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  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Eugenio Cerutti, Lawrence H. Summers
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Blanchard, Cerutti, and Summers explore two issues triggered by the global financial crisis. First, in most advanced countries, output remains far below the prerecession trend, suggesting hysteresis. The authors look at 122 recessions over the past 50 years in 23 countries and find that a high proportion of them have been followed by lower output or even lower growth. Second, while inflation has decreased, it has decreased less than anticipated, suggesting a breakdown of the relation between inflation and activity. The authors estimate a Phillips curve relation over the past 50 years for 20 countries and find that the effect of unemployment on inflation, for given expected inflation, decreased until the early 1990s but has remained roughly stable since then. The paper concludes with implications for monetary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, GDP
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The financial sectors in Asian emerging-market economies are now relatively unlikely to provoke new financial crises, either because of reforms after the East Asian financial crisis in the later 1990s or because of the dominance of state-owned banks not subject to bank runs. Financial intermediation is surprisingly high and is consistent with higher rates of saving and investment and hence growth in the main economies of the region (as compared to, say, counterparts in Latin America). Nonetheless, there are sharply diverging patterns (e.g., high foreign ownership of banks in Korea versus minimal presence in China) and differing national structures (bank dominated, portfolio oriented, and diversified) within Asia. Cline recommends establishing long-term plans to improve efficiency in state-owned banks or reduce their dominance and pursuing bank capitalization targets at least as ambitious as those of Basel III. Cline also calls for ensuring adequate regulation of growing nonbank intermediaries, reversing a recent trend toward national barriers to foreign banks in some economies, and improving the legal security of bank regulators.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Nicholas Borst, Nicolas R. Lardy
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China's banking system is now the largest in the world, and its capital markets are rapidly approaching the size of those in the advanced economies. Borst and Lardy trace the evolution of China's financial system away from a traditional bank-dominated and state-directed financial system toward a more complex, market-based system. They analyze and outline the optimal sequence of financial reforms needed to manage the new risks accompanying this evolution.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Ryan Rutkowski
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Faced with slowing economic growth, Chinese policymakers now recognize that the service sector of the economy—transportation, communications, finance, and health care—could spur economic activity and employment. The catch is that China must reform these and other areas to accomplish this goal. Chinese leaders have outlined an ambitious agenda for reform, but myriad vested interests could slow or block their plans. This Policy Brief evaluates the steps taken so far and the difficulties that lie ahead in implementing them. If policymakers fail to reform and open up the service sector, they run the risk of seriously impairing China's growth prospects.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jose De Gregorio
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Latin America's recent economic performance has been disappointing. After a very strong recovery from the Great Recession, growth has slowed considerably, and prospects for 2015 are dim. Among the seven largest economies in the region, output is expected to contract in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, and Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru are projected to grow by only about 3 percent. The decline was not caused by external factors but was mostly cyclical in nature and a result of low productivity. Although monetary and fiscal policies may still have a role in supporting demand in some instances, the main problem in the region is not a lack of demand but low productivity growth. Efforts must be made to foster productivity. Institutional weakness must be addressed and inequality reduced if sustainable high growth is to resume.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For nearly three decades, the dominant view on the role of the financial sector in economic development has been that greater financial depth facilitates faster growth. However, the Great Recession has shaken confidence in that view because of the contributing role of high leverage and such financial innovations as collateralized subprime mortgage-backed assets and derivatives on them. Recent studies from the International Monetary Fund and Bank for International Settlements have argued that "too much finance" reduces growth. In an environment of new doubts about finance following the Great Recession, these studies finding that there can be too much of it seem to have struck a responsive chord. Cline warns that these findings should be viewed with considerable caution. He first shows that correlation without causation could similarly lead to the conclusion that too many doctors spoil growth, for example. He the demonstrates algebraically that if the variable of interest, be it financial depth, doctors, or any other good or service that rises along with per capita income, is incorporated in a quadratic form into a regression of growth on per capita income, there will be a necessary but spurious finding that above a certain point more of the good or service in question causes growth to decline. In some situations, finance can become excessive; the crises of Iceland and Ireland come to mind. But it is highly premature to adopt as a new stylized fact the recent studies' supposed thresholds beyond which more finance reduces growth.