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  • 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: Wim Naudé
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: T HE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN AND RECESSION, WHICH spread across the globe following the US sub-prime mortgage crisis in September 2008, has become the dominant news topic of the past year. One year into the crisis it has become clear that the paradigm for international development has changed irrevocably. With leadership, moral authority and the capacity of the West diminishing, developing countries' recovery and future growth will critically depend on their own initiatives and solutions.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jakob Vestergaard, Martin Højland
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: If the UN Millennium Development Goals are to be reached by 2015, development aid needs to be tripled – which is most unlikely. Instead, countries should unite in a concerted multilateral effort to combat illicit financial flows: for every dollar poor countries receive in development assistance, more than eight dollars are illegally transferred back to rich countries, most of it in order avoid local taxation. Effectively combating these illicit financial flows would generate more financial resources for development than foreign aid is likely to ever do – and help build a sustainable tax base in developing countries for the benefit of future development efforts.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe, London, Belgium, Switzerland, Ireland, Luxembourg
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Sometime in 2010 or 2011, Congress expects to decide how to spend the $250 billion or more of federal gas taxes and other highway user fees that will be collected over the next six years. The process of doing so is called surface transportation reauthorization. A major point of contention in this law is how much of our transportation system should be centrally planned and how much should be built and operated in response to the needs of actual transportation users.
  • Topic: Economics, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Late on November 25, just before the start of the Islamic Eid festival and, coincidentally, Thanksgiving in the United States, Dubai's flagship investment company Dubai World announced that it would be requesting a six-month delay on paying its debts. Within hours, Dubai's reputation was being rewritten, and its ambition to be a financial center, building on its historic reputation as a focal point for regional trade, was being recast. Uncertainty continued on November 30, when the Dubai government said that it would not guarantee Dubai World's debt. In any event, the larger story has been the nervousness of world financial markets, which are now also evincing worry about the debt of countries like Greece or Ireland. Within the Middle East, the focus is on the extent of support that Dubai will receive from Abu Dhabi, the neighboring -- and richer -- member sheikhdom of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), whether other city-states like Bahrain and Qatar are also at risk, and whether Dubai's links with Iran will change as a result of its financial situation.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi
  • Author: Terutomo Ozawa
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: President Obama has been supporting a new bill, the Employee Free Choice Act, designed to promote the labor unions' drive for unionization. This bill, if enacted, will surely be a big boon for unions as it helps enlarge their membership, enhance their bargaining power vis-à-vis businesses, and enrich their coffers to wield political clout. An important issue here, however, is how such reinforced unionism contributes to the U.S.'s much needed industrial competitiveness and employment—and, more specifically, how this new policy will affect the U.S. as a host to FDI in the auto industry.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Laza Kekic
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: The global economic and financial crisis has had a major impact on foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. After declining in 2008 by 17% to US$1.73trn from US$2.09trn in 2007—the high point of a four- year long boom in cross-border mergers and acquisitions (M) and FDI—global FDI inflows are forecast to plunge by 44% to less than US$1trn in 2009. The big drop in 2009 is occurring despite the improvements in the global economy in recent months. A notable feature of trends in 2009 is that, for the first time ever, emerging markets are set to attract more FDI inflows than the developed world.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Susan D. Franck
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: We know several things about foreign investment. First, foreign investment matters, reaching US$1.7 trillion in 2008. Second, we know that foreign investors have new international law rights to protect their economic interests. Third, we know that those rights are now being used.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anne Van Aaken, Jürgen Kurtz
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Several developed countries have introduced emergency measures to mitigate the effects of the Global Financial Crisis, including Australia, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Although the measures taken are still undergoing changes by the executive branch and are thus a “moving target”, our survey reveals early evidence of differentiation between foreign and domestic actors in the emergency plans adopted by this sample grouping. It is this differentiation that may give rise to liability as breaching guarantees against discrimination of foreign investors under international investment law.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, International Affairs, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Ireland
  • Author: Mark E. Plotkin, David N. Fagan
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: On December 22, 2008, new regulations setting forth the U.S. government's national security review process for foreign mergers and acquisitions of U.S. businesses became effective. They are the ultimate step in a lengthy effort to revise and strengthen the reviews undertaken by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”).
  • Topic: Economics, National Security, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States