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  • Author: Ryan Rutkowski
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Faced with slowing economic growth, Chinese policymakers now recognize that the service sector of the economy—transportation, communications, finance, and health care—could spur economic activity and employment. The catch is that China must reform these and other areas to accomplish this goal. Chinese leaders have outlined an ambitious agenda for reform, but myriad vested interests could slow or block their plans. This Policy Brief evaluates the steps taken so far and the difficulties that lie ahead in implementing them. If policymakers fail to reform and open up the service sector, they run the risk of seriously impairing China's growth prospects.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jeffrey Schott, Eujiin Jung, Cathleen Cimino-Isaacs
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Of all the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by Korea with its major trading partners since the turn of the century, the Korea-China FTA may be the largest in trade terms. It is, however, far from the best in terms of the depth of liberalization and the scope of obligations on trade and investment policies. Korea and China agreed to liberalize a large share of bilateral trade within 20 years, but both sides incorporated extensive exceptions to basic tariff reforms and deferred important market access negotiations on services and investment for several years. Political interests trumped economic objectives, and the negotiated outcome cut too many corners to achieve such a comprehensive result. The limited outcome in the Korea-China talks has two clear implications for economic integration among the northeast Asian countries. First, prospects for the ongoing China-Japan-Korea talks will be limited and unlikely to exceed the Korea-China outcome. Second, Korea and Japan need to strengthen their bilateral leg of the northeast Asian trilateral and the best way is by negotiating a deal in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The latest semiannual fundamental equilibrium exchange rate (FEER) estimates find that the US dollar is now overvalued by about 10 percent, comparable to levels in 2008 through early 2010 and again in 2011. Unlike then, the current strong dollar does not reflect a weak renminbi kept undervalued by major exchange rate intervention by China. Instead, China's current account surplus has fallen sharply relative to GDP, and its recent intervention has been to prevent excessive depreciation rather than to prevent appreciation. Additionally, declines in the real effective exchange rates (REERs) for major emerging-market economies and resource-based advanced economies, driven by falling commodity prices in recent months, have strengthened the dollar. Recent increases in the REERs for the euro area and Japan have removed their modest undervaluation identified in the last FEERs estimates in May, and the Chinese renminbi remains consistent with its FEER. The dollar's rise by nearly 15 percent in real effective terms over the past two years could impose a drag of nearly one-half percent annually on US demand growth over the next five years. As the Federal Reserve moves to normalize US monetary policy, it may need to consider a gentler rise in interest rates than it might otherwise have pursued, both to temper possible further strengthening of the dollar in response to higher interest rates and to help offset the demand compression from falling net export
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Li-gang Liu
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China's property market has slowed significantly since the first half of 2014, with sharp declines in sales and a buildup in the inventory of new homes. This sharper than expected downturn—which has affected not only second- and third tier smaller cities but also first-tier megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou—contrasts with last year's buoyant sales and double-digit price surge. Compounded by fears of a default in the shadow banking system and the perception of a highly leveraged Chinese economy, the sudden declines in the property sector are being watched closely. Many commentators believe this could be a turning point for the sector, triggering a hard landing of the Chinese economy and even a financial crisis. Over the last decade, China's property sector has become an important pillar for the country's growth as well as the key source for elevated commodity prices. A property market slump would hurt other sectors, as well as drag down resource-rich economies that rely heavily on China to buy their exports.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, United Nations
  • Author: Nicholas Borst
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Chinese financial system has undergone almost continuous reform since the dismantling in the 1980s of the Soviet- style system where only one state-controlled bank existed. Government efforts to create a financial system that adheres to international best practices of commercial lending accelerated in the 1990s (box 1). Reforms progressed quickly during this period, but they were accompanied by excessive credit growth and a massive increase in nonperforming loans, threatening the solvency of some banks and the financial stability of the entire economy. The risk of these weaknesses was dramatized by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, in which several nearby countries were crippled by plunging currency values, rising interest rates and difficulties servicing their foreign-held debts.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: There is a long-standing debate among economists and policymakers on the benefits of flexible versus fixed exchange rates (Klein and Shambaugh 2010). In principle, flexible exchange rates allow a country's central bank to focus on stabilizing economic growth and inflation, which are the ultimate goals of monetary policy. However, some argue that in practice central banks often do not use their powers wisely and it may be better to restrict their freedom by requiring them to peg their currency to that of an important trading partner. Others note that flexible exchange rates are far more volatile than fundamental factors can explain (Flood and Rose 1995), raising the possibility that they may introduce wasteful cross-sectoral fluctuations in economic activity. One common viewpoint is that flexible exchange rates may be fine for large countries but that the smallest countries are better off with fixed exchange rates (Åslund 2010).
