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  • Author: Christian Egenhofer, Jan Cornillie
  • Publication Date: 04-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: With the cancellation of the Oslo ministerial mini-summit, the prospects for an early entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol are rapidly fading. Even if the US agrees to an outcome at a resumed COPbis in July, continued Congressional opposition and unresolved questions concerning the developing countries' commitments make US ratification highly implausible.
  • Topic: Environment, International Law, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jorge Nuñez Ferrer
  • Publication Date: 04-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The Berlin Summit has been concluded with the suspicious outcome in which every Head of State declares victory. The tone is not so victorious by the Presidency, however, which honestly declared that Germany didn't “win the lottery”. There is reason for suspicion if, after long and arduous discussions to reform policies and reduce EU expenditure, member states declare satisfaction at the result. Something must be amiss, if painful reforms appear not to hurt. In fact, after preliminary calculations and some political considerations, there are grounds to suspect that the reforms proposed are less than satisfactory.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Berlin
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 02-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The ECB has just published the opening balance sheet for the Eurosystem, which is the official name given to the ECB plus the 11 national central banks of the euro zone. All 15 national central banks are part of the ESCB, but the participation of the four outsiders is purely formal. The balance sheet, which is reproduced at the end of this Commentary, reveals two very interesting facts: During 1998, the national central banks of the euro zone increased their holdings of dollar foreign exchange reserves by the equivalent of about 38 bn euro. This means that they de facto intervened consistently to support the dollar during that year. The ECB starts with huge foreign exchange reserves: 237 bn euro plus gold worth 100 bn euro. This is much more than the amount held by the US Federal Reserve and constitutes a major share of the reserves held by all OECD countries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 02-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: The outcome of the first round of wage negotiations in post-EMU Germany sheds some new light on the old question: What impact will the euro have on labour markets and unemployment? Economists would say that it depends on the structure of the bargaining process. In wage-setting, it seems that either one of the two extremes of full centralisation or complete fragmentation is conducive to low inflation and unemployment.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Karel Lannoo
  • Publication Date: 02-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: With the successful launch of the euro, the start of ESCB monetary policy operations and the operation of Target payment system, the previously national interbank bank markets have been integrated at once in a unified euro interbank market. Outstanding public debt was redenominated in euro, trading conventions harmonised and all EMU stock markets have started quoting in euro. This does not, however, bring us at once to a US-style capital market. Euroland remains profoundly different from the US in the weight of the regions and the importance of banks.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Jeffrey A. Frankel
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Growth targets for emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) by developing countries should be part of the effort to mitigate global climate change. This policy brief advances an approach for determining appropriate targets. They should be neither so tight as to retard economic development nor so generous as to confer enormous windfall gains. But where in this range should these targets be set? A fair allocation for potential new participants would fit the present pattern of emissions reductions agreed among industrialized countries at Kyoto in December 1997. Richer countries, in effect, agreed to make bigger sacrifices (on average) than did poor ones. Given uncertainty about the future, however, fixing the precise quantitative emission target now would create great risks regarding the ultimate stringency of the target. It would raise concerns that a target could turn out either unexpectedly stringent—unintentionally constraining economic development—or unexpectedly lax—resulting in emissions greater than in the absence of an agreement. Indexing emission targets to a country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth would moderate the effects of uncertainty.
  • Topic: International Relations, Emerging Markets, Environment
  • Author: Jeffrey A. Frankel
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The recent financial crises in many emerging market economies have raised anew questions about the appropriate exchange-rate regime and the use of capital controls as policy instruments. The use of both mechanisms should be tailored to each country's unique circumstances. Fixed exchange-rate mechanisms, such as dollarization (adopting the dollar as legal tender in place of the national currency), are suited to small open economies or those desperate to import monetary stability. Larger economies, such as the European Union (EU) and the United States, should allow their currencies to float. Intermediate regimes that fall between fixed- and floating-rate regimes—such as bands, baskets, and crawls (See Figure 1 for definitions)—are still appropriate for some countries. Certain well-targeted restrictions on the composition of capital flows might be appropriate for some emerging-market countries as temporary measures when inflows are particularly high.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Ivo H. Daalder
  • Publication Date: 04-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: At the threshold of a new century, NATO needs a new purpose. A NATO maintained solely as a hedge against an uncertain future (including a possibly resurgent Russia) will become increasingly marginal to the interests of its members. A shift in emphasis to defending common global interests risks magnifying discord among Alliance members. Instead, NATO's purpose should now be to extend security and stability to all of Europe. This will require placing more emphasis on the ability to conduct crisis management operations in the region and taking practical, visible steps to keep the door to NATO membership wide open.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: William G. Gale, Alan J. Auerbach
  • Publication Date: 03-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Emerging federal budget surpluses have sparked calls for large-scale tax cuts that would be irresponsible and counterproductive. Surpluses over the next ten years are based on optimistic assumptions regarding revenues and spending. Even if they do materialize, the surpluses will exist only because government accounting obscures the growing cost of future liabilities. The government faces a large, long-term deficit, and tax cuts would make this problem worse. The proposed 10-percent income tax rate cut would provide disproportionately large benefits to wealthy households and little to lower income households. It would have little effect on economic growth, but would impose higher burdens on future generations, and would reduce future budget discipline by violating the budget rules. Moreover, for most families, tax burdens are already at their lowest level in twenty years. Saving the surplus, by paying down public debt, would help the economy much more than would tax cuts.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Paul C. Light
  • Publication Date: 02-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The past six years have witnessed the most significant reshaping of the federal workforce in recent history. On the one hand, government clearly has lost weight. The total number of full-time federal employees has declined, as has the number of federal middle-level managers. On the other hand, government has gotten much taller, at least as measured by the number of layers at the very top of the federal hierarchy. This changing shape means that ordinary Americans will be less likely to contact a federal employee when they call a government 800 number, write an office, or use a service. It also means that the nation's elected and appointed leaders will be further from the front lines, and less likely to know what the public is getting for its tax dollars.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States