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  • Author: Nathan Nunn
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: In this brief, I discuss the current state of economic development policy, which tends to focus on interventions, usually funded with foreign aid, that are aimed at fixing deficiencies in developing countries. The general perception is that there are inherent problems with less-developed countries that can be fixed by with the help of the Western world. I discuss evidence that shows that the effects of such ‘help’ can be mixed. While foreign aid can improve things, it can also make things worse. In addition, at the same time that this ‘help’ is being offered, the developed West regularly undertakes actions that are harmful to developing countries. Examples include tariffs, antidumping duties, restrictions on international labor mobility, the use of international power and coercion, and tied-aid used for export promotion. Overall, it is unclear whether interactions with the West are, on the whole, helpful or detrimental to developing countries. We may have our largest and most positive effects on alleviating global poverty if we focus on restraining ourselves from actively harming less-developed countries rather than focusing our efforts on fixing them.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Political Economy, Developing World, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Enea Gjoza
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The American economy, dollar, and banking system create unparalleled power for the U.S. in the global financial system. This power provides disproportionate influence over the world’s key economic and financial institutions, regulatory authority over major foreign companies and banks, and allows borrowing on favorable terms and in dollars, enabling long-term deficit spending.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Hegemony, Sanctions, Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrik, Gabriel Zucman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: We live in an age of astonishing inequality. Income and wealth disparities between the rich and the poor in the United States have risen to heights not seen since the gilded age in the early part of the 20th century, and are among the highest in the developed world. Median wages for American workers remain at 1970s levels. Fewer and fewer among newer generations can expect to do better than their parents. Organizational and technological changes and globalization have fueled great wealth accumulation among those able to take advantage of them, but have left large segments of the population behind. U.S. life expectancy has declined for the third year in a row in 2017, and the allocation of healthcare looks both inefficient and unfair. Advances in automation and digitization threaten even greater labor market disruptions in the years ahead. Climate change fueled disasters increasingly disrupt everyday life. Greater prosperity and inclusion both seem attainable, yet the joint target recedes ever further.
  • Topic: Economics, Capitalism, Inequality, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anat R. Admati
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: The financial system is fragile and distorted because current rules fail to counter the distorted incentives by banking institutions to borrow excessively and to remain opaque. Better-designed rules to reduce the reliance on debt and ensure that institutions use significantly more equity would enable the financial system to serve society better. Revising counterproductive tax and bankruptcy codes that, together with the extensive safety net offered to the financial system currently encourage dangerous conduct, would also be beneficial.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Finance, Economic Policy, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Sandra E. Black, Jesse Rothstein
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: While private provision of goods often yields the efficient outcome, there are a number of goods that are not efficiently provided in the private market. Here, we outline two such situations: investments in child care and education, and insurance against risks created by business cycles, poor health, and old age. Because private markets work poorly for these goods, and the costs of market failure are large, standard economic reasoning implies a significant role for government provision. The reduction in economic insecurity that this would bring could help to improve political stability as well, by reducing the stakes that people perceive in discussions of trade, immigration, technological change, and countercyclical policy (Inglehart and Norris, 2016). Many observers (e.g, Hacker, 2018) have pointed to economic anxiety as a potential contributor to populist reactions in the U.S. and many European countries; a public sector that acts to reduce the risk that households face could ameliorate this, generating political spillovers and improving the state of the country more broadly.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Health, Health Care Policy, Children, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Ethan Kaplan
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: In sum, political institutions in the United States favor higher income individuals over lower income individuals and ethnic majorities over ethnic minorities. This is accomplished through a myriad of policies which impact who votes, allow for differential influence and access by the wealthy, structure voting districts to dilute the impacts of under-represented voters, and allow for oversized influence of pro-business owner ideas through media and membership organizations.
  • Topic: Economics, Law, Elections, Democracy, Economic Policy, Voting
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anton Korinek
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: As technology advanced in recent decades, it increasingly left workers behind and led to sharp increases in inequality. The current wave of progress in artificial intelligence is likely to accelerate these trends. This note lays out three complementary approaches to countering these developments. Firstly, since technological progress generates net gains for society as a whole, the winners could in principle compensate the losers and still be better off. Secondly, progress should be steered to minimize the losses of workers. Thirdly, there is an important role for government intervention in information technology to thwart the rise of monopolies that extract rents from society. The note concludes with some speculations on the impact of artificial intelligence increasingly rivaling human labor.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Labor Issues, Economic Policy, Macroeconomics, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Atif Mian
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: There has been a major structural shift in financial markets since the 1980s. The world is awash in credit, and credit is cheaper than ever before. I discuss how increasing financial surpluses within parts of the economy have resulted in an expansion in the supply of credit, which has largely financed the demand-side of the real economy. This increasing reliance on “credit as demand” raises some serious policy questions going forward. I discuss the importance of equitable and inclusive growth, fair taxation system and risk-sharing in creating a financial system that promotes prosperity and stability.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Finance, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Suresh Naidu
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Private sector union density in the United States has fallen below 7%, but new historical evidence shows high union density played an important role in compressing the US income distribution at mid-century and lowering intergenerational income persistence. Other recent evidence on pervasive labor market power suggests that unions may be able raise wages without severe dis-employment effects, and may alleviate inefficient contracting problems. Despite substantial survey evidence indicating latent demand for unions, employers have successfully fought unionization efforts in rising service sectors, and a combination of legal restrictions and economic transformations have impaired the ability of US unions to solve collective action problems at the appropriate scale – an issue that economics may be able to help ameliorate.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Income Inequality, Labor Policies
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jonathan B. Baker, Fiona Scott Morton
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Rising market power in the U.S. economy is not just a microeconomic problem, as the textbook analysis shows, creating allocative efficiency losses and transferring wealth away from victimized participants in the affected markets. Rising market power also undermines inclusive prosperity by contributing to inequality and slowed economic growth. Modern economic research points to multiple ways to attack market power and enhance competition, including ways of strengthening antitrust enforcement, improving antitrust rules and institutions, and deploying regulation to enhance competition.
  • Topic: Economics, Economic Policy, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: José Azar, Ioana Marinescu, Marshall Steinbaum
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Starting with the Chicago School’s influence in the late 1970s and 1980s, antitrust enforcement has been weakened under the assumption that market power is justified by economic efficiency. While consumers are the main focus of antitrust enforcement, the weakening of antitrust enforcement has likely also adversely impacted workers, thus contributing to increasing inequality.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Economic Policy, Economic Theory, Antitrust Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Daron Acemoglu
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Progressive policy proposals that would have appeared radical just a few years ago, including high marginal tax rates, wealth taxes, universal basic income, single-payer health insurance, and free college for all, are now on the agenda. The recognition that we can do more to create shared prosperity — that is, economic growth benefiting society at large, not just corporations and the very well-educated — is a welcome development. But are we targeting the right policies? We are at a critical juncture both economically and politically. We do not have much time left to reverse the trend towards greater inequality and worsening economic prospects for less educated Americans before its social consequences become more deeply ingrained. And the 2020 presidential election may provide a unique opportunity to adopt fundamentally different economic policies. Failing to identify the right policy priorities would not only squander this critical juncture; it could also deepen the rift between the different wings of US politics.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Labor Policies, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ilyana Kuziemko
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: My read of the evidence (and my own social welfare weights, which place great weight on the un- and under-insured as well as middle-class workers who are implicitly taxed via expensive health plans) lead me to conclude that Medicare for All would increase welfare in the US. However, I also want to highlight what I consider the biggest risks of such a policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Health Care Policy, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Deming
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Despite growing public concern about the cost of college, higher education is still the best investment a young person can make. The American public understands that college is both increasingly necessary and increasingly unaffordable. This dynamic explains the growing public conversation around the idea of “free college”.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Economic Policy, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Klenert, Linus Mattauch
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: It is common knowledge among economists that the most efficient instrument to mitigate climate change is a price on carbon. However, current carbon prices around the world are too low to reach global climate targets. This essay assesses the difficulties in designing successful carbon pricing reforms. It discusses how to overcome these difficulties by combining traditional public economics lessons with findings from behavioral and political science. We stress insights from public finance about the “second-best” nature of pricing carbon reforms. Further, we highlight how framing a carbon tax reform around tangible benefits can enhance political support. Finally, we explain how certain countries were successful at introducing high carbon prices and what can be learned from these cases for making progress with climate change mitigation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Science and Technology, Natural Resources, Global Warming, Green Technology, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Şebnem Kalemli-Özcan
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: There has been a large increase in corporate leverage in many countries since the early 2000s. Figure 1 plots corporate debt to GDP since 2002 for different groups of countries. With the exception of the U.S., both advanced economies and emerging markets have corporate debt exceeding GDP since 2005. U.S. corporate debt is also on an increasing trend. The fastest growth in corporate debt has been observed in emerging markets. A closer look will reveal that China and other fast growing emerging countries in Asia drive most of the increase in corporate debt for the emerging markets.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Regulation, Multinational Corporations, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Arindrajit Dube
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: During the past 40 years, the United States has experienced a sharp and sustained rise in wage and income inequality. The high level of inequality in the United States reflects both a disconnect between (1) average wages and productivity, and (2) top and bottom wages.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Income Inequality, Labor Policies, Wage Subsidies, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David S. Mitchell, Jeremy Smith
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: On November 18, 2015, the Obama Administration's Department of Labor (DOL) published two important legal opinions that propose to give states new options for expanding retirement coverage for private-sector workers. These opinions open the door for states to move forward along one of two distinct paths: a payroll deduction plan that avoids ERISA, or a more traditional model that would fall under ERISA. This issue brief summarizes these rules and highlights the tradeoffs state policymakers will face when deciding which of these new avenues to pursue. The brief will be updated once the proposals are finalized.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Labor Issues, Governance, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Marek Wasinski
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In a communication of 12 April, the European Commission assessed the potential political and economic consequences of suspending visa exemption for U.S. citizens. Lacking pressure from individual EU Member States, the Commission discouraged such a move and gave the EU Council and European Parliament three months to take an official position. It seems almost certain that the measure of applying pressure on a non-EU country will not be used to help Poland and four other Member States obtain visa-free travel to the United States or other countries with a similar restriction. However, if current trends continue, Poland should join the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme in five years.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, European Union, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Lindsay Oldenski
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Reshoring—when firms shift manufacturing production back to the United States—has been getting a great deal of publicity lately. Oldenski examines the most recent data on the global operations of US firms and concludes that although some companies have reversed their previous offshoring decisions, there is no evidence of a widespread reshoring trend. But this should not be considered a defeat for US competitiveness. US multinationals continue to move operations offshore, but they also continue to grow stronger, producing more in their US operations and adding more to total US exports. The structure of US manufacturing has changed, but the ability to adapt to the changing nature of global business has been and will continue to be crucial to the continued growth of US manufacturing.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Theodore Moran
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For more than a decade, China has complained about what it maintains has been a pattern of erratic and politicized treatment of Chinese investors when they attempt to acquire US companies. The Chinese want the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to be more open and transparent in its rulings and to not discriminate against Chinese firms. The United States is not likely to accede to these demands in any formal or legal manner. Moran proposes practical steps to address the concerns of Chinese investors without diluting CFIUS procedures. He provides a national security threat assessment filter, which allows Chinese investors—like investors of all nationalities—to determine when their proposed acquisitions might pose a genuine threat and when any such threat is simply not plausible. He also suggests that first-time Chinese investors seek expert counsel to overcome the secrecy surrounding CFIUS objections to figure out how to proceed with problematic acquisitions.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey Schott, Eujiin Jung, Cathleen Cimino-Isaacs
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Of all the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by Korea with its major trading partners since the turn of the century, the Korea-China FTA may be the largest in trade terms. It is, however, far from the best in terms of the depth of liberalization and the scope of obligations on trade and investment policies. Korea and China agreed to liberalize a large share of bilateral trade within 20 years, but both sides incorporated extensive exceptions to basic tariff reforms and deferred important market access negotiations on services and investment for several years. Political interests trumped economic objectives, and the negotiated outcome cut too many corners to achieve such a comprehensive result. The limited outcome in the Korea-China talks has two clear implications for economic integration among the northeast Asian countries. First, prospects for the ongoing China-Japan-Korea talks will be limited and unlikely to exceed the Korea-China outcome. Second, Korea and Japan need to strengthen their bilateral leg of the northeast Asian trilateral and the best way is by negotiating a deal in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The latest semiannual fundamental equilibrium exchange rate (FEER) estimates find that the US dollar is now overvalued by about 10 percent, comparable to levels in 2008 through early 2010 and again in 2011. Unlike then, the current strong dollar does not reflect a weak renminbi kept undervalued by major exchange rate intervention by China. Instead, China's current account surplus has fallen sharply relative to GDP, and its recent intervention has been to prevent excessive depreciation rather than to prevent appreciation. Additionally, declines in the real effective exchange rates (REERs) for major emerging-market economies and resource-based advanced economies, driven by falling commodity prices in recent months, have strengthened the dollar. Recent increases in the REERs for the euro area and Japan have removed their modest undervaluation identified in the last FEERs estimates in May, and the Chinese renminbi remains consistent with its FEER. The dollar's rise by nearly 15 percent in real effective terms over the past two years could impose a drag of nearly one-half percent annually on US demand growth over the next five years. As the Federal Reserve moves to normalize US monetary policy, it may need to consider a gentler rise in interest rates than it might otherwise have pursued, both to temper possible further strengthening of the dollar in response to higher interest rates and to help offset the demand compression from falling net export
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Vickie Choltz, Maureen Conway
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The Future of Work for Low-Income Workers and Families is a policy brief aimed at state policy advocates and policymakers seeking to help low-income workers and their families secure healthy economic livelihoods as the nature of work evolves in the United States. Published by the Working Poor Families Project in December 2015, the brief was written by Vickie Choitz, associate director of the Economic Opportunities Program, with Maureen Conway, vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of the Economic Opportunities Program. This brief reviews the major forces shaping the future of work, including changes in labor and employment practices, business models, access to income and benefits, worker rights and voice, education and training, and technology. Across these areas, we are seeing disruptive change in our economy and society resulting in increasing risk and challenges for low-income workers, in particular.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Human Welfare, Social Stratification, Employment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Annie Kim
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The 2015 Financial Security Summit, titled Reimagining Financial Security: Managing Risk and Building Wealth in an Era of Inequality, took place July 15–17 in Aspen, Colorado. The Summit agenda built on FSP's core themes of expanding retirement security and children’s savings accounts for low- and moderate-income families, and began to explore a broader vision of how to improve short- and long-term dimensions of financial wellbeing in a rapidly changing economy. Participant contributions helped shape new areas of focus for FSP going forward. This report incorporates those insights and provides an outline for future policy dialogue and directions.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Human Welfare, Social Stratification, Employment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Elizabeth Rosenberg, Zachary K. Goldman
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: The United States has long relied on its economic power to protect and advance its interests abroad. In an increasingly integrated international financial system, the U.S. economy and capital markets remain the largest in the world by almost every measure. This status affords the United States an important global leadership position and the ability to shape foreign policy outcomes with economic tools. The structure of the international trade and financial system, in which many significant banking and energy transactions as well as currency reserves are denominated in U.S. dollars, reinforces the central role of the United States.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Edward Alden, Rebecca Strauss
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Each year, U.S. state and local governments spend tens of billions of dollars to lure or retain business investment. The subsidies waste scarce taxpayer dollars that could better be used to strengthen public services such as education and infrastructure, or to lower overall tax burdens to create a more favorable investment climate. No state wants to dole out such subsidies, but most fear losing jobs to competing states if they refuse. States should take steps to curb subsidies, beginning with greater disclosure and cost-benefit analyses, and building up to a multistate agreement that creates strong disincentives for continuing subsidies. Existing international arrangements provide models and tools for achieving this.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Isobel Coleman
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Fossil fuel subsidies are a global scourge. They distort markets, strain government budgets, encourage overconsumption, foster corruption, and harm the environment while doing little to remedy inequality or stimulate development. Yet despite compelling arguments for reform, fossil fuel subsidies remain deeply entrenched. Citizens have yet to be convinced that fuel subsidies can and should be replaced with more efficient poverty alleviation programs. As a result, governments refrain from phasing out fuel subsidies for fear of triggering a public backlash, and even civil unrest. To bolster the prospects for subsidy reform, the United States should support the creation of a new public-private partnership within the World Bank, the Global Subsidy Elimination Campaign (GSEC), to work with governments to execute country-specific communication programs that would build the case for fossil fuel subsidy reform among citizens. The GSEC would start with pilot programs in select countries, and on the basis of these efforts, expand its work to other countries interested in fuel subsidy reform. If the GSEC help s generate just a 5 percent reduction in the more than half a trillion dollars that governments now spend on fossil fuel subsidies, it would free up billions of dollars for more effective anti-poverty initiatives.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Nancy Birdsall, Homi Kharas, Nabil Hashmi
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The Quality of Official Development Assistance (QuODA) measures donors' performance on 31 indicators of aid quality to which donors have made commitments. The indicators are grouped into four dimensions associated with effective aid: maximizing efficiency, fostering institutions, reducing the burden on partner countries, and transparency and learning. The 2014 edition finds that donors are overall becoming more transparent and better at fostering partner country institutions but that there has been little progress at maximizing efficiency or reducing the burden on partner countries. The World Bank's concessional lending arm, the International Development Association (IDA), performs very well in QuODA, ranking in the top 10 of 31 donors on all four dimensions. The United States ranks in the bottom half of all donors on three of the four dimensions of aid quality and last on reducing the burden on partner countries. The United Kingdom ranks in the top third on three of four dimensions of aid quality and scores particularly well on transparency and learning. The Global Fund ranks in the bottom third on fostering institutions but ranks in the top third on the other three dimensions of aid quality, including the top spot in maximizing efficiency.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Foreign Aid, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom
  • Author: Caroline Freund
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the United States struggled with unemployment and other effects of the Great Recession in January 2010, President Barack Obama set the goal of doubling exports within five years and creating 2 million new export-related jobs. Four years later, however, exports are less than halfway toward that goal and the rate of export growth is slowing. More worrisome, the administration's strategy failed to boost average export growth from historical levels, despite the robust recovery in international trade after the collapse of 2009. The National Export Initiative (NEI) has come up short.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon, Brian Sack
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The dramatic increase in the Federal Reserve's balance sheet since 2009 has attracted the attention of economists, pundits, and ordinary citizens. The amount of assets held by the Fed recently crossed $4 trillion and will likely continue to rise to a peak of about $4.5 trillion. This run-up in asset holdings has resulted from the Fed's large-scale asset purchase programs, which were intended to support economic growth. However, a side-effect of these asset purchases is the creation of unprecedented amounts of liquidity in the financial system.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tomas Hellebrandt
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Great Recession, which cost tens of millions of jobs, a collapse of asset values around the world, and threatened the global financial system, has generated renewed concern over the long-standing issue of the fairness of the distribution of wealth and income in many societies. Economic inequality has increased in the United States and many other advanced economies over the past 20 to 30 years. This trend generated less worry in the boom years, when unemployment rates were low and cheap credit enabled consumers to borrow and maintain higher standards of living, masking the impact of growing income disparity on consumption patterns and perceptions of well-being.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland
  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A bipartisan majority in both Houses of Congress is insisting that the United States include a provision in future trade agreements that would bar currency manipulation. A letter from 60 senators to Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael From an on September 23, 2013, called for "strong and enforceable foreign currency manipulation disciplines" in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) while 230 members of the House of Representatives told President Barack Obama on June 6, 2013, that "it is imperative that (the TPP) address currency manipulation.to create a level playing field for American businesses and prevent more US jobs from being shipped overseas." The trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation proposed by congressional trade leaders on January 9, 2014, establishes the avoidance of currency manipulation as a "principal US negotiating objective" in its future trade agreements.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Mark Twain once wrote an essay about the difficulties of learning what he called "The Awful German Language." Similar barriers to comprehension seem to plague those trying to explain recent German economic performance. By most measures, Germany has the best functioning labor market among large economies in the West, with levels of employment reaching those in the United States at the end of the turbo-charged 1990s. A debate has stirred, however, about whether this success has come with a price—specifically, whether Germany's domestic structural reforms have lowered living standards for Germany's low income workers and worsened income inequality and whether Germany is fortuitously and perhaps selfishly riding a wave of strong foreign demand for German exports.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The vital role played by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in stabilizing the world economy and financial system is in serious jeopardy. The failure in mid-January by the US Congress to approve IMF reform legislation that had been pending for more than three years did not simply bring to a screeching halt a decade of slow progress reforming the governance of the Fund to make it more representative, legitimate, and therefore effective. Congress's balking on this issue also did substantial, actual damage to the US reputation around the world, as the leaders of many countries called into question Washington's ability to deliver on promises made in international economic agreements.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Cathleen Cimino
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Unconventional extraction methods, namely horizontal drilling and fracking, are transforming global energy production, consumption, and trade. Th e extraction of large amounts of oil and gas from shale formations has led to an unprecedented surge of domestic production in the United States. Th e US Department of Energy (DOE) is now processing more than 40 applications from domestic producers to export liquefi ed natural gas (LNG). While experts still disagree about the magnitude and duration of the energy boom, we are at the "dawn of a US oil and gas renaissance" (Houser and Mohan 2014).
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Avinash D. Persaud
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Bailouts and bail-ins of failing financial institutions have been hotly disputed in the global financial crisis of the last five years. At the height of the crisis, several failing banks were bailed out with taxpayer money so they could service their debts, but as public outrage mounts, policymakers are increasingly looking at bailing in these institutions before using taxpayer funds. Bail-ins, also called haircuts, require the troubled institution's creditors to write off some of the debt or agree to a restructuring of the debt, which reduces their holdings. The public has demanded the imposition of these costs on creditors and bond - holders, arguing that if bad lending as well as bad borrowing went unpunished it would be encouraged. Additionally, the yawning fiscal deficits that have followed bailouts have led to unpopular fiscal retrenchment.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This semiannual review finds that most of the major international currencies, including the US dollar, euro, Japanese yen, UK pound sterling, and Chinese renminbi, remain close to their fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs). The new estimates find this result despite numerous significant exchange rate movements associated with increased volatility in international financial markets at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2014, and despite a major reduction in the price of oil. The principal cases of exchange rate misalignment continue to be the undervalued currencies of Singapore, Taiwan, and to a lesser extent Sweden and Switzerland, and the overvalued currencies of Turkey, New Zealand, South Africa, and to a lesser extent Australia and Brazil. Even so, the medium-term current account deficit for the United States is already at the outer limit in the FEERs methodology (3 percent of GDP), and if the combination of intensified quantitative easing in Japan and the euro area with the end to quantitative easing in the United States were to cause sizable further appreciation of the dollar, an excessive US imbalance could begin to emerge.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Japan, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, New Zealand
  • Author: Derek M. Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: New data published in the American Enterprise Institute-Heritage Foundation China Global Investment Tracker show that China continues to invest heavily around the world. Outward investment excluding bonds stood at $85 billion in 2013 and is likely to reach $100 billion annually by 2015. Energy, metals, and real estate are the prime targets. The United States in particular received a record of more than $14 billion in Chinese investment in 2013. Although China has shown a pattern of focusing on one region for a time then moving on to the next, the United States could prove to be a viable long-term investment location. The economic benefits of this investment flow are notable, but US policymakers (and those in other countries) should consider national security, the treatment of state-owned enterprises, and reciprocity when deciding to encourage or limit future Chinese investment.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Sovereign Wealth Funds
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Richard Albright
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The effectiveness of U.S. civilian assistance to Pakistan depends on sustained funding commitments from the United States and sustained commitment to economic and institutional reform from Pakistan. Weak public institutions and poor governance have greatly impeded Pakistan's development. U.S. assistance should focus on strengthening institutions systemically. Direct assistance to the Pakistani government—through financing that supports specific reform programs and policy initiatives and cash-on-delivery mechanisms that offer assistance after agreed performance criteria are met—could incentivize Pakistani public institutions to improve service delivery. Pakistan's devolution of authority to the provinces offers an opportunity for well-targeted and cost-effective initiatives to incentivize improvements in provincial public service delivery in such areas as basic education, health and policing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Foreign Aid, Reform
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States
  • Author: Raluca Diana Ardelean, Mengun Zhang
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: China has gained substantial economic power in recent years, becoming the second-largest trading nation after the United States and the largest goods-trading nation since 2012 (Eichengreen 2014). It is also currently the largest source of savings and the largest potential source of capital for international investment (ibid.). Measured by GDP, China is now the second-largest economy in the world (see Figure 1), and the World Bank surmises it is likely to surpass the United States in 2014 (World Bank 2014). Because of China's growing economic importance, a shift in power is reasonably assumed. As its economic power grows, internationalization of the RMB has become a key policy goal for China, especially after the 2008 financial crisis (Zhang 2009; Park 2010; China Securities Regulatory Commission [CSRC] 2014). This goal demonstrates China's desire for better integration and representation in the international economic community and signals its willingness to perform internal financial reforms and take more responsibility in global economic affairs.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: John Higginbotham, Marina Grosu
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The Arctic is facing remarkable climatic and oceanic change that is triggering unprecedented opportunities and challenges for Arctic nations, as well as for countries that do not have Arctic territory but are eager to engage and invest in the region. For Canada and the United States, the Beaufort basin offers unique opportunities for Alaska and Canada's Arctic territories.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada, North America, Arctic
  • Author: Kevin Carmichael
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will miss the 2014 Beijing APEC summit. His former spokesman says it does not matter. "[I]t's safe to say that Canada won't lose out by skipping this particular summit, at this particular time, for this particular reason," Andrew McDougall (2014) wrote in an opinion article posted on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC's) website on November. In early October, a US State Department official told an audience in Washington, DC that Beijing was shaping up to be a "good" summit, in part because US President Barack Obama was planning to attend after missing the previous two APEC leaders' meetings (Wang 2014).
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, India, Asia
  • Author: Domenico Lombardi, Barry Carin, David Kempthorne
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The annual CIGI Survey of Progress in International Economic Governance assesses progress in four dimensions of international economic governance: macroeconomic and financial cooperation; cooperation on financial regulation; cooperation on trade; and cooperation on climate change. Governance related to these dimensions is scored on the following progress scale: 0%-19% represents "major regression"; 20%-39% represents "some regression"; 40%-59% indicates "minimal progress"; 60%-79% characterizes progress; and 80%-100% represents "major progress." Recognizing the difficulty of making objective judgments given the complexity of the issues, the results are offered as a range of subjective opinions from CIGI experts with diverse backgrounds.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Sean P. Connell
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Korean government's "creative economy" agenda reflects growing consensus that Korea's future growth and prosperity depends on its ability to become a global leader in developing and commercializing innovative new products, services, and business models. To succeed, the Korean government must address regulatory, structural, educational, and cultural obstacles that have constrained Korea's ability to fully utilize its innovative capacities. This new emphasis on innovation brings Korea into closer alignment with the United States, which has long focused on innovation in its growth strategies. Moreover, it comes during the early stages of implementation of the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), which intersects with important areas of Korea's innovation framework policies. Policymakers, businesses, and researchers in both countries should examine potential new opportunities to increase cooperation around initiatives aimed at fostering innovation and growth, both within the bilateral context and at a global level.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Peter A. Petri, Michael G. Plummer
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: ASEAN has become a focal point of the rapidly changing economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN members are increasingly stable and politically confident, and constitute an emerging economic powerhouse. The region is dynamic, with 600 million citizens and a gross domestic product (GDP) that exceeds $2 trillion and is expected to grow 6 percent annually for the next two decades. (The Appendix at the end of this paper reports detailed output and trade projections to 2025.) Through deeper internal integration via the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and external initiatives such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), ASEAN is becoming a driving force in regional cooperation and a much-courted economic partner. The AEC and the RCEP projects are globally significant: the AEC could generate powerful demonstration effects for other developing regions, and the RCEP could become an important building bloc of the multilateral trading system.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, East Asia, Asia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Jeong Yeon Lee
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Multi-factor productivity (MFP) compares the growth of gross domestic product with the growth of combined capital and labor inputs. The growth rate of MFP assumes theoretical significance because it represents the slope of the steady-state growth path, and hence is a major determinant of the long-term growth trend. This paper offers the balanced panel of the estimated growth rates of MFP for 24 OECD countries over 1986-2011. Based on the estimates of MFP growth, a number of notable trends in productivity growth are identified for the entire OECD area as well as three major economies – the United States, the Eurozone and Japan – within the OECD.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe
  • Author: Alain Guidetti
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul in July 2014 shows how the relations between China and South Korea have taken center stage in North- East Asia. Both countries are building up a growing strategic partnership, as a result of emerging cross-interests in the region and robust trade relations. This dynamic underlines the dilemma Seoul faces in maintaining a strong military alliance with the United States, while turning increasingly toward China as its core partner for both its economic development and its North Korea policy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Northeast Asia
  • Author: Sheng Zhang
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: The China-US bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations have attracted attention due to the relative size and weight of both economies. Despite broad consensus about the importance of such a treaty, there is considerable debate about its shape and content. The debate is reflected in two recent Columbia FDI Perspectives. Donnelly argued that a China-US BIT should be modeled on the US Model BIT without "splitting the difference between Chinese and US positions", and that the possibility of meaningful BIT negotiations are "really up to China at this point".
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Colombia
  • Author: Rainer Geiger
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Launched in July 2013 by the European Union and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) represents an important effort to reach a comprehensive economic agreement between two major trading partners. As has been pointed out, the project offers great opportunities for liberalizing trade and investment and regulatory convergence. Its level of ambition implies high risks, but despite negotiators' initial optimism, its success is far from certain.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe