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  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Conference Board announced today that the U.S. leading index increased by 0.1 percent, the coincident index increased by 0.2 percent, and the lagging index decreased by 0.4 percent in March The leading index has been posting strong gains, growing by 2.9 percent from September 2001 to March 2002, and by 2.2 percent for each of the six-month periods ending January and February 2002. The gains would have been more robust had it not been for the weakness in building permits and claims for unemployment insurance Gains in industrial production in the last three months, coupled with a recovery in employment, have helped push the coincident index up. Negative trends in these indicators were largely responsible for the decline in the coincident index last year. US economic recovery appears to be underway. The combination of rising energy prices, the current global instability, and the more cautious consumer and business sectors, however, might slow the pace of economic growth in the near term.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Conference Board announced today that the U.S. leading index held steady, the coincident index increased by 0.2 percent, and the lagging index decreased by 0.3 percent in February. Even with a flat month-to-month growth in February, the leading index is still up 2.4 percent from its value six months ago in August 2001 and up 3.1 percent from its value a year ago. The modest gains in the coincident index appear to be gaining momentum. Should this trend continue, the trough of the recession would most likely be November 2001, making the most recent economic contraction very short and certainly the mildest in U.S. history. The coincident-to-lagging ratio, which has historically led business cycles, is up for the fifth consecutive month in February. This is another signal that an economic recovery is underway.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Conference Board announced today that the U.S. leading index increased by 0.6 percent, the coincident index held steady, and the lagging index decreased by 0.2 percent in January. The leading index posted a robust 2.2 percent increase from July 2001 to January 2002. This is the fourth consecutive month that the six-month growth rate of the leading index has improved. Meanwhile, the six-month diffusion index, which measures the number of components that are rising, has increased above 50 percent for the first time in 21 months. With a robust leading index, the coincident index appears to be bottoming out in the past two months. The rate of decline of nonagricultural payrolls and industrial production has slowed in the last three and four months respectively while personal income and manufacturing sales have essentially held their ground throughout the recession. The coincident-to-lagging ratio, which has historically led business cycles, is up for the fourth consecutive month in January. This underscores the strength of the leading index and indicates a likely economic recovery, barring any unexpected negative events.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Harry A. Jr. Kersey
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Nearly a decade has passed since the United Nations declared International Year of the World's Indigenous People. Yet issues of social and economic marginalization, inequality, cultural survival, and change related to indigenous peoples continue to challenge the global community. In Aotearoa-New Zealand the Pakeha (Caucasian) settler population for many decades dominated the political landscape, leaving little voice for the nation's indige-nous Maori people struggling for greater rights. Today, however, the growing Maori population makes New Zealand the only First World country in which the indigenous people's movement for self-determination is sufficiently large to promise the possibility of major societal transformations. Over the past quarter century, regardless of which political party or coalition held power, escalating Maori demographic trends and increased political activism have encouraged the Crown to address Maori concerns and grievances.ii Today, with one out of four children under the age of five a Maori, the government has little option but to negotiate with a growing indigenous community.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Australia/Pacific, New Zealand
  • Author: Vinod Mishra, Robert D Retherford, Kirk R Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Air pollution in big cities gets headlines, but in many rural areas of developing countries indoor air pollution is an even more serious health problem. Long-term exposure to smoke from cooking indoors with wood, animal dung, and other biomass fuels contributes to respiratory illness, lung cancer, and blindness. As a cause of ill health in the world, indoor air pollution ranks behind only malnutrition, AIDS, tobacco, and poor water/sanitation. The results of a national household survey in India linking cooking smoke to tuberculosis and blindness in adults and acute respiratory infections in children add to a growing body of evidence from other studies that reducing exposures to toxic emissions from cookstoves can substantially improve health and save lives. Governments can do more to promote clean fuel use, educate people to the risks of exposure to cook smoke, and provide and promote more efficient and better-ventilated cookstoves. Curbing indoor air pollution is not only a key to better health but also an important investment for achieving development goals and improving living standards.
  • Topic: Environment, Human Welfare, Science and Technology, United Nations
  • Author: Wali M. Osman
  • Publication Date: 09-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: To further its strategic interests and national security, the United States has intervened in Afghanistan twice in less than two decades, first in the fight against the Soviets and then the Taliban. Now, as Afghans attempt to rebuild, American interests are at stake again. Before the Soviet takeover, Afghanistan had been moving slowly toward modernity, its development impeded by ethnic and tribal divisions kept in check by the monarchy's patronage system. Today, the country needs not only a new physical infrastructure but also institutions that will enable it to function as a modern economy, while politically accommodating its diverse and divided population. Democratization and economic development offer the best hope for stability, and specific steps can be taken to achieve these outcomes, but the country cannot move forward without increased security. Warlords contest the authority of the transitional government, which is itself critically divided. Beyond the issue of security, there is the urgent need for a more active commitment of U.S. resources and influence to the political and economic aspects of the reconstruction effort.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, South Asia, Taliban
  • Author: David Cohen
  • Publication Date: 08-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Over the past eight years the UN Security Council has paid some $1.6 billion dollars to operate International Criminal Tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Successfully pressured to establish a tribunal in East Timor, the Council sought to cut its costs by creating a new form of tribunal—a "hybrid" tribunal with both international and domestic judges and partially funded and staffed by the national government. Today, though the hybrid tribunal is lauded by the United Nations as a model, the East Timor Tribunal is anything but. Of its meager $6.3 million budget for 2002, $6 million went to the prosecution, which nevertheless has failed to take any high-level perpetrators into custody. The balance was almost all for international judges' salaries, who sorely lack adequate administrative and clerical support. Though some steps have now been taken to improve the training of defense counsel, the Public Defender's unit is so under-funded and inexperienced that it did not call a single witness in any of its first 14 trials. Whether a minimally credible tribunal is better than none at all is the real issue the United Nations has not openly addressed.
  • Topic: International Law, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Kang Wu, Fereidun Fesharaki
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Middle East is Asia Pacific's largest energy supplier, satisfying a demand for oil that must keep pace with the region's continued economic growth. This dependence on the Middle East has caused Asia Pacific to join the United States and other Western nations in the hunt for alternative suppliers. Central Asia, located between the Middle East and Asia Pacific and already an oil and gas exporter, is an attractive possibility. With energy production projected to rise rapidly over the next decade, Central Asia is poised to become a major player in the world energy market. But the land-locked region's options for transporting oil and gas to Asia Pacific markets are limited and problematic. Passage via pipeline east through China presents construction challenges; south through Iran, or through India and Pakistan via Afghanistan, is fraught with political difficulties. Not until geopolitics become more favorable to the south-bound options, or technologies make the China route possible, will Asia Pacific be able to tap the energy resources of Central Asia.
  • Topic: Security, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Andrew Mason, Sang-Hyop Lee, Gerard Russo
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Asia, a region whose population has long been dominated by children, is seeing the proportion of its elderly rise rapidly. The U.N. projects the population 65 and older will more than quadruple by 2050, while the population under age 15 will decline. Though Asia's population is still younger than the West's, dramatic declines in childbearing and significant improvements in life expectancy are causing it to age faster. The result will be growing demand for health care, retirement systems, and old-age support — particularly if the traditional family support system continues to erode. The challenge to countries with large elderly populations and relatively under-developed economies will be especially great. Throughout Asia, population aging could slow economic growth. If governments are to meet the challenges posed by aging populations, they must start soon to adopt policies that encourage saving and investment, develop effective social and economic institutions, and find new ways to tap the productive potential of older people.
  • Topic: Religion, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Zia Mia, R. Rajaraman, Frank von Hippel
  • Publication Date: 08-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The current South Asian crisis seems to have ebbed, but the underlying dynamic remains. The next crisis will be even more dangerous if South Asia's nuclear confrontation develops in the same direction as the U.S.-Russian standoff, with nuclear missiles on alert, aimed at each other and ready to launch on warning. As Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command, has said, the U.S. and Soviet Union survived their crises, "no thanks to deterrence, but only by the grace of God." Will South Asia be so fortunate?
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, South Asia, Asia