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  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Legislation to reform Japan Post is again gathering steam in Tokyo. The real question is whether the latest act in this long- running drama will represent true reform or in fact will camouflage an entrenchment of Japan Post's formidable monopoly powers. Antireform proposals being lined up for consideration in the Diet would indefinitely extend effective government control of Japan Post's financial arms (thereby reversing the Koizumi era reforms). On the other hand, reform forces in the Japanese government want new legislation to guarantee a level playing field in banking and insurance between Japan Post and private firms, whether domestic or foreign.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Natural Disasters
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten, Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Doom and gloom about the euro abounds. An increasing number of commentators and economists, including here at the Peterson Institute, have begun to question whether the common currency can survive.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Contagion from Greece, together with domestic political uncertainty in Italy, caused interest rates on Italian sovereign debt to spike in the second half of 2011. As shown in figure 1, the risk spread above German bunds for 10-year Italian government bonds rose from 200 basis points in early July 2011, to a range of 300 to 400 basis points after the July 21 Greek package with its new emphasis on private sector involvement. There was a second surge to the 400 to 500 basis point range in November through January, following the October 27 Greek package that insisted on a 50 percent reduction in private sector claims.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Italy
  • Author: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In 2008 we introduced a semiannual series providing estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates, or FEERs (Cline and Williamson 2008a). The economic concept of FEERs was first set forth by Williamson (1983). An operational method for arriving at multilaterally consistent estimates of FEERs was developed by Cline (2008) and has been applied over the past five years in this series of estimates. This issue marks the valedictory round of the series for Williamson, who is retiring.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Lisbon
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Hyperinflation is one of the most misused words in the English language. Two years ago, I heard a prominent American investor say that we were about to get hyperinflation, “not 15 percent a year as under Jimmy Carter but perhaps 5 percent a year.” Hyperinflation is usually 1,000 percent or more a year. The standard definition by Philip Cagan (1956) is that hyperinflation starts when inflation reaches 50 percent a month, and then the economy is in hyperinflation for one year until monthly inflation falls and stays below 50 percent.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: One of the big questions of our time is whether the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) will survive. Too often, analysts discuss a possible departure of one or several countries from the euro area as little more than a devaluation, but I argue that any country's exit from the euro area would be a far greater event with potentially odious consequences. Exit from the EMU cannot be selective: It is either none or all.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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, Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Getting the diagnosis right is a prerequisite for understanding the euro area predicament and evaluating key decisions taken since early 2010. As we laid out in Bergsten and Kirkegaard (2012), while the euro area faces multiple overlapping and mutually reinforcing elements of fiscal (Greece), banking (Ireland/Spain), and competitiveness (Southern periphery) crises, it is first and foremost facing a crisis of institutional design. The common currency as designed in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 is a half-built house without the critical components of banking and fiscal union necessary to sustain it through the type of crushing economic and financial down- turn witnessed since October 2008.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: 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: Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On June 29, 2012, the heads of state and government of the 17 euro area countries issued a landmark statement that started with the sentences “We affirm that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns. The Commission will present Proposals on the basis of Article 127(6) for a single supervisory mechanism shortly. We ask the Council to consider these Proposals as a matter of urgency by the end of 2012. When an effective single supervisory mechanism is established, involving the ECB [European Central Bank] for banks in the euro area the ESM [European Stability Mechanism] could, following a regular decision, have the possibility to recapitalize banks directly” (Euro Area Summit Statement 2012). This statement was received by the investor community and the European public as marking the initial step towards a European banking union, i.e., a shift of the key instruments of banking policy from the national to the European level to enable the formation and maintenance of an integrated European banking system.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the current financial crisis plaguing Europe, Latvia stands out for resolving its financial problems quickly and resolutely. After contracting 24 percent in 2008 and 2009, it grew at the rate of 5.5 percent in 2011. The speed and determination. with which the government carried out austerity measures in 2009 and restored confidence after suffering the worst output decline is a crucial lesson for the ailing South European countries—Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Many policy observers and economists have dismissed Latvia's crisis resolution as irrelevant to the situation in Southern Europe. The Latvian orange, they say, cannot be compared with the South European apples. I argue otherwise.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Latvia
  • Author: Peter A. Petri
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently at an advanced stage of negotiation, began as a small agreement but now has big implications. The TPP would strengthen ties between Asia and the Americas, create a new template for the conduct of international trade and investment, and potentially lead to a comprehensive free trade area (FTA) in the Asia-Pacific. It could generate large benefits—greater than those expected from the World Trade Organization's (WTO) global Doha Development Agenda. This Policy Brief reports on our ongoing quantitative assessment (with FanZhai) of the TPP and other Asia-Pacific integration efforts.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Israel, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • 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: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • 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. For exchange rates, we apply the average rates of April 2012, while for the International Monetary Fund's balance of payments forecasts, we use the April 2012 issue of the World Economic Outlook (henceforth WEO; see IMF 2012a). This study is the fifth in an annual series, begun in 2008, in which we have used the spring WEO as the basis for drawing out implications for exchange rate changes needed if the world is to approach a reasonably satisfactory medium-run position. In addition, in semiannual updates (most recently in November 2011), we have tracked interim changes in exchange rates but not reestimated the underlying FEERs for the year in question.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis
  • 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, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Our last policy brief on this long-running saga recounted political machinations, late in 2011, to reverse the Koizumi era reforms of Japan Post, a giant among state-owned enterprises (SOEs). As a brief background: Japan Post is a conglomerate of five companies: the parent, Japan Post Holdings; two subsidiaries concerned with operating post offices and delivering mail, namely Japan Post Network and Japan Post Services; and two giant financial arms, Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Law
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Our answer is a resounding “yes.” This answer does not rest simply on the World Trade Organization's proven competence as a judicial body nor its acknowledged expertise in gathering statistics and analyzing trends. Crowning these strengths, we see the dawn of a new era of trade and investment negotiations within the halls of the WTO.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, World Trade Organization
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, J. Bradford Jensen
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Services trade continues to be the most dynamic part of world trade, and service sectors have long been the largest destination of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows. Higher GDP growth goes hand-in-hand with service sector growth. Yet, despite these positive attributes, little progress has been achieved in multilateral talks to liberalize services trade and investment. There is something very wrong about this picture—the disjuncture between stalled service negotiations in Geneva, the excessive focus on other components of the Doha Round to the neglect of services, and the rapid expansion of services trade and investment across borders. The time has come for an International Services Agreement (ISA) in which self-selected World Trade Organization (WTO) members voluntarily agree to new rules and market access commitments. The ISA would be distinct from a multilateral undertaking, like the Doha Round, that must gain the consent of all WTO members. Instead, it would be akin to the Agreement on Government Procurement, in which the market access benefits are confined to the agreement's members, but the agreement itself is open to all WTO members that are willing to accept its disciplines and commitments.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Markets, World Trade Organization
  • 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: Adam S. Posen, Tomas Hellebrandt, Marilyne Tolle
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Active accommodation of fiscal consolidations by monetary policy is controversial, as can be seen in current euro area discussions. While many observers acknowledge that there is usually a place for monetary accommodation in response to fiscal consolidation, a sequencing argument is often heard today that fiscal commitment must precede any loosening. Some analysts go further to suggest that toughness by central banks taking a hard line on adjustment is critical to inducing sustained fiscal stabilization. This policy brief looks at the recent historical record of central bank behavior vis-à-vis fiscal authorities, at least until the current crisis period, and whether accommodative approaches ahead of consolidations have proven dangerous or helpful. The authors also try to assess the market credibility of fiscal consolidations as a function of the central banks' monetary stance prior to fiscal consolidation. They find clear evidence of positive associations between the degree of monetary ease in advance of fiscal consolidation programs and both those programs' success and their market credibility.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • 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: Joseph Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper finds statistically robust and economically important effects of fiscal policy, external financial policy, net foreign assets, and oil prices on current account balances. The statistical model builds upon and improves previous explanations of current account balances in the academic literature. A key advance is that the model captures the effect of external financial policies, including exchange rate policies, through data on net official financial flows. Based on current and expected future policies, current account imbalances in major G-20 economies are likely to widen much more in the next five years than projected by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This paper concludes with a discussion of appropriate policies to prevent widening imbalances.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Author: Carmen M. Reinhart, Nicolas E. Magud, Kenneth S. Rogoff
