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  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, the US economy has been plagued by sluggish wage growth and rising income inequality. The debate over inequality in the 1980s and 1990s focused on the growing disparity between the earnings of skilled and unskilled workers and the earnings of the super-rich. Growing inequality between capital and labor income has now been added to these concerns. Remarkably, the growth in real GDP per worker over the decade of the 2000s, which averaged 1.7 percent annually, was actually more rapid than in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s, yet in the 2000s workers saw almost no increase in their take-home pay. Consistent with this gap between labor productivity and wage growth was a pronounced decline in the share of US national income earned by workers. As labor's share has declined, the share of capital has risen and has been especially concentrated in corporate profits. As profits are far less equally distributed than wages, this increase has contributed to rising income inequality. There are several plausible reasons for this development—globalization, automation, weak bargaining power of labor, political capture, higher markups—but the natural starting point for explaining factor income shares is the neoclassical theory of the functional distribution of income enumerated by John Hicks and Joan Robinson in the 1930s. In this framework there are two possible explanations for labor's recent declining share. The first is that capital and labor are gross substitutes, and the second is that capital and labor are gross complements. Several papers have explained the recent decline in labor's share in income by claiming that capital has been substituted for labor. Lawrence puts forward the alternative "gross complements" explanation for the declining US labor share. He shows that despite a rise in measured capital-labor ratios, labor-augmenting technical change in the United States has been sufficiently rapid that effective capital-labor ratios have actually fallen in the sectors and industries that account for the largest portion of the declining labor share in income since 1980. In combination with estimates that corroborate the consensus in the literature that the elasticity of substitution is less than 1, these declines in the effective capital-labor ratio can account for much of the recent fall in labor's share in US income at both the aggregate and industry level. Paradoxically, these results also suggest that increased capital formation, ideally achieved through a progressive consumption tax, would raise labor's share in income.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lindsay Oldenski
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Reshoring—when firms shift manufacturing production back to the United States—has been getting a great deal of publicity lately. Oldenski examines the most recent data on the global operations of US firms and concludes that although some companies have reversed their previous offshoring decisions, there is no evidence of a widespread reshoring trend. But this should not be considered a defeat for US competitiveness. US multinationals continue to move operations offshore, but they also continue to grow stronger, producing more in their US operations and adding more to total US exports. The structure of US manufacturing has changed, but the ability to adapt to the changing nature of global business has been and will continue to be crucial to the continued growth of US manufacturing.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Theodore Moran
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For more than a decade, China has complained about what it maintains has been a pattern of erratic and politicized treatment of Chinese investors when they attempt to acquire US companies. The Chinese want the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to be more open and transparent in its rulings and to not discriminate against Chinese firms. The United States is not likely to accede to these demands in any formal or legal manner. Moran proposes practical steps to address the concerns of Chinese investors without diluting CFIUS procedures. He provides a national security threat assessment filter, which allows Chinese investors—like investors of all nationalities—to determine when their proposed acquisitions might pose a genuine threat and when any such threat is simply not plausible. He also suggests that first-time Chinese investors seek expert counsel to overcome the secrecy surrounding CFIUS objections to figure out how to proceed with problematic acquisitions.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey Schott, Eujiin Jung, Cathleen Cimino-Isaacs
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Of all the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by Korea with its major trading partners since the turn of the century, the Korea-China FTA may be the largest in trade terms. It is, however, far from the best in terms of the depth of liberalization and the scope of obligations on trade and investment policies. Korea and China agreed to liberalize a large share of bilateral trade within 20 years, but both sides incorporated extensive exceptions to basic tariff reforms and deferred important market access negotiations on services and investment for several years. Political interests trumped economic objectives, and the negotiated outcome cut too many corners to achieve such a comprehensive result. The limited outcome in the Korea-China talks has two clear implications for economic integration among the northeast Asian countries. First, prospects for the ongoing China-Japan-Korea talks will be limited and unlikely to exceed the Korea-China outcome. Second, Korea and Japan need to strengthen their bilateral leg of the northeast Asian trilateral and the best way is by negotiating a deal in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The latest semiannual fundamental equilibrium exchange rate (FEER) estimates find that the US dollar is now overvalued by about 10 percent, comparable to levels in 2008 through early 2010 and again in 2011. Unlike then, the current strong dollar does not reflect a weak renminbi kept undervalued by major exchange rate intervention by China. Instead, China's current account surplus has fallen sharply relative to GDP, and its recent intervention has been to prevent excessive depreciation rather than to prevent appreciation. Additionally, declines in the real effective exchange rates (REERs) for major emerging-market economies and resource-based advanced economies, driven by falling commodity prices in recent months, have strengthened the dollar. Recent increases in the REERs for the euro area and Japan have removed their modest undervaluation identified in the last FEERs estimates in May, and the Chinese renminbi remains consistent with its FEER. The dollar's rise by nearly 15 percent in real effective terms over the past two years could impose a drag of nearly one-half percent annually on US demand growth over the next five years. As the Federal Reserve moves to normalize US monetary policy, it may need to consider a gentler rise in interest rates than it might otherwise have pursued, both to temper possible further strengthening of the dollar in response to higher interest rates and to help offset the demand compression from falling net export
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper traces the evolution of the Federal Reserve and its engagement with the global economy over the last three decades of the 20th century: 1970 to 2000. The paper examines the Federal Reserve's role in international economic and financial policy and analysis covering four areas: the emergence and taming of the great inflation, developments in US external accounts, foreign exchange analysis and activities, and external financial crises. It concludes that during this period the US central bank emerged to become the closest the world has to a global central bank.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William R. Cline, Jared Nolan
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper applies time series analysis to distinguish between cyclical and demographic causes of the decline of the labor force participation rate. Some public discussions suggest that the decline of US unemployment from its 2009 peak of 10 percent to about 6 percent by mid-2014 grossly exaggerates recovery because most of the decline reflects the exit of discouraged workers from the labor force. This study finds instead that one-half to two-thirds of the decline in labor force participation by about 3 percentage points from late 2007 to early 2014 is attributable to aging of the population. Although about one-third is found attributable to the lagged influence of high, and especially long-term, unemployment, going forward the potential rebound in the participation rate from recovery is projected to be approximately offset by further aging of the population.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Labor Issues, Population
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Caroline Freund