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, United Kingdom
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Sean Lowry
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama claimed that "over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires." The tire tariff case, decided by the president in September 2009, exemplifies his efforts to get China to "play by the rules" and serves as a plank in his larger platform of insourcing jobs to America.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For several years China has run persistent current account surpluses that have been widely seen as the most serious single source of global imbalances on the surplus side, and mirrored by persistent systemically large US current account deficits on the other side. In recent years, however, both imbalances have shown moderation (figure 1). China's surpluses have posed questions of international policy rules, because they have reflected in part an unwillingness to allow the exchange rate to appreciate sufficiently to act as an effective equilibrating mechanism. Exchange rate intervention resulted in a massive buildup of international reserves, which rose from $615 billion at the end of 2004 to $3.2 trillion at the end of 2011 (IMF 2012a).
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel
  • Author: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This policy brief updates our estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs) to the latest available data, which for exchange rates are the average rates of April 2011, and for the IMF's balance of payments forecasts, those published in the April 2011 issue of World Economic Outlook (WEO; see IMF 2011a). It is the central study in what has now become a regular annual cycle, in which we draw out what we believe to be the implications of the IMF's forecasts for the pattern that exchange rates need to take if the world is to approach a reasonably satisfactory medium-run position. This past year we also published an interim policy brief (Cline and Williamson 2010b) in which we updated our calculations to the average exchange rates of October 2010, as well as commented on Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega's description of international monetary events as constituting "currency wars." As in the previous year, however, the November 2010 policy brief updated our estimates only for intervening changes in market exchange rates. We did not make use of the IMF's revised autumn WEO forecasts to update our estimates of FEERs; on the contrary, we assumed the FEERs estimated in May 2010 were correct. In contrast, this policy brief presents totally new estimates of FEERs.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo, Francis Ng
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The puzzle about the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) is not why it is on life support now but how it has survived as a viable multilateral initiative for so long. From the very beginning, it was clear that the Round suffered from a lack of private-sector interest, the engine that had driven previous rounds of successful trade negotiations. At most, Doha promised to deliver some security of access for unilateral liberalization previously undertaken by countries and some modest incremental market opening (Martin and Mattoo 2009; Hufbauer, Schott, and Wong 2010). That the Round had much to be modest about was reflected in the failure of even antiglobalization protesters to show up for the more recent meetings of the Doha Round.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The world has witnessed two distinct attempts to build a multilateral mechanism to discipline surplus countries that declined to adjust their surpluses, and several proposals are currently on the table to do the same. On the two previous occasions the major surplus country of the day defeated attempts to create such a mechanism, and today China (not to mention Japan or Germany) exhibits no enthusiasm for the idea. Despite the importance of the issue, there has been remarkably little discussion of these proposals.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Germany
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China's policy response to the global financial and economic crisis was early, large, and well-designed. Although Chinese financial institutions had little exposure to the toxic financial assets that brought down many large Western investment banks and other financial firms, China's leadership recognized that its dependence on exports meant that it was acutely vulnerable to a global recession. Thus they did not subscribe to the view sometimes described as “decoupling,” the idea that Asian countries could passively weather the financial storm that originated in the United States and other advanced industrial economies. They understood that absent a vigorous policy response China inevitably would suffer from the backwash of a sharp economic slowdown in its largest export markets—the United States and Europe.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Is there reason to add to the proliferating set of estimates on the extent of renminbi undervaluation (see among others, Bergsten 2010; Cline and Williamson 2008 and 2010; Goldstein and Lardy 2008 and 2009; Frankel 2008; Reisen 2009; and Lee et al. 2008)? Yes, not least because these new estimates: (1) suggest that purchasing power parity (PPP)-based approaches to measuring renminbi undervaluation suggest that China's currency is undervalued by about 30 percent against the dollar and not the 12 percent recently reported (Bajaj 2010); and (2) are closer to and consistent with alternative approaches to estimating renminbi undervaluation.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Political Economy, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Daniel H. Rosen
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On Sunday, June 13, 2010 representatives from China and Taiwan held a third round of talks in Beijing on an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) that would liberalize important aspects of cross-Strait economic relations. Details of what was agreed and what remains under negotiation are still trickling out, and in any case the nature of this framework is that various elements will be agreed upon on an ongoing basis rather than at once. But it is clear from available details that ECFA will be an ambitious accord that fundamentally changes the game between Taiwan and China and hence affects the regional economy and even the transpacific tempo for the United States.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On June 21, 2010, in the run-up to the G-20 meeting in Toronto, China announced that it would shift to a more flexible exchange rate policy. From mid-June to July 30 the yuan rose 0.8 percent against the dollar. In contrast, the currency had remained fixed (at about 6.83 yuan to the dollar) from September 2008 to early June 2010. Pressure not only from the United States and the European Union but also from Russia, Brazil, and India as well as the IMF seems likely to have played a role in China's decision, although concerns about domestic inflation may also have been a factor.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Daniel H. Rosen, Thilo Hanemann
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In 1967 Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber published Le defi americain, a call to beware of American multinationals buying up the world. In the 1980s and 1990s it was Japan's turn, spawning books like Clyde Prestowitz's 1993 Trading Places: How We Are Giving Our Future to Japan. Today it is China's outbound foreign direct investment (OFDI) that elicits the most anxiety China's OFDI has reached commercially and geoeconomically significant levels and begun to challenge international investment norms and affect international relations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: China, America, Asia
  • Author: John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A once-familiar but long-neglected acronym has reappeared in newspapers in recent weeks. We have read that the G-20 meeting in London endorsed a proposal that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should create $250 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). We have been told that one problem with this proposal is that most of the SDR allocation would accrue to countries that are unlikely to use them, and some readers may have seen proposed ways around this difficulty. We have read that the governor of the People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, has proposed that the SDR should gradually displace the dollar at the center of the international monetary system and that surplus countries should be able to convert their dollar holdings into SDR-denominated assets. No one can doubt that the SDR is back.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China\'s banking sector has been largely transformed over the past decade. Several of the largest banks have been restructured, recapitalized, and listed. Governance has improved, notably through the appointment of independent members to boards of directors. A vigorous new regulatory and supervisory agency, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), has introduced new accounting standards, a revised risk weighting system for measuring capital, more rigorous loan loss criteria, heightened provisioning requirements, and other significant changes. Foreign banks have entered the market, both through their own branches and subsidiaries and through strategic investments in domestic banks, bringing better banking practices and much needed additional competition.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: East Asia is clearly, if gradually and unevenly, moving toward regional economic integration. Market forces are leading the process, as firms construct production chains across the area that exploit the comparative advantage of its individual countries. Governments are now moving to build on those forces, and consolidate them, through a series of formal agreements to intensify their economic relationships and start creating an East Asian Community.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel, East Asia, Asia
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In December 2004 China's top political leadership agreed to fundamentally alter the country's growth strategy. In place of investment and export-led development, they endorsed transitioning to a growth path that relied more on expanding domestic consumption. Since 2004, China's top leadership, most notably Premier Wen Jiaobao in his speech to the National People's Congress in the spring of 2006, has reiterated the goal of strengthening domestic consumption as a major source of economic growth. This policy brief examines the reasons underlying the leadership decision, the implications of this transition for the United States and the global economy, and the steps that have been taken to embark on the new growth path.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy, Morris Goldstein
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Rarely has the outlook for the Chinese economy been so contested. The financial press widely quotes three alternative perspectives on the short-and medium-term outlook. One school argues that the Chinese government's recent efforts to rein in overly rapid growth are working and that the economy is now on a glide path to what is referred to as a soft landing. While “soft landing” is usually not fully defined, its chief feature in this case is that Chinese economic growth slows modestly from its current pace of 9 to 10 percent to around 8 percent and that the rate of job creation does not slow enough to constitute a major political challenge for the regime. At the other end of the spectrum is the hard landing school, which argues that the authorities to date have not tightened sufficiently, that loan and investment growth remain excessive, and that the authorities soon will be forced to take more drastic action that will trigger a sharp correction. Finally, the no landing school argues that China's efforts to slow growth modestly are misguided since the economy was not overheating in 2003 and early 2004. In this view, China is in the early stages of a secular boom that has several additional years to run.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia