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  • Author: Mark Hallerberg, Christopher Gandrud
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Japan serves as a cautionary tale for Italy on how to clean up banking-sector problems. A general lesson is the need for policies to forthrightly address non-performing loans (NPLs) in countries with widespread banking problems. This helps address zombie banks and sluggish economic growth. The Japanese experience indicates that three elements are necessary to address NPLs: (a) sufficiently capitalised banks that can take losses from NPL write-downs; (b) an independent regulator that can identify problems and force action; and (c) tools to manage the orderly disposal of NPLs. The problem is not that this combination of policy tools is unknown, but that banks and governments lack incentives to use them in combination. Italy’s December 2016 package providing €20 billion for recapitalisation of banks is a step in the right direction. Similarly, pressure from the European Central Bank on Italian authori- ties and on banks to address NPLs is welcome. However, policy tools to manage and dispose of NPLs and, just as importantly, incentives to use them, are lacking. In January 2017, the European Banking Authority published a set of policy proposals for NPL resolution. Those include national and European-level public asset management companies (AMC), also known as ‘bad banks’. We argue that in Italy, the incentives to use such tools and dispose of NPLs have been weak.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Economic structure, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Italy
  • Author: Kirill Rogov
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The recent 2016 Duma elections were planned by the Kremlin to attest to the fact that the period of troubled political development – which began during the previous 2011 Duma elections – is over. Further, the elections served to test Putin’s consolidated authoritarianism on the eve of the forthcoming presidential elections in 2018. While successful in terms of preserving full control over the new Duma, the election results nevertheless demonstrated that the patriotic enthusiasm evoked by the annexation of Crimea has largely been exhausted. The pressure on the opposition, new electoral rules and reliance on regions with so-called “administrative voting” secured a victory for the party of power, but in urban regions the turnout was very low and voting for the Kremlin’s party did not differ much from 2011 patterns. Although the direct effect of the economic crisis on people’s political attitudes is still moderate, the continued long-term stagnation in the Russian economy that started even before the fall in energy prices remains the major challenge for regime stability. Ambiguous election results force the Kremlin to seek new instruments of political consolidation. The Kremlin’s most probable strategy may be to combine toughening authoritarian institutions with maintaining high tension in the international arena in order to prolong the ‘rally around the flag’ effect domestically, by attempting or promising “authoritarian modernization” to gain support in urban regions. As the presidential election date approaches, both Putin’s foreign and economic policies could become even riskier than they have been to date.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Political Economy, International Affairs, Elections, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Cyrus Rustomjee
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The world’s oceans are crucial to human life. They cover 71 percent of the earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the earth’s water (Oceanic Institute 2016); provide vital ecosystem services; serve as a growing source of renewable energy and make crucial contributions to global food production and food security, through the provision of food, minerals and nutrients. Fish provide 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of their intake of animal protein (UN Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] 2014b). Over 3.1 billion people live within 100 km of the ocean or sea in about 150 coastal and island nations (FAO 2014a), and global ocean economic activity is estimated to be US$3–5 trillion (FAO 2014b). Oceans and seas serve as waterways for global trade, with more than 90 percent of global trade carried by sea (International Maritime Organization 2012). Some 880 million people depend on the fisheries and aquaculture sector for their livelihoods (ibid.). Recognition of the services and resources provided by oceans has accelerated in recent years, spurred by the opportunities and challenges posed by a rapidly growing global population, increasing global demand for food and energy, advances in technology, and changes in patterns of global trade and human consumption. Developed countries have expanded fisheries, tourism and other oceanic and maritime industries; extended mineral exploration and extraction; and scaled up ocean-related scientific, technological and industrial research. Using increased knowledge of marine biodiversity, they have developed new value chains in pharmaceuticals, health care and aquaculture; and many have established integrated national ocean economy strategies, bringing together the regulatory, environmental, spatial, policy, institutional, industrial and other factors influencing their ability to exploit maritime resources.
  • Topic: Environment, Political Economy, Maritime Commerce, Biosecurity, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Caribbean, Global Focus
  • Author: Dinshaw Mistry
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In the early and mid-2000s, US policymakers anticipated India becoming one of America's top global partners. Have New Delhi's policies on key strategic issues actually aligned strongly with US objectives, as would be typical of close partners? An analysis of twelve prominent issues in US-India relations indicates that New Delhi's policies mostly converged moderately, rather than to a high extent, with US objectives. Specifically, the alignment between New Delhi's policies and US objectives was high or moderate-to-high on three issues—UN peacekeeping, nonproliferation export controls, and arms sales. It was moderate or low-to-moderate on six issues—China, Iran, Afghanistan, Indian Ocean security, Pakistan, and bilateral defense cooperation. And it was low or negligible on three issues—nuclear reactor contracts for US firms, nuclear arms control, and the war in Iraq. To be sure, despite the low or negligible convergence, New Delhi did not take an anti-US position on these issues. Four factors explain why New Delhi's policies aligned unevenly with US objectives across the issues: India's strategic interests (that diverged from US interests on some issues); domestic political and economic barriers (that prevented greater convergence between India's policies and US objectives); incentives and disincentives (that induced New Delhi to better align with US objectives); and certain case-specific factors. This analysis suggests that, rather than expecting India to become a close ally, US policymakers should consider it a friendly strategic partner whose policies would align, on the average, moderately with US strategic interests.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Political Economy, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Wei Wang, Gemma Estrada, Jurgen Conrad, Sang-Hyop Lee, Donghyun Park
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As demand from global markets declines, slowing exports of manufactured goods from the People's Republic of China means the country must increasingly rely on domestic markets for growth. Unlike manufactured goods, services—those "intangible" products that include everything from transportation to scientific research to real estate services—are geared more toward domestic markets. Services, then, will be key to the rebalancing process. However, while the service sector has grown rapidly in the PRC, it continues to lag behind other countries at similar stages of development. In addition, the sector is dominated by traditional low-end types of services, rather than knowledge-intensive services. Heavy regulatory burdens, barriers to trade in services, and an unfavorable policy environment have been major obstacles to upgrading the sector and improving its competitiveness. Policy reform should focus on strengthening competition to raise productivity, with the goal of increasing not only the number of jobs and contribution to GDP, but also of positioning the service sector to compete internationally and spur export growth.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Markets, Political Economy, Reform, GDP
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Susan Stigant, Elizabeth Murray
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: National dialogue is an increasingly popular tool for conflict resolution and political transformation. It can broaden debate regarding a country’s trajectory beyond the usual elite decision makers; however, it can also be misused and manipulated by leaders to consolidate their power. This brief includes principles to strengthen national dialogue processes and considerations for international actors seeking to support these processes.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Susan Schadler
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Against the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) fraught experience with crises where debt restructuring is needed, Ukraine’s recent restructuring agreement has been a success. Several factors — in particular, Ukraine’s geopolitical position and the composition of its creditors — facilitated official support for the deal. As these are unlikely to be replicated in future debt crises, the IMF still needs a revamping of its policies and approach in crises requiring debt restructuring. This policy brief examines a number of key challenges in the evolution of a coherent role for the IMF in future crises.
  • Topic: Debt, Political Economy, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Unconventional monetary policy (UMP) has had predictable effects. How exit plays out is scenario-dependent. Quantitative easing has had the predictable effect of encouraging currency depreciation and some partner countries may have attempted to offset these exchange rate effects. Korea presents a particularly interesting case: it is relatively small and relatively open and integrated, in both trade and financial terms, with the United States and Japan, two practitioners of UMP. Authorities have acted to limit the won's appreciation primarily against the currency of China, not the US or Japan. Nevertheless, Korea's policy is a source of tension with the US. Under legislation currently being considered, the currency manipulation issue could potentially interfere with Korean efforts to attract direct investment from the US and create an obstacle to Korea joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Monetary Policy, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Boy Lüthje, Christopher A. McNally
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The global financial crisis of 2008-09 led to a policy consensus in China that its socioeconomic development model needed rebalancing. China's rapid development has been based on extensive growth reliant on exports, low wages, environmental exploitation, and the manufacturing of cheap products. China's current plans identify paths to economic rebalancing through intensive growth driven by rising investment in new technologies and manufacturing processes, improved wages and skills, and improved worker and environmental protections. Two industries, automotive and information technology, demonstrate the experience of and opportunities for rebalancing. Both offer improved employment conditions with better wages, but continue to incorporate large swaths of low-wage employment with little protection for workers' health and the environment. Economic rebalancing in China, therefore, has so far only appeared in pockets. Institutional safeguards for wages and labor standards remain constrained by powerful alliances among multinational corporations, Chinese state-owned/private enterprises, and the Chinese state.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: China
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: King Salman has confirmed his reputation as a religious conservative through the reappointment of traditionalist clerics However he has also made some effort to streamline the Saudi government Recent changes have given considerable power to two men from the next generation: King Salman's son and his nephew The result may be good for hard security measures, but less certain for the soft measures necessary for Saudi Arabia to weather the storm.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Islam, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia