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  • Author: Amar Bhattacharya, Homi Kharas, Mark Plant, Annalisa Prizzon
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The new global agenda, with Agenda 2030 at its core, is ambitious, comprehensive, and universal. The three central goals now are to reignite growth, deliver on the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and meet the ambitions of the Paris climate agreement aimed at mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects. Achieving these goals will require a significant scaling up and reorientation of investments, especially for sustainable infrastructure and human development. Implementing this agenda is urgent, as the world is witnessing the largest wave of urban expansion in history and more infrastructure will come on stream over the next 15 years than the world’s existing stock. This is also the last opportunity to manage remaining significant demographic transitions.
  • Topic: International Affairs, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John Page
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Economists have long regarded structural change—the movement of workers from lower to higher productivity employment—as essential to growth in low-income countries. Yet, until recently, Africa’s economic structure had changed very little, worrying both policymakers and analysts. The African Union, the African Development Bank, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa have all voiced concern with Africa’s slow pace of structural change. Earlier this year, The Economist noted, “Africa’s development model puzzles economists.”
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Amanda Sloat
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Policymakers in the United States and European Union are struggling with how to manage their relations with Turkey. What makes the country such a conundrum is that its problematic leadership faces real threats. Turkey is confronting challenges from the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt and the destabilizing effects of the Syrian war. Yet the country’s president is growing more authoritarian, using virulent anti-Western rhetoric, and making foreign policy choices contrary to the interests of the trans-Atlantic alliance. The policy goal is navigating this gray zone today to preserve the possibility of better relations in the future.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Constanze Stelzenmüller
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Year one of the Trump administration has been uniquely unnerving. Yet the trans-Atlantic security community has also been breathing a sigh of relief, because many of their worst expectations seem to have been averted: trade wars, an attack on North Korea, the end of NATO. The conventional wisdom in Washington, DC and many European capitals today is that—despite a president who continues to defy conventions—U.S.-European relations have largely normalized. As a result, most Europeans are attempting to ride out what they believe to be a temporary aberration of American politics with a mixture of hugging and hedging. There is certainly evidence for a normalization of U.S. foreign policy, not least in the president’s formal endorsement of NATO’s mutual defense clause, and the reinforcement of American contributions to reassurance and deterrence in Eastern Europe. There are also many signs that the past year has re-energized American civil society, belying determinist critics in Europe. But Trumpism needs to be recognized as a massive discontinuity. Trump is the first postwar American president to question the liberal order as such. In its purest form, the “America First” doctrine has implications for the EU and some of its member states (especially Germany) that should be of intense concern to Europeans. Europeans should worry even more, however, about its fundamentalist critique of globalization (which it refers to as globalism) as a quasiadversarial ideology. The globalization-globalism dichotomy, unlike all previous transAtlantic disagreements, is a dispute about the nature of the world we live in. And it is a wedge that could drive the United States and Europe apart. America could attempt (at immense cost to itself) to decouple from the liberal world order and the global economy. But for Europe to do so would be suicidal. This flips the existing logic of the trans-Atlantic alliance on its head: it is Europe now that has the greater—and for it, existential—interest in preserving an international order that safeguards peace and globalization
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Adam Looney, Constantine Yannelis
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: We examine the distribution of student loan balances and repayment rates in the United States using administrative student loan data. We show that increases in credit limits and expansions in credit availability resulted in rising borrowing amounts, and that the share of borrowers holding very large balances has surged. For instance, the share of borrowers leaving school with more than $50,000 of federal student debt increased from 2 percent in 1992 to 17 percent in 2014. Consequently, a small share of borrowers now owes the majority of loan dollars in the United States. Although these large-balance borrowers have historically strong labor market outcomes and low rates of default, repayment rates have slowed significantly between 1990 and 2014 reflecting, in part, changes in the characteristics of students, the schools they attended, and the rising amounts borrowed. A decomposition analysis indicates that changes in the types of institutions attended, student demographics, default rates, and increased participation of alternative repayment plans and forbearance largely explain the decrease in student loan repayment.
  • Topic: Education, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In “Afghanistan Affectations,” a detailed report published by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series in April 2017, Vanda Felbab-Brown assesses how counterinsurgency, stabilization, and reconstruction dynamics have interacted with organized crime, illicit economies, and generalized predatory criminality since 2001 and warped and weakened the post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In “Myanmar Maneuvers,” a detailed report published by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series in April 2017, Vanda Felbab-Brown assesses complex interactions among illegal economies, conflict, peace, and political transitions in Myanmar since the 1990s. She analyzes the evolution of the illegal economies in drugs, logging, wildlife trafficking, and gems and minerals as well as land grabbing and crony capitalism, showing how they shaped political transitions and how political evolution and changes shaped them. She also examines the impact of geopolitics and the regional environment, particularly the role of China, both in shaping domestic political developments in Myanmar and the country’s illicit economies.
  • Topic: Corruption, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Myanmar
  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Large-scale illicit economies and organized crime have received increasing attention from governments and international organizations since the end of the Cold War. The end of the Cold War brought a permissive strategic environment that allowed many states to focus on a broader menu of interests in their foreign policy agendas, such as the fight against drug trafficking and production. The post-Cold War era also exposed the fragility and institutional underdevelopment of many of these states, a deficiency perhaps exacerbated by globalization. At the same time, criminal and belligerent actors with significant power previously obscured by the shadows of Cold War politics were spotlighted by the international community, especially when their activities were associated with intense violence or corruption.
  • Topic: Corruption, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Esther Care, Helyn Kim, Kate Anderson, Emily Gustafsson-Wright
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: There have been increased calls globally for students to develop a broader set of skills during the years of formal education than in the past. Education has typically been seen as a preparation for adulthood and its work-related responsibilities. Recently, however, the focus on academic, vocational, and technical skills (e.g., Brewer, 2013) has shifted toward an aspiration for education to inform both work and life more generally (e.g., Pellegrino and Hilton, 2012). Many frameworks describe the skills or competencies that this 21st century world demands (e.g., Binkley et al., 2012; Lippman, Ryberg, Carney, and Moore, 2015), and in so doing, they display strong commonalities. The frameworks examine what competencies people need to function effectively in society, with descriptions varying from very high level (e.g., Delors, 1996) to very detailed (e.g., Binkley et al., 2012). Differences also emerge primarily in the degree to which skills or competencies alone are identified or whether a wider range of human characteristics are included. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2016) acknowledges this shift in the focus of education toward a broader approach. Of particular interest for Skills for a Changing World, Sustainable Development Goal 4 calls for skills beyond literacy and numeracy—including readiness for primary education (4.2), technical and vocational skills (4.4), and skills needed to promote global citizenship and sustainable development (4.7). These targets signal an emphasis on the breadth of skills necessary to prepare children, youth, and adults comprehensively for 21st century citizenship and life.
  • Topic: International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Geoffrey Gertz
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: President Donald Trump has promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which links the United States with two of its largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico. Officials in both Canada and Mexico have signaled they are open to renegotiations, and talks are expected to begin soon. New commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated he hopes the negotiations could be completed within a year.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, International Security
  • Political Geography: America, Canada, Mexico