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the United States struggled with unemployment and other effects of the Great Recession in January 2010, President Barack Obama set the goal of doubling exports within five years and creating 2 million new export-related jobs. Four years later, however, exports are less than halfway toward that goal and the rate of export growth is slowing. More worrisome, the administration's strategy failed to boost average export growth from historical levels, despite the robust recovery in international trade after the collapse of 2009. The National Export Initiative (NEI) has come up short.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon, Brian Sack
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The dramatic increase in the Federal Reserve's balance sheet since 2009 has attracted the attention of economists, pundits, and ordinary citizens. The amount of assets held by the Fed recently crossed $4 trillion and will likely continue to rise to a peak of about $4.5 trillion. This run-up in asset holdings has resulted from the Fed's large-scale asset purchase programs, which were intended to support economic growth. However, a side-effect of these asset purchases is the creation of unprecedented amounts of liquidity in the financial system.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tomas Hellebrandt
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Great Recession, which cost tens of millions of jobs, a collapse of asset values around the world, and threatened the global financial system, has generated renewed concern over the long-standing issue of the fairness of the distribution of wealth and income in many societies. Economic inequality has increased in the United States and many other advanced economies over the past 20 to 30 years. This trend generated less worry in the boom years, when unemployment rates were low and cheap credit enabled consumers to borrow and maintain higher standards of living, masking the impact of growing income disparity on consumption patterns and perceptions of well-being.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Social Stratification, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Ireland
  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A bipartisan majority in both Houses of Congress is insisting that the United States include a provision in future trade agreements that would bar currency manipulation. A letter from 60 senators to Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael From an on September 23, 2013, called for "strong and enforceable foreign currency manipulation disciplines" in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) while 230 members of the House of Representatives told President Barack Obama on June 6, 2013, that "it is imperative that (the TPP) address currency manipulation.to create a level playing field for American businesses and prevent more US jobs from being shipped overseas." The trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation proposed by congressional trade leaders on January 9, 2014, establishes the avoidance of currency manipulation as a "principal US negotiating objective" in its future trade agreements.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Mark Twain once wrote an essay about the difficulties of learning what he called "The Awful German Language." Similar barriers to comprehension seem to plague those trying to explain recent German economic performance. By most measures, Germany has the best functioning labor market among large economies in the West, with levels of employment reaching those in the United States at the end of the turbo-charged 1990s. A debate has stirred, however, about whether this success has come with a price—specifically, whether Germany's domestic structural reforms have lowered living standards for Germany's low income workers and worsened income inequality and whether Germany is fortuitously and perhaps selfishly riding a wave of strong foreign demand for German exports.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The vital role played by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in stabilizing the world economy and financial system is in serious jeopardy. The failure in mid-January by the US Congress to approve IMF reform legislation that had been pending for more than three years did not simply bring to a screeching halt a decade of slow progress reforming the governance of the Fund to make it more representative, legitimate, and therefore effective. Congress's balking on this issue also did substantial, actual damage to the US reputation around the world, as the leaders of many countries called into question Washington's ability to deliver on promises made in international economic agreements.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Cathleen Cimino
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Unconventional extraction methods, namely horizontal drilling and fracking, are transforming global energy production, consumption, and trade. Th e extraction of large amounts of oil and gas from shale formations has led to an unprecedented surge of domestic production in the United States. Th e US Department of Energy (DOE) is now processing more than 40 applications from domestic producers to export liquefi ed natural gas (LNG). While experts still disagree about the magnitude and duration of the energy boom, we are at the "dawn of a US oil and gas renaissance" (Houser and Mohan 2014).
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Avinash D. Persaud
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Bailouts and bail-ins of failing financial institutions have been hotly disputed in the global financial crisis of the last five years. At the height of the crisis, several failing banks were bailed out with taxpayer money so they could service their debts, but as public outrage mounts, policymakers are increasingly looking at bailing in these institutions before using taxpayer funds. Bail-ins, also called haircuts, require the troubled institution's creditors to write off some of the debt or agree to a restructuring of the debt, which reduces their holdings. The public has demanded the imposition of these costs on creditors and bond - holders, arguing that if bad lending as well as bad borrowing went unpunished it would be encouraged. Additionally, the yawning fiscal deficits that have followed bailouts have led to unpopular fiscal retrenchment.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This semiannual review finds that most of the major international currencies, including the US dollar, euro, Japanese yen, UK pound sterling, and Chinese renminbi, remain close to their fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs). The new estimates find this result despite numerous significant exchange rate movements associated with increased volatility in international financial markets at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2014, and despite a major reduction in the price of oil. The principal cases of exchange rate misalignment continue to be the undervalued currencies of Singapore, Taiwan, and to a lesser extent Sweden and Switzerland, and the overvalued currencies of Turkey, New Zealand, South Africa, and to a lesser extent Australia and Brazil. Even so, the medium-term current account deficit for the United States is already at the outer limit in the FEERs methodology (3 percent of GDP), and if the combination of intensified quantitative easing in Japan and the euro area with the end to quantitative easing in the United States were to cause sizable further appreciation of the dollar, an excessive US imbalance could begin to emerge.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Japan, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, New Zealand
  • Author: David G. Blanchflower, David N. F. Bell
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: One of the factors that may inhibit reductions in unemployment as the economy recovers is the extent to which existing workers would like to work more hours and employers may prefer to let them work longer hours before making new hires. This phenomenon suggests that the unemployment rate does not capture the full extent of excess capacity in the labor market. But how should it be measured? In this paper we argue that the United States does not have the necessary statistical tools to calibrate this form of underemployment. We describe an index that captures the joint effects of unemployment and underemployment and provides a more complete picture of labor market excess capacity. We show how this index can be implemented using British data and describe its evolution over the Great Recession. Comparisons of our index with unemployment rates suggest that unemployment rates understate differences in labor market excess capacity by age group and overstate differences by gender. We also show that being unable to work the hours that one desires has a negative effect on well-being. Finally, we recommend that the Current Population Survey conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics might be extended to enable the construction of an equivalent US index.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Natalia Aivazova
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Five years since the global economic crisis began in 2008, many of the world's advanced economies are still struggling with sluggish growth and high levels of joblessness, especially among younger workers. In June 2013 the European Council expressed concern that “youth unemployment has reached unprecedented levels in several Member States” and called for “urgent action.” Much of the debate in Europe and the United States has focused on fiscal and monetary measures; while macroeconomic policy can address cyclical problems, a wide consensus recognizes the need to address structural challenges. One such challenge is a mismatch between the skills demanded by employers and those available among the population, especially younger workers. This mismatch can be addressed in part through the implementation of apprenticeship programs. The European Council recently concluded that “high quality apprenticeships and work-based learning will be promoted, notably through the European Alliance for Apprenticeships.” However, in the United States, where many are struggling to find jobs after graduating, apprenticeship programs hardly draw government and private-sector resources. Boosting apprenticeships could give both European and US workers the much-needed skills and competitive edge.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Labor Issues, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: William R. Cline, Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Five years after the Federal Reserve and the Treasury allowed the investment bank Lehman Brothers to fail, their actions (or inaction) remain a focus of debate. Some argue that it was an inconsistent policy to have let Lehman fail while making emergency loans to save other large financial institutions in the same time frame. In this Policy Brief we present evidence that the Fed and Treasury had a sound reason to have bailed out other institutions while letting Lehman fail. Simply put, Lehman was insolvent—probably deeply so—whereas the other institutions arguably were solvent. In addition, the other institutions had abundant collateral to pledge, whereas what little collateral Lehman had to pledge was of questionable quality and scattered across many affiliated entities. Thus, federal officials, at least in hindsight, appear to have followed the dictum of Walter Bagehot (cited above), which has guided central banks for almost 150 years.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David J. Stockton
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Janet Yellen, who will serve as the 15th chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System after her likely confirmation in December 2013, has the experience, intelligence, and judgment to be an excellent successor to Ben S. Bernanke. But she will need to employ all those strengths, and then some, to deal with the challenges facing the nation's central bank. Her success in confronting these challenges will profoundly affect the United States and world economies. Five key challenges await her.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since the previous estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs) in this series in May (Cline 2013), numerous exchange rates have moved substantially in response to the announcement in late May that the US Federal Reserve would likely begin to "taper" its quantitative easing program of large-scale asset purchases. The new estimates here again take as their point of departure the medium-term current account projections of the most recent World Economic Outlook (WEO) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF 2013b). However, because of a seeming inertia in the Fund's projections despite large exchange rate moves, this round of calculations pays special attention to compiling alternative estimates for economies with large changes in exchange rates.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: There is a long-standing debate among economists and policymakers on the benefits of flexible versus fixed exchange rates (Klein and Shambaugh 2010). In principle, flexible exchange rates allow a country's central bank to focus on stabilizing economic growth and inflation, which are the ultimate goals of monetary policy. However, some argue that in practice central banks often do not use their powers wisely and it may be better to restrict their freedom by requiring them to peg their currency to that of an important trading partner. Others note that flexible exchange rates are far more volatile than fundamental factors can explain (Flood and Rose 1995), raising the possibility that they may introduce wasteful cross-sectoral fluctuations in economic activity. One common viewpoint is that flexible exchange rates may be fine for large countries but that the smallest countries are better off with fixed exchange rates (Åslund 2010).
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, United Kingdom
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence, Lawrence Edwards
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Manufacturing is a key sector of the US economy. Although value added in manufacturing represented just 11.9 percent of GDP in 2012, manufacturing activity is strongly associated with economic growth, because manufacturing serves as the fulcrum of supply chains that combine and process raw materials and services to produce goods.1 In addition, the sector is among the most dynamic—accounting for about 70 percent of US spending on business research and development—and it regularly outstrips the rest of the economy in productivity growth. Over the long run, the contributions of US manufacturing to total output growth have been steady. Measured in 2005 dollars, for example, the share of manufacturing in US output was about the same in 2005 as in 1947.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Simon Johnson, Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In July 2013, the United States and the European Union launched negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The talks aim to craft a comprehensive accord matching or exceeding the reforms achieved in their previous trade pacts. Since both sides have included financial services in prior free trade agreements (FTAs), they implicitly recognized that the TTIP accord would also cover this sector. But what will be included in the financial services chapter is still subject to debate.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In this paper Kirkegaard presents new micro-level data consisting of individual greenfield investment projects and mergers and acquisitions as a source for detailed analysis of services sector cross-border investment flows among the Asian Development Bank (ADB) regional membership in Asia. The new transactional foreign direct investment (FDI) data are methodologically distinct from traditional BPM5-compliant FDI data but found to yield generally comparable aggregates, when compared with the latest available International Monetary Fund (IMF) data from the Comprehensive Direct Investment Survey for the ADB regional membership. The services sectors are found to receive considerably larger amounts of foreign investment, when compared with the Asian region's manufacturing and raw materials sectors. OECD countries account for roughly three-quarters of total recorded inward services sector FDI of about $2 trillion, relatively evenly split between the United States, the EU-27, and regional OECD-level-income countries. The presence of sizable regional "upward flowing" services sector investments into OECD-level-income economies is verified. Kirkegaard draws preliminary policy conclusions based on the new transactional FDI data results concerning prospects for regional services sector liberalization, threshold income levels for inward services sector FDI, upward-flowing regional services FDI, and preferred modes of services sector investments.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Asia
  • Author: Olivier Jeanne
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Has the US dollar delivered the benefit that the rest of the world is expecting from its holdings of international liquidity? US government debt has been liquid and safe, and it is supplied in sufficient quantity. But it has given a low return to the countries that accumulated the most reserves, especially when those returns are measured in terms of the countries' own consumption. Jeanne argues that countries that accumulate the most reserves should expect a low return in terms of their own consumption and that international monetary reform can do little to change that fact.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The United States suffers from a severe self-inflicted wound. Together, federal and state governments impose almost the highest corporate tax rate found among advanced countries, 39 percent. Only Japan is fractionally higher. The high US rate has adverse consequences—lost investment, lost jobs, and less innovation—and goes a long way to explain slipping US competitiveness in the world economy.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: America deserves credit for not having succumbed to the global financial crisis by repeating the protectionist mistakes of the 1930s. Nonetheless, since 2007, although lip service has been paid to boosting US exports, its trade policy accomplishments have been modest. This is unfortunate because active trade policies can promote American living standards and facilitate America's return to full employment and sustained growth. These policies can also help to create a global trade order that advances American interests. This policy brief argues that the United States needs new initiatives that discipline foreign practices, increase access to foreign markets, revitalize the World Trade Organization (WTO), improve the administrative and regulatory environment for trade, and assist workers and communities adversely affected by change.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Widespread currency manipulation, mainly in developing and newly industrialized economies, is the most important development of the past decade in international financial markets. In an attempt to hold down the values of their currencies, governments are distorting capital flows by around $1.5 trillion per year. The result is a net drain on aggregate demand in the United States and the euro area by an amount roughly equal to the large output gaps in the United States and the euro area. In other words, millions more Americans and Europeans would be employed if other countries did not manipulate their currencies and instead achieved sustainable growth through higher domestic demand.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten, Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: More than 20 countries have increased their aggregate foreign exchange reserves and other official foreign assets by an annual average of nearly $1 trillion in recent years. This buildup of official assets—mainly through intervention in the foreign exchange markets—keeps the currencies of the interveners substantially undervalued, thus boosting their international competitiveness and trade surpluses. The corresponding trade deficits are spread around the world, but the largest share of the loss centers on the United States, whose trade deficit has increased by $200 billion to $500 billion per year as a result. The United States has lost 1 million to 5 million jobs due to this foreign currency manipulation.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, World Trade Organization
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Halfway through this presidential election year, there is great uncertainty about how, when, and even whether the United States will restore fiscal sustainability. As shown by the near-default because of the impasse over the debt ceiling in July 2011, the two parties have been in sharp opposition on this issue. The Republicans have insisted that adjustment be accomplished by spending cuts rather than tax increases. Two hundred and thirty eight Republican congressmen and 41 Republican senators have signed the Grover Norquist pledge to oppose any attempt to raise marginal tax rates or reduce deductions without implementing offsetting tax reductions. In contrast, Democratic lawmakers have tended to emphasize the maintenance of social and entitlement programs and expressed a willingness to restore higher tax rates if necessary.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Governance, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Martin Vieiro
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The need for US corporate tax reform is blindingly obvious. Conservatives contend that the top corporate tax rate— whether measured in statutory or effective terms—is the second highest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Liberals argue that the US corporate tax system is riddled with complex “loopholes,” enabling many firms—whether incorporated or not—to pay less than their fair share.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Sean Lowry
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama claimed that "over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires." The tire tariff case, decided by the president in September 2009, exemplifies his efforts to get China to "play by the rules" and serves as a plank in his larger platform of insourcing jobs to America.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For several years China has run persistent current account surpluses that have been widely seen as the most serious single source of global imbalances on the surplus side, and mirrored by persistent systemically large US current account deficits on the other side. In recent years, however, both imbalances have shown moderation (figure 1). China's surpluses have posed questions of international policy rules, because they have reflected in part an unwillingness to allow the exchange rate to appreciate sufficiently to act as an effective equilibrating mechanism. Exchange rate intervention resulted in a massive buildup of international reserves, which rose from $615 billion at the end of 2004 to $3.2 trillion at the end of 2011 (IMF 2012a).
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel
  • Author: Daniel Danxia Xie
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper provides new evidence on the long-run relationship between economic growth and labor's share in national income, based on a comprehensive panel data set for 123 countries from 1950 to 2004. Xie's primary finding is that labor's share follows a cubic relationship with real GDP per capita over the long process of development. At the beginning of the modern economic growth process, the share of labor in national income first decreases until an initial threshold is reached. After that, labor's share keeps increasing until the country's GDP per capita reaches a second threshold before falling again. Xie argues that these dynamics apply not only to the less developed countries in the postwar years, but also to the advanced countries like the United States and the United Kingdom during their early economic take-offs, starting in the late 18th and 19th century, respectively. Finally, he proposes a two-sector constant elasticity of substitution (CES)-type growth model and simulate the model to replicate and explain the possible mechanism behind such a nonlinear pattern of movements in labor's share.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom
  • Author: Morris Goldstein, Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Although the United States and the European Union were both seriously impacted by the financial crisis of 2007, resulting policy debates and regulatory responses have differed considerably on the two sides of the Atlantic. In this paper the authors examine the debates on the problem posed by "too big to fail" financial institutions. They identify variations in historical experiences, financial system structures, and political institutions that help one understand the differences of approaches between the United States, EU member states, and the EU institutions in addressing this problem. The authors then turn to possible remedies and how they may be differentially implemented in America and Europe. They conclude on which policy developments are likely in the near future.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Theodore H. Moran
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: What is the relationship between foreign manufacturing multinational corporations (MNCs) and the expansion of indigenous technological and managerial technological capabilities among Chinese firms? China has been remarkably successful in designing industrial policies, joint venture requirements, and technology transfer pressures to use FDI to create indigenous national champions in a handful of prominent sectors: high speed rail transport, information technology, auto assembly, and an emerging civil aviation sector. But what is striking in the aggregate data is how relatively thin the layer of horizontal and vertical spillovers from foreign manufacturing multinationals to indigenous Chinese firms has proven to be. Despite the large size of manufacturing FDI inflows, the impact of multinational corporate investment in China has been largely confined to building plants that incorporate capital, technology, and managerial expertise controlled by the foreigner. As the skill-intensity of exports increases, the percentage of the value of the final product that derives from imported components rises sharply. China has remained a low value-added assembler of more sophisticated inputs imported from abroad—a “workbench” economy. Where do the gains from FDI in China end up? While manufacturing MNCs may build plants in China, the largest impact from deployment of worldwide earnings is to bolster production, employment, R, and local purchases in their home markets. For the United States the most recent data show that US-headquartered MNCs have 70 percent of their operations, make 89 percent of their purchases, spend 87 percent of their R dollars, and locate more than half of their workforce within the US economy—this is where most of the earnings from FDI in China are delivered.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel
  • Author: Carmen M. Reinhart
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Historically, periods of high indebtedness have been associated with a rising incidence of default or restructuring of public and private debts. A subtle type of debt restructuring takes the form of "financial repression." Financial repression includes directed lending to government by captive domestic audiences (such as pension funds), explicit or implicit caps on interest rates, regulation of cross-border capital movements, and (generally) a tighter connection between government and banks. In this paper, the authors describe some of the regulatory measures and policy actions that characterized the heyday of the financial repression era. In the heavily regulated financial markets of the Bretton Woods system, several restrictions facilitated a sharp and rapid reduction in public debt/GDP ratios from the late 1940s to the 1970s. Low nominal interest rates help reduce debt servicing costs while a high incidence of negative real interest rates liquidates or erodes the real value of government debt. Thus, financial repression is most successful in liquidating debts when accompanied by a steady dose of inflation. Inflation need not take market participants entirely by surprise and, in effect, it need not be very high (by historical standards). For the advanced economies in Reinhart and Sbrancia's sample, real interest rates were negative roughly half of the time during 1945–80. For the United States and the United Kingdom, their estimates of the annual liquidation of debt via negative real interest rates amounted on average to 3 to 4 percent of GDP a year. For Australia and Italy, which recorded higher inflation rates, the liquidation effect was larger (around 5 percent per annum).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Against the backdrop of the recent financial crisis and the ongoing rapid changes in the world economy, the fate of the dollar as the premier international reserve currency is under scrutiny. This paper attempts to answer whether the Chinese renminbi will eclipse the dollar, what will be the timing of, and the prerequisites for this transition, and which of the two countries controls the outcome. The key finding, based on analyzing the last 110 years, is that the size of an economy—measured not just in terms of GDP but also trade and the strength of the external financial position—is the key fundamental correlate of reserve currency status. Further, the conventional view that sterling persisted well beyond the strength of the UK economy is overstated. Although the United States overtook the United Kingdom in terms of GDP in the 1870s, it became dominant in a broader sense encompassing trade and finance only at the end of World War I. And since the dollar overtook sterling in the mid-1920s, the lag between currency dominance and economic dominance was about 10 years rather than the 60-plus years traditionally believed. Applying these findings to the current context suggests that the renminbi could become the premier reserve currency by the end of this decade, or early next decade. But China needs to fulfill a number of conditions—making the reniminbi convertible and opening up its financial system to create deep and liquid markets—to realize renminbi preeminence. China seems to be moving steadily in that direction, and renminbi convertibility will proceed apace not least because it offers China's policymakers a political exit out of its mercantilist growth strategy. The United States cannot in any serious way prevent China from moving in that direction.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Trevor Houser, Jason Selfe
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: At the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009 and Cancun in 2010, the United States joined other developed countries in pledging to mobilize $100 billion in public and private sector funding to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a warmer world. With a challenging US fiscal outlook and the failure of cap-and-trade legislation in the US Congress, America's ability to meet this pledge is increasingly in doubt. This paper identifies, quantifies, and assesses the politics of a range of potential US sources of climate finance. It finds that raising new public funds for climate finance will be extremely challenging in the current fiscal environment and that many of the politically attractive alternatives are not realistically available absent a domestic cap-and-trade program or other regime for pricing carbon. Washington's best hope is to use limited public funds to leverage private sector investment through bilateral credit agencies and multilateral development banks.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, Energy Policy, Politics, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, United Nations
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Meera Fickling, Woan Foong Wong
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The United States has experienced persistent trade deficits for decades, and thoughtful observers have concluded that deficits cannot be sustained at levels much exceeding 4 percent of GDP annually. There are only two ways to decrease the trade deficit: reduce imports or increase exports. For global economic health, increased exports are a far better proposition.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This policy brief updates our estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs) to the latest available data, which for exchange rates are the average rates of April 2011, and for the IMF's balance of payments forecasts, those published in the April 2011 issue of World Economic Outlook (WEO; see IMF 2011a). It is the central study in what has now become a regular annual cycle, in which we draw out what we believe to be the implications of the IMF's forecasts for the pattern that exchange rates need to take if the world is to approach a reasonably satisfactory medium-run position. This past year we also published an interim policy brief (Cline and Williamson 2010b) in which we updated our calculations to the average exchange rates of October 2010, as well as commented on Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega's description of international monetary events as constituting "currency wars." As in the previous year, however, the November 2010 policy brief updated our estimates only for intervening changes in market exchange rates. We did not make use of the IMF's revised autumn WEO forecasts to update our estimates of FEERs; on the contrary, we assumed the FEERs estimated in May 2010 were correct. In contrast, this policy brief presents totally new estimates of FEERs.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Woan Foong Wong
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama stressed four ingredients of American prosperity: faster innovation, better education, less deficit, and more jobs. As the president recognized in his address, the US free enterprise system drives the private sector to innovate, invest, and create jobs. This policy brief concentrates on how reforming the corporate tax system can strengthen the private sector, thereby spurring both innovation and job.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) remains stalled despite the political impetus provided by the Seoul G-20 Summit in November 2010. The major trading nations have not revised their positions enough to propel new negotiations on agriculture, manufactures, and services. There is now little chance to complete an agreement this year and little indication that current efforts could succeed next year.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Martin Vieiro
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The United States holds contradictory views about large corporations. When Americans speak of breakthroughs in research and engineering, they are justly proud of large firms that pioneered railroads and steam engines in the 19th century, automobiles, electric power, and oil exploration in the 20th century, and computers, software, and biotechnology in the 21st century. Yet when talk turns to paying taxes, public opinion holds that large corporations should pay a higher statutory tax rate than other business firms, and enjoy fewer deductions in computing their taxable income. Despite common sense and the teachings of economics, tax discrimination is alive and well.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Credit Rating Agencies (CRAs) are prominent participants in the assessment of credit risk by financial markets. They determine and publish credit ratings, which represent the CRA's opinions on issuers' relative probability of default. The market for credit ratings is currently dominated in most western countries by three players: n Standard Poor's (S) is a division of the McGraw- Hill Companies, a US-based media group whose ownership is dispersed (the largest shareholder is Capital Group, with 12 percent of shares); n Moody's Corporation is an autonomous US-based listed company with dispersed ownership (the largest shareholder is Berkshire Hathaway, with 12.5 percent of shares); n Fitch Ratings is a division of the Fitch Group which is jointly owned by Fimalac, a Paris-based listed investment vehicle (60 percent of shares), and the US-based Hearst Corporation (40 percent of shares).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: After 18 years, Russia is finally on the verge of acceding to the World Trade Organization (WTO). No country has struggled for so long to become a member of this important organization. The last impediment was removed on November 9, when Russia and Georgia concluded an agreement on monitoring trade flows across their disputed border. The WTO Working Party, which oversaw the negotiations, then approved Russian accession on November 10, clearing the way for formal membership to be adopted at the WTO ministerial conference to be held December 15–17, 2011 (WTO 2011).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Georgia
  • Author: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The currency markets have been extremely disturbed for the last three months. The period witnessed a major strengthening of the US dollar in September, then the European currency crisis, a recovery of the euro when the markets believed that the crisis was being controlled, and then a rebound of the dollar. In view of these developments, those who follow currency movements need a new guide as to how the current values of currencies compare to our estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs). That is the main object of this paper.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Political Economy, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: J. Bradford Jensen, Andrew B. Bernard, Peter K. Schott, Stephen J. Redding
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: International trade models typically assume that producers in one country trade directly with final consumers in another. In reality, of course, trade can involve long chains of potentially independent actors who move goods through wholesale and retail distribution networks. These networks likely affect the magnitude and nature of trade frictions and hence both the pattern of trade and its welfare gains. To promote further understanding of the means by which goods move across borders, this paper examines the extent to which US exports and imports flow through wholesalers and retailers versus producing and consuming firms.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence, Lawrence Edwards
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Conventional trade theory, which combines the Heckscher-Ohlin theory and the Stolper-Samuelson theorem, implies that expanded trade between developed and developing countries will increase wage equality in the former. This theory is widely applied. It serves as the basis for estimating the impact of trade on wages using two-sector simulation models and the net factor content of trade. It leads naturally to the presumption that the rapid growth and declining relative prices of US manufactured imports from developing countries since the 1990s have been a powerful source of increased US wage inequality.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Theory, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Adam S. Posen
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Japan's Great Recession was the result of a series of macroeconomic and financial policy mistakes. Thus, it was largely avoidable once the initial shock from the bubble bursting had passed. The aberration in Japan's recession was not the behaviour of growth, which is best seen as a series of recoveries aborted by policy errors. Rather, the surprise was the persistent steadiness of limited deflation, even after recovery took place. This is a more fundamental challenge to our basic macroeconomic understanding than is commonly recognized. The UK and US economies are at low risk of having recurrent recessions through macroeconomic policy mistakes—but deflation itself cannot be ruled out. The United Kingdom worryingly combines a couple of financial parallels to Japan with far less room for fiscal action to compensate for them than Japan had. Also, Japan did not face poor prospects for external demand and the need to reallocate productive resources across export sectors during its Great Recession. Many economies do now face this challenge simultaneously, which may limit the pace of, and their share in, the global recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, United Kingdom
  • Author: J. Bradford Jensen, Andrew B. Bernard, Peter K. Schott, Stephen J. Redding
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Recent research in international trade emphasizes the importance of firms' extensive margins for understanding overall patterns of trade as well as how firms respond to specific events such as trade liberalization. In this paper, we use detailed US trade statistics to provide a broad overview of how the margins of trade contribute to variation in US imports and exports across trading partners, types of trade (i.e., arm's length versus related party) and both short and long time horizons. Among other results, we highlight the differential behavior of related-party and arm's-length trade in response to the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: J. Bradford Jensen, Andrew B. Bernard, Peter K. Schott, Stephen J. Redding
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper examines the determinants of intra-firm trade in US imports using detailed country-product data. We create a new measure of product contractibility based on the degree of intermediation in international trade for the product. We find important roles for the interaction of country and product characteristics in determining intra-firm trade shares. Intra-firm trade is high for products with low levels of contractibility sourced from countries with weak governance, for skill-intensive products from skill-scarce countries, and for capital-intensive products from capital-abundant countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Olivier Jeanne, Anton Korinek
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: We study a dynamic model in which the interaction between debt accumulation and asset prices magnifies credit booms and busts. We find that borrowers do not internalize these feedback effects and therefore suffer from excessively large booms and busts in both credit flows and asset prices. We show that a Pigouvian tax on borrowing may induce borrowers to internalize these externalities and increase welfare. We calibrate the model with reference to (1) the US small and medium-sized enterprise sector and (2) the household sector and find the optimal tax to be countercy - clical in both cases, dropping to zero in busts and rising to approximately half a percentage point of the amount of debt outstanding during booms.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jared C. Woollacott
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This study covers the history of Sino-US trade relations with a particular focus on the past decade, during which time each has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Providing a brief history of 19th and 20th century economic relations, this paper examines in detail the trade disputes that have arisen between China and the United States over the past decade, giving dollar estimates for the trade flows at issue. Each country has partaken in their share of protectionist measures, however, US measures have been characteristically defensive, protecting declining industries, while Chinese measures have been characteristically offensive, promoting nascent industries. We also cover administrative and legislation actions within each country that have yet to be the subject of formal complaint at the WTO. This includes an original and comprehensive quantitative summary of US Section 337 intellectual property rights cases. While we view the frictions in Sino-US trade a logical consequence of the rapid increase in flows between the two countries, we caution that each country work within the WTO framework and respect any adverse decisions it delivers so that a protracted protectionist conflict does not emerge. We see the current currency battle as one potential catalyst for such conflict if US and Chinese policymakers fail to manage it judiciously.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China's policy response to the global financial and economic crisis was early, large, and well-designed. Although Chinese financial institutions had little exposure to the toxic financial assets that brought down many large Western investment banks and other financial firms, China's leadership recognized that its dependence on exports meant that it was acutely vulnerable to a global recession. Thus they did not subscribe to the view sometimes described as “decoupling,” the idea that Asian countries could passively weather the financial storm that originated in the United States and other advanced industrial economies. They understood that absent a vigorous policy response China inevitably would suffer from the backwash of a sharp economic slowdown in its largest export markets—the United States and Europe.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Peter B. Kenen
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Today, the international monetary system is based largely on the US dollar, but reserve currency diversification has begun, thanks to the advent of the euro, and it is apt to continue. Eventually, the renminbi could acquire reserve currency status, and the resulting reserve currency diversification could be more disruptive than it has been to date. To forestall that possibility the quasi-currency issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), could be made to play a larger role in the international monetary system, precluding potentially disruptive diversification and achieving more orderly growth in the stock of international reserves.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott, Meera Fickling
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A year ago, we wrote a policy brief titled Setting the NAFTA Agenda on Climate Change, which explored issues of energy and environmental cooperation among the three North American countries in light of the climate legislation that had recently passed the US House of Representatives. Similar legislation did not pass the Senate, and Congressional leaders are now considering much more modest measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reforming US energy policy.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On May 31, 2010 a majority of the Lower House of the National Diet of Japan approved legislation that would reverse a decade's worth of effort to fully privatize key subsidiaries of Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. Besides postal services, the state-run postal system offers banking and insurance services, through Japan Post Bank (JPB) and Japan Post Insurance (JPI), respectively. These are the financial engines of Japan Post and were the units slated for privatization. Both subsidiaries have long received favorable government treatment, tilting the playing field against private banks and insurance firms, whether foreign or domestic. The government of Japan is in clear violation of its commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and if the Upper House approves the legislation, Japan will reverse the efforts made by the United States and the European Union, as well as domestic private banks and insurance firms, to establish a level playing field. What's more, Japan risks having a formal WTO dispute brought against it.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe
  • Author: Daniel H. Rosen
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On Sunday, June 13, 2010 representatives from China and Taiwan held a third round of talks in Beijing on an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) that would liberalize important aspects of cross-Strait economic relations. Details of what was agreed and what remains under negotiation are still trickling out, and in any case the nature of this framework is that various elements will be agreed upon on an ongoing basis rather than at once. But it is clear from available details that ECFA will be an ambitious accord that fundamentally changes the game between Taiwan and China and hence affects the regional economy and even the transpacific tempo for the United States.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Theodore H. Moran
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US House of Representatives has just passed the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (HR 4213). This bill will hurt American workers, reduce American exports, and make American companies less competitive in the international marketplace. Since the US Senate has already passed companion legislation, the American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act (S 3336), these ill-considered bills could soon be reconciled in conference and become the law of the land. If so, American firms and workers will pay the price.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Theodore H. Moran
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As presidential candidate, Barack Obama repeatedly advocated tax “reforms” aimed squarely at US-based multinational enterprises (MNEs). As president, he again declared—in the same State of the Union address that laid out an ambitious goal for export expansion—that “it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America."
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: These are difficult times. Not only are 10 percent of Americans unemployed but the federal budget is out of whack thanks to the specter of rising entitlement outlays. A natural impulse in difficult times is to protect domestic products and domestic producers. The tone of political economy during the global recession of 2007–09 is no different from that in past recessions—but louder because the economic damage is more severe. Emblematic of this spirit is a proposal to discriminate against foreign-owned insurance companies, using the tax code.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On June 21, 2010, in the run-up to the G-20 meeting in Toronto, China announced that it would shift to a more flexible exchange rate policy. From mid-June to July 30 the yuan rose 0.8 percent against the dollar. In contrast, the currency had remained fixed (at about 6.83 yuan to the dollar) from September 2008 to early June 2010. Pressure not only from the United States and the European Union but also from Russia, Brazil, and India as well as the IMF seems likely to have played a role in China's decision, although concerns about domestic inflation may also have been a factor.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the context of a transatlantic comparison, the first thing to be mentioned is the difference between the time sequence of financial reforms in the European Union and its equivalent in the United States. The financial crisis started simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic, with the initial disruption of some financial market segments in August 2007 and the major panic episode of September through October 2008. But they are not at the same stage of policy reaction and especially regulatory reform now. At least four reasons can be identified for this difference.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Mohsin S. Khan
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The creation of a monetary union has been the primary objective of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members since the early 1980s. Significant progress has already been made in regional economic integration: The GCC countries have largely unrestricted intraregional mobility of goods, labor, and capital; regulation of the banking sector is being harmonized; and in 2008 the countries established a common market. Further, most of the convergence criteria established for entry into a monetary union have already been achieved. In establishing a monetary union, however, the GCC countries must decide on the exchange rate regime for the single currency. The countries' use of a US dollar peg as an external anchor for monetary policy has so far served them well, but rising inflation and differing economic cycles from the United States in recent years have raised the question of whether the dollar peg remains the best policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Th is paper expands on the methodology of Groshen and Potter (2003) for studying cyclical and structural changes in the US economy and analyzes the net structural and cyclical employment trends in the US economy during the last 10 trough-to-trough business cycles from 1949 to the present. It illustrates that the US manufacturing sector and an increasing number of services sectors, including parts of the fi nancial services sector, are experiencing structural employment declines. Structural employment gains in the US labor market are increasingly concentrated in the healthcare, education, food, and professional and technical services sectors and in the occupations related to these industries. Th e paper concludes that the improved operation of the US labor market during the 1990s has reversed itself in the 2000s, with negative long-term economic eff ects for the United States.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Theodore H. Moran
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The 2008 election rekindled debate about whether US multinationals shift technology across borders and relocate production in ways that might harm workers and communities at home. President Obama now pledges to end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas. The preoccupation about the behavior of American multinationals takes three forms: (1) that US-based multinational corporations may follow a strategy that leads them to abandon the home economy, leaving the workers and communities to cope on their own with few appealing alternatives after the multinationals have left; (2) worse, that US-based multinational corporations may not just abandon home sites but drain off capital, substitute production abroad for exports, and “hollow out” the domestic economy in a zero-sum process that damages those left behind; and (3) worst, that US-based multinational corporations may deploy a rent-gathering apparatus that switches from sharing supranormal profits and externalities with US workers and communities to extracting rents from the United States. Each of these concerns contains a hypothetical outcome that can be compared with contemporary evidence from the United States and other home countries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Claire Brunel
