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Maquiladoras, Branch Banking, Biotechnology, Texas Exports Examined In Dallas Fed Report

Date posted: April 12, 2007

Maquiladoras, branch banking, biotechnology and Texas export markets are the focus of the latest issue of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ Southwest Economy.

The March/April issue can be found at http://www.dallasfed.org/ .

In “Maquiladora Recovery: Lessons for the Future,” assistant economists Jesus Canas and Roberto Coronado and vice president Robert W. Gilmer suggest the health of maquiladoras should be judged by more than employment numbers.

While maquiladora employment numbers have still not recovered from a slump in 2000, the authors find that maquiladoras have increased productivity and real wages.

“It’s time to stop thinking of the maquiladora industry in terms of its origins as a 1960s-style jobs program,” they write. “Today, the industry is successfully seeking a more sophisticated and better-paying niche in the ongoing restructuring of North American production sharing.”

In “Regional Lending in a World of Interstate Banking,” senior economist and policy advisor Kenneth J. Robinson finds that when Texas loan data are adjusted for interstate branches, a more accurate rate of loan growth among Texas banks is revealed.

Unadjusted loan growth data for Texas banks appear erratic since the late 1990s, when large national banks began to convert their Texas banks to branches. This caused artificial dips in loan growth because the banks were no longer required to report lending in the state, according to Robinson.

“Only by adjusting for the effects of interstate banking can we avoid understating the amount of lending activity actually taking place in the state,” he writes.

The dynamic U.S. biotech industry owes a great deal of its success to globalization, asserts Nancy Chang, Dallas Fed Houston Branch board member, in “Taking the Pulse of Biotech.”

Chang, chairman of biotech company Tanox Inc., says the world is now one big marketplace for the pharmaceutical industry. Many American biotechs have gone global to conduct drug tests and research because other countries often have fewer restrictions than the U.S. Also, the Internet has made research more accessible and put drug development on a faster track.

“Every biotech company that starts today is global by necessity,” Chang explains.

“Texas Exports: Markets Grow Faster Beyond North America” reveals that while Mexico continues to be Texas’ strongest trading partner, other Latin American nations and Asian and European Union countries are growing faster as markets for the state’s exports.

“Advances in technology, transport and communication have made geographical proximity less important to international trade. Dallas-Fort Worth’s top six export markets are across the Pacific, led by China,” the authors write.

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