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Using his European Debt Simulation Model (EDSM), Cline examines whether and to what extent additional debt relief is needed in Greece under the new circumstances. Greece's debt burden is significantly lower than implied by the ratio of its gross debt to GDP, because of concessional interest rates on debt owed predominantly to the euro area official sector. The IMF's call for debt relief recognizes the lower interest burden but argues that the gross financing requirement is on track to exceed a sustainable range of 15 to 20 percent. But in the Fund's June Debt Sustainability Analysis that threshold would not be exceeded until after 2030. A sustainability diagnosis based on such a distant future date would seem at best illustrative rather than definitive. The euro area creditors might, nonetheless, be well advised to provide two types of interest relief: an earmarked portion of interest otherwise due to finance a public works employment program; and additional interest relief to compensate for budget shortfalls caused by growth below plan levels. The sovereign debt situation should be alleviated by carrying out the bank recapitalization directly from the European Stability Mechanism to the banks, rather than through the sovereign as the intermediary. The large increase in the ratio of gross debt to GDP imposed by bank recapitalization is mostly an optical illusion because there would be a corresponding rise in state assets, but this increase could, nonetheless, further erode perceptions of sustainability.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, Budget
  • Political Geography: Greece
  • 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: Arvind Subramanian, Kevin Stahler
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Prima facie, competitiveness adjustments in the eurozone, based on unit labor cost developments, appear sensible and in line with what the economic analyst might have predicted and the economic doctor might have ordered. But a broader and arguably better—Balassa-Samuelson-Penn (BSP)—framework for analyzing these adjustments paints a very different picture. Taking advantage of the newly released PPP-based estimates of the International Comparison Program (2011), we identify a causal BSP relationship. We apply this framework to computing more appropriate measures of real competitiveness changes in Europe and other advanced economies in the aftermath of the recent global crises. There has been a deterioration, not improvement, in competitiveness in the periphery countries between 2007 and 2013. Second, the pattern of adjustment within the eurozone has been dramatically perverse, with Germany having improved competitiveness by 9 percent and with Greece's having deteriorated by 9 percent. Third, real competitiveness changes are strongly correlated with nominal exchange rate changes, which suggests the importance of having a flexible (and preferably independent) currency for effecting external adjustments. Fourth, internal devaluation—defined as real competitiveness improvements in excess of nominal exchange rate changes—is possible but seems limited in scope and magnitude. Our results are robust to adjusting the BSP framework to take account of the special circumstances of countries experiencing unemployment. Even if we ignore the BSP effect, the broad pattern of limited and lopsided adjustment in the eurozone remains.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Roberto Alvarez, José De Gregorio
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Latin American performance during the global fi nancial crisis was unprecedented. Many developing and emerging countries successfully weathered the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Was it good luck? Was it good policies? In this paper we compare growth during the Asian and global fi nancial crises and fi nd that a looser monetary policy played an important role in mitigating crisis. We also fi nd that higher private credit, more fi nancial openness, less trade openness, and greater exchange rate intervention worsened economic performance. Our analysis of Latin American countries confi rms that eff ective macroeconomic management was key to good economic performance. Finally, we present evidence from a sample of 31 emerging markets that high terms of trade had a positive impact on resilience.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott, Cathleen Cimino
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Proponents of liberalized trade and finance were relieved when the global economic crisis in 2008 produced a broad range of pledges from countries around the world to avoid new barriers to trade and investment (see Evenett 2013). These promises, designed to avert a replay of the Great Depression of the 1930s, were largely honored when it came to classic forms of protection (tariffs and quotas). But the spirit of that pledge was violated as countries shifted from traditional forms of protection to behind-the-border nontariff barriers (NTBs), including local content requirements (LCRs)—policies mandating that local suppliers of goods, services, and even entire projects be favored by governments and private firms, even when foreign firms offer lower costs, better quality, and faster delivery.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • 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: Li-gang Liu
  • Publication Date: 08-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China's property market has slowed significantly since the first half of 2014, with sharp declines in sales and a buildup in the inventory of new homes. This sharper than expected downturn—which has affected not only second- and third tier smaller cities but also first-tier megacities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou—contrasts with last year's buoyant sales and double-digit price surge. Compounded by fears of a default in the shadow banking system and the perception of a highly leveraged Chinese economy, the sudden declines in the property sector are being watched closely. Many commentators believe this could be a turning point for the sector, triggering a hard landing of the Chinese economy and even a financial crisis. Over the last decade, China's property sector has become an important pillar for the country's growth as well as the key source for elevated commodity prices. A property market slump would hurt other sectors, as well as drag down resource-rich economies that rely heavily on China to buy their exports.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, United Nations
  • 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: Roberto Alvarez, José De Gregorio
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Latin American performance during the global financial crisis was unprecedented. Many developing and emerging countries successfully weathered the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Was it good luck? Was it good policies? In this paper we compare growth during the Asian and global financial crises and find that a looser monetary policy played an important role in mitigating crisis. We also find that higher private credit, more financial openness, less trade openness, and greater exchange rate intervention worsened economic performance. Our analysis of Latin American countries confirms that effective macroeconomic management was key to good economic performance. Finally, we present evidence from a sample of 31 emerging markets that high terms of trade had a positive impact on resilience.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Christoph Trebesch, Mitu Gulati
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Greek debt restructuring of 2012 stands out in the history of sovereign defaults. It achieved very large debt relief— over 50 percent of 2012 GDP—with minimal financial disruption, using a combination of new legal techniques, exceptionally large cash incentives, and official sector pressure on key creditors. But it did so at a cost. The timing and design of the restructuring left money on the table from the perspective of Greece, created a large risk for European taxpayers, and set precedents—particularly in its very generous treatment of holdout creditors—that are likely to make future debt restructurings in Europe more difficult.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The European and Asian financial crises are the two most recent major regional crises. This paper compares their origins and evolution. The origins of the two sets of crises were different in some respects, but broadly similar. The two sets of crises also shared similarities in their evolution, but here the differences were more significant. The European crisis countries received more external financial support, despite the fact that they involved more solvency issues while the Asian crises involved more liquidity issues. On balance, the reform programs in the European crises were less demanding and rigorous than in the Asian crises. Partly as a consequence, the negative impacts on the global economy have been larger. I draw three lessons from this analysis: First, history will repeat itself; there will be other external financial crises. Second, other countries have a stake in appropriate crisis management. Third, the IMF and other countries were mistaken in treating the European crises as individual country crises rather than as a crisis for the euro area as a whole that demanded policy conditionality on all members of the euro area.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • Author: Nicholas Borst
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Chinese financial system has undergone almost continuous reform since the dismantling in the 1980s of the Soviet- style system where only one state-controlled bank existed. Government efforts to create a financial system that adheres to international best practices of commercial lending accelerated in the 1990s (box 1). Reforms progressed quickly during this period, but they were accompanied by excessive credit growth and a massive increase in nonperforming loans, threatening the solvency of some banks and the financial stability of the entire economy. The risk of these weaknesses was dramatized by the 1997 Asian financial crisis, in which several nearby countries were crippled by plunging currency values, rising interest rates and difficulties servicing their foreign-held debts.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: China
  • 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: 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: Simon Johnson, Peter Conti-Brown
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act increased the powers of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (hereafter the Board) along almost all dimensions pertaining to the supervision and operation of systemically important financial institutions. With Ben S. Bernanke's term as Fed chair ending in January 2014, much of the public's attention has focused appropriately on the identity, views, and experience of candidates for the successor, whose influence on bank regulation will be considerable. President Barack Obama's selection of current Board vice chair Janet L. Yellen as chair—a highly qualified choice—comes at the end of a long public debate on this nomination.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis, Governance, Reform
  • Author: Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper aims to take stock of global efforts towards financial reform since the start of the financial crisis in 2007–08, and to provide a synthetic (if simplified) picture of their status as of January 2012. Underlying dynamics are described and analyzed both at the global level (particularly G-20, IMF, and FSB) and in individual jurisdictions, as well as the impact the crisis has had on these regions. The possible next steps of financial reform are then reviewed, including: the ongoing crisis management in Europe, the new emphasis on macroprudential approaches, the challenges posed by globally integrated financial firms, the implementation of harmonized global standards, and the links between financial systems and growth.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: C. Randall Henning, Martin Kessler
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: European debates over reform of the fiscal governance of the euro area frequently reference fiscal federalism in the United States. The “fiscal compact” agreed by the European Council during 2011 provided for the introduction of, among other things, constitutional rules or framework laws known as “debt brakes” in the member states of the euro area. In light of the compact and proposals for deeper fiscal union, we review US fiscal federalism from Alexander Hamilton to the present. We note that within the US system the states are “sovereign”: The federal government does not mandate balanced budgets nor, since the 1840s, does it bail out states in fiscal trouble. States adopted balanced budget rules of varying strength during the nineteenth century and these rules limit debt accumulation. Before introducing debt brakes for euro area member states, however, Europeans should consider three important caveats. First, debt brakes are likely to be more durable and effective when “owned” locally rather than mandated centrally. Second, maintaining a capacity for countercyclical macroeconomic stabilization is essential. Balanced budget rules have been viable in the US states because the federal government has a broad set of fiscal powers, including countercyclical fiscal action. Finally, because debt brakes threaten to collide with bank rescues, the euro area should unify bank regulation and create a common fiscal pool for restructuring the banking system.