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The literature on capital controls has (at least) four very serious apples-to-oranges problems: (i) There is no unified theoretical framework to analyze the macroeconomic consequences of controls; (ii) there is significant heterogeneity across countries and time in the control measures implemented; (iii) there are multiple definitions of what constitutes a "success" and (iv) the empirical studies lack a common methodology-furthermore these are significantly "overweighted" by a couple of country cases (Chile and Malaysia). In this paper, we attempt to address some of these shortcomings by: being very explicit about what measures are construed as capital controls. Also, given that success is measured so differently across studies, we sought to "standardize" the results of over 30 empirical studies we summarize in this paper. The standardization was done by constructing two indices of capital controls: Capital Controls Effectiveness Index (CCE Index), and Weighted Capital Control Effectiveness Index (WCCE Index). The difference between them lies in that the WCCE controls for the differentiated degree of methodological rigor applied to draw conclusions in each of the considered papers. Inasmuch as possible, we bring to bear the experiences of less well known episodes than those of Chile and Malaysia. Then, using a portfolio balance approach we model the effects of imposing capital controls on short-term flows. We find that there should exist country-specific characteristics for capital controls to be effective. From this simple perspective, this rationalizes why some capital controls were effective and some were not. We also show that the equivalence in effects of price- vs. quantity-capital control are conditional on the level of short-term capital flows.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy, Patrick Douglass
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Despite an erosion of consensus on its benefits, capital account convertibility remains a long-term goal of China. This paper identifies three major preconditions for convertibility in China: a strong domestic banking system, relatively developed domestic financial markets, and an equilibrium exchange rate. The authors examine each of these in turn and find that, in significant respects, China does not yet meet any of the conditions necessary for convertibility. They then evaluate China's progress to date on capital account liberalization, including recent efforts to promote renminbi internationalization and greater use of the renminbi in trade settlement. The paper concludes with an overview of remaining obstacles to convertibility and policy recommendations.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Morris Goldstein
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper links reform of the international financial regulatory system with reform of the international monetary system because as this recent global crisis demonstrates so vividly, the root causes can come from both the financial and monetary spheres and they can interact in variety of dangerous ways. On the financial regulatory side, I highlight three problems: developing a better tool kit for pricking asset-price bubbles before they get too large; shooting for national minima for regulatory bank capital that are at least twice as high those recently agreed as part of Basel III; and implementing a comprehensive approach to "too-big-to-fail" financial institutions that will rein-in their past excessive risk-taking. On the international monetary side, I emphasize what needs to be done to discourage "beggar-thy-neighbor" exchange rate policies, including agreeing on a graduated set of penalties for countries that refuse persistently to honor their international obligations on exchange rate policy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Jennifer Lee, Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Theory tells us that weak rule of law and institutions deter cross-border integration, deter investment relative to trade, and inhibit trade finance. Drawing on a survey of more than 300 Chinese enterprises that are doing or have done business in North Korea, the authors consider how informal institutions have addressed these problems in a setting in which rule of law and institutions are particularly weak. Given the apparent reliance on hedging strategies, the rapid growth in exchange witnessed in recent years may prove self-limiting, as the effectiveness of informal institutions erodes and the risk premium rises. Institutional improvement could have significant welfare implications, affecting the volume, composition, and financial terms of cross-border exchange.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) have become a prominent feature of the international financial landscape. They are sufficiently diverse in their origins, structures, and objectives that generalizations are perilous. However, legitimate concerns have been raised in home and host countries about the management, behavior, and interactions of these funds. Many of those concerns can be addressed via increased accountability and transparency. The Santiago Principles are a good start in doing so, but Edwin M. Truman's SWF scoreboard points to areas where these principles can be improved. Meanwhile, SWF compliance must be further increased. At the same time, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) effort to address concerns from the host-country side has not resulted in the erection of new barriers to that form of cross-border investment, but the OECD failed to reverse the creeping financial protectionism of the past decade. Because of their size and the source of their funding, some Asian funds are different. As a result, they will be held to a higher standard of accountability and transparency even as their government owners press for more openness to cross-border investment.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • 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: C. Randall Henning
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Recent crises and the expansion of international financial arrangements have dramatically elevated the importance of cooperation between regional institutions and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While the case for coordination between regional and multilateral institutions is generally accepted, however, the need to organize it on an ex ante basis is not fully appreciated. The relatively successful cooperation among the European Commission, European Central Bank, and IMF on the European debt crisis is not likely to be easily replicated in joint programs for countries in other regions, moreover, and the costs of coordination failure could be very large. Recent innovations at the IMF, on the other hand, present opportunities for cooperation with regional facilities. Henning reviews (1) the case for organizing cooperation on an ex ante basis, (2) the policy and institutional matters that should be coordinated, (3) how East Asian arrangements in particular and the IMF might cooperate, and (4) an Interinstitutional Agenda of general principles, modalities, and institutional recommendations. The G-20, member states, and institutions themselves should address this agenda proactively.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, East Asia
  • Author: Richard Pomfret
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The paper presents a comparative analysis of the resource-rich transition economies of Mongolia and the southern republics of the former Soviet Union. For Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the ability to earn revenue from cotton exports allowed them to avoid reform. Oil in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan was associated with large-scale corruption, but with soaring revenues in the 2000s their institutions evolved and to some extent improved. Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia illustrate the challenges facing small economies with large potential mineral resources, with the former suffering from competition for rents among the elite and the latter from lost opportunities. Overall the countries illustrate that a resource curse is not inevitable among transition economies, but a series of hurdles need to be surmounted to benefit from resource abundance. Neither the similar initial institutions nor those created in the 1990s are immutable.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics, Oil, Natural Resources
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Soviet Union, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan
  • Author: Adam S. Posen, Kenneth N. Kuttner
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper takes up the issue of the flexibility of inflation targeting regimes, with the specific goal of determining whether the monetary policy of the Bank of England, which has a formal inflation target, has been any less flexible than that of the Federal Reserve, which does not have such a target. The empirical analysis uses the speed of inflation forecast convergence, estimated from professional forecasters' predictions at successive forecast horizons, to gauge the perceived flexibility of the central bank's response to macroeconomic shocks. Based on this criterion, there is no evidence to suggest that the Bank of England's inflation target has compelled it to be more aggressive in pursuit of low inflation than the Federal Reserve.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: England
  • 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: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Until recently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been an effective framework for cooperation because it has continually adapted to changing economic realities. The current Doha Agenda is an aberration because it does not reflect one of the biggest shifts in the international economic and trading system: the rise of China. Even though China will have a stake in maintaining trade openness, an initiative that builds on but redefines the Doha Agenda would anchor China more fully in the multilateral trading system. Such an initiative would have two pillars. First, a new negotiating agenda that would include the major issues of interest to China and its trading partners, and thus unleash the powerful reciprocal liberalization mechanism that has driven the WTO process to previous successes. Second, new restraints on bilateralism and regionalism that would help preserve incentives for maintaining the current broad non-discriminatory trading order.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Israel
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper addresses two central questions for Asia and the world: (1) What is the purpose of Asian regional policy coordination going forward? (2) Will Asian regional policy coordination substitute or complement global policy coordination? The paper examines the potential coverage and content of such policy coordination, what is meant by Asia in this context, and how Asia fits in with global policy coordination processes. Truman addresses three related aspects of Asian regional policy coordination: macroeconomic policies, reserve management, and crisis management. He concludes that while the countries in the Asian region have not completely exploited the scope for regional policy coordination, more ambitious efforts focused on close integration are not likely to bear fruit, in particular, if they are conceived and promoted under the banner of Asian exceptionalism. These conclusions are based on two main considerations: First, Asian economies differ, and will continue to differ, sufficiently in size and stage of development such that it is difficult to conceive of a successful voluntary blending of their interests. Second, the central lesson of the global financial crisis and its current European coda is that global economic and financial integration has advanced sufficiently that countries can run but they cannot hide individually or in sub-global groups of countries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • Author: Nathan Jensen, Edmund Malesky, Dimitar Gueorguiev
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: We argue that openness to foreign investment can have differential effects on corruption, even within the same country and under the exact same domestic institutions over time. Our theoretical approach departs from standard political economy by attributing corruption motives to firms as well as officials. Rather than interpreting bribes solely as a coercive “tax” imposed on business activities, we allow for the possibility that firms may be complicit in using bribes to enter protected sectors. Thus, we expect variation in bribe propensity across sectors according to expected profitability which we proxy with investment restrictions. Specifically, we argue that foreign investment will not be associated with corruption in sectors with fewer restrictions and more competition, but will increase dramatically as firms seek to enter restricted and uncompetitive sectors that offer higher rents. We test this effect using a list experiment, a technique drawn from applied psychology, embedded in a nationally representative survey of 10,000 foreign and domestic businesses in Vietnam. Our findings show that the impact of domestic reforms and economic openness on corruption is conditional on polices that restrict competition by limiting entry into the sector.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics, Foreign Direct Investment
  • 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: Cullen S. Hendrix
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Rock phosphate is a critical, nonrenewable resource for which there is no known substitute in agriculture. Cordell, Drangert, and White (2009) use Hubbert methodology (1956) to estimate the peak—the year after which production will monotonically decline—of world rock phosphate production at 2033–34. This note assesses the applicability of Hubbert's (1949) peak methodology to world rock phosphate production, based on (a) the ability of the model to produce accurate in-sample and out-of-sample forecasts and stable estimates of ultimately recoverable reserves, and (b) the degree to which the rock phosphate market approximates the theoretical conditions underpinning the Hubbert model. In both respects, the application of Hubbert methodology to rock phosphate is found to be problematic.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Natural Resources
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Utsav Kumar
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper marks the first attempt at examining the growth performance across Indian states for the 2000s, a period also marked by the global financial crisis. Four key findings are reported. First, consistent with the fact that the 2000s was the best ever decade for Indian macroeconomic performance, growth increased across almost all major states in 2001–09 compared to 1993–2001. Second, nevertheless, there is a continued phenomenon of divergence or rising inequality across states: On average the richer states in 2001 grew faster in 2001–09. Third, during the crisis years of 2008 and 2009, states with the highest growth in 2001–07 suffered the largest deceleration. Since states with the highest growth were also the most open, it seems that openness creates dynamism and vulnerability. Finally, although the demographic dividend—a young population boosting economic dynamism—was evident before 2000, there is little evidence that there was any dividend in the 2000s. Demography alone cannot be counted on for future economic growth.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: C. Randall Henning, Mohsin S. Khan
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Currently, Asia's influence in global financial governance is not consistent with its weight in the world economy. This paper examines the role of Asia in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Group of Twenty (G-20). It looks in particular at how the relationship between East Asian countries and the IMF has evolved since the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98 and outlines how Asian regional arrangements for crisis financing and economic surveillance could constructively interact with the IMF in the future. It also considers ways to enhance the effectiveness of Asian countries in the G-20 process.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the fall of 2008, Central and Eastern Europe became a flashpoint in the global financial crisis. The ten new eastern members of the European Union were in a state of severe overheating in all regards. Inflation surged everywhere and to double digits in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Wages and real estate prices skyrocketed, rendering these countries ever less competitive, which further undermined their current account balance. Output plunged and unemployment soared.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Latvia
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Yee Wong
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Facilitating trade is essential for countries that aspire to compete in the global economy. Low transactions costs, speed, and predictability are all ingredients of a good logistics system. The payoff is large. According to a World Bank (2010) evaluation of nearly 155 countries, improving logistics for countries at the same level of per capita income can increase GDP by 1 percent and two-way merchandise trade by 2 percent.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance
  • 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: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Reform of the international monetary system was placed on the agenda of the Group of 20 (G-20) a year ago at the initiative of the incoming French leadership of the G-20. On November 4, 2011 in Cannes, France, the G-20 leaders will announce their conclusions and agreements after a year and half of intense dialogue and debate. This policy brief summarizes my preliminary rating of the expected results based on the evidence to date: a barely passing grade on substance but an A for effort. Neither final grade is locked in stone, however.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: France
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo, Francis Ng
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The puzzle about the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) is not why it is on life support now but how it has survived as a viable multilateral initiative for so long. From the very beginning, it was clear that the Round suffered from a lack of private-sector interest, the engine that had driven previous rounds of successful trade negotiations. At most, Doha promised to deliver some security of access for unilateral liberalization previously undertaken by countries and some modest incremental market opening (Martin and Mattoo 2009; Hufbauer, Schott, and Wong 2010). That the Round had much to be modest about was reflected in the failure of even antiglobalization protesters to show up for the more recent meetings of the Doha Round.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: 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