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  • Author: Jason Thistlethwaite, Melissa Menzies
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: To promote climate change risk mitigation in financial markets, the Financial Stability Board recently proposed the creation of a Climate Disclosure Task Force, coordinated through the G20, to develop standards for companies to disclose their exposure to climate change risks. With more than 400 existing disclosure schemes, this task will be challenging. This brief identifies the key categories of governance practices that must be addressed, how these divergent practices challenge end-users, and how the establishment of criteria that define effective and efficient reporting is a critical first step for the Climate Disclosure Task Force.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Susan Schadler
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Research on links between the level of a country’s public debt and its broader economic developments has been heatedly debated in the economic literature. Two strands of the research stand out — one linking the level of debt to a country’s GDP growth rate and the other examining the debt level as an EWI of economic crises. As a broad generalization, research at the moment favors the view that high levels of debt are not a cause, in and of themselves, of low growth nor are they particularly good predictors of impending economic or even debt crises. In principle, the empirical findings have obvious implications for policy makers confronting the question of how to fashion policies (and fiscal policy in particular) when a country has a high debt burden. The IMF, as both a contributor to the literature and an adviser concerned with preventing or dealing with debt crises, has a particularly important stake in navigating the findings. Whether in its surveillance (routine annual advice to all member countries) or the construction of its lending programs to support countries in or near crisis, the IMF must answer the question “how much does the level of debt matter?” Despite the empirical research that casts doubt on the importance of debt, the level of debt figures prominently in the algebra of debt sustainability and the IMF’s real world policy advice. This policy brief examines the nexus of the relatively strong conclusions coming from the academic research and the IMF’s policy advice. It addresses the following question: given that the broad conclusion from the academic literature is that the level of debt itself is not systematically bad for growth or stability, why does the debt level seem to figure rather prominently in the IMF’s policy advice and conditionality?
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Economics, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, GDP, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Samuel Howorth, Domenico Lombardi, Pierre Siklos
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Students of macroeconomics will have heard about the central role played by the so-called Phillips curve in both theoretical and empirical analyses for almost 70 years. In 1958, A. W. Phillips reported an inverse relationship between changes in wages and the unemployment rate (Phillips 1958). The progeny of his thinking led to a revolution both in policy making and in the development of theoretical links between the real and nominal macroeconomic variables. Names such as Samuelson, Solow, Phelps, Friedman, Lucas and Sargent became associated with refinements and enhancements of the core finding reported by Phillips. Indeed, all of these economists went on to become Nobel laureates in economics, although not exclusively because of their contributions to the analysis of what has since been called the Phillips curve. Indeed, the concept is so influential that it spawned several different versions of the trade-off used to guide policy makers as a menu for the choices they face when deciding whether the gains from lower inflation are offset by the economic costs of higher unemployment. Initially, expectations of individuals or firms were ignored. This briefly gave policy makers the impression that they could simply select an inflation-unemployment combination and implement the necessary policy mix to achieve the desired outcome. Once a role for expectations was incorporated, debate centred on how forward-looking individuals are. The more forward-looking, the less likely it was that policy makers would be able to “exploit” the trade-off because, unless wages rose in purchasing-power terms, the gains from lower unemployment would, at best, be temporary once workers realized that the higher inflation, at unchanged wages, actually drives real wages down. Indeed, the pendulum swung all the way to the conclusion — reached by the 1970s and early 1980s — that the Phillips curve was illusory and there was no trade-off policy makers could exploit.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, International Political Economy, Labor Issues, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fukunari Kimura, Lurong Chen
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: As mega free trade agreements (FTAs) are reshaping the rules of global governance, there is urgency for member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take proper actions in response to the changing world economic order. On one hand, they should closely observe the progress of negotiations and follow up the issues that are under discussion in mega FTAs. On the other hand, they have to accelerate the pace in concluding the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Caroline Freund, Sarah Oliver
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Regulatory standards protect consumers from defective products, but they impede trade when they differ across countries. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) seeks to reduce distortions in the automobile and other industries. Freund and Oliver evaluate the equivalence of automobile regulations in the United States and the European Union in terms of catastrophe avoidance and estimate the trade gains from harmonization. The UN 1958 Agreement on automobiles, which harmonizes regulations among signatories, is used to quantify the trade effect of regulatory convergence. The removal of regulatory differences in autos is estimated to increase trade by 20 percent or more. The effect on trade from harmonizing standards is only slightly smaller than the effect of EU accession on auto trade. The large economic gains from regulatory harmonization imply that TTIP has the potential to improve productivity while lowering prices and enhancing variety for consumers.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, European Union
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: Commodity trading and the activities of trading companies influence economic and governance outcomes in developing countries. Typically privately owned with flexible business models, many trading companies work extensively in “high-risk” environments – including countries with weak institutions, conflicts or other challenges that scare away more risk-averse companies. Given the size of this footprint, and its prevalence in countries with high levels of corruption or poverty (or both), the quality of trading companies’ business practices is of serious concern. Trading companies play several roles through which they influence public institutions and public revenues, and they frequently build close relationships with top officials and political elites. They are major buyers of raw materials sold by governments and state-owned companies worldwide, and these transactions generate significant public revenues. Traders also provide large loans to governments, sell refined products, and enter into joint ventures with state-owned entities. They are expanding their upstream and downstream operations in developing countries as well.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Max George-Wagner, Erica Westenberg
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: Under the EITI Standard, implementing countries are required to produce far more comprehensive reports than before; these go beyond revenue payments to include disclosures across the entire extractive industries decision chain. However, the objective of the Standard is not merely to generate more data, but rather that stakeholders will use the information to impact the governance of the sector. This EITI briefing note explores how countries are faring at meeting the EITI’s more ambitious requirements and what implementing countries can do to begin moving “from reporting to reform.” This briefing note is based on a review of the first 22 reports produced under the Standard; the review assesses both the quality of reporting, as well as the content. We found that in many respects countries have risen to the challenge and become more ambitious and comprehensive in their reporting. This has included highlighting critical deficiencies in license allocation processes, revealing politically affiliated owners of companies, and identifying significant local revenues that were never disbursed. However, a number of significant gaps remain and these are holding countries back from seeing meaningful impacts from their EITI processes. For instance, these reports have missed opportunities to inform major tax code revisions, ignored hotly debated issues of sector employment, and left stakeholders in the dark about individual extractive projects.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Intelligence, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: NRGI has created a series of short, illustrated overviews of key topics in NRGI's portfolio of work. Together they serve as a robust introduction for the lay reader to fundamental issues and concepts in resource governance. Most contain helpful figures and infographics, and each reader has a standard format: key messages, key concepts and case examples, and a final set of practitioner-orientated questions to ask. Each topic is explicitly linked to the relevant precepts of the Natural Resource Charter.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Oil, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Domenico Lombardi , Kelsey Shantz
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The annual CIGI Survey of Progress in International Economic Governance assesses progress in five areas of international economic governance: macroeconomic and financial cooperation; cooperation on financial regulation; cooperation on development; cooperation on trade; and cooperation on climate change. In this year’s survey, 31 CIGI experts conclude that international economic arrangements continue to show a level of “status quo,” averaging a score of 50% across all five areas. The 2015 survey indicates a slight improvement to the result of last year’s survey, which suggested a minimal regression overall. The experts’ assessment of progress was most promising in the area of climate change cooperation, with an average score of 57%, whereas the least promising area was macroeconomic and financial cooperation, with a score of 44%, indicating minimal regression. The remaining three areas polled all fell within the “status quo” range, with trade at 46%, development at 48% and international cooperation on financial regulation at 53%. Interestingly, in the area of cooperation on development, CIGI’s experts provided a relatively mixed assessment. Responses varied based on experts’ perception of the effectiveness of current rhetoric, from 70% (indicating some progress) to 10% (suggesting major regression). Compared to last year, climate change governance has made the greatest improvement, but the remaining three areas (with the exception of development, which was not included in the 2014 survey) have all, on average, regressed further or remained stagnant. This trend is cause for concern.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Domenico Lombardi, Kesley Shantz
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The annual CIGI Survey of Progress in International Economic Governance assesses progress in five areas of international economic governance: macroeconomic and financial cooperation; cooperation on financial regulation; cooperation on development; cooperation on trade; and cooperation on climate change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus