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  • 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: Edwin M. Truman, Sarah Bagnall
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On July 7, 2011 the International Forum of Sovereign Wealth Funds (IFSWF) released a report on IFSWF Members' Experience in the Application of the Santiago Principles. The report is a self-assessment of the voluntary compliance of 21 member sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) with the Generally Accepted Principles and Practices of SWFs, issued in October 2008. We commend the IFSWF for undertaking the surveys on which the report is based, for the later decision to publish the results, and for the detail included in the report. However, as with many self-assessments, the report has some flaws. The principal flaw is that the characterization of the extent of compliance with the Santiago Principles is exaggerated.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Sovereign Wealth Funds
  • Political Geography: Santiago
  • Author: Simon Johnson, Peter Boone
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Attempts to resolve the problems in Europe are failing, and the crisis is spreading from Greece, Ireland, and Portugal to larger nations. Europe's financial system relies on moral hazard, i.e., a “no defaults” policy, to attract the funding needed to roll over large amounts of short–term bank and sovereign debt. Now that politicians in creditor nations are calling for private sector burden sharing, investors are demanding higher interest rates to hold these debts. But higher rates may tip banks and nations toward bankruptcy. Europe's banks and financial system are highly integrated across countries. Rising expectations of default in some countries could lead to large-scale capital flight into “safe” countries. This shift will raise concerns regarding solvency and liquidity of many financial institutions. The payments system of the euro area is serving as an opaque bailout mechanism that is currently preventing the euro area from falling apart at this time. If the number of nations in trouble spreads beyond Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, this bailout system will be stressed because of the potential size of accumulated funding. The European Central Bank (ECB) could soon see a vocal debate between inflationist and hawkish (anti–inflation) members. Inflationists will call for large–scale interventions, including bond buybacks and emergency loans, while the hawks will attempt to close loopholes in the payments system that effectively permit each troubled nation to create money needed to finance capital flight and budget deficits. At this stage in the debate, we see little chance that Europe can avoid ending the “moral hazard” regime, in which case it needs to plan for widespread sovereign and bank debt restructurings.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Ireland
  • Author: Cullen S. Hendrix
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the past four years, rising world food prices and the global economic downturn increased the ranks of the world's food insecure1 from 848 million to 925 million by September 2010, reversing decades of slow yet steady progress in reducing hunger (WFP and FAO 2010). While the human costs have been considerable, the political consequences have been significant as well. Food prices sparked demonstrations and riots in 48 countries 2007–08. While prices receded in 2009, they reached historic highs in February 2011—and were once again implicated in political turmoil. High food and fuel prices were among the grievances motivating the demonstrations that led to the ouster of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Food
  • Political Geography: Ethiopia, Egypt
  • Author: Trevor Houser
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Like clock-work, as US gasoline prices approached $4 a gallon in spring 2011, energy security moved to the forefront of the American political debate. Global oil prices have recovered from their collapse during the financial crisis more quickly than expected due to resilient developing-country demand and political instability throughout the Middle East and North Africa. As with past oil price spikes, politicians have been quick to offer silver bullet solutions to lower gas prices and make America more energy secure. But given the complexity of the US energy system and global energy markets, it is difficult for even informed observers to evaluate how far current proposals go in solving the country's energy security challenge.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Oil, Natural Resources, Biofuels
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains stalled despite the political impetus provided by the Seoul G-20 Summit in November 2010. The major trading nations have not revised their positions enough to propel new negotiations on agriculture, manufactures, and services. There is now little chance to complete an agreement this year and little indication that current efforts could succeed next year.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Martin Vieiro
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The United States holds contradictory views about large corporations. When Americans speak of breakthroughs in research and engineering, they are justly proud of large firms that pioneered railroads and steam engines in the 19th century, automobiles, electric power, and oil exploration in the 20th century, and computers, software, and biotechnology in the 21st century. Yet when talk turns to paying taxes, public opinion holds that large corporations should pay a higher statutory tax rate than other business firms, and enjoy fewer deductions in computing their taxable income. Despite common sense and the teachings of economics, tax discrimination is alive and well.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On July 21, 2011, the heads of government of the euro area announced a new plan to address the Greek debt crisis. This policy brief presents a simulation exercise that examines whether the new arrangements are likely to provide a sustainable solution. The analysis focuses on four key measures: gross debt relative to GDP; net debt relative to GDP; net interest payments relative to GDP; and amortization of medium-and long-term debt coming due during the year in question, relative to GDP. The new Greek package shows prospective future progress on all four measures, and Greek debt looks much more sustainable after the package than before. Debt also appears considerably more manageable if the criterion is net debt or interest burden rather than gross debt ratio, although even for gross debt the ratio is down substantially by 2020. It also becomes clear that the major contribution of the private-sector involvement (PSI) part of the package is in the form of sharply cutting amortization due, although by avoiding large new borrowing at crisis-level interest rates it also alleviates the interest burden that would otherwise occur.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) are prominent participants in the assessment of credit risk by financial markets. They determine and publish credit ratings, which represent the CRA's opinions on issuers' relative probability of default. The market for credit ratings is currently dominated in most western countries by three players: n Standard Poor's (S) is a division of the McGraw- Hill Companies, a US-based media group whose ownership is dispersed (the largest shareholder is Capital Group, with 12 percent of shares); n Moody's Corporation is an autonomous US-based listed company with dispersed ownership (the largest shareholder is Berkshire Hathaway, with 12.5 percent of shares); n Fitch Ratings is a division of the Fitch Group which is jointly owned by Fimalac, a Paris-based listed investment vehicle (60 percent of shares), and the US-based Hearst Corporation (40 percent of shares).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: After 18 years, Russia is finally on the verge of acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO). No country has struggled for so long to become a member of this important organization. The last impediment was removed on November 9, when Russia and Georgia concluded an agreement on monitoring trade flows across their disputed border. The WTO Working Party, which oversaw the negotiations, then approved Russian accession on November 10, clearing the way for formal membership to be adopted at the WTO ministerial conference to be held December 15–17, 2011 (WTO 2011).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Georgia
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: With great French fanfare the G-20 committed itself in Seoul, Korea a year ago “to build a more stable and resilient international monetary system (IMS), including by further strengthening global financial safety nets.” As subsequently elaborated by French President Sarkozy and other French government officials, the agenda for IMS reform included five elements: surveillance of the global economy and financial system, the international lender-of-last-resort mechanisms (global financial safety nets), the management of global capital flows, reserve assets and reserve currencies, and IMS governance.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: Korea
  • Author: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The currency markets have been extremely disturbed for the last three months. The period witnessed a major strengthening of the US dollar in September, then the European currency crisis, a recovery of the euro when the markets believed that the crisis was being controlled, and then a rebound of the dollar. In view of these developments, those who follow currency movements need a new guide as to how the current values of currencies compare to our estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs). That is the main object of this paper.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Political Economy, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: John Williamson, Mohsin S. Khan
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The current government of Egypt has frequently stated that external financial assistance is necessary in the present economic situation and has expressed a strong preference for receiving it in part via debt relief. The question asked in this policy brief is whether there is a case for debt relief and if so what form this relief should take. This policy brief reviews a number of cases in which debt relief has been granted to draw out the lessons and implications for Egypt.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regime Change, Popular Revolt
  • Political Geography: Arabia, Arab Countries, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Philip K. Verleger
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: When a boat springs a leak far from shore, it is customary for all hands to man the pumps—be they friends or enemies, passengers or crew. Every individual's survival depends on the actions of his or her compatriots. So it is with the global economy today.
  • Topic: Debt, Markets, Oil, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Morris Goldstein
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: When pondering desirable reforms, I prefer to think about both the international financial system and the international monetary system because as this global crisis demonstrates so vividly, the root causes can come from both the financial and the monetary spheres and they can interact in a variety of ways. On the financial side, I want to emphasize two problems: pricking asset price bubbles before they get too large, and confronting “too big to fail.” On the monetary side, I want to concentrate on what can be done to discourage “beggar-thyneighbor” exchange rate policies.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • 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: Trevor Houser
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Now that the dust has settled from the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen last December and countries have chosen whether or not to sign up to the Copenhagen Accord that resulted, it's a good time to step back and take stock.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Despite high drama, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, held in Copenhagen between December 7 and 18, 2009, ended as a flop. The failure to secure a comprehensive treaty came as no surprise: hopes for the Copenhagen conference to wrap up two years of negotiations with a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol had faded long before December. But it was still disappointing that so little was accomplished, especially after President Barack Obama, Premier Wen Jiabao, and over 100 world leaders decided (at the last moment) to join thousands of delegates, environmentalists, and climate activists in Copenhagen. Our own benchmarks for a reasonable outcome from Copenhagen include much greater specificity as to targets, time paths, and control measures by major emitting countries; more detailed commitments on financial support and conditionality terms for developing countries; and acceptance by all major emitters, whether developed or developing countries, of robust and independent monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) standards. We do not place great stress on the legal form of the ultimate agreement, whether a treaty or a political accord or something in between (Werksman and Herbertson 2009), but we do think the sense of obligation must be equivalent between all major emitters. Again, equivalence was not achieved.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Author: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In June 2009 we issued our annual update of estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs) for 34 major economies (Cline and Williamson 2009). At that time the dollar had already begun correction from the substantial overvaluation that had arisen from the strong safe-haven effect associated with the global financial crisis of 2008–09. In this policy brief we report on changes in disequilibria in the exchange markets since the date those earlier calculations referred to, namely March 2009. We first present estimates of the extent of movement toward FEER-consistent bilateral dollar exchange rates from March to December 31, 2009, and then look at how effective exchange rates have altered in the same period. We also re-estimate the FEER-consistent dollar rate for one important currency, the Korean won.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Political Economy, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Korea
  • 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: Peter B. Kenen
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Today, the international monetary system is based largely on the US dollar, but reserve currency diversification has begun, thanks to the advent of the euro, and it is apt to continue. Eventually, the renminbi could acquire reserve currency status, and the resulting reserve currency diversification could be more disruptive than it has been to date. To forestall that possibility the quasi-currency issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), could be made to play a larger role in the international monetary system, precluding potentially disruptive diversification and achieving more orderly growth in the stock of international reserves.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On November 30, 2009, North Korea announced a reform to replace all currency in circulation with new bills and coins. North Korean officials have made no bones about their motivations: The “reform” constitutes a direct attack on the emerging market economy and the independence from state control that it represents. In an interview following the conversion, an official of the North Korean central bank noted that the reform was aimed at curbing private trade and underlined that North Korea is “not moving toward a free market economy but will further strengthen the principle and order of socialist economic management.”
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • 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: Olivier Jeanne
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The set of tools and mechanisms with which emerging-market countries insure themselves against volatile capital flows is in a state of flux. Most emerging-market countries had accumulated an unprecedented level of international reserves before the global financial crisis that started in 2008. The crisis itself led to a large increase in International Monetary Fund (IMF) resources and the introduction of a new lending facility, the Flexible Credit Line (FCL). Meanwhile, some progress was made toward transforming the Chiang Mai Initiative into an Asian Monetary Fund, and the Greek debt crisis even prompted calls for the creation of a European Monetary Fund.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Markets, Foreign Direct Investment
  • 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: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • 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 issue of the World Economic Outlook (WEO) published by the International Monetary Fund in April 2010 (IMF 2010a). It is part of what has now become an annual cycle drawing 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 equilibrium position. This year we also published an interim report (Cline and Williamson 2010), partly drawing on the October 2009 WEO but essentially examining the implications of the pattern of market exchange rates as of January 1, 2010 for how misaligned currencies were at that time, assuming that the FEERs estimated in June 2009 were correct. In this publication we have estimated the FEERs anew on the basis of revisions in the methods employed and new data presented in the April 2010 WEO, after incorporating adjustments to the IMF forecast needed to take account of recent changes in exchange rates and especially the euro.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, International Monetary Fund, Monetary Policy
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Nothing is easier than pointing fingers at policymakers woring feverishly at 2 a.m. to contain a rapidly spreading financial crisis. Rarely has this been truer for the European Union than during the current crisis's amateurish policy management. Yet, what really matters is the final result, which is far more postive for Europe than the ugly sausage-making process.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A widespread currency war is in prospect. The term was first introduced by Guido Mantega, the finance minster of Brazil. He envisaged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) developing an index that measures whether currencies are held artificially low to boost exports (popularly referred to as “currency manipulation”). If that IMF exercise did not lead to an easing of such exchange market intervention, he suggested that an undervalued exchange rate could eventually be considered a commercial subsidy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Brazil
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: So far so good for the European Union in preventing the Greek sovereign debt crisis from spiraling out of control in the short term. But with Greece in May 2010 requiring an unprecedented bailout from the European Union/IMF to avoid immediate default and 25 of the European Union's 27 member states currently subject to an “excessive deficit procedure” (European Commission 2010i), it remains evident that the European Union's existing fiscal surveillance framework patently failed both before and during the Great Recession and that Europe's leaders must head back to the drawing board for a required long term reform of the EU fiscal policy and surveillance framework.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: Adam S. Posen
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In this policy brief I present my view on the role of monetary policy in our recovery and whether the major central banks in the United Kingdom and beyond should be doing more in the coming months. Of course, every central bank's policysetting committee has to make its own assessment of the right policy measures for its economy, based on its own forecastand the mandate legally set for it. Thus, I am not presuming to offer a “one size fits all” prescription for central bankers beyond the United Kingdom. I would like, however, to try to give some general assessment of the common challenges we face, and what I believe to be the appropriate monetary policy response, barring special circumstances. Not that there will be any doubt about it, but for the record, these are solely my own personal views.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • 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, Stéphane Rottier
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: “All politics is local,” as the saying goes, but all economics is global, and regulation is one area where these two realities meet and conflict. This has been particularly true for financial regulation in the wake of the unprecedented financial crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, Genocide, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The central challenge facing the global economy and financial system today is the failure of countries to limit the negative effects of their policies on other countries and on global economic and financial stability. The most prominent manifestations of this challenge are the balance-of-payments adjustment process and the notorious asymmetry therein, spillovers from other countries' financial-sector policies such as those involved in the crisis of 2007–10, and the prospect of sustained unbalanced growth in the global economy with some countries overheating and others facing substantial excess capacity. Against this background, I propose an approach to strengthened IMF surveillance over the economic and financial policies of its member countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Monetary Fund, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • 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: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As Europe's financial market contagion spreads to systemically important eurozone members, the region is echoing with "end-game scenarios" (Johnson and Boone 2010) and demands for major new steps by European policymakers (Financial Times 2010). Among these would be a European "fiscal transfer union," a new common eurozone bond, action by the European Central Bank (ECB) to monetize sovereign debts, and finally a eurozone breakup itself.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: C. Randall Henning
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In September 1997, at the outset of the last global financial crisis, the Japanese Ministry of Finance proposed the creation of an Asian Monetary Fund. Although this particular proposal was scuttled, the idea of a common regional fund on which East Asian governments might draw in times of financial turmoil survives. The region's disaffection from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), stemming from the 1997–98 crisis, sustains this idea and a desire on the part of individual countries to self-insure with large holdings of foreign exchange reserves. East Asian governments and central banks have created a set of bilateral swap arrangements (BSAs) dubbed the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) and are negotiating among themselves to build these BSAs into a more comprehensive facility. Some Asian officials hope that such a facility could underpin exchange rate cooperation and monetary integration in the region, although such proposals remain for the moment long-term visions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, Asia
  • 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: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: When we first published our estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs) in July 2008 (Cline and Williamson 2008), we stated that this was intended to be a regular series of publications. This policy brief updates those estimates in light of the momentous changes in the world economy during the past year. Many of those changes, notably changes in actual exchange rates, should not influence FEERs, except insofar as we allow a range of variation of the target current account balance. But equally clearly, one does expect some of the changes, notably forecasts of the prices of oil and other commodities, to be important determinants of equilibrium exchange rates.