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  • Author: Julia Coronado, Simon Potter
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US monetary system faces significant challenges from advances in technology and changes in the macroeconomy that, left unaddressed, will threaten the stability of the US economy and financial system. At the same time, low interest rates mean that central banks will not have the policy ammunition they had in the past during the next recession. The Federal Reserve needs new tools to meet its mandates of price stability and maximum employment. It also needs to preserve the safety and soundness of the financial system in a rapidly digitizing world. The authors propose a Fed-backed digital currency to solve both problems. Their proposal creates a regulated system of digital currency accounts for consumers managed by digital payment providers and fully backed by reserves at the Fed. The system would be limited in size, to preserve the functions and stability of the existing banking system. Fed backing would mean low capital requirements, which would in turn facilitate competition. Low fees and no minimum balance requirements in the new system would also help financial institutions reach the roughly 25 percent of the US population that is currently either unbanked or underbanked. Digital accounts for consumers could also provide a powerful new stabilization tool for both monetary and fiscal policies. For fiscal policy, it could facilitate new automatic stabilizers while also allowing the Fed to provide quantitative easing directly to consumers. This tool could be used in a timely manner with broad reach to all Americans.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Banks, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Coronado, Simon Potter
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the second part of their Policy Brief, Coronado and Potter discuss how the system of digital payment providers (DPPs) proposed in their first Policy Brief on this topic adds a new weapon to the monetary toolkit that could be implemented in a timely, effective, and inclusive manner. They describe how a digital currency backed by the Federal Reserve could augment automatic fiscal stabilizers and—more importantly—harness the power of “helicopter” money or quantitative easing directly to consumers in a disciplined manner. To implement QE directly to consumers, Coronado and Potter propose the creation of recession insurance bonds (RIBs)—zero-coupon bonds authorized by Congress and calibrated as a percentage of GDP sufficient to provide meaningful support in a downturn. Congress would create these contingent securities; Treasury would credit households’ digital accounts with them. The Fed could purchase them from households in a downturn after its policy rate hits zero. The Fed’s balance sheet would grow by the value of RIBs purchased; the initial matching liability would be deposits into the DPP system. The mechanism is easy for consumers to understand and could boost inflation expectations more than a debt-financed fiscal stimulus could.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Insurance
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Soyoung Han, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Summer Olympic Games are the most globalized sporting event on earth. Until now, the Summer Games had been postponed only three times—in 1916, 1940, and 1944—all because of world wars. So, the announcement that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Games would be postponed by a year is significant, implicit testimony to the destructiveness of the pandemic. The Tokyo Games were expected to continue the evolution of the Games away from the aristocratic European milieu where the modern Olympic movement began. As poverty has declined and incomes across the global economy have converged, participation in the Games has broadened and the pattern of medaling has become more pluralistic, particularly in sports with low barriers to entry in terms of facilities and equipment. This Policy Brief presents forecasts of medal counts at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games had they had gone on as scheduled, setting aside possible complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The forecasts are not just a depiction of what might have been. They establish a benchmark that can be used when the Games are eventually held, to examine the impact of the uneven incidence of the pandemic globally.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Sports, Olympics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Thomas Philippon, Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The measures that most governments took in response to the sudden collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdowns nearly exclusively focused on protecting vulnerable workers and firms. These measures included unemployment benefits, grants, transfers, loans at low rates, and tax deferrals. As lockdowns are lifted, governments must shift policies toward supporting the recovery and design measures that will limit the pain of adjustment while preserving productive jobs and firms. This Policy Brief explores how such measures can be designed, with particular emphasis on Europe and the United States. The authors propose a combination of unemployment benefits to help workers, wage subsidies and partially guaranteed loans to help firms, and debt restructuring procedures for small and medium-sized companies handicapped by excessive legacy debt from the crisis.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Labor Issues, Unemployment, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Lawrence H. Summers
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: With interest rates persistently low or even negative in advanced countries, policymakers have barely any room to ease monetary policy when the next recession hits. Fiscal policy will have to play a major and likely dominant role in stimulating the economy, requiring policymakers to fundamentally reconsider fiscal policy. Blanchard and Summers argue for the introduction of what they call “semiautomatic” stabilizers. Unlike purely automatic stabilizers (mechanisms built into government budgets that automatically—without discretionary government action or explicit triggers—increase spending or decrease taxes when the economy slows or enters a recession), semiautomatic stabilizers are targeted tax or spending measures that are triggered if, say, the output growth rate declines or the unemployment rate increases beyond a specified threshold. The authors argue that the trigger should be changes in unemployment rather than changes in output, and the design of semiautomatic stabilizers, whether they focus on mechanisms that rely primarily on income or on intertemporal substitution effects (changing the timing of consumption), depends crucially on the design of discretionary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Oula A. Alrifai
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Besides highlighting Assad’s financial mismanagement, the recent unrest gives the international community a genuine opportunity to push for transition while bolstering the more prosperous local administration in the northeast. Since mid-January, shop owners, government employees, students, and even children have been gathering in the streets of various Syrian communities to express their frustration with the Assad regime’s economic policies and untruths. Although the protests remain small for now, the fact that they have persistently carried on in the middle of regime-controlled territory highlights Bashar al-Assad’s potential vulnerability on these issues. In Suwayda, a Druze-majority province in the south, residents have protested the sharp drop in the value of the Syrian pound/lira and the deteriorating economic situation in general. In the central-western town of Salamiya, protestors were seen chanting “we want to live.” And in the Suwayda town of Shahba, demonstrators raised loaves of bread in the air while openly criticizing Bouthaina Shaaban, Assad’s political and media advisor. The latter protest was partly spurred by a recent interview on the pro-Assad television network al-Mayadeen, where Shaaban not only claimed that the country’s current economy is “fifty times better than what it was in 2011,” but also declared that “Syrians are self-sufficient in everything.” In response, protestors sarcastically noted that her comments referred to her own household’s economy, not Syria’s. Elsewhere, former agriculture minister Nour al-Din Manna described Shaaban’s remarks about the war-torn country as “hard to believe,” and a closer look at the country’s finances supports this disbelief.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Syrian War, Currency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Judit Fabian
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: International trade is often framed in starkly divergent terms: either countries choose multilateral trade agreements (MTAs) and advance the cause of global economic liberalization, or they choose preferred trade agreements (PTAs) and put the entire system at risk. Canada has a long track record of pursuing PTAs and with the Trump administration’s opposition to multilateralism, and longstanding opposition in elements of the Republican and Democratic parties, this trend will likely continue. The question is whether progress will come at the expense of the global trade system. Some economists believe PTAs to be trade-diverting, reducing trade with more efficient producers outside the agreement. Others insist that PTAs can create trade by shifting production to lower-cost producers in one of the participating countries. One prominent contrary argument holds that PTAs lead to discontinuities in tariff regimes between countries and regions, increasing transaction costs, disrupting supply chains, creating opportunities for corruption and harming global welfare, especially in developing nations. While debate continues about the effects of PTAs, a closer examination suggests that worries are overblown about their negative impacts on global trade flows. Evidence indicates that they support rather than harm the international trading system. Countries shut out of PTAs are more motivated to seek out agreements in new markets, increasing liberalization overall. They may also seek a reduction in most-favoured nation (MFN) tariffs, which would deprive PTAs of their major tariff benefits. Studies have found complementarity between preferential and MFN tariffs, revealing that PTAs promote external trade liberalization. Even if a PTA reduces a given country’s incentive to push for multilateral liberalization, it raises the odds of that country liberalizing its trade to avoid getting left behind. PTAs are a response to the difficulties of securing sweeping multilateral agreements. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements authorize them under GATT Article XXIV, GATS Article V, and the enabling clause, and the WTO facilitates a degree of governance over PTAs through its dispute settlement process. Over the past 25 years, countries have adopted these deals at a rapid pace. Between 1994 and 2005, the number of PTAs increased from 50 to 200. By April 2018, 336 were in effect. At the same time, global trade has increased significantly. Between 1994 and 2010, the volume of world merchandise exports more than doubled. The proliferation of PTAs has resulted in a rise in international trade governance, because the countries involved shape their relationships in line with the WTO agreements. This juridification makes PTAs subordinate to the international system rather than giving them room to dissolve it. Canada should therefore have no fear of pursuing PTAs within the larger framework of the effort to achieve multilateral trade liberalization.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Governance, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rawi Abdelal, Aurélie Bros
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Sanctions have become the dominant tool of statecraft of the United States and other Western states, especially the European Union, since the end of the Cold War. But the systematic use of this instrument may produce unintended and somewhat paradoxical geopolitical consequences. The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in the field of energy are particularly illustrative of this phenomenon.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Sanctions, Geopolitics, Secondary Sanctions, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • 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: Gonzalo Huertas
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The unrelenting surge in prices in Venezuela has crippled the economy and deepened the humanitarian crisis there. Huertas lays out a feasible stabilization plan to stop Venezuela’s hyperinflation. The extent of the humanitarian crisis and shortage of basic goods and services suggests that, on the fiscal side, a stabilization plan should focus primarily on reallocating rather than reducing spending. The authorities should avoid austerity policies and instead spend on taking care of the Venezuelan people. Stabilizing the price level while providing relief to the country’s population would require significant financial assistance from the rest of the world, so it is critical that Venezuela secure strong financial support from the international community. Successful stabilization requires a credible plan to transition to a responsible fiscal policy, the financial resources to carry it out, and the political will to sustain it.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Finance, Inflation, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: South America, Venezuela
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Zhiyaou (Lucy) Lu
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In early 2019, several important members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) submitted noteworthy proposals in a realm of international commerce that has evolved faster than rules to govern it: e-commerce or digital trade. While countries agree on less controversial subjects like banning unsolicited commercial electronic messages, the three leading WTO members—China, the European Union, and the United States—have big differences in their approaches to more challenging issues: data flows, data localization, privacy invasions by data collectors, transfer of source code, imposition of customs duties and internet taxes, and internet censorship. Their differing viewpoints lead Hufbauer and Lu to conclude that the prospect of reaching a high-level WTO e-commerce agreement is not promising. To reach an agreement, either most of the contentious issues must be dropped or the number of participating countries must be sharply reduced. A WTO accord, even of low ambition, would have value if only to establish basic digital norms on matters such as banning unsolicited commercial messages and protecting online consumers from fraudulent practices. A more ambitious accord covering the controversial issues should be negotiated in bilateral and/or plurilateral/regional pacts rather than in the WTO.
  • Topic: Economics, World Trade Organization, Finance, Privacy, Data
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: David Reifschneider, David Wilcox
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve faces two important monetary policy challenges: First, since the Great Recession it has struggled to move inflation convincingly up to the 2 percent target level. Second, during the next recession it will struggle to deliver enough support to the economy unless the recession is unusually mild. As a result, the search is on for alternative policy frameworks that might allow the Fed to achieve its monetary policy objectives more effectively. Among the alternatives is average inflation targeting (AIT). The basic idea is simple: Instead of aiming to return inflation over the medium term to the target rate of 2 percent, the Fed would aim to return the average of inflation over some period to the target rate. The crucial innovation of AIT is that when inflation has been running below the target rate, it would have the Fed aim for above-target inflation in the future, in order to bring average inflation up toward the target. Simulations of the Fed’s workhorse econometric model of the US economy (the FRB/US model) suggest that AIT would be a weak addition to the Fed’s policy toolkit for dealing with recessions and persistently low inflation. In addition, simple versions of AIT would sometimes compel the Fed to run an undesirably restrictive monetary policy. AIT is thus not a very appealing alternative to the current framework.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Sherman Robinson, Karen Thierfelder
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The terms of the US-China trade war change often, but the tariff escalations have inflicted documented economic damage on both countries. Expanding the conflict will only increase the damage and reverberate across the world economy. This Policy Brief uses a computable general equilibrium model of the global economy to analyze three scenarios that could unfold in coming months. The first scenario is the current situation (as of June 2019). Two additional scenarios assume implementation of proposed US tariffs and Chinese responses. The models project the situation after the two countries and the rest of the world adjust across a time horizon of three to five years. For the United States, higher tariffs raise prices and reduce demand for consumers and producers. For China, the tariffs raise the prices of consumer goods but have less direct impact on producers, because the Chinese have exempted some intermediate inputs. US exports and imports decline under all three scenarios. But China can successfully divert its exports away from the United States and escape maximum economic damage.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Markets, Finance, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Cullen S. Hendrix, Sooyeon Kang
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The nature and magnitude of geopolitical risk is changing more rapidly than the ability to anticipate it, with increasingly severe economic consequences. This Policy Brief discusses the economic costs and risks associated with episodes of political instability, arguing that firms, government agencies, and international institutions must update their forecasting and risk assessment efforts to take global factors into account. Since the global financial crisis, political instability has shifted from emerging-market countries in the developing world to larger, more globally impactful econo¬mies. Acknowledging this changing risk profile—and developing better tools to predict major episodes of instability—will allow both policymakers and firms to plan with greater confidence.
  • Topic: Economics, Geopolitics, Economy, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For years China has been one of the world’s most rapidly growing sources of outward foreign direct investment. Since peaking in 2016, however, Chinese outward investments, primarily to the United States but also the European Union, have declined dramatically, especially in response to changes in China’s domestic rules on capital outflows and in the face of rising nationalism in the United States. Concerns about growing Chinese influence in other economies, the ascendant role of an authoritarian government in Beijing, and the possible security implications of Chinese dominance in the high-technology sector have put Chinese outward investments under intense international scrutiny. This Policy Brief analyzes the most recent trends in Chinese investments in the United States and the European Union and reviews recent political and regulatory changes both have adopted toward Chinese inward investments. It also explores the emerging transatlantic difference in the regulatory response to the Chinese information technology firm Huawei. Concerned about national security and as part of the ongoing broader trade friction with China, the United States has cracked down far harder on the company than the European Union.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, National Security, Foreign Direct Investment, Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Takashi Tashiro
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For many years, the Japanese government has promised an eventual return to primary budget surpluses, but it has not delivered on these promises. Its latest goal is to return to primary balance by 2025. Blanchard and Tashiro, however, argue that, in the current economic environment in Japan, primary deficits may be needed for a long time, because they may be the best tool to sustain demand and output, alleviate the burden on monetary policy, and increase future output. What primary deficits are used for, however, is equally important, and the Japanese government should put them to better use. The authors recommend that, given Japan’s aging population, the government should spend on measures aimed at increasing fertility—and by implication population and output growth—which are likely to more than pay for themselves.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Budget, Fiscal Policy, Deficit
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Jeromin Zettelmeyer
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: ermany’s new National Industrial Strategy 2030, unveiled by Economy Minister Peter Altmaier in February 2019, advocates an aggressive industrial policy. Although it stays clear of the virulent economic nationalism of the 1930s and the protectionism of President Donald Trump, its tone and much of its content are unmistakably nationalist. Zettelmeyer concludes that three of Altmaier’s five proposals—attempting to further raise the German share of manufacturing, restricting non-EU imports of intermediate goods, and promoting national champions in Germany and the European Union—are bad policies. The two remaining ideas—preventing some foreign takeovers and ramping up state support for certain technologies—are somewhat easier to justify, based on either market failures or the risk of technological dependence on foreign companies susceptible to political interference. But even in these areas, the specific policies proposed may well do more harm than good.
  • Topic: Economics, Nationalism, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Cullen S. Hendrix, Sooyeon Kang
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The nature and magnitude of geopolitical risk is changing more rapidly than the ability to anticipate it, with increasingly severe economic consequences. This Policy Brief discusses the economic costs and risks associated with episodes of political instability, arguing that firms, government agencies, and international institutions must update their forecasting and risk assessment efforts to take global factors into account. Since the global financial crisis, political instability has shifted from emerging-market countries in the developing world to larger, more globally impactful econo¬mies. Acknowledging this changing risk profile—and developing better tools to predict major episodes of instability—will allow both policymakers and firms to plan with greater confidence.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Geopolitics, Political stability, Risk
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lee G. Branstetter, Britta Glennon, J. Bradford Jensen
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For decades, US multinational corporations (MNCs) conducted nearly all their research and development (R&D) within the United States. Their focus on R&D at home helped establish the United States as the unrivaled leader of innovation and technology advances in the world economy. Since the late 1990s, however, the amount of R&D conducted overseas by US MNCs has grown nearly fourfold and its geographic distribution has expanded from a few advanced industrial countries to many parts of the developing world, creating an innovation system that spans the globe. Like many aspects of globalization, including the offshoring of manufacturing over recent decades, the globalization of R&D raises concerns about US competitiveness and loss of technological leadership. At the same time, the spreading geographic location of innovation presents opportunities for US-based companies if the right policies are adopted to seize them. The research presented in this Policy Brief demonstrates that US innovators continue to remain involved in important ways in US MNCs' global R&D activities, and fears of a hollowing out of US capacity to innovate—based probably on previous fears about the hollowing out of US-based manufacturing—may be overstated. Indeed, the large and growing pool of highly educated scientists and engineers in the developing world could increase the rate of global productivity growth, to the advantage of US-based companies and the world in general. The authors conclude that a productive way to capitalize on the globalization of MNC R&D is not to oppose it but to combine emerging-market talent with MNC experience so that innovation can flourish to improve global living standards and fuel economic progress.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Multinational Corporations, Risk, Innovation
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The ailing Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, now seventy-nine years old, has no children and no announced successor, with only an ambiguous mechanism in place for the family council to choose one. This study considers the most likely candidates to succeed the sultan, Oman’s domestic economic challenges, and whether the country’s neutral foreign policy can survive Qaboos’s passing.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Domestic politics, Succession
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Oman, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Sexual Violence Research Initiative
  • Abstract: Poverty is a risk factor associated with gender-based violence; it also often intersects with and reinforces gender inequality. Various microfinance and other economic empowerment approaches have been implemented to try to address this intersection.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Poverty, Women, Gender Based Violence , Microcredit
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Egypt, Global Focus
  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: In 2017, the coming to power of João Lourenço put an end to nearly four decades of rule by the former head of state, José Eduardo Dos Santos. João Lourenço’s first objective was to strengthen his authority by appointing people close to him and cadres from the old regime, who had professed loyalty to him, to high office. The speed of the takeover of all the decision-making centers – army, intelligence services, state-owned companies, oil industry and above all the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) party-state – by the new “Comrade Number One” surprised the leaders of the Dos Santos era, some of whom were abruptly dismissed or even sentenced to prison. Now firmly established in Angola’s command centers, João Lourenço is however facing a serious economic crisis, the most worrying for the country since the end of the civil war in 2002.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Angola
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE)
  • Abstract: Chinese investment is flowing fast into Uganda, and spreading into the agriculture and forestry sectors. The government needs to keep pace with these developments so the benefits can be shared by Ugandans. A new analysis shows that, while the jobs and new businesses created are well received, the working conditions and environmental practices of Chinese companies are often poor. Many people evicted from their land to make way for new projects have not been compensated. To hold Chinese companies to account, government agencies, with support from NGOs, must share information about these investments and introduce stronger regulation — in particular to uphold community rights. In turn, Chinese companies must be more transparent, responsible and legally compliant. With a proactive and accountable strategy for Chinese investment management, Uganda could make major gains for sustainable development.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Business , Accountability, Investment, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, China
  • Author: Ebaidalla M. Ebaidalla
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Abstract: Despite the importance of non-farm income in the livelihood of the rural population in Sudan, information available on its size and determinants is scant. This study examined the patterns and determinants of decisions to participate in non-farm activities in rural Sudan. It also investigates whether the determinants of participation in non-farm activities vary across agriculture sub-sectors and income groups as well as among males and females. The data for this study was sourced from the Sudanese National Baseline Household Survey (NBHS) conducted by Sudan’s Central Bureau of Statistics in 2009. The results show that non-farm income is a crucial source of livelihood, contributing about 43% to household income in rural Sudan. The results of multinomial logit and probit estimation methods indicate that educational level, mean of transportation, lack of land and lack of access to formal credit are the most significant factors that push rural farmers to participate in non-farm activities. Surprisingly, the effect of household income was positive and significant, implying that individuals from rich households have higher opportunity to engage in non-farm activities compared to their poor counterparts. Moreover, the analysis revealed some symptoms of gender and location disparities in the effect of factors that influence participation in non-farm activities. The study concluded with some recommendations that aim to enhance the engagement in non-farm activities as an important diversification strategy to complement the role of the agriculture sector in improving rural economy in Sudan.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Gender Issues, Income Inequality, Rural
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Isaac Bentum-Ennin
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Abstract: Given Ghana’s endowments such as attractive sites; more than 500km of beaches, and World Heritage forts and castles, tourism is seen as an important tool for promoting the socio-economic development in that it generates many economic benefits such as incomes, employment and tax revenue, both within the sector and through linkages with other sectors. This study first, analyses the factors influencing the upward trends in international tourists’ arrivals and receipts and second, quantifies the impact of the tourism sector on the Ghanaian economy. The objective of this policy brief is to inform the Ministers of Interior, Tourism and Finance that the most important factor influencing international tourists’ arrivals in Ghana is the prevailing civil liberties and political rights and that Nigeria is a significant substitute destination. Also, that the tourism sector has had the greatest impact on the whole Ghanaian economy when compared to sectors such as agriculture, industry and other services sectors. It is hoped that appropriate legislations will be passed to deepen these liberties and rights and that policy measures will be put in place to ensure macroeconomic stability in order not to lose competitiveness to Nigeria. Also, it is hoped that the Tourism Ministry would lobby for more investment and more resources from the Finance Ministry in order to expand the sector since it has a huge potential to stimulate economic growth.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Economics, International Political Economy, Tourism, Economic growth, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana
  • Author: Ibrahim Okumu, Faizal Buyinza
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Abstract: Using the 2013 World Bank Enterprise Survey data for Uganda, this paper employs the quintile estimation technique to explain the relationship between innovation and firm performance in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Innovation involves the introduction of a new or significantly improved production process, product, marketing technique or organizational structure. Our results indicate that individual processing, product, marketing and organizational innovations have no impact on labour productivity as proxied by sales per worker. However, the results indicate the presence of complementarity between the four types of innovation. Specifically, the effect of innovation on sales per worker is positive when an SME engages in all four types of innovation. Even then the complementarity is weakly positive with incidences of a negative relationship when using any combination of innovations that are less than the four types of innovation. Policy-wise the results suggest that efforts to incentivize innovation should be inclusive enough to encourage all four forms of innovation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Political Economy, Economic growth, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa
  • Author: Janvier Mwisha-Kasiwa
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Abstract: Health is both a direct component of human well-being and a form of human capital that increases an individual’s capabilities and opportunities to generate income and reduces vulnerability. It is argued that these two views are complementary, and both can be used to justify increased investment in health in developing countries. Therefore, investment in child health constitutes a potential mechanism to end the intergenerational transmission of poverty. This paper examines the empirical impact of household economic well-being on child health, and the gender differences in effects using the Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2014. A series of econometric tools are used; the control function approach appears to be the most appropriate strategy as it simultaneously removes structural parameters from endogeneity, the sample selection and heterogeneity of the unobservable variables. Results suggest a significant positive effect of household economic well-being on child health. However, the magnitude of the effect varies by gender of household head; children from households headed by males appear healthier compared to those from female-headed households. In the context of DR Congo, female-headed households often have a single parent, therefore, the economic well-being effect on child health in the male sub-sample can be considered to include the unobserved contribution of women. These results have implications for public interventions that enable women to participate in paid labour market activities as a means of improving household economic well-being, which in turn could improve child health.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Gender Issues, Health, Health Care Policy, Children
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Author: Lassana Cissokho
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Abstract: This paper investigates the productivity effects of power outages on manufacturing Small Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Senegal, using a panel data on manufacturing firms. Productivity is estimated using stochastic frontier models, and power outages measured by their frequency or their duration. We controlled for firms owning a generator as well. The main results are drawn from random effects in a linear panel model. Nonetheless, the results remain consistent to the robustness checks using different models: a double-sided truncated data model and a generalized linear model, and different productivity measures: data envelopment analysis. We find that power outages have negative significant effects on the productivity of SMEs; for example, the manufacturing sector lost up to around 11.6% of the actual productivity due to power outages in 2011, and small firms appear to be affected more than medium ones, 5% against 4.3%. Further, firms with a generator were successful in countering the adverse effect of power outages on productivity. Besides, another outstanding result is the significant positive effect of access to credit on productivity. At last, it appears that productivity increases with firms’ size.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Political Economy, Economic structure, Economic growth, Macroeconomics, Manufacturing
  • Political Geography: Africa, Senegal
  • Author: Eme Dada
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Abstract: The objective of this policy brief is to inform the Ministers of Trade and Investment of Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) countries about the importance of the linkage between Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and trade for developing countries. FDI is considered an important means of promoting export of the host countries. This is true of inward FDI, which comes for efficiency reasons. Conversely, there is concern that large flows of outward FDI results in a decline in the host country’s exports and loss of jobs. This in turn assumes that the exports of the source country will fall as FDI substitutes for trade.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Gambia
  • 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
  • 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: Kevin M. Woods
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Burma’s natural resource economy is inextricably tied to the ongoing armed conflict within the country. Questions of who has what ownership rights over what resources and how these resources can be more equitably shared with the wider population loom large. This report focuses on Burma’s resource-rich ethnic states and territories near the borders with China and Thailand and suggests that a more robust, accountable, and equitable system for managing the country’s resource wealth can help lay down the pathways to peace.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Natural Resources, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: China, Burma, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Mirriam Muhome-Matita, Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Abstract: Agriculture remains the most important sector in sub-Saharan Africa and is a dominant form of livelihood for a majority of the population that resides in the rural areas. In Malawi, agriculture accounts for 35 percent of GDP and generates more than 80 percent of foreign exchange. In addition, agriculture is the most important occupation for 71 percent of the rural population in which crop production accounts for 74 percent of all rural incomes. However, agriculture has failed to get Africa out of poverty, and most countries are experiencing low agricultural growth, rapid population growth, weak foreign exchange earnings and high transaction costs (World Bank, 2008).
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Political Economy, Poverty, World Bank, Economic growth, Rural
  • Political Geography: Africa, Malawi
  • 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: Dani Rodrik
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Theory and empirics both suggest that international trade has sharp distributional implications. Furthermore, redistribution caused by trade is often viewed by the general public as more harmful or disruptive than other domestic market shocks. I discuss conditions under which there may be a legitimate case for restricting trade to promote domestic social inclusion, and propose a specific policy – a social safeguards clause – targeting those circumstances.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Economic Policy, Economic Theory, Trade Liberalization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gabriel Zucman
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Globalization and the rise of intangible capital have increased tax avoidance opportunities for large firms dramatically. 40% of multinational profits are shifted to tax havens each year globally and the United States loses about 15% of its corporate income tax revenue because of this shifting. I discuss the evidence on the redistributive effects of international tax competition. I then present a proposal to reform the corporate tax that would remove any incentive for firms to shift profits or move real activity to lowtax places. Contrary to a widespread view, it is possible to tax multinational companies (potentially at high rates) in a globalized world, even in the absence of international policy coordination.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Regulation, Multinational Corporations, Tax Systems, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Masahito Ambashi
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: This policy brief presents an overview of the ASEAN economy in terms of its economic relationship with multinationals, particularly Japanese companies, that have long invested in this region. ASEAN has been an attractor of foreign direct investment (FDI). Business interest in ASEAN has increased again recently due to the (i) relatively low wage of ASEAN compared to China, (ii) establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), (iii) economic partnership network with a core of ASEAN countries, (iv) large-scale market covered by ASEAN, and (v) rise of CLMV countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam). In these trends, ASEAN has established a reciprocal economic relationship with other countries and regions. To develop its economy, ASEAN member states are expected to further advance the AEC at a high level. Hence, ASEAN must address challenges such as deepening further economic integration and narrowing development gaps in the region. Most importantly, ASEAN still needs to increase the attractiveness of its 'whole region' as an essential and integral part of global value chains to draw further FDI.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Southeast Asia