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the financial crisis threatens to lead to a depression, the woes of the automobile industry are second only to the distress of the financial sector. Employment in the US auto industry dropped 9 percent between 2007 and 2008, with much more to follow in 2009. Overall, US auto sales dropped 18 percent between 2007 and 2008, and sales of SUVs plunged 44 percent on a year-over-year basis. Since some sort of financing is required for 90 percent of US car sales, the global credit freeze hit the auto industry with a second blow.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Poverty, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Trevor Houser, Shashank Mohan, Robert Heilmayr
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the 111th Congress begins and a new president takes office, the economic crisis dominates the US policy agenda. The financial system remains in a tenuous state despite massive bank recapitalization, and the economy, more than a year into the current recession, shows no signs of recovery. Given the scale of the challenge Washington faces and the amount of money required to combat it, there will likely be little room for other legislative priorities. As a result, policymakers are hoping to direct government spending over the next two years in a way that not only generates short-term economic growth and employment but also addresses long-term policy goals sidelined by the current crisis.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Economics, Environment, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On January 28, 2009, the US House of Representatives passed its economic stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Out of the bill's 700 text pages, a small half-page section attracted enormous media attention: the section requiring that all public projects funded by the stimulus plan must use only iron and steel produced in the United States (box 1). Another provision, which drew less attention, extends the so-called Berry Amendment (an old Buy American provision) to uniforms purchased by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Government, Industrial Policy, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: It is generally believed that the United States is a country of low taxes and small government, at least when compared with countries in Europe (and until the financial crisis so greatly expanded the role of the federal government in the United States in late 2008). Fully accounting for the role, size, and effect of the government in an economy is a complex endeavor, however, and it is hardly accomplished by repeatedly restating differences in top marginal tax rates, overall tax burdens, or gross sizes of governments in GDP terms.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jisun Kim
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the administration and Congress catch their breath from rescuing the economy, their thoughts are quickly turning to other issues—including the structure of the US tax system. Everyone agrees that the US tax system inflicts enormous complexity on the American public. But reform is never easy. Who pays the tax burden ranks among the most contentious issues that Congress has historically faced, and this time around will be no different.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anders Åslund, Andrew Kuchins
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Whither Russia? Russia's economic circumstances as well as its articulated goals hold the answer to this eternal question. Drawing on our analysis in the forthcoming book The Russia Balance Sheet, we outline here a policy approach for the Barack Obama administration. We believe our views reflect to some degree an emerging consensus for the new administration's Russia policy. Russia is important for US foreign policy in many ways. The United States needs a more constructive relationship with Russia to address many core global security issues including nuclear security and nonproliferation, terrorism, energy, and climate change.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States
  • Author: Adam S. Posen, Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since mid-2007, public authorities in the European Union have broadly met the challenge of ensuring a functional degree of liquidity and preventing financial meltdown. The Eurosystem has even been ahead of the curve compared with the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England in discounting early on a wide variety of assets to a range of counterparties. However, despite unprecedented central bank intervention, extensive government guarantees since October 2008, and macroeconomic assistance (with the International Monetary Fund) to the European Union's weakest member states, the underlying state of continental Europe's banking industry remains very fragile.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 06-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A once-familiar but long-neglected acronym has reappeared in newspapers in recent weeks. We have read that the G-20 meeting in London endorsed a proposal that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should create $250 billion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). We have been told that one problem with this proposal is that most of the SDR allocation would accrue to countries that are unlikely to use them, and some readers may have seen proposed ways around this difficulty. We have read that the governor of the People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, has proposed that the SDR should gradually displace the dollar at the center of the international monetary system and that surplus countries should be able to convert their dollar holdings into SDR-denominated assets. No one can doubt that the SDR is back.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Richard N. Cooper
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US dollar is not the world's key currency by policy design, just as English is not the leading global language by policy design. It is the evolutionary outcome of practice and experience. It would take both a major shock to the dollar and a viable alternative to dislodge it from widespread use. Like a common language, the dollar enjoys “network externalities”— the greater the number of people who use and accept it, the more useful it is to everyone, and the more entrenched it becomes. Also, what is not quite the same thing, the dollar enjoys a large market in low-risk and highly liquid securities, most notably US Treasury bills; the liquidity both enhances and is enhanced by the network externalities. Most of the world's foreign exchange transactions directly involve the US dollar. It is easy to hold and easy to use, even on a large scale. In short, it is highly convenient.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In a recent Cato Institute paper, Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar (2009) asserts that the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights (SDRs) cannot rival the US dollar, as suggested by the Chinese central bank governor (Zhou Xiaochuan 2009). “The SDR is not a currency and never can be,” Swami declares confidently in the first paragraph of his paper. He presents two arguments, which are presumably supposed to be proofs of this proposition.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mohsin S. Khan
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As oil prices began to rise in 2009 from a low point of about $40 a barrel in January to around $70 a barrel in July, a key question is whether the world is in for another oil price spike in the near term similar to that witnessed in early 2008. Several hypotheses were advanced when world oil prices started their inexorable climb from 2003–04 onwards, then skyrocketed from $92 a barrel in January 2008 to cross the $140 a barrel mark in June, finally hitting a record high of $147 a barrel on July 11, 2008, before collapsing to less than $40 a barrel in December (figure 1). There was the “peak oil” explanation, based on the theories of M. King Hubbert of “Hubbert's Peak” fame and his supporters, notably Colin Campbell and Matthew Simmons, that the world was running out of oil. There were the market “fundamentalists,” including importantly John Lipsky, the first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and Philip Verleger, a well-known oil expert, who argued that the fundamentals of demand and supply were primarily behind the extraordinary rise in oil prices in the first half of 2008 (Lipsky 2009a, 2009b; Verleger 2005, 2008). Interestingly, this fundamentals view was also shared by the US Treasury and was articulated by David McCormick, then undersecretary for international affairs, in a presentation in July 2008 at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Finally, there were those who maintained that such an increase could only be a “bubble,” unexplained by peak oil theory or market fundamentals. Many financial-market participants were proponents of this third view, notably Michael Masters (2008), as well as the main oil producers, who were as surprised as anyone at the speed and size of the price increase over only a few months. Their argument was that the phenomenal increase in financialization of commodity markets during 2006–08, including in particular the oil market, led to speculation and momentum trading, which pushed oil prices way beyond their long-term equilibrium level as determined by fundamentals.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Oil
  • Political Geography: United States