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  • Author: Chad P. Bown
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: While the public was transfixed by the Trump administration’s policies alleging that imports were a threat to America’s national security during 2017–20, there was a concomitant and more quiet US policy shift on the export side. Addressing the national security threat presented by exports posed different economic and institutional challenges from those associated with import policy, including the acknowledgment that export controls for legitimate national security reasons can be the first-best policy to confront the problem at its source. Yet, export controls could also be misused as a beggar-thy-neighbor policy to redistribute economic well-being across countries, even from one ally to another. This paper describes how US export control policy evolved over 2017–20, as well as the international institutions—first the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM), then the Wassenaar Arrangement—historically tasked with multilateralizing US export restrictions used to protect national security. With the potential for US export control policy to brush up more frequently against WTO rules designed to limit the use of export restrictions, the paper also highlights new challenges for the WTO’s system of resolving trade disputes. Overall, a US failure to strike the right balance for its export control policy would result in it being ineffective at addressing national security risks, costly for the economy, and problematic for trade and diplomatic relations.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, National Security, Exports, Trade
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Milan Vaishnav
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: With the BJP’s return to power following May 2019 general election, India appears to have ushered in a new dominant party system—one premised on a unique set of political principles, showing a clear break with what came before. In the wake of the 2019 general election results, which come on the back of significant political changes at the level of India’s states, there is empirical support for more unequivocal judgments. Indeed, the available evidence points in one direction: 2014 was not an aberration; it was instead a harbinger of a new era.10 India does appear to have ushered in a new, fourth party system—one that is premised on a unique set of political principles and that shows a clear break with what came before. In the 2019 general election, the BJP did the unthinkable: the party clinched a second consecutive majority in the Lok Sabha, a feat that was last accomplished by the Congress Party in 1980 and 1984.
  • Topic: Government, Elections, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Ariel Levite
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: In an increasingly digitized world, information and communication technologies (ICTs), and especially operational technologies (OTs), have assumed critical importance for governments, industry, and the general public worldwide. Yet trust in the integrity of these products and services is declining because of mounting concerns over inadvertent vulnerabilities in the supply chain and intentional backdoor interventions by state and corporate actors. Compounding the problem, these legitimate security concerns are sometimes exaggerated for political and commercial reasons—a counterproductive dynamic that fuels rivalries, fragments the marketplace, increases anxiety, stifles innovation, and drives up costs. Inarguably, some governments have been intervening in the ICT/OT supply chain or at least laying the groundwork for such interventions. They believe the pursuit to be justifiable and legal, citing objectives related to intelligence, law enforcement, and military operations. Whether valid or not, the concern is that certain corporations are actively or passively weakening the security of the supply chain and final products either at the behest of governments or for questionable purposes. Another concern is that both state and corporate interventions could leverage or mask what are purely lax security standards or flaws in products and services. And this further reduces trust in ICT/OT.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Science and Technology, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Saskia Brechenmacher, Thomas Carothers
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the mid-2000s, civic space has come under attack in many countries around the world. To counter this trend, transnational actors that support civil society have responded in many ways—from exerting diplomatic pressure and building international norms to providing emergency funds for activists. Despite these efforts, governments continue to impose legal and extralegal restrictions amid a worsening larger political environment for civil society. Closing civic space now appears to be just one part of a much broader pattern of democratic recession and authoritarian resurgence. The international response seems stuck: some useful efforts have been undertaken, but they appear too limited, loosely focused, and reactive.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Political Activism, International Community
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Patricio Goldstein, Ana Grisanti, Tim O'Brien, Jorge Tapia, Miguel Ajgel Santos
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Jordan faces a number of pressing economic challenges: low growth, high unemployment, rising debt levels, and continued vulnerability to regional shocks. After a decade of fast economic growth, the economy decelerated with the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-09. From then onwards, various external shocks have thrown its economy out of balance and prolonged the slowdown for over a decade now. Conflicts in neighboring countries have led to reduced demand from key export markets and cut off important trade routes. Foreign direct investment, which averaged 12.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) between 2003-2009, fell to 5.1% of GDP over the 2010-2017. Regional conflicts have interrupted the supply of gas from Egypt – forcing Jordan to import oil at a time of record prices, had a negative impact on tourism, and also provoked a massive influx of migrants and refugees. Failure to cope with 50.4% population growth between led to nine consecutive years (2008-2017) of negative growth rates in GDP per capita, resulting in a cumulative loss of 14.0% over the past decade (2009-2018). Debt to GDP ratios, which were at 55% by the end of 2009, have skyrocketed to 94%. Over the previous five years Jordan has undertaken a significant process of fiscal consolidation. The resulting reduction in fiscal impulse is among the largest registered in the aftermath of the Financial Crises, third only to Greece and Jamaica, and above Portugal and Spain. Higher taxes, lower subsidies, and sharp reductions in public investment have in turn furthered the recession. Within a context of lower aggregate demand, more consolidation is needed to bring debt-to-GDP ratios back to normal. The only way to break that vicious cycle and restart inclusive growth is by leveraging on foreign markets, developing new exports and attracting investments aimed at increasing competitiveness and strengthening the external sector. The theory of economic complexity provides a solid base to identify opportunities with high potential for export diversification. It allows to identify the existing set of knowhow, skills and capacities as signaled by the products and services that Jordan is able to make, and to define existing and latent areas of comparative advantage that can be developed by redeploying them. Service sectors have been growing in importance within the Jordanian economy and will surely play an important role in export diversification. In order to account for that, we have developed an adjusted framework that allows to identify the most attractive export sectors including services. Based on that adjusted framework, this report identifies export themes with a high potential to drive growth in Jordan while supporting increasing wage levels and delivering positive spillovers to the non-tradable economy. The general goal is to provide a roadmap with key elements of a strategy for Jordan to return to a high economic growth path that is consistent with its emerging comparative advantages.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Finance, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Abhijit Banerjee, Amy Finkelstein, Rema Hanna, Benjamin A. Olken, Arianna Ornaghi, Sudarno Sumarto
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: To assess ways to achieve widespread health insurance coverage with financial solvency in developing countries, we designed a randomized experiment involving almost 6,000 households in Indonesia who are subject to a nationally mandated government health insurance program. We assessed several interventions that simple theory and prior evidence suggest could increase coverage and reduce adverse selection: substantial temporary price subsidies (which had to be activated within a limited time window and lasted for only a year), assisted registration, and information. Both temporary subsidies and assisted registration increased initial enrollment. Temporary subsidies attracted lower-cost enrollees, in part by eliminating the practice observed in the no subsidy group of strategically timing coverage for a few months during health emergencies. As a result, while subsidies were in effect, they increased coverage more than eightfold, at no higher unit cost; even after the subsidies ended, coverage remained twice as high, again at no higher unit cost. However, the most intensive (and effective) intervention – assisted registration and a full one-year subsidy – resulted in only a 30 percent initial enrollment rate, underscoring the challenges to achieving widespread coverage.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Health Care Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Michael Woolcock
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many development agencies and governments now seek to engage directly with local communities, whether as a means to the realization of more familiar goals (infrastructure, healthcare, education) or as an end in itself (promoting greater inclusion, participation, well-being). These same agencies and governments, however, are also under increasing pressure to formally demonstrate that their actions ‘work’ and achieve their goals within relatively short timeframes – expectations which are, for the most part, necessary and desirable. But adequately assessing ‘community-driven’ approaches to development requires the deployment of theory and methods that accommodate their distinctive characteristics: building bridges is a qualitatively different task to building the rule of law and empowering minorities. Moreover, the ‘lessons’ inferred from average treatment effects derived from even the most rigorous assessments of community-driven interventions are likely to translate poorly to different contexts and scales of operation. Some guidance for anticipating and managing these conundrums are provided.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Infrastructure, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Kevin Lai, Tao Wang, David Xu
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Capital controls—or measures that governments take to restrict the amount of money that flows into and out of countries—pose significant challenges for firms that rely heavily on foreign financing to conduct business. This paper empirically evaluates effects of capital controls on trade across industries with varying levels of dependence on foreign capital. Mobilizing data on 99 countries from 1995 to 2014 across 27 industries, the authors find that industries more reliant on foreign capital tend to export much less in response to tightening of capital controls by exporting countries. Exports decline uniformly across all industries in response to tightening of capital controls by importing countries. The negative effects of capital controls on trade are less pronounced in countries with more advanced financial systems.
  • Topic: Government, International Trade and Finance, Capital Flows, Capital Controls
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Maurice Obstfeld
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper is a partial exploration of mechanisms through which global factors influence the tradeoffs that US monetary policy faces. It considers three main channels. The first is the determination of domestic inflation in a context where international prices and global competition play a role, alongside domestic slack and inflation expectations. The second channel is the determination of asset returns (including the natural real safe rate of interest) and financial conditions, given integration with global financial markets. The third channel, which is particular to the United States, is the potential spillback onto the US economy from the disproportionate impact of US monetary policy on the outside world. In themselves, global factors need not undermine a central bank’s ability to control the price level over the long term—after all, it is the monopoly issuer of the numeraire in which domestic prices are measured. Over shorter horizons, however, global factors do change the tradeoff between price-level control and other goals such as low unemployment and financial stability, thereby affecting the policy cost of attaining a given price path.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper evaluates international efforts to diagnose the global financial crisis and decide on appropriate responses, the treatments that were agreed and adopted, and the successes and failures as the crisis unfolded. International coordination of economic policies eventually contributed importantly to containing the crisis, but the authorities failed to agree on a diagnosis and the consequent need for joint action until the case was obvious. The policy actions that were adopted were powerful and effective, but they may have undermined prospects for coordinated responses to future crises.
  • Topic: Government, International Cooperation, Financial Crisis, Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus