepreneurship and challenges in financing small business growth and expansion. Small business is an important catalyst for economic vitality, particularly in immigrant and minority neighborhoods, as well as a principal source of new jobs.
At a community forum in Davie, FL, "The Immigrant and Minority Business Landscape," participants discussed the role of small business in South Florida's economic growth and recovery. Leaders in regional business development, education, entrepreneurship, and finance discussed barriers and opportunities that are unique to immigrant and minority businesses. Though cultural barriers are often assumed to impede the assimilation of immigrants into business ownership, English language proficiency and basic business management capacity were cited as the principal challenges to foreigners trying to establish and grow a small business.
In November, at the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Conference in Washington, DC, Myriam Quispe-Agnoli gave a presentation titled "Minority-Owned Small Business: Results from the Survey of Business Owners." Coauthored with Cruz-Taura, the paper analyzes the performance of minority-owned small businesses between 2002 and 2007 in the United States.
Developing effective U.S. and region-wide consolidated supervision best practices
During 2011, the Country Risk and FBO Analysis Unit conducted FBO visits to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Spain. Beyond executing the FBO program responsibilities, these visits also served very useful outreach purposes. For instance, Atlanta Fed staff participated in the Florida International Bankers Association's (FIBA) first international forum held in Madrid, Spain, in May. The purpose of the forum, titled "Spain-Florida International Forum on Cross Border Banking and Regulatory Issues," was to enhance communications and coordination between Spain's regulators and business/banking communities and those in the United States. Atlanta Fed Assistant Vice President Carolyn Healy spoke at the event on regulatory reforms currently taking place in the United States.
Additionally, Atlanta Fed staff worked closely with the Board of Governors by frequently serving as bilingual instructors on foreign technical assistance (FTA) missions for classes held in the United States and abroad, and attended by foreign regulators. FTA activities throughout the year included classes conducted in Aruba, Brazil, Barbados, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Turkey, the Philippines, and Russia, as well as in several international schools in Washington, DC.
Fed representatives also spoke at the Financial Action Task Force of South America meeting in Lima, Peru, and participated in anti-money laundering conferences in Medellin and Cartagena, Colombia. Staff also conducted web-based courses for members of FIBA on trade finance.
Building a better understanding of economic and financial dynamics in the Americas
The second-quarter 2011 edition of EconSouth features an article on growing trade ties between China and Latin America. The authors found that the trade relationship between China and Latin America is complex, and the costs and benefits vary considerably among the countries of the region. Complementing the article is a podcast interview with Georgia Institute of Technology Professor Dan Breznitz, who describes the impact and influence of China's innovation strategies.
On December 2, the Americas Center hosted the fifth annual Southeastern International Development/Economics Workshop. This meeting has grown from a small Atlanta-area workshop to a conference that draws national and international interest. The nine presenters at the conference covered a range of topics related to economic development. Presentations are available on the Atlanta Fed website.
Throughout the year, Atlanta Fed economists developed new research on topics related to the Americas, including immigration, remittances, and pensions. Myriam Quispe-Agnoli presented her research in a presentation titled "The Economic Impact of Undocumented Workers in the U.S. Labor Market" at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and "Undocumented Workers and the U.S. Business Cycles" at the Central Bank of Peru. Federico Mandelman published "Business Cycles and the Role of Imperfect Competition in the Banking System" in International Finance and coauthored "Investment-Specific Technology Shocks and International Business Cycles: An Empirical Assessment" in Review of Economic Dynamics. Stephen Kay coauthored "Next Generation of Individual Account Pension Reforms," which was published in Social Security Bulletin. Many of these publications are available on the Atlanta Fed website.
Americas Center dissertation internship
Each year, the Americas Center invites doctoral candidates who are writing dissertations in the field of economics on topics that have a direct link to Latin America and the Caribbean to apply for the Americas Center summer dissertation internship. The students are expected to make significant progress on their dissertation during their eight-week tenure at the Bank. They are asked to make two formal presentations of their research and to be available for consultation with staff from the Research Department and other areas of the Bank. The dissertation intern for 2011 was Jungjae Park of the University of Wisconsin, whose dissertation analyzes sovereign risk. While in residence at the Atlanta Fed, he worked on a quantitative model of endogenous sovereign default to explain empirical regularities.