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  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum comprises 21 developed and developing economies that surround the Pacific Rim. The organization was created in 1989 and holds annual Leaders' Meetings that bring together its heads of government. In this policy brief, I assess the record of the APEC over the 20 years of its existence and discuss the world environment in which APEC is likely to be operating in the next 20 years, with a particular focus on the major change in global institutional arrangements implied by the replacement of the Group of Seven/Eight (G-7/8) by the Group of Twenty (G-20) as the chief steering committee for the world economy and, within that group and other international economic organizations, the increasingly central role of an informal and de facto Group of Two (G-2) between China and the United States.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Adam S. Posen, Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since mid-2007, public authorities in the European Union have broadly met the challenge of ensuring a functional degree of liquidity and preventing financial meltdown. The Eurosystem has even been ahead of the curve compared with the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England in discounting early on a wide variety of assets to a range of counterparties. However, despite unprecedented central bank intervention, extensive government guarantees since October 2008, and macroeconomic assistance (with the International Monetary Fund) to the European Union's weakest member states, the underlying state of continental Europe's banking industry remains very fragile.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: C. Randall Henning
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The United States Congress is now considering whether to raise US commitments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A positive decision would ratify President Obama's pledge in early April, taken with the other leaders of the G-20, to bolster the IMF as part of their cooperative response to the global economic crisis. The package of measures advanced by the G-20 leaders would triple the resources available to the Fund to $750 billion and would greatly reinforce its role in the international financial system. However, the IMF remains a controversial institution and congressional support cannot be taken for granted.
  • Topic: Debt, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Richard N. Cooper
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US dollar is not the world's key currency by policy design, just as English is not the leading global language by policy design. It is the evolutionary outcome of practice and experience. It would take both a major shock to the dollar and a viable alternative to dislodge it from widespread use. Like a common language, the dollar enjoys “network externalities”— the greater the number of people who use and accept it, the more useful it is to everyone, and the more entrenched it becomes. Also, what is not quite the same thing, the dollar enjoys a large market in low-risk and highly liquid securities, most notably US Treasury bills; the liquidity both enhances and is enhanced by the network externalities. Most of the world's foreign exchange transactions directly involve the US dollar. It is easy to hold and easy to use, even on a large scale. In short, it is highly convenient.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In a recent Cato Institute paper, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar (2009) asserts that the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights (SDRs) cannot rival the US dollar, as suggested by the Chinese central bank governor (Zhou Xiaochuan 2009). “The SDR is not a currency and never can be,” Swami declares confidently in the first paragraph of his paper. He presents two arguments, which are presumably supposed to be proofs of this proposition.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mohsin S. Khan
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As oil prices began to rise in 2009 from a low point of about $40 a barrel in January to around $70 a barrel in July, a key question is whether the world is in for another oil price spike in the near term similar to that witnessed in early 2008. Several hypotheses were advanced when world oil prices started their inexorable climb from 2003–04 onwards, then skyrocketed from $92 a barrel in January 2008 to cross the $140 a barrel mark in June, finally hitting a record high of $147 a barrel on July 11, 2008, before collapsing to less than $40 a barrel in December (figure 1). There was the “peak oil” explanation, based on the theories of M. King Hubbert of “Hubbert's Peak” fame and his supporters, notably Colin Campbell and Matthew Simmons, that the world was running out of oil. There were the market “fundamentalists,” including importantly John Lipsky, the first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Philip Verleger, a well-known oil expert, who argued that the fundamentals of demand and supply were primarily behind the extraordinary rise in oil prices in the first half of 2008 (Lipsky 2009a, 2009b; Verleger 2005, 2008). Interestingly, this fundamentals view was also shared by the US Treasury and was articulated by David McCormick, then undersecretary for international affairs, in a presentation in July 2008 at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Finally, there were those who maintained that such an increase could only be a “bubble,” unexplained by peak oil theory or market fundamentals. Many financial-market participants were proponents of this third view, notably Michael Masters (2008), as well as the main oil producers, who were as surprised as anyone at the speed and size of the price increase over only a few months. Their argument was that the phenomenal increase in financialization of commodity markets during 2006–08, including in particular the oil market, led to speculation and momentum trading, which pushed oil prices way beyond their long-term equilibrium level as determined by fundamentals.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Brad Setser
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Brad Setser is a fellow at the Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He previously worked as a senior economist at RGEMonitor, an online financial information service. He served in the US Treasury Department from 1997 to 2001, where he concluded his tenure as the acting director of the Office of International Monetary and Financial Policy, and spent 2002 as a visiting scholar at the International Monetary Fund. He is the coauthor of Bailouts or Bail-ins? Responding to Financial Crises in Emerging Economies (Institute for International Economics, 2004) with Nouriel Roubini.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Korea–United States Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) is a historic accord that should enhance bilateral economic rela¬tions and reinforce our longstanding partnership on political and security matters. Like any negotiated deal, the KORUS FTA is not the optimal result for either country, but it provides substan¬tial benefits that make Korea and the United States considerably better off than they would be in the absence of the pact.
  • Topic: Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, North Korea
  • 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: Kimberly Elliott
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations, so named because it was launched in the Qatari capital, is in deep trouble. Negotiators have yet to meet any of the interim deadlines for completing the talks, and they missed another at the end of April 2006. While it is still possible to finish the round by early 2007, the odds are diminishing by the day, and this deadline matters more than most. Trade promotion authority (TPA) in the United States will expire in June 2007, and if the round does not make significant progress before then, TPA might not be renewed, and the round would likely drag on for several more years.
  • Topic: Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott, Scott C. Bradford, Thomas Moll
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Five years ago the Institute published Free Trade between Korea and the United States? by Inbom Choi and Jeffrey J. Schott, which analyzed the potential benefits and costs of pursuing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). At the time, neither government had vetted the idea in bilateral consultations, though some business groups in each country—and some members of the US Congress—had voiced support for deepening US-Korea economic ties through an FTA.
  • Topic: Economics, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, Korea
  • Author: John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China recently announced that it is adopting a basket of currencies as the peg for its exchange rate instead of the US dollar. This announcement raises questions of how such a system works, whether other East Asian countries would be advised to follow China in adopting a basket numeraire, and whether it would be advantageous to these countries if they were all to adopt the same basket. This brief answers these questions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, East Asia, Asia
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Paul Grieco
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Senator John Kerry has proposed a major overhaul in corporate taxation, with the goal of persuading multinational companies (MNCs) to employ more workers at home and fewer abroad. Kerry has correctly emphasized that domestic production is often taxed at a higher rate than production abroad, but his prescriptions will not boost US jobs.
  • Topic: Development, Globalization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Central America, Caribbean, North America
  • Author: Catherine L. Mann
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Businesses throughout the US economy continue to transform even after the technology boom has faded. The key sources of this continuing transformation are investment in the information technology (IT) package (hardware, software, and business-service applications) and reorientation of business activities and processes to use both information and technology effectively.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Ben Goodrich
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In May 2003, the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute panel ruled that US steel safeguards imposed in March 2002 are illegal. The WTO Appellate Body is all but certain to confirm the panel's judgment, probably by December 2003. Then the Bush administration will face an important choice. It can keep the safeguards in place, pleasing steel producers and important constituencies in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. However, doing so would further anger steel users, who have probably lost more business and jobs as a direct consequence of the safeguards than steel producers have gained. Maintaining the safeguards would also send a signal to the world's trading nations that the United States is not prepared to endure the political cost of eliminating steel protection. Furthermore, the administration would run the risk that, in the middle of a presidential election season, foreign countries will exercise their rights under the WTO to retaliate.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia
  • Author: Gary Hufbauer, Ben Goodrich
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A good proposal to eliminate tariffs must take into account both the pain and gain that developing countries are likely to experience. The authors take the measure of these costs and benefits and urge rich countries to maximize the benefits to developing countries while giving them ample time to accept, and adjust to, the changes that trade liberalization will require. But trade liberalization should not stop with tariff proposals. The United States and other industrial countries should generously reduce subsidies to farmers and eliminate nontariff barriers on agricultural imports. The United States should offer more concessions on services trade, particularly in its allowances for temporary foreign workers. Unless rich countries put more on the table, a WTO agreement to eliminate tariff barriers may be postponed for years.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Third World
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Hufbauer, Ariel Assa
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The tax-driven expatriation of US corporations is a troubling phenomenon. In a “corporate inversion,” a new foreign corporation, typically located in a low-tax or no-tax country, replaces the existing US parent corporation of a multinational enterprise (MNE). The US corporation then becomes a subsidiary of the new foreign parent. Since the US tax treatment of an MNE operating in the United States is significantly less favorable when the top-tier parent corporation is a domestic rather than a foreign corporation, the inversion transaction averts a substantial amount of US tax. Inversions have attracted adverse attention from tax specialists, media, the US Treasury Department, and Congress. In the wake of September 11, it seemed downright unpatriotic for US firms to invert as a way of skimping on their tax payments.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 05-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Despite the passage of 50 years since an armistice ended military hostilities, the Korean peninsula remains divided, a Cold War vestige that seemingly has been unaffected by the evolution that has occurred elsewhere. If anything, US confrontation with North Korea—a charter member of its “axis of evil”—has intensified in recent years. Yet today, increasing numbers of South Koreans, accustomed to living for decades in the shadows of the North's forward-deployed artillery, do not regard the North as a serious threat. Growing prosperity and confidence in the South, in marked contrast to the North's isolation and penury, have transformed fear and loathing into pity and forbearance. Instead, it is the United States, an ocean away, that regards the North and its nuclear weapons program with alarm. As the United States has focused on the nuclear program, its ally, South Korea, has observed the North Koreans' nascent economic reforms and heard their talk of conventional forces reduction, and the gap in the two countries' respective assessments of the North Korean threat has widened dangerously, threatening to undermine their alliance.
  • Topic: Security, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, East Asia, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea