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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: Olivier Blanchard, Gustavo Adler, Irineu de Carvalho Filho
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Many emerging-market economies have relied on foreign exchange intervention (FXI) in response to gross capital inflows. The authors study whether FXI has been an effective tool to dampen the effects of these inflows on the exchange rate. To deal with endogeneity issues, they look at the response of different countries to plausibly exogenous gross inflows and explore the cross-country variation of FXI and exchange rate responses. Consistent with the portfolio balance channel, they find that larger FXI leads to less exchange rate appreciation in response to gross inflows.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Foreign Exchange, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Jonathan D. Ostry, Atish R. Ghosh, Marcos Chamon
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The workhorse open-economy macro model suggests that capital inflows are contractionary because they appreciate the currency and reduce net exports. Emerging-market policymakers, however, believe that inflows lead to credit booms and rising output, and the evidence appears to go their way. To reconcile theory and reality, the authors extend the set of assets included in the Mundell-Fleming model to include both bonds and nonbonds. At a given policy rate, inflows may decrease the rate on nonbonds, reducing the cost of financial intermediation, potentially offsetting the contractionary impact of appreciation. The authors explore the implications theoretically and empirically and find support for the key predictions in the data.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The latest semiannual fundamental equilibrium exchange rate (FEER) estimates find that the US dollar is now overvalued by about 10 percent, comparable to levels in 2008 through early 2010 and again in 2011. Unlike then, the current strong dollar does not reflect a weak renminbi kept undervalued by major exchange rate intervention by China. Instead, China's current account surplus has fallen sharply relative to GDP, and its recent intervention has been to prevent excessive depreciation rather than to prevent appreciation. Additionally, declines in the real effective exchange rates (REERs) for major emerging-market economies and resource-based advanced economies, driven by falling commodity prices in recent months, have strengthened the dollar. Recent increases in the REERs for the euro area and Japan have removed their modest undervaluation identified in the last FEERs estimates in May, and the Chinese renminbi remains consistent with its FEER. The dollar's rise by nearly 15 percent in real effective terms over the past two years could impose a drag of nearly one-half percent annually on US demand growth over the next five years. As the Federal Reserve moves to normalize US monetary policy, it may need to consider a gentler rise in interest rates than it might otherwise have pursued, both to temper possible further strengthening of the dollar in response to higher interest rates and to help offset the demand compression from falling net export
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Angel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The rules and buffers created in the last few years to enable the euro area to withstand another sudden stop of credit and market-driven panic in one or more of its member states are welcome steps, but they are widely recognized as inadequate. Ubide proposes creating a system of stability bonds in the euro area, to be issued by a new European Debt Agency, to partially finance the debt of euro area countries—up to 25 percent of GDP. These stability bonds should be initially backed by tax revenues transferred from national treasuries, but ultimately by the creation of euro area–wide tax revenues, and used to fund the operations of national governments. They could also be used for euro area–wide fiscal stimulus, to complement the fiscal policies of member states. Such bonds would strengthen the euro area economic infrastructure, creating incentives for countries to reduce their deficits but not forcing them to do so when such actions would drive their economies further into a downturn. The bonds would permit the euro area to adopt a more flexible or expansionary fiscal policy during recessions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: Joseph E. Gagnon, Tamim Bayoumi, Christian Saborowski
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: We use a cross-country panel framework to analyze the effect of net official flows (chiefly foreign exchange intervention) on current accounts. We find that net official flows have a large but plausible effect on current account balances. The estimated effects are larger with instrumental variables (42 cents to the dollar on average compared with 24 without instruments), reflecting a possible downward bias in regressions without instruments owing to an endogenous response of net official flows to private financial flows. We consistently find larger impacts of net official flows when international capital flows are restricted and smaller impacts when capital is highly mobile. A further result is that there is an important positive effect of lagged net official flows on current accounts that we believe operates through the portfolio balance channel.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, Monetary Policy
  • 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: Ángel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Inflation in the euro area is too low, just 0.9 percent year-on-year in December 2013, and inflation expectations, measured from inflation derivative contracts, have shifted lower, indicating that markets expect some small probability of deflation in 2014 and average inflation over the next five years in the 1.25 to 1.5 percent range. The European Central Bank (ECB), however, seems to be content with this outlook. Its current projections show a very slow economic recovery and inflation at just 1.3 percent in two years' time. Yet the ECB describes the risks to inflation as balanced. This puzzling assessment might be due to the fact that the ECB's definition of price stability is less precise than that employed by other central banks, and some ECB members may interpret the definition as setting a ceiling, rather than a target, for inflation at close to but below 2 percent. But if one considers the ECB's self-assessment of success since its creation—achieving 2 percent inflation on average—its current inflation forecast of 1.3 percent would fall short of achieving its price stability mandate.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon, Brian Sack
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The dramatic increase in the Federal Reserve's balance sheet since 2009 has attracted the attention of economists, pundits, and ordinary citizens. The amount of assets held by the Fed recently crossed $4 trillion and will likely continue to rise to a peak of about $4.5 trillion. This run-up in asset holdings has resulted from the Fed's large-scale asset purchase programs, which were intended to support economic growth. However, a side-effect of these asset purchases is the creation of unprecedented amounts of liquidity in the financial system.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A bipartisan majority in both Houses of Congress is insisting that the United States include a provision in future trade agreements that would bar currency manipulation. A letter from 60 senators to Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew and United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael From an on September 23, 2013, called for "strong and enforceable foreign currency manipulation disciplines" in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) while 230 members of the House of Representatives told President Barack Obama on June 6, 2013, that "it is imperative that (the TPP) address currency manipulation.to create a level playing field for American businesses and prevent more US jobs from being shipped overseas." The trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation proposed by congressional trade leaders on January 9, 2014, establishes the avoidance of currency manipulation as a "principal US negotiating objective" in its future trade agreements.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Cathleen Cimino
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Unconventional extraction methods, namely horizontal drilling and fracking, are transforming global energy production, consumption, and trade. Th e extraction of large amounts of oil and gas from shale formations has led to an unprecedented surge of domestic production in the United States. Th e US Department of Energy (DOE) is now processing more than 40 applications from domestic producers to export liquefi ed natural gas (LNG). While experts still disagree about the magnitude and duration of the energy boom, we are at the "dawn of a US oil and gas renaissance" (Houser and Mohan 2014).
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This semiannual review finds that most of the major international currencies, including the US dollar, euro, Japanese yen, UK pound sterling, and Chinese renminbi, remain close to their fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs). The new estimates find this result despite numerous significant exchange rate movements associated with increased volatility in international financial markets at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2014, and despite a major reduction in the price of oil. The principal cases of exchange rate misalignment continue to be the undervalued currencies of Singapore, Taiwan, and to a lesser extent Sweden and Switzerland, and the overvalued currencies of Turkey, New Zealand, South Africa, and to a lesser extent Australia and Brazil. Even so, the medium-term current account deficit for the United States is already at the outer limit in the FEERs methodology (3 percent of GDP), and if the combination of intensified quantitative easing in Japan and the euro area with the end to quantitative easing in the United States were to cause sizable further appreciation of the dollar, an excessive US imbalance could begin to emerge.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, Japan, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil, New Zealand
  • Author: 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: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Emerging-market growth from 2000 to 2012 was untypically high. This paper highlights the many reasons why emerging-economy growth is likely to be lower going forward. Much of the catch-up potential has already been used up. The extraordinary credit and commodity booms are over, and many large emerging economies are financially fragile. They have major governance problems, so they need to carry out major structural reforms to be able to proceed with a decent growth rate, but many policymakers are still in a state of hubris and not very inclined to opt for reforms. They are caught up in state and crony capitalism. Rather than providing free markets for all, the West might limit its endeavors to its own benefit. Economic convergence has hardly come to an end, but it has probably reached a hiatus that is likely to last many years. The emerging economies need to improve their quality of governance and other economic policies substantially to truly catch up. For a decade or so, the West could take the global economic lead once again as in the 1980s.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, India, South Africa, Brazil
  • Author: Ángel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The euro area has made significant strides in the last six months in designing a banking union. The goal has been to centralize supervisory decision making and improve the management of failing banks while protecting European taxpayers and imposing costs on creditors through so-called bail-ins to reduce moral hazard. Euro area leaders have reached some political agreements, and legislation is being prepared for eventual adoption by the European Parliament and then the various member states. This progress has been hailed as a step in the right direction, with particular praise for the euro area leaders' plan to endow the European Central Bank (ECB) with supervisory powers and create new rules for managing troubled banks.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: David J. Stockton
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Janet Yellen, who will serve as the 15th chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System after her likely confirmation in December 2013, has the experience, intelligence, and judgment to be an excellent successor to Ben S. Bernanke. But she will need to employ all those strengths, and then some, to deal with the challenges facing the nation's central bank. Her success in confronting these challenges will profoundly affect the United States and world economies. Five key challenges await her.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since the previous estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates (FEERs) in this series in May (Cline 2013), numerous exchange rates have moved substantially in response to the announcement in late May that the US Federal Reserve would likely begin to "taper" its quantitative easing program of large-scale asset purchases. The new estimates here again take as their point of departure the medium-term current account projections of the most recent World Economic Outlook (WEO) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF 2013b). However, because of a seeming inertia in the Fund's projections despite large exchange rate moves, this round of calculations pays special attention to compiling alternative estimates for economies with large changes in exchange rates.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 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: J. Bradford Jensen
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper argues that developing Asia is overlooking an opportunity for increased growth and development through trade in business services. Developing Asia would benefit from liberalizing services trade as it has benefited from liberalizing goods trade. This argument rests on these key findings: business services are important for growth, developing Asia is relatively under-endowed with business services, many business services are tradable, and developing Asia has relatively high barriers to services trade.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia
  • 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: Donghyun Park, Kwanho Shin
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The underdeveloped services sector in Asia has the potential to become a new engine of economic growth in developing Asia, which has traditionally relied on export-oriented manufacturing to power its growth. In this paper, Park and Shin empirically analyze the prospects for the services sector in Asia. Their analysis of 12 Asian countries indicates that the services sector has already contributed substantially to the region's growth in the past. Somewhat surprisingly, in light of the difficulty of achieving productivity gains in services, they also find that services labor productivity grew at a healthy pace in much of the region. Overall their analysis provides substantial cause for optimism about the role of the services sector as an engine of growth in Asia. However, they caution that some Asian countries where the services sector is currently struggling, such as Korea and Thailand, will find it more challenging to develop the sector.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Martin Kessler
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A country's rise to economic dominance tends to be accompanied by its currency becoming a reference point, with other currencies tracking it implicitly or explicitly. For a sample comprising emerging market economies, we show that in the last two years, the renminbi has increasingly become a reference currency which we define as one which exhibits a high degree of co-movement (CMC) with other currencies. In East Asia, there is already a renminbi bloc, because the renminbi has become the dominant reference currency, eclipsing the dollar, which is a historic development. In this region, 7 currencies out of 10 co-move more closely with the renminbi than with the dollar, with the average value of the CMC relative to the renminbi being 40 percent greater than that for the dollar. We find that co-movements with a reference currency, especially for the renminbi, are associated with trade integration. We draw some lessons for the prospects for the renminbi bloc to move beyond Asia based on a comparison of the renminbi's situation today and that of the Japanese yen in the early 1990s. If trade were the sole driver, a more global renminbi bloc could emerge by the mid-2030s but complementary reforms of the financial and external sector could considerably expedite the process.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Foreign Exchange, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Olivier Jeanne
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper presents a simple model of how a small open economy can undervalue its real exchange rate using its capital account policies. The paper presents several properties of such policies, and proposes a rule of thumb to assess their welfare cost. The model is applied to an analysis of Chinese capital account policies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: China
  • 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: Simon Johnson, Peter Boone
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Successive plans to restore confidence in the euro area have failed. Proposals currently on the table also seem likely to fail. The market cost of borrowing is at unsustainable levels for many banks and a significant number of governments that share the euro.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • 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: 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: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Halfway through this presidential election year, there is great uncertainty about how, when, and even whether the United States will restore fiscal sustainability. As shown by the near-default because of the impasse over the debt ceiling in July 2011, the two parties have been in sharp opposition on this issue. The Republicans have insisted that adjustment be accomplished by spending cuts rather than tax increases. Two hundred and thirty eight Republican congressmen and 41 Republican senators have signed the Grover Norquist pledge to oppose any attempt to raise marginal tax rates or reduce deductions without implementing offsetting tax reductions. In contrast, Democratic lawmakers have tended to emphasize the maintenance of social and entitlement programs and expressed a willingness to restore higher tax rates if necessary.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Governance, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Martin Vieiro
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The need for US corporate tax reform is blindingly obvious. Conservatives contend that the top corporate tax rate— whether measured in statutory or effective terms—is the second highest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Liberals argue that the US corporate tax system is riddled with complex “loopholes,” enabling many firms—whether incorporated or not—to pay less than their fair share.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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