  • Topic: Debt, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past 10 years, central banks and governments throughout the developing world have accumulated foreign exchange reserves and other official assets at an unprecedented rate. This paper shows that this official asset accumulation has driven a substantial portion of the recent large global current account imbalances. These net official capital flows have become large relative to the size of the industrial economies, and they are a significant factor contributing to the weakness of the economic recovery in the major industrial economies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Samuel Reynard
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Financial crises have been followed by different inflation paths which are related to monetary policy and money creation by the banking sector during those crises. Accounting for equilibrium changes and non-linearity issues, the empirical relationship between money and subsequent inflation developments has remained stable and similar in crisis and normal times. This analysis can explain why the financial crisis in Argentina in the early 2000s was followed by increasing inflation, whereas Japan experienced deflation in the 1990s and 2000s despite quantitative easing. Current quantitative easing policies should lead to increasing and persistent inflation over the next years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Throughout his brilliant career, John Williamson has frequently focused his considerable analytical skills and powers of persuasion on reform of the international monetary system. This paper examines two principal areas of his concern: (1) exchange rates and the adjustment process, and (2) international liquidity, seigniorage, and the stability of the system. With respect to exchange rates, I find that there has been a moderate reduction in variability, but over the past 40 years external imbalances have, if anything, worsened. The adjustment process has malfunctioned. With respect to international liquidity, reserves have expanded rapidly, but their expansion has been demand-determined, has not involved a remonetization of gold or an increase in inflation. I find that concerns about the size and maldistribution of seigniorage are misplaced. Moreover, we are seeing a steady evolution toward a multicurrency international monetary and financial system. However, reserve diversification does not appear to have adversely affected exchange rate volatility to date. I conclude that the principal benefits of the Bretton Woods international monetary system remain and the principal weaknesses remain. But the system is evolving. It could be improved with respect to the adjustment process and the role of the International Monetary Fund as the international lender of last resort.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper introduces a new probabilistic approach to sovereign debt projections and presents new estimates of debt ratios through 2020 for Italy and Spain. The new approach takes account of likely correlations across 243 alternative scenarios with three states (good, baseline, bad) for five key variables (growth, interest rate, primary surplus, bank recapitalization, and privatization). The 25th and 75th percentile scenarios are reported, as are the baseline and probability-weighted outcomes. The results suggest sovereign debt is sustainable in both Italy (where debt ratios are likely to decline because of a high primary surplus) and Spain (where the ratios rise but at a decelerating pace and from relatively low levels).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Spain, Italy
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The response of the ten new eastern members of the European Union to the global financial crisis has valuable lessons of crisis resolution for the euro area. These countries were severely hit by the crisis in the fall of 2008 and responded with extensive reforms. Crisis made the unthinkable possible. This paper outlines the main reform measures that the ten Central and East European (CEE) countries carried out. It then quantifies to what extent the CEE countries resolved the macroeconomic crisis and explores the effects of the reforms on future growth prospects. The fourth and major section discusses how the political economy of the crisis resolution actually worked. Finally, the author examines what lessons euro area countries can learn from the crisis resolution of the newest members of the European Union.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Political Economy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Lauge Skovgaard Poulsen
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper compares the current foreign direct investment (FDI) recession with FDI responses to past economic crises. The authors find that although developed country outflows have taken an equally big hit as major developed countries have after past crises, outflows seem to be bouncing back more slowly this time. By contrast with the overall decline in recent years, inflows to emerging markets often remained stable during their past economic crises. Both patterns indicate that the global scale of the current crisis has led to a greater FDI response than after individual country crises in the past. Compared with global economic downturns since the 1970s, the current FDI recession has also been greater in magnitude. The exception is the FDI plunge in the early 2000s, despite the much smaller economic crisis at the time. The authors conclude by recommending that policymakers not just further liberalize FDI regimes—as they find was the typical pattern during earlier crises—but rather use the downturn to rethink their FDI policies with an enhanced focus on "sustainable FDI" promotion.
  • Topic: Globalization, Global Recession, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis
  • 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Simon Johnson, Peter Boone
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Attempts to resolve the problems in Europe are failing, and the crisis is spreading from Greece, Ireland, and Portugal to larger nations. Europe's financial system relies on moral hazard, i.e., a “no defaults” policy, to attract the funding needed to roll over large amounts of short–term bank and sovereign debt. Now that politicians in creditor nations are calling for private sector burden sharing, investors are demanding higher interest rates to hold these debts. But higher rates may tip banks and nations toward bankruptcy. Europe's banks and financial system are highly integrated across countries. Rising expectations of default in some countries could lead to large-scale capital flight into “safe” countries. This shift will raise concerns regarding solvency and liquidity of many financial institutions. The payments system of the euro area is serving as an opaque bailout mechanism that is currently preventing the euro area from falling apart at this time. If the number of nations in trouble spreads beyond Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, this bailout system will be stressed because of the potential size of accumulated funding. The European Central Bank (ECB) could soon see a vocal debate between inflationist and hawkish (anti–inflation) members. Inflationists will call for large–scale interventions, including bond buybacks and emergency loans, while the hawks will attempt to close loopholes in the payments system that effectively permit each troubled nation to create money needed to finance capital flight and budget deficits. At this stage in the debate, we see little chance that Europe can avoid ending the “moral hazard” regime, in which case it needs to plan for widespread sovereign and bank debt restructurings.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Ireland
  • 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: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On July 21, 2011, the heads of government of the euro area announced a new plan to address the Greek debt crisis. This policy brief presents a simulation exercise that examines whether the new arrangements are likely to provide a sustainable solution. The analysis focuses on four key measures: gross debt relative to GDP; net debt relative to GDP; net interest payments relative to GDP; and amortization of medium-and long-term debt coming due during the year in question, relative to GDP. The new Greek package shows prospective future progress on all four measures, and Greek debt looks much more sustainable after the package than before. Debt also appears considerably more manageable if the criterion is net debt or interest burden rather than gross debt ratio, although even for gross debt the ratio is down substantially by 2020. It also becomes clear that the major contribution of the private-sector involvement (PSI) part of the package is in the form of sharply cutting amortization due, although by avoiding large new borrowing at crisis-level interest rates it also alleviates the interest burden that would otherwise occur.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: Philip K. Verleger
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: When a boat springs a leak far from shore, it is customary for all hands to man the pumps—be they friends or enemies, passengers or crew. Every individual's survival depends on the actions of his or her compatriots. So it is with the global economy today.
  • Topic: Debt, Markets, Oil, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Olivier Jeanne, Anton Korinek
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes prudential controls on capital flows to emerging markets from the perspective of a Pigouvian tax that addresses externalities associated with the deleveraging cycle. It presents a model in which restricting capital inflows during boom times reduces the potential outflows during busts. This mitigates the feedback effects of deleveraging episodes, when tightening financial constraints on borrowers and collapsing prices for collateral assets have mutually reinforcing effects. In our model, capital controls reduce macroeconomic volatility and increase standard measures of consumer welfare.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman, Garry J. Schinasi
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper examines the implications of the global financial crisis of 2007–10 for reform of the global financial architecture, in particular the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Stability Board and their interaction. These two institutions are not fully comparable, but they must work more closely in the future to help prevent global financial crises. To this end, the paper identifies institutional and substantive reforms separately and in their joint work that would be desirable and appropriate.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Political Economy, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis