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  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Germany appears to be slipping deeper into recession. The latest industrial figures are alarming: production fell 2.1% in October and orders were down 17.3%. If output remained at current levels to year-end, then Q4 would be down 3.2% on Q3, but the situation is deteriorating. The manufacturing PMI is below 40 and the expectations component of the Ifo is at its lowest level since the first oil crisis in the early 1970s. Key to the rapid decline has been an abrupt halt to investment, both in Germany and globally. Investment in machinery and equipment had stalled in Q3 and domestic orders of capital goods then dropped 6% in both October and November. Business investment will fall by over 4% in 2009. But exports have also seen a rapid decline, having fallen in both Q2 and Q3, while export expectations are near all-time lows. Export volumes are expected to drop next year, despite the depreciation of the euro. We have slashed our growth forecasts, with GDP now likely to fall by at least 1% in Q4. And we now do not expect the economy to emerge from recession until 2009H2 and for the economy to shrink by over 2% in 2009 overall – the biggest drop in over 60 years. Rapidly declining oil prices and an extended recession mean inflation could fall close to zero by next summer. Inflation has already slowed to 1.4% in November from a peak of 3.1% in July.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: In sharp contrast to many emergers, Brazil was still growing very robustly in Q3. But the intensification of the global crisis, and its numerous repercussions – many of which were unforeseen – since September has been so great that it has stopped the economy in its tracks. The clearest sign of this is that annual import growth, which had been growing at close to 60% mid-year, dropped to only 9.2% in November. This is an indication of the extent to which previously soaring domestic demand growth, particularly investment, has slowed. Export volumes were already weakening in Q3 and the major deterioration in the global background since then is expected to lead to exports falling by nearly 3% in 2009 as a whole. This, together with the much lower commodity prices than firms will have budgeted for and the global fall in business confidence, will cause investment to shrink in 2009 after 15% growth in 2008. Consumer spending growth is also forecast to slow significantly but should at least stay positive, helped by an expected moderation in inflation. Meanwhile, given its healthy fiscal position, the government is likely to step up its spending. Overall, GDP growth is now forecast to slow to 1.3% in 2009. Although scope for the central bank to cut interest rates remains constrained by the weak BRL and 6%+ inflation, the rapid pace of the slowdown in both Brazil and the rest of the world may lead to a substantial reduction in underlying inflation pressures. This could pave the way for interest rate cuts to start in early-2009.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Defense Information
  • Abstract: In their January 2007 Op-Ed , George Shultz, William Perry, Sam Nunn and Henry Kissinger advocated "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons." To imagine a world without nuclear weapons means that the United States and the other nuclear powers can find a way to get rid of them. In other words: "Getting to zero." But, how to reach "zero" is usually where the debate stalemates. With characteristic candor, Shultz himself admits he doesn't know how to get to zero, and doubts if his colleagues do.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Defense Information
  • Abstract: In early 2001, the Pentagon anticipated an approximate budget of $900 billion for the Navy and Marines for the period 2001 to 2009. Not counting $95 billion subsequently received for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Navy/Marine Corps "base" (nonwar) budget was increased by $174 billion to $1.074 trillion. The data used for these calculations are displayed in the table on this page.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, War, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Iraq
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Defense Information
  • Abstract: On July 1, 2008 when France assumes the European Union (EU) presidency for six months, one of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's top priorities will be the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). According to Le Monde, Sarkozy is planning a "Saint-Malo (B)" – a reference to the Anglo- French declaration signed on Dec. 4, 1998, relaunching movement towards an EU defense capacity, and leading eventually to the birth of ESDP.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, War, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Defense Information
  • Abstract: The new 2009 defense budget has just been released. The more you look into the numbers, the more things become unclear, very unclear. Most of the numbers that have been released are inaccurate or incomplete, or both. Other numbers will change as the year progresses, but we do not know if they will go up or down.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Debt, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Defense Information
  • Abstract: Until Dec. 27, the "success" of U.S. President George Bush's defiant rejection of the American public's repudiation of his Iraq and Afghanistan war policies – evidenced by the November 2006 congressional election – looked to be the most significant aspect of major armed conflicts around the world during 2007.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Iraq, America
  • Author: Karl P. Sauvant
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: With $1.8 trillion (according to UNCTAD), world foreign direct investment (FDI) flows reached an all-time high last year. All major regions benefitted from increased flows. But that was then. What is, and will be, the impact of the financial crisis and the recession on FDI flows this year and next?
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Pierre L. Siklos
  • Publication Date: 11-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Has the global financial crisis made monetary policy more powerful, or it has exposed its limitations? For the most part, the answer is the former, at least today, but the outlook may not be so rosy. When the former British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, was asked what were the greatest challenges he faced, he replied: “Events, my dear boy, events.” We have certainly witnessed in the last year a series of events that are challenging policy makers as well as their beliefs about how monetary policy ought to be conducted in future. Indeed, these same events may come to haunt the monetary authorities, and we may well see a return to a period when monetary policy was subservient to a fiscal policy that steps in, ostensibly to impose order on an apparently unruly private sector. Central banks, among other players, appear to have unwittingly put in place the conditions necessary for what we can now confidently call the perfect storm of 2008. There were several observers who predicted that a train wreck was looming on the horizon. Indeed, perhaps most stunning of all, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), created from the ashes of World War I and which quickly became the forum for central bank cooperation, a role it continues to fill to this day, had repeatedly warned about the troubles that lay ahead. “…these facts also suggest that the magnitude of the problems yet to be faced could be much greater than many now perceive” (BIS Annual Report, 2008: 9). The failure of central banks to act on these warnings may come back to haunt them in the near future.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Britain
  • Author: Stan J. Liebowitz
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: Why did the mortgage market melt down so badly? Why were there so many defaults when the economy was not particularly weak? Why were the securities based upon these mortgages not considered anywhere as risky as they actually turned out to be? This report concludes that, in an attempt to increase home ownership, particularly by minorities and the less affluent, virtually every branch of the government undertook an attack on underwriting standards starting in the early 1990s. Regulators, academic specialists, GSEs, and housing activists universally praised the decline in mortgage-under- writing standards as an “innovation” in mortgage lending. This weakening of underwriting standards succeeded in increasing home ownership and also the price of housing, helping to lead to a housing price bubble. The price bubble, along with relaxed lending standards, allowed speculators to purchase homes without putting their own money at risk. The recent rise in foreclosures is not related empirically to the distinction between subprime and prime loans since both sustained the same percent- age increase of foreclosures and at the same time. Nor is it consistent with the “nasty subprime lender” hypothesis currently considered to be the cause of the mortgage meltdown. Instead, the important factor is the distinction between adjustable-rate and fixed-rate mortgages. This evidence is consistent with speculators turning and running when housing prices stopped rising.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis, Minorities
  • Political Geography: United States