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  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: China’s policies in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and the South China Sea and its ongoing support for Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela pose major challenges for the United States, where bipartisan pressure is growing to ramp up punitive sanctions against leading Chinese firms and financial institutions. Financial sanctions freeze the US assets or bar US entry of the targeted individuals and firms and prohibit US financial firms from doing business with them. Schott explains why US officials should carefully weigh the risks to international financial markets and US economic interests before imposing punitive sanctions on major financial institutions engaged with China. The collateral costs of such sanctions would be sizable, damaging US producers, financial institutions, and US alliances. By restricting access of major banks to international payments in US dollars and barring use of messaging systems like SWIFT, tougher US financial sanctions would effectively “weaponize” the dollar; friends and foes alike would be pushed to seek alternatives to dollar transactions that, over time, would weaken the international role of the dollar. Instead of doubling down on current unilateral financial sanctions, US policy should deploy sanctions in collaboration with allies and calibrate trade and financial controls to match the expected policy achievements.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Sanctions, Finance, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Peter R. Orszag, Robert E. Rubin, Joseph E. Stiglitz
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Orszag, Rubin, and Stiglitz outline a new fiscal framework that they argue would better equip policymakers to face deep uncertainties about future interest rates (which, they say, may not remain low forever), hard-to-predict global shocks, and climate risks. They reject fiscal anchors—simple limits on deficits or debt as a share of GDP that governments adopt to check their spending and borrowing—that have historically guided fiscal policy and believe any attempts to modify such targets for the current period of low interest rates are likely to fail. Instead they propose making the budget respond more automatically to economic distress (through stronger automatic stabilizers) and to long-term fiscal pressures (e.g., embedding adjustment mechanisms in health care and pension programs), as well as creating an infrastructure program and extending debt maturities to insure against interest rate changes. Such a "streamlined dashboard" would then allow policymakers to use discretion as necessary to take any additional actions—either to provide more stimulus during short-term difficulties or to adjust the automatic features themselves—rather than adhering to fiscal targets that may no longer be appropriate when economic conditions change.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis, Economy, Fiscal Policy, Fiscal Deficit
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Julien Maire, Adnan Mazarei, Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Among the best-known sovereign wealth funds (SWFs)—government-owned or controlled investment vehicles—are those funded by hydrocarbon revenues in the member economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which comprises all the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf except Iraq, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This Policy Brief compares the GCC SWFs with each other and with other funds in terms of their transparency and accountability on the fifth SWF scoreboard, available here. Several factors, including the decline in oil prices in recent years, have slowed the growth of the GCC’s SWFs. This slower growth could further diminish their governance and transparency standards, which are already weaker than those of other SWFs. Efforts to improve their governance and accountability will be important to garner public support for these SWFs.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Markets, Governance, Regulation, Capital Flows
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Julien Maire, Adnan Mazarei, Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the last two decades, sovereign wealth funds (SWFs)—funds accumulated by a government that are invested in whole or in part abroad to benefit the country in the future—have faced increased public scrutiny over their investment patterns, financial results, and governance. This Policy Brief updates and expands a prototype scoreboard rating the transparency and accountability of SWFs, which Truman established in 2007. This fifth edition of the scoreboard shows that the average scores continued to improve for the 64 SWFs examined, but governance issues remain. New funds have emerged—many of them government holding companies or strategic investment funds—but the growth of assets under management by SWFs has slowed, in some cases partly because of withdrawals to help finance expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, raising questions about their future role.
  • Topic: Government, Markets, Sovereign Wealth Funds, Governance, Regulation, Capital
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Open Sub-navigation BackOpen Sub-navigation Publications Back Policy Briefs Working Papers Books PIIE Briefings Open Sub-navigation Commentary Back Op-Eds Testimonies Speeches and Papers Topics & Regions PIIE Charts What Is Globalization? Educational Resources Open Sub-navigation Back Senior Research Staff Research Analysts Trade Talks Open Sub-navigation Back RealTime Economic Issues Watch Trade & Investment Policy Watch China Economic Watch North Korea: Witness to Transformation 中文 Open Sub-navigation Back All Events Financial Statements Global Connections Global Economic Prospects Stavros Niarchos Foundation Lectures Trade Winds Open Sub-navigation Back News Releases Multimedia Media Center Open Sub-navigation Back Board of Directors Staff Employment Contact Annual Report Transparency Policy POLICY BRIEF VIEW SHARING OPTIONS Will industrial and agricultural subsidies ever be reformed? Gary Clyde Hufbauer (PIIE) Policy Brief21-5 March 2021 Photo Credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse One economic argument for government subsidies is that they are necessary to compensate firms and industries for benefits they provide to society at large but cannot capture in the prices they charge for goods or services. For example, subsidies to renewable energy are defended because renewable energy limits carbon emissions. When a major economy subsidizes extensively, however, its trading partners are drawn into the game, with losses all around. As the prisoner’s dilemma suggests, a better outcome would entail mutual restraint. But the goal of mutual restraint is no less difficult in international trade than it is in international arms control. Both the European Union and the US federal system try, in different ways, to regulate industrial subsidies. Hufbauer examines efforts to contain unjustifiable subsidies and proposes modest improvements, bearing in mind that as countries struggle to overcome the global economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little appetite for restoring a free market economy—one in which firms compete with minimum government assistance or regulation. Selective upgrading of the rulebook may nevertheless be possible.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Government, Reform, European Union, Regulation, Manufacturing, Industry, COVID-19, Subsidies
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Afrequently voiced complaint from the Trump administration was that US firms have faced a competitive disadvantage in exports because the US market is open and US tariffs are low but US trading partners protect their markets with high tariffs. The administration used this concern to justify raising US tariffs whenever it could. Lawrence argues that these claims should be more nuanced and account for the extensive unilateral liberalization by many countries over the past 30 years and that the grievances that motivated the Trump trade policies are increasingly misplaced. Many developing countries have reduced their tariffs unilaterally to rates that are far lower than they applied three decades ago and far less than the bound rates reflected in their World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations. Globally, on average, tariffs were not raised during the global financial crisis of 2008 and continued to decline through at least 2018. Even when shocks from imports resulted in serious injury to domestic industries, several developing countries temporarily provided safeguard protection but at levels that were lower than their WTO bound rates. This evidence of import liberalization also suggests that rising protectionism was not responsible for the slow growth in world trade that has been evident since 2011. It remains uncertain whether countries will now respond to disruptions to global supply chains since 2018 caused by Trump’s trade policies and the COVID-19 pandemic by reversing their tariff liberalization stance, but the sustained enthusiasm for new megaregional trade agreements suggests many countries will not.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, World Trade Organization, Trade Wars, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Josh Felman, Arvind Subramanian
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Anew consensus on fiscal policy has emerged in advanced economies, that stimulus is both needed and feasible. At first blush, the scope for stimulus seems even greater in emerging markets, since their primary deficits are smaller and interest-growth differentials more favorable, suggesting that they can sustain much higher levels of debt. But more careful analysis suggests that this is not the case. The authors point out that what matters for debt sustainability are not current conditions but rather the range of possible future outcomes. And prospects for interest rates and growth are more uncertain in emerging markets, while primary balances are more difficult to adjust. As a result, debt limits are in fact tighter than advanced economies. Taking India as a case study, the authors argue that what is needed in the current situation is responsible, slow fiscal adjustment. More generally, one should be careful about importing wholesale the new fiscal consensus into emerging markets.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, Monetary Policy, Fiscal Policy, Consensus
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, Lisa Hyland, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Despite many significant gains by women in the paid workforce in recent decades, the percentage of women participating in the labor force has remained lower than the percentage of male participants. Now, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the global economic downturn it precipitated, the gap in labor force participation between men and women in some economies has actually widened, with potentially damaging repercussions for women’s career prospects and pay. The pandemic has disproportionately affected sectors employing more women, such as retail stores, restaurants, and the hotel and hospitality business. An increase in family caregiving responsibilities because of school and childcare closures has also fallen on working mothers' shoulders. Both factors have pulled women out of the labor force. The authors track trends in male and female labor force participation in 43 countries and find substantial differences across countries in the way women’s participation has been affected relative to that of men. In some countries, such as Colombia, Chile, and Cyprus, the gender gap in labor force participation widened the most during the pandemic. The gender gap also widened in the United States, driving 2.5 million women from their jobs in what Vice President Kamala Harris called a “national emergency” for women. In other economies, such as Luxembourg and Lithuania, the gender gap in labor force participation, unexpectedly, shrank during the early period of the pandemic. On average, female employees have fared better in countries where women are less concentrated in the services sector, less likely to be employed as temporary workers, and where laws supported greater equality at the onset of the crisis. Greater government expenditure on childcare in the pre-COVID-19 era, however, does not appear to have insulated female workers from the damaging repercussions of the pandemic.
