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  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott, Meera Fickling
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A year ago, we wrote a policy brief titled Setting the NAFTA Agenda on Climate Change, which explored issues of energy and environmental cooperation among the three North American countries in light of the climate legislation that had recently passed the US House of Representatives. Similar legislation did not pass the Senate, and Congressional leaders are now considering much more modest measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reforming US energy policy.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On May 31, 2010 a majority of the Lower House of the National Diet of Japan approved legislation that would reverse a decade's worth of effort to fully privatize key subsidiaries of Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. Besides postal services, the state-run postal system offers banking and insurance services, through Japan Post Bank (JPB) and Japan Post Insurance (JPI), respectively. These are the financial engines of Japan Post and were the units slated for privatization. Both subsidiaries have long received favorable government treatment, tilting the playing field against private banks and insurance firms, whether foreign or domestic. The government of Japan is in clear violation of its commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and if the Upper House approves the legislation, Japan will reverse the efforts made by the United States and the European Union, as well as domestic private banks and insurance firms, to establish a level playing field. What's more, Japan risks having a formal WTO dispute brought against it.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe
  • 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: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Theodore H. Moran
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US House of Representatives has just passed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (HR 4213). This bill will hurt American workers, reduce American exports, and make American companies less competitive in the international marketplace. Since the US Senate has already passed companion legislation, the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act (S 3336), these ill-considered bills could soon be reconciled in conference and become the law of the land. If so, American firms and workers will pay the price.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Trevor Houser
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On May 12, 2010, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) released details of their proposed American Power Act, a comprehensive energy and climate change bill developed over the preceding nine months by the two senators, chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees respectively, along with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).1 With US unemployment just below 10 percent and the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig's ruptured well pouring thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day, the senators promised that if passed the bill will: (1) reduce US oil consumption and dependence on oil imports; (2) cut US carbon pollution 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and over 80 percent by 2050; and (3) create jobs and restore US global economic leadership. In this policy brief we evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed American Power Act in achieving those goals.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For the past 18 months, the G-20 summit countries have worked together to contain the global economic crisis and encourage a sustainable economic recovery. As part of these efforts, the G-20 leaders have sought to constrain the protectionist pressures that invariably arise during times of economic stress and to maintain an open international trading regime. The G-20 trade agenda, as enunciated in the three summit declarations, has covered two specific trade actions: a “standstill” on new protectionism and a charge to complete the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
  • Topic: Development, Human Rights, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Theodore H. Moran
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As presidential candidate, Barack Obama repeatedly advocated tax “reforms” aimed squarely at US-based multinational enterprises (MNEs). As president, he again declared—in the same State of the Union address that laid out an ambitious goal for export expansion—that “it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America."
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: These are difficult times. Not only are 10 percent of Americans unemployed but the federal budget is out of whack thanks to the specter of rising entitlement outlays. A natural impulse in difficult times is to protect domestic products and domestic producers. The tone of political economy during the global recession of 2007–09 is no different from that in past recessions—but louder because the economic damage is more severe. Emblematic of this spirit is a proposal to discriminate against foreign-owned insurance companies, using the tax code.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Richard J. Smith
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The 1987 Montreal Protocol to the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer was a pivotal agreement in the history of global environmental negotiations. It established a process that remains an important precedent for dealing with global environmental problems, including global warming. What made the negotiation of that agreement such an iconic event, and what useful lessons does it hold for climate change negotiators?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) was signed on June 30, 2007. Since then, the Korean National Assembly has vetted the agreement and the pact cleared a major legislative hurdle when the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee approved it in April 2009; the full assembly has deferred final passage pending comparable action by the US Congress. In the United States, the ratification process has not yet begun; neither President George W. Bush nor President Barack Obama has submitted implementing legislation to Congress.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Law
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Asia, Korea
  • Author: Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the context of a transatlantic comparison, the first thing to be mentioned is the difference between the time sequence of financial reforms in the European Union and its equivalent in the United States. The financial crisis started simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, with the initial disruption of some financial market segments in August 2007 and the major panic episode of September through October 2008. But they are not at the same stage of policy reaction and especially regulatory reform now. At least four reasons can be identified for this difference.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On December 3, 2010, the United States and South Korea agreed to incremental changes to the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) that was signed in June 2007 but not ratified by the US Congress or the Korean National Assembly. Most of the changes affect bilateral trade in autos and light trucks; other minor changes involve pharmaceutical patents, US pork exports, and US visas.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, South Korea
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Claire Brunel
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the financial crisis threatens to lead to a depression, the woes of the automobile industry are second only to the distress of the financial sector. Employment in the US auto industry dropped 9 percent between 2007 and 2008, with much more to follow in 2009. Overall, US auto sales dropped 18 percent between 2007 and 2008, and sales of SUVs plunged 44 percent on a year-over-year basis. Since some sort of financing is required for 90 percent of US car sales, the global credit freeze hit the auto industry with a second blow.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Trevor Houser, Shashank Mohan, Robert Heilmayr
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the 111th Congress begins and a new president takes office, the economic crisis dominates the US policy agenda. The financial system remains in a tenuous state despite massive bank recapitalization, and the economy, more than a year into the current recession, shows no signs of recovery. Given the scale of the challenge Washington faces and the amount of money required to combat it, there will likely be little room for other legislative priorities. As a result, policymakers are hoping to direct government spending over the next two years in a way that not only generates short-term economic growth and employment but also addresses long-term policy goals sidelined by the current crisis.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Economics, Environment, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On January 28, 2009, the US House of Representatives passed its economic stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Out of the bill's 700 text pages, a small half-page section attracted enormous media attention: the section requiring that all public projects funded by the stimulus plan must use only iron and steel produced in the United States (box 1). Another provision, which drew less attention, extends the so-called Berry Amendment (an old Buy American provision) to uniforms purchased by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Government, Industrial Policy, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: It is generally believed that the United States is a country of low taxes and small government, at least when compared with countries in Europe (and until the financial crisis so greatly expanded the role of the federal government in the United States in late 2008). Fully accounting for the role, size, and effect of the government in an economy is a complex endeavor, however, and it is hardly accomplished by repeatedly restating differences in top marginal tax rates, overall tax burdens, or gross sizes of governments in GDP terms.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In 2007 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that US companies that had done business with apartheid South Africa could be found liable for monetary damages under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) of 1789 (Khulumani v. Barclay Nat. Bank Ltd., 504 F.3d 254 [2d Cir. 2007]). Liability arises, the Second Circuit declared, from their possible connections with human rights violations committed by South Africa during the apartheid era. Firms named in the suit include Bank of America, IBM, Coca-Cola, and General Motors. The governments of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland all opposed the lawsuit, as did the government of South Africa, which argued that the suit ran counter to its policy of reconciliation. The Bush administration also opposed the suit, but the Second Circuit rejected the argument that the cases could be dismissed for foreign policy reasons.
  • Topic: Apartheid, Human Rights, International Law, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, United Kingdom, America, South Africa, Germany
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jisun Kim
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the administration and Congress catch their breath from rescuing the economy, their thoughts are quickly turning to other issues—including the structure of the US tax system. Everyone agrees that the US tax system inflicts enormous complexity on the American public. But reform is never easy. Who pays the tax burden ranks among the most contentious issues that Congress has historically faced, and this time around will be no different.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anders Åslund, Andrew Kuchins
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Whither Russia? Russia's economic circumstances as well as its articulated goals hold the answer to this eternal question. Drawing on our analysis in the forthcoming book The Russia Balance Sheet, we outline here a policy approach for the Barack Obama administration. We believe our views reflect to some degree an emerging consensus for the new administration's Russia policy. Russia is important for US foreign policy in many ways. The United States needs a more constructive relationship with Russia to address many core global security issues including nuclear security and nonproliferation, terrorism, energy, and climate change.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States