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  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: In the initial burst of euphoria that has accompanied the end of virtual one-party rule in Mexico, the magnitude of the challenge facing the incoming government is in danger of being overlooked. For those concerned with furthering democracy, it is enough that former Coca-Cola executive Vicente Fox will become the country's first president from outside the Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI) in more than seven decades. Investors, who sent the peso and the Mexico City bourse soaring after Sunday's election, are just happy that a clear winner emerged and that the feared collapse of governability has apparently been avoided.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This year's Senate elections will be only modestly affected by the outcome of the presidential election. The Republicans currently hold a 55-45 seat advantage in the chamber, a margin that will be extremely difficult for the Democrats to overturn this November. The Democrats will therefore hope to gain three or four seats; a surge which would enable the party to launch a strong challenge to the Senate Republicans in 2002. Although more Republicans are seeking re-election this year, the Democrats are defending four of the five seats in which the incumbent senator is retiring (so-called 'open seats').
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, New York
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The US economy is experiencing its longest-ever recorded period of sustained growth. The current expansion, which began in March 1991, is the longest of the 32 which have been registered by the Bureau of Economic Analysis since 1854 and is now in its tenth year and 110th month. Moreover, since 1995, real GDP has grown at an average annual rate of more than 4.25% -- a rate not experienced since the 1960s. The expansion is consistent with the changing pattern of business cycles, insofar as the average length of economic expansions has nearly doubled from about 2.5 years during 1900-53 to about 5 years in the second half of the century (while the average length of contractions has fallen to less than twelve months). However, even allowing for this transformation, the current expansion seems to be exceptional, both for its duration and its strength. The coincidence of a long and inflation-free expansion with the boom in information and communication technologies (ICT) has sparked a debate about their interdependence.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: With the presidential primary season having ended this week, the race for the White House now heads for the party conventions. Since effectively securing the Republican nomination, Texas Governor George Bush has regained his poll lead over the de facto Democratic nominee, Vice-President Al Gore. If Bush retains a clear poll lead by the convention season, the current signs of apprehension amongst Democratic leaders will become more apparent. If Gore can more closely identify himself with the economy's exceptionally strong performance, he is perfectly capable of staging a full recovery and securing victory in November.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: WTO members are unlikely to reach agreement on radical changes, at least in the short term. At most they may conclude an accord which reaffirms both the principle of consensus and the need for Green Room meetings, and which gives the director-general a role (possibly informal) in ensuring that efficiency is balanced by other considerations. However, an agreement on institutional changes will have little impact on prospects for launching a new trade round. Such prospects will continue to depend on whether members can develop an agenda that all believe will serve their national interests.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Trade and Finance, World Trade Organization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Inflation has begun to accelerate throughout the OECD-area, mainly as a result of higher oil prices. The increase comes from a low base and official forecasts suggest that the price outlook is generally benign. However, a further tightening of monetary policy in order to contain inflation at these low levels is now probably the most important threat to asset market valuations and the continued expansion of the global economy. Product market liberalisation, globalisation and the advent of the internet have brought real and lasting changes in pricing behaviour that will not disappear with a global upturn. These trends have been reinforced by improvements in the operation, credibility and effectiveness of national monetary policies. Nevertheless, historical experience suggests that inflationary pressures could accelerate rapidly as the major economies enter their first period of coincident growth since 1988-90. The result is likely to be tighter monetary policy rather than permanently higher inflation and long-term interest rates.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, Canada
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The political outlook in Northern Ireland has, at least in the short term, been transformed by the political document released by the British and Irish governments and the subsequent statement issued by the IRA. This involves the exchange of a detailed timetable towards the implementation of the Good Friday agreement — including reform of police and security arrangements in the province — for a commitment from the IRA that at least part of their weaponry can be subject to external inspection. This bargain is likely to be enough to permit devolution to be restored shortly. The Northern Ireland peace process has been at an impasse since the British government suspended the operation of devolved institutions on February 11. It did so because the IRA had offered no clear indication as to how it might initiate the process of arms decommissioning — a situation that left Ulster Unionist leader and First Minister David Trimble extremely exposed in his own party. The narrow margin by which Trimble was re-elected leader by the Ulster Unionist Council in March, and that body's further insistence that the proposed reform of Northern Ireland's police force — the Royal Ulster Constabulary — be diluted before devaluation was restored, appeared to plunge the peace process into a state of permafrost.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, North Ireland
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Immediately following the first round, US pressure was influential in eliciting the delayed official announcement that Fujimori had failed to secure outright victory, and that he would have to contest a run-off against leading opposition contender Alejandro Toledo. However, from Toledo's point of view, the US pressure is likely to yield only limited benefits. While it may persuade Fujimori to ensure that the organisation of the second round is unimpeachable, or at least not too openly corrupt, it will not of itself end Fujimori's regime. On the contrary, it is likely to boost the Fujimori campaign by allowing the incumbent to appeal to strong nationalist sentiments in the Peruvian electorate.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, South America
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The current bubble in 'technology stocks' has led to official concern about over-enthusiasm by investors and the banking consequences of a sudden price collapse. The first signs of the long awaited shift emerged last week, as investors shifted from fashionable technology, media and telecoms (TMT) stock back into traditional 'old economy' blue chips. Capital flooding in from Europe and Japan to the United States has been attracted to booming markets led mostly by these stocks. The rest of the market (misleadingly known as the 'old economy') has risen comparatively little.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe
  • Author: Oxford Analytica
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Attorney General Janet Reno yesterday ordered the Miami-based extended family of Elian Gonzalez to hand him over to his Cuban father. Reno's actions are expected to bring an end to the custody drama surrounding Elian, who was brought to the United States after coastguards found him floating in the Atlantic Ocean after a failed attempt to escape from Cuba with his mother. Although superficially a dispute between the United States and Cuba, argument about the case has centred upon the demands of the Cuban-American community in Florida, a section of the electorate of sufficient importance to oblige Vice-President Al Gore to make his most public break with the administration in which he serves.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Cuba