Sixth District cash operations
The Miami Branch of the Atlanta Fed serves as one of two primary Fed offices that help satisfy global demand for U.S. banknotes and coins, making payments to and accepting deposits from financial institutions that have included several central banks throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2013, the Miami Branch provided cash services to 38 countries in the region, including the dollarized nations of Panama, Ecuador, and El Salvador. The domain of international cash services comprises half of the Miami Branch's total cash activity. The Miami Branch works closely with System partners at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Board of Governors and regularly hosts personnel from global wholesale banknote dealers as well as central banks.
Leadership in supporting innovation in international payments
The Retail Payments Office (RPO) continued to perform its leadership role in supporting international payments and innovation in the Americas and globally. The Federal Reserve's FedGlobal ACH services currently reach 35 countries including 13 in the Americas, and it continued to carry out initiatives to increase its corridor reach and international service offerings last year. Following is a snapshot of several key initiatives pursued in 2013.
The Dodd-Frank 1073 regulation, implemented in May 2013, was in part intended to increase transparency in cross-border remittances. Many U.S. financial institutions expressed concern about the challenges of adhering to the new regulation and about the possible discontinuation of international service. To help minimize barriers for Federal Reserve financial services customers, the RPO developed tools to help them facilitate compliance with the regulation requirements.
The RPO sponsored a number of outreach efforts in 2013 to increase awareness and promote adoption of its FedGlobal ACH Directo a México service. For example, the RPO helped develop partnerships among the Central Bank of Mexico, the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, NACHA, and U.S. regional payments associations. The RPO also collaborated with the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help develop banking opportunities for underserved communities.
The RPO issued a request for proposals (RFP) in November 2013 to support its expansion strategy regarding its corridor reach and service offerings. The RFP was released to approximately 80 recipients, including central banks, financial institutions, service providers, and clearing and settlement entities. Collaboration continued in 2013 with the Center for Latin American Monetary Studies (or CEMLA) on interconnectivity feasibility through FedGlobal ACH for a number of Latin American central banks. In-person meetings and educational webinars were held to discuss service overviews and connectivity opportunities.
Developing effective national and regional consolidated supervision best practices
In 2013, Atlanta Fed's International Supervision/Country Risk and Foreign Banking Organization (FBO) Analysis staff visited Spain, Brazil, and Colombia. These visits continue to support International Supervision's core responsibilities under the Foreign Bank Supervision Program and evolving Dodd-Frank Act guidance, including Recovery and Resolution Planning. In Spain, FBO and supervision staff participated in a supervisory college, hosted by the Bank of Spain and attended by regulators from around the world. One of the key objectives of regulatory colleges is to improve communication among the host supervisors from countries where global banks have a presence.
International Supervision staff also hosted an interagency regulatory conference at the Miami Branch. The meeting was designed to improve communication among various state, federal, and foreign regulatory agency supervisors. These opportunities to meet with regulatory counterparts continued to support the Americas Center's mission to build solid working relationships across the region and thereby gain a more in-depth understanding of evolving risks and trends.
International Supervision supported the Federal Reserve System's foreign technical assistance initiatives in 2013. Atlanta Fed supervision staff, representing diverse areas of technical expertise, served as instructors at programs hosted by foreign regulatory agencies and multilateral organizations and held in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, India, France, and the United Arab Emirates. Staff also instructed examination staff representing several foreign regulatory agencies in schools held in Washington, D.C.; Chicago; and San Francisco. Noteworthy was the Atlanta Fed staff's instructor participation for the 16th consecutive year at the Bank Analysis and Examination School held in Lima, Peru. This one-week school is part of a three-month course for students and bank examiners from throughout the Americas. It is organized by the Peruvian Banking Superintendency and sponsored by the Association of Supervisors of Banks of the Americas located in Mexico City. The class, taught in Spanish, included students from Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Haiti.
Building a better understanding of the economies of the Americas
In November and December, the Americas Center hosted two workshops devoted to international economics. In the International Macro Workshop, cosponsored with New York University, economists presented leading-edge research on monetary policy, sovereign debt, and firms in the open economy. Highlights include the papers "Dynamics of Firms and Trade in General Equilibrium"— by Robert Dekle, Hyeok Jeong, and Nobuhiro Kiyotaki—and "Global Imbalances and Structural Change in the United States"—by Lee Ohanian, Paulina Restrepo-Echavarria, and Mark L.J. Wright. At the Southeastern International Development Economics workshop, cosponsored with Georgia State University, economists from regional universities presented new research on a range of topics related to economic development. Atlanta Fed economists Julie Hotchkiss and Myriam Quispe-Agnoli presented "The Impact of the Community's Financial Structure on Firm Survival." The papers from both meetings are available on the Americas Center website.
The Americas Center partnered with the Brazil-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast, the Brazilian Consulate in Atlanta, the Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV), and the World Affairs Council of Atlanta to conduct a morning briefing on "The 2014 Brazilian Economic Outlook: World Cup and Beyond." Atlanta Fed President and CEO Dennis Lockhart welcomed the guests and spoke about the Americas Center's connections to Brazil. FGV economist Fernando de Holanda spoke about Brazil's serious economic challenges in 2014. Ambassador Hermano Ribeiro discussed Brazil's foreign policy. Georgia Tech professor Kirk Bowman gave his assessment of Brazil's preparation for this summer's World Cup. The meeting featured frank discussion of Brazil's current economic and political challenges.
In October, Lockhart interviewed Chilean Ambassador Felipe Bulnes at a luncheon at Atlanta's Commerce Club that was sponsored by the World Affairs Council. Dennis's questions focused on Chile's economic challenges, bilateral relations, and domestic politics.
Throughout the year, Atlanta Fed economists developed new research on a range of topics related to the Americas, including immigration, remittances, and pensions. Quispe-Agnoli and Hotchkiss published two new articles on immigration, including "Does Employing Undocumented Workers Give Firms a Competitive Advantage?" (with David J. Brown) in the Journal of Regional Science and "The Expected Impact of State Immigration Legislation on Labor Market Outcomes" in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. They also presented "Threatening to Defect: The Impact of Undocumented Workers on Support for the Democrats" (with Nicole Baerg) at the Southern Economic Association Meetings in Tampa, Florida, in November 2013.
Federico Mandelman's article "Monetary and Exchange Rate Policy under Remittance Fluctuations" was published in the Journal of Development Economics. Federico also wrote two Atlanta Fed working papers: "Labor Market Polarization and International Macroeconomic Dynamics" and "Flexible Prices, Labor Market Frictions, and the Response of Employment to Technology Shocks" (with Francesco Zanetti). Stephen Kay coauthored the chapter on Brazil in Social Security Coverage Extension in the BRICS, published by the International Social Security Association.
Spanish and Portuguese translations reach a wide audience
The Americas Center seeks to reach audiences throughout the hemisphere through its many translations of original Atlanta Fed content that are featured on its website. In fact, each year, the most widely viewed EconSouth magazine articles are those that were translated into Spanish and Portuguese. The most popular article each year for the past several years is a Portuguese translation of an article on China's economic growth. The Americas Center site also features translations of supervisory documents and blog posts on international payments. In 2013, new articles were added on Mexico's manufacturing sector and European sovereign debt.
Dissertation internship program attracks the best and brightest
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 a summer dissertation internship. The students are expected to make significant progress on their dissertation during their stay, and are asked to make two presentations of their research and be available for consultation with staff. In 2013, Alvaro Pedraza of the University of Maryland was selected. Alvaro's dissertation is titled "Strategic Interactions in Money Management: Theory and Evidence."