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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: 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: Nathan M. Jensen, Edmund J. Malesky
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Despite broad skepticism about the benefits of globalization, the majority of U.S. states have offered lucrative tax incentives to attract investment. The size of these incentives is generally considered too large to be welfare enhancing, and many economists are skeptical of the effectiveness of these policies. Yet despite the mounting evidence to the contrary, the incentives offered by U.S. states (and foreign countries) continue and have actually increased in their generosity over time.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Politics, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark E. Plotkin, David N. Fagan
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: There was considerable public scrutiny of the Obama Administration's performance in its inaugural year, but comparatively little focus on one of the Administration's key processes governing the flow of investment into the United States — namely, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Yet, this is a frequent question we receive from foreign investors -- has the change in the administration affected CFIUS?
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: S. Akbar Zaidi
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Over the last sixty years, Pakistan\'s economy has seen severe ups and downs. Once considered a model for other developing nations, Pakistan has been unable to sustain solid growth. Furthermore, a third of its population now lives below the poverty line, and its literacy rate is abysmally low. Pakistan\'s economic instability stems in large part from low government revenue resulting from the elite\'s use of tax evasions, loopholes, and exemptions. Fewer than three million of Pakistan\'s 175 million citizens pay any income taxes, and the country\'s tax-to-GDP ratio is only 9 percent. Tax evasion means fewer resources are available for essential social services. Pakistan spends too much on defense and too little on development: It has spent twice as much on defense during peacetime as it has on education and health combined. The government knows how to increase its revenue through tax reform, but the rich and powerful have resisted such measures for fear of lowering their own incomes. Without sufficient revenue the government will continue to be burdened with an unsustainable debt. It needs to end tax exemptions for the wealthy and develop broader, long-term economic plans for sustain able growth. In the past, the United States and other Western nations have come to Pakistan\'s rescue by paying off debts and funding development initiatives. Pakistan\'s elite has no reason to support reform as long as these bailouts come with no conditions attached.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States
  • Author: Uri Dadush, Vera Eidelman
  • Publication Date: 11-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Great Recession included five major surprises: (1) the severity of the global trade and output collapse, (2) the United States suffered a milder than expected recession, (3) Europe saw the onset of a severe sovereign debt crisis, (4) China grew at an extraordinary rate even though it's greatly dependent on exports, and (5) Latin America showed remarkable resilience.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Latin America
  • Author: Steven Haines
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: During the period of the Bush presidency, from 2001-2009, there was much concern expressed, both domestically within the United States and internationally, about Washington's apparently cavalier attitude towards international law. 1 Much of this – though by no means all – was prompted by the US reaction to the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington (the so-called 'global war on terrorism'), and the decision in 2002/3 to opt for regime change in Iraq. For many commentators it seemed as though US policy in that period provided solid evidence that law within the international system was of little influence in the face of determined power. This perception reflects realist assumptions about the pre-eminence of national interest and power as determinants of policy. Of particular moment is the power of those states that fall within the category of 'great power' – and 'superpower' has a special quality all its own.
  • Topic: Economics, International Law, International Affairs, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Djavad Salehi-Isfahani
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The effect of the international sanctions on Iran is to deepen its current economic recession and make recovery very difficult if not impossible. In doing so, it will inflict pain on the general population. By prolonging the recession, the sanctions will hurt Iran's youth (15-29 year olds) particularly harshly, as they will bear the brunt of the resulting unemployment. They account for 70 percent of unemployment, and any improvement in their condition depends on economic recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran
  • 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: James Mulvenon, Matthew Luce
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, University of California
  • Abstract: Contrary to popular perceptions of China as either "technology thief" or "technology superpower," the success of the Chinese defense electronics sector can be attributed to a combination of indigenous innovation, adaptation of foreign technology, and large-scale technology espionage. Advanced defense electronics components and systems play a key role in this revolution in military capability, making it imperative to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese defense electronics industry and their implications for U.S. interests in the region.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Franklin D. Kramer
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The transatlantic partnership has historically been at the heart of U.S. foreign policy, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been at the heart of the partnership. But the factors that long made "transatlantic" the dominant foreign policy construct have fundamentally changed – and with it has come a need for concomitant strategic and operational changes to meet new requirements.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, International Cooperation, Reform
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Franklin D. Kramer, John R. Lyman, Mihaela Carstei
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Energy security presents quintessential geopolitical challenges. In Central Europe, achieving energy security can be a critical element for a continent seeking to resolve vestigial Cold War complexities with Russia and toward meeting 21st century challenges including balanced economic development, energy diversity and climate change. Central Europe, utilizing both European Union support and Western European national assistance and enhanced by United States technical assistance, can take five key steps that will go far toward resolving energy security challenges and help to reframe the geopolitics of the continent.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Energy Policy, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe
  • 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: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: While the U.S. and world economies are slowing markedly, Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a growth industry for the private sector. U.S. government employees may set SSR policy and design projects, but implementation is extensively outsourced to private contractors. With the forthcoming surge of U.S. military forces into Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has announced contracts worth $1.1 billion for the construction of military bases and training centers for Afghan military and police. Private firms supply everything from construction materials to trainers and administrative staff. Private contractors operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan are required to provide their own security. Up to 15 percent of the cost of construction will go to private security firms, which guard convoys, facilities and personnel.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon, Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The traditional model of medical delivery, in which the doctor is trained, respected, and compensated as an independent craftsman, is anachronistic. When a patient has multiple ailments, there is no longer a simple doctor patient or doctor-patient-specialist relationship. Instead, there are multiple specialists who have an impact on the patient, each with a set of interdependencies and difficult coordination issues that increase exponentially with the number of ailments involved.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Martha Brill Olcott
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: With Washington's influence on the Caspian region at its lowest ebb in many years, the Obama administration could reverse this trend with a new approach that accepts Russia's presence and China's interest as historical and geographical givens and emphasizes short- and medium-term problem solving in multilateral and bilateral settings instead of long-term political and economic transformations. The United States can accomplish more in the Caspian region by focusing on military reform and building security capacity than on forming military alliances. The United States should switch from a multiple pipeline strategy to a policy that advances competition by promoting market pricing for energy producers, consumers, and transit states. The United States could facilitate the introduction of renewable sources of energy as a stimulus to economic recovery and a source of enhanced social security. The United States should develop a nuanced strategy that encourages political development through social and educational programs and local capacity building. The Obama administration should name a high-level official as a presidential envoy to this region.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Washington, Central Asia
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On December 16, 2008, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke exercised decisive leadership at a watershed meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). In its official statement after the meeting, the committee pledged to “employ all available tools to promote the resumption of sustainable economic growth and to preserve price stability.” The pledge to preserve price stability was not a commitment to fight inflation, as is typical, but a highly unusual commitment to fight deflation.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The global financial and economic crisis that emerged in August 2007 has entered a dismaying fourth phase. The January 17–18, 2009, weekend edition of the Financial Times, which has been a major chronicler of the crisis and its many aspects, laid out a frightening timeline of an accelerating and intensifying oscillatory cycle of crisis and failed policy response that started just fifteen months ago. Each phase begins with a shock and ends with a seemingly decisive policy measure meant to contain or “fix” the crisis. Each phase is shorter than the previous one and culminates in a much larger policy response. Throughout the crisis, the losses of financial institutions have steadily grown at an accelerating pace as the underlying conditions in the financial sector and, since September 2008, in the underlying global economy deteriorate more rapidly. Such a disturbing pattern must be truncated by a large, coordinated global policy response to arrest the accelerating erosion of the market capitalization of multinational banks and insurance companies that has resulted.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: As the global financial and economic crisis has grown increasingly dire—the deterioration just since the November U.S. election is breathtaking—market participants and policymakers alike have looked to three past crisis models as part of an intensifying search for ways out of the current crisis. First, the Great Depression of the 1930s is being examined ever more closely for possible lessons now that commentators have moved past an under- standable reluctance to mention that experience as relevant to today's situation. Second, the Scandinavian financial crisis of the early 1990s, which included a proactive move toward bank nationalization by the Swedish government, is also widely discussed. Finally, many allusions have been made to the disquieting parallels between today's U.S. experience and that of Japan during its “lost decade” (1991–2001) of recession and deflation, especially after 1998.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On March 18, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke intensified the important battle against global deflation with a commitment to expand the Fed's balance sheet by an extra $1.15 trillion. With some luck and persistence, that step could boost growth by a percentage point or more and, even more important, substantially reduce the risk of deflation.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kerry Brown
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Chatham House
  • Abstract: Over the last two decades, as Mainland China has been developing and liberalizing its economy, Taiwan has been undergoing an equally remarkable but very different political transformation, from martial law in 1987 to its current status as one of the most vibrant, stable democracies in Asia. Despite its eventful experience of the democratization process, the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2008 proved that Taiwan is now a mature, and stable, democracy. It has passed the ultimate test, seeing the successful transition of rule from one party to another and back again, without social turmoil. Economic performance over the same period has been less striking. Once among the fastestgrowing economies, Taiwan is now afflicted by a relatively low growth rate, and problems over the outflow of capital and investment to the Mainland. The potential for conflict over cross-straits relations remains but it has been significantly reduced under President Ma and by the Mainland Chinese government's greater accommodation with a democratic Taiwan in the last decade. The risk of a military conflict between the two sides, which could drag in the US, and therefore the rest of the world, cannot be entirely discounted, however. Taiwan's greatest challenges in the next decade remain the same as in the last – to maintain its identity, to develop its democratic system, and to handle relations with the Mainland in a way that preserves its interests while avoiding conflict. Taiwan's system, which has so far proved itself robust and effective, faces a new challenge too: how to benefit from the increase in Mainland investment abroad.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel, Taiwan, Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
  • Abstract: There are voices in the Obama Administration who believe that the Kremlin is able and willing to exert pressure on Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. However, perceived geopolitical and economic benefits in the unstable Persian Gulf, in which American influence is on the wane, outweigh Russia's concerns about a nuclear-armed Iran. The Kremlin sees Iran not as a threat but as a partner or an ad-hoc ally to challenge U.S. influence. Today, both Russia and Iran favor a strategy of "multipolarity," both in the Middle East and worldwide. This strategy seeks to dilute American power, revise current international financial institutions, and weaken or neuter NATO and the OSCE, while forging a counterbalance to the Euro-Atlantic alliance. Russian technological aid is evident throughout the Iranian missile and space programs. Russian scientists and expertise have played a direct and indirect role in these programs for years. According to some reports, Russian specialists are helping to develop the longer-range Shahab-5, and Russia has exported missile production facilities to Iran. Moscow has signed a contract to sell advanced long-range S-300 air-defense systems to Iran. Once Iran has air defenses to repel Israeli or American air strikes and nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles, it will possess the capacity to destroy Israel (an openly stated goal of the regime) and strike targets throughout the Middle East, in Europe, and the Indian subcontinent. Beyond that, if and when an ICBM capability is achieved, Tehran will be able to threaten the U.S. homeland directly. Given the substantial Russian interests and ambitions, any grand bargain would almost certainly require an excessively high price paid by the United States to the detriment of its friends and allies. Russia simply does not view the situation through the same lens as the U.S.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Economics, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Pettis
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Participants in the recently completed G20 meeting in London agreed on a number of measures, some substantial and some merely symbolic, but they sidestepped the real issues dividing the major economic powers and, in so doing, failed to address the root causes of the global trade and investment imbalances. This was almost inevitable. China, Europe, and the United States have incompatible conceptual frameworks for understanding the causes of the global financial crisis; furthermore, their conflicting domestic political constraints make agreement on solutions hard to reach. Europeans believe that the root cause of the crisis was excessively deregulated financial systems, and they are skeptical about U.S. and Chinese calls for fiscal expansion, worrying that excessive spending would prolong the imbalances and make the ultimate adjustment more difficult. China also believes that the roots of the crisis lie within the structure of the global financial system, although Beijing insists that it was mainly the reserve status of the U.S. dollar that permitted imbalances to develop to unsustainable levels. China is particularly vulnerable to trade protection and seeks to maintain open markets for its continued export of domestic overcapacity. Like the United States, it is pushing for more aggressive, globally coordinated fiscal expansion. However, because of rigidities in its financial system and development model, its fiscal response to the crisis may exacerbate the difficult global adjustment and may, ironically, increase the chances of trade friction. In a time of contracting demand, the United States controls two-thirds of the most valuable resource in the world: net demand. Consequently, it is U.S. policies that will determine the pace and direction of the global recovery, along with the institutional framework that will govern trade and investment relationships for decades to come. The crisis puts the United States more firmly at the center of the emerging world order than ever. So far, the United States has not understood the need to consider the global outcomes of its recovery policies. Until the major powers can reach consensus about the roots of the imbalance and cooperate on policies to promote recovery, it is likely that the world economy will get worse before it gets better. The United States will drive the recovery process, but in order to do so effectively it will need to recognize its position of strength and negotiate the appropriate agreements with other major powers, especially China, on the pace and nature of the adjustment.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, London
  • 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
  • Author: Sandeep Kapur, Suma Athreye
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The last two decades have seen a significant rise in the internationalization of firms from developing economies. In addition to their growing participation in international trade, a number of leading emerging economies are contributing to growing outflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) and cross-border mergers and acquisitions. According to the 2008 World Investment Report, outward flows of FDI from developing countries rose from about US$6 billion between 1989 and 1991 to US$225 billion in 2007. As a percentage of total global outflows, the share of developing countries grew from 2.7% to nearly 13.0% during this period.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Globalization, International Political Economy, Markets, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China, India
  • Author: Robert Gutierrez, Patricia Chow, Jason Baumgartner, Yuriko Sato
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: IIE Open Doors Data on U.S. International Educational Exchange. Project Atlas: Global Student Mobility. International Student Economic Impact in the U.S. Comparison of International Student Economic Impact in USA, Japan and Australia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Markets, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, California, Australia, Texas
  • 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: 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: Jeffrey Frankel
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The current economic crisis is fundamentally different from those we have experienced in recent past. The proximate causes of previous recessions (1980-2 and 1990-91) were increases in interest rates in response to inflation. This time around, however, low interest rates and loose monetary policy during the period 2003-2005 had contributed to a bubble in asset prices, rather than to inflation. This-coupled with an underestimation of risk in our financial system, failures of corporate governance, and excessive debt by both households and government-caused the crisis of 2007-09.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Germany
  • 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: 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