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Women, Services, COVID-19, Empowerment
  • Political Geography: Colombia, Chile, Cyprus, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Simeon Djankov, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: New business applications have surged in the United States since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The growth is driven largely by startups in online retail, transportation, and personal services. Many of these new entrepreneurs are self-employed and were likely laid off and forced into entrepreneurship by necessity. No official data are available yet on the number of businesses destroyed in 2020, because business data for firms that close without entering bankruptcy are lagging. But the authors calculate that firm births may have surpassed firm deaths during the pandemic. While this boom in business entry is a tribute to the adaptability and potential innovative spirit in US capitalism, one should not be overly optimistic about jobs created in this wave of startups. As many of these new startups are by people forced to strike out on their own, the number of jobs created per new firm is even smaller than it was during previous US recessions. And like online businesses started around the last recession (e.g., Uber, Airbnb, and Venmo), some of these new firms may turn out to be major contenders in their sectors, displacing workers employed by their traditional rivals.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Martin Chorzempa, Adnan Mazarei
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 shock has exacerbated the struggles of many emerging-market and developing economies (EMDEs) to repay their external debt. One of the most urgent challenges relates to debt owed to China, whose lending spree under its Belt and Road Initiative and other programs has played an outsized role in what amounts to a crisis for many countries. The scope of the problem is striking. China is owed more than $100 billion, or 57 percent of all debt owed to official creditors by the countries that need help the most. China is not a member of the Paris Club of official creditors, which coordinates, within a multilateral framework, the resolution of general sovereign illiquidity or unsustainable external debt of EMDEs. There is an urgent need to put in place more effective, long-term solutions to help durably lower the risks of prolonged debt difficulties in EMDEs. These problems could be partly addressed by creating creditor committees to coordinate debt relief with China. The Group of Twenty (G20) has taken some steps to include creditor committees in the context of the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), but only for low-income countries that qualify for the DSSI and only for official creditors. To better address debt distress, it needs to extend the approach, especially to middle-income debtor countries.
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Emerging Markets, G20
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon, Steve Kamin, John Kearns
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: COVID-19 vaccination programs are generally understood to be a prerequisite for a return to normalcy in our social and economic lives. Emergency measures to research, test, produce, and distribute vaccines have been expensive, but increases in GDP resulting from the vaccines are expected to exceed those costs by wide margins. Few studies have quantified the economic costs and benefits of different rates of COVID-19 vaccination, however. This Policy Brief focuses on developing such a quantitative assessment for the United States; the approach may be applied to other countries as well. Two illustrative scenarios support the conclusion that most plausible options to accelerate vaccinations would have economic benefits that far exceed their costs, in addition to their more important accomplishment of saving lives. This Policy Brief shows that if, for example, the United States had adopted a more aggressive policy in 2020 of unconditional contracts with vaccine producers, the up-front cost would have been higher but thousands of lives would have been saved and economic growth would have been stronger. Instead, the federal government conditioned its contracts on the vaccines’ being proven safe and effective. The projections presented in this analysis show that even if unconditional contracts led to support for vaccines that failed the phase III trial and ultimately were not used, the cost would have been worth it.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Crisis Management, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Egor Gornostay, Madi Sarsenbayev
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: An intense debate has erupted over whether the unprecedented size of the US fiscal stimulus will cause the US economy to overheat and generate high inflation. To date, the debate has focused primarily on the United States, even though many other developed economies responded to the COVID-19 crisis with unprecedented economic stimulus packages. By some measures, Japan stands out: The total amount of its three consecutive stimulus packages is estimated to exceed 50 percent of its GDP, about twice as high as the US fiscal packages (about 26 percent of US GDP). However, overheating concerns are not being actively raised for Japan. This Policy Brief finds that although Japan’s headline number looks astonishingly high, the actual size of its discretionary fiscal measures is about 16 percent of GDP, substantially smaller than the total size of the US packages. US fiscal stimulus is the largest among Group of Seven (G7) countries relative to GDP, justifying the attention economists have given it. The United Kingdom is estimated to spend more than Japan as a proportion of GDP, but even the UK stimulus program markedly lags behind that of the United States. If additional stimulus measures making their way through the legislative process in Canada are counted, Japan’s fiscal stimulus looks even smaller and would amount to being only average in size among G7 countries. Given this and the lackluster performance of its economy in the first quarter of 2021, it is unlikely that Japan will find itself in overheating territory any time soon.
  • Topic: Inflation, G7, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Cullen S. Hendrix
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s Africa strategy is rooted in three misconceptions about China’s African footprint—and a fourth about US-Africa economic relations—that are either factually incorrect or overstated in terms of the broader strategic challenges they pose to US interests: (1) Chinese engagement in Africa crowds out opportunities for trade and investment with and from the United States; (2) Chinese engagement in Africa is resource-seeking—to the detriment of US interests; (3) Chinese engagement in Africa is designed to foster debt-based coercive diplomacy; and (4) US-Africa economic linkages are all one-way and concessionary (i.e., aid-based). Hendrix finds little evidence to suggest Chinese trade and investment ties crowd out US trade and investment opportunities. China’s resource-seeking bent is evident in investment patterns, but it is more a function of Africa’s having comparatively large, undercapitalized resource endowments than China’s attempt to corner commodity markets. Chinese infrastructural development—particularly large projects associated with the Belt and Road Initiative—may result in increased African indebtedness to the Chinese, but there is little reason to think debt per se will vastly expand Chinese military capacity in the region. And finally, US-Africa economic relations are much less one-sided and concessionary (i.e., aid-based) than conventional wisdom suggests.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Infrastructure, Economy, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Coronado, Simon Potter
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US monetary system faces significant challenges from advances in technology and changes in the macroeconomy that, left unaddressed, will threaten the stability of the US economy and financial system. At the same time, low interest rates mean that central banks will not have the policy ammunition they had in the past during the next recession. The Federal Reserve needs new tools to meet its mandates of price stability and maximum employment. It also needs to preserve the safety and soundness of the financial system in a rapidly digitizing world. The authors propose a Fed-backed digital currency to solve both problems. Their proposal creates a regulated system of digital currency accounts for consumers managed by digital payment providers and fully backed by reserves at the Fed. The system would be limited in size, to preserve the functions and stability of the existing banking system. Fed backing would mean low capital requirements, which would in turn facilitate competition. Low fees and no minimum balance requirements in the new system would also help financial institutions reach the roughly 25 percent of the US population that is currently either unbanked or underbanked. Digital accounts for consumers could also provide a powerful new stabilization tool for both monetary and fiscal policies. For fiscal policy, it could facilitate new automatic stabilizers while also allowing the Fed to provide quantitative easing directly to consumers. This tool could be used in a timely manner with broad reach to all Americans.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Banks, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Coronado, Simon Potter
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the second part of their Policy Brief, Coronado and Potter discuss how the system of digital payment providers (DPPs) proposed in their first Policy Brief on this topic adds a new weapon to the monetary toolkit that could be implemented in a timely, effective, and inclusive manner. They describe how a digital currency backed by the Federal Reserve could augment automatic fiscal stabilizers and—more importantly—harness the power of “helicopter” money or quantitative easing directly to consumers in a disciplined manner. To implement QE directly to consumers, Coronado and Potter propose the creation of recession insurance bonds (RIBs)—zero-coupon bonds authorized by Congress and calibrated as a percentage of GDP sufficient to provide meaningful support in a downturn. Congress would create these contingent securities; Treasury would credit households’ digital accounts with them. The Fed could purchase them from households in a downturn after its policy rate hits zero. The Fed’s balance sheet would grow by the value of RIBs purchased; the initial matching liability would be deposits into the DPP system. The mechanism is easy for consumers to understand and could boost inflation expectations more than a debt-financed fiscal stimulus could.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Insurance
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Soyoung Han, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Summer Olympic Games are the most globalized sporting event on earth. Until now, the Summer Games had been postponed only three times—in 1916, 1940, and 1944—all because of world wars. So, the announcement that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Games would be postponed by a year is significant, implicit testimony to the destructiveness of the pandemic. The Tokyo Games were expected to continue the evolution of the Games away from the aristocratic European milieu where the modern Olympic movement began. As poverty has declined and incomes across the global economy have converged, participation in the Games has broadened and the pattern of medaling has become more pluralistic, particularly in sports with low barriers to entry in terms of facilities and equipment. This Policy Brief presents forecasts of medal counts at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games had they had gone on as scheduled, setting aside possible complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The forecasts are not just a depiction of what might have been. They establish a benchmark that can be used when the Games are eventually held, to examine the impact of the uneven incidence of the pandemic globally.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Sports, Olympics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Soyoung Han, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Despite steady progress, women remain grossly underrepresented in corporate leadership worldwide. The share of women executive officers and board members increased between 1997 and 2017, but progress was not uniform. Partly in response to gender quotas, the shares of female board members have risen rapidly in some countries while lagging elsewhere. This Policy Brief reports results derived from the financial records of about 62,000 publicly listed firms in 58 economies over 1997–2017, which together account for more than 92 percent of global GDP. The authors conclude that if, as emerging evidence in the literature indicates, gender diversity contributes to superior firm performance, then progress in this area could help boost productivity globally. Policymakers and corporate leaders should consider supportive public and private policies, including more gender-neutral tracking in education, firm protocols that encourage gender balance in hiring and promotion, enforceable antidiscrimination laws, public support for readily available and affordable high-quality childcare and maternity and paternity leave, and quotas.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Women, Economic Inequality, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Thomas Philippon, Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The measures that most governments took in response to the sudden collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdowns nearly exclusively focused on protecting vulnerable workers and firms. These measures included unemployment benefits, grants, transfers, loans at low rates, and tax deferrals. As lockdowns are lifted, governments must shift policies toward supporting the recovery and design measures that will limit the pain of adjustment while preserving productive jobs and firms. This Policy Brief explores how such measures can be designed, with particular emphasis on Europe and the United States. The authors propose a combination of unemployment benefits to help workers, wage subsidies and partially guaranteed loans to help firms, and debt restructuring procedures for small and medium-sized companies handicapped by excessive legacy debt from the crisis.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Labor Issues, Unemployment, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ana González, Euijin Jung
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: By refusing to fill vacancies in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body—the top body that hears appeals and rules on trade disputes—the Trump administration has paralyzed the key component of the dispute settlement system. No nation or group of nations has more at stake in salvaging this system than the world’s big emerging-market economies: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, and Thailand, among others. These countries have actively and successfully used the dispute settlement system to defend their commercial interests abroad and resolve inevitable trade conflicts. The authors suggest that even though the developing countries did not create the Appellate Body crisis, they may hold a key to unlock it. The Trump administration has also focused its ire on a longstanding WTO practice of giving these economies latitude to seek “special and differential treatment” in trade negotiations because of their developing-country status. The largest developing economies, which have a significant stake in preserving a two-step, rules-based mechanism for resolving trade disputes, could play a role in driving a potential bargain to save the appeals mechanism. They could unite to give up that special status in return for a US commitment to end its boycott of the nomination of Appellate Body members.
  • Topic: Development, Government, World Trade Organization, Developing World, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Brazil, North America, Mexico, Thailand, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Lawrence H. Summers
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: With interest rates persistently low or even negative in advanced countries, policymakers have barely any room to ease monetary policy when the next recession hits. Fiscal policy will have to play a major and likely dominant role in stimulating the economy, requiring policymakers to fundamentally reconsider fiscal policy. Blanchard and Summers argue for the introduction of what they call “semiautomatic” stabilizers. Unlike purely automatic stabilizers (mechanisms built into government budgets that automatically—without discretionary government action or explicit triggers—increase spending or decrease taxes when the economy slows or enters a recession), semiautomatic stabilizers are targeted tax or spending measures that are triggered if, say, the output growth rate declines or the unemployment rate increases beyond a specified threshold. The authors argue that the trigger should be changes in unemployment rather than changes in output, and the design of semiautomatic stabilizers, whether they focus on mechanisms that rely primarily on income or on intertemporal substitution effects (changing the timing of consumption), depends crucially on the design of discretionary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Thomas Philippon, Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The measures that most governments took in response to the sudden collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdowns nearly exclusively focused on protecting vulnerable workers and firms. These measures included unemployment benefits, grants, transfers, loans at low rates, and tax deferrals. As lockdowns are lifted, governments must shift policies toward supporting the recovery and design measures that will limit the pain of adjustment while preserving productive jobs and firms. This Policy Brief explores how such measures can be designed, with particular emphasis on Europe and the United States. The authors propose a combination of unemployment benefits to help workers, wage subsidies and partially guaranteed loans to help firms, and debt restructuring procedures for small and medium-sized companies handicapped by excessive legacy debt from the crisis.
  • Topic: Government, Labor Issues, European Union, Unemployment, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jérémie Cohen-Setton, Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US package of measures to help households hit by the economic shock from the COVID-19 crisis, including the Paycheck Protection Program, is almost twice as large in proportion of GDP as the French package, but it has proven less effective in curbing unemployment because of poor design and implementation. In contrast, the increase in the unemployment rate in France has been five times less than the increase in the United States. Cohen-Setton and Pisani-Ferry dive beneath the unreliable headline numbers to assess the effectiveness of government support provided to households in March–May 2020 in the two countries. They conclude that the French approach (mirrored in some other European countries) delivered a bigger bang for the buck. But the fact that the US approach has fallen short should not diminish the significance of the policy shift signaled by the enactment of measures to maintain household income.
  • Topic: Education, Financial Crisis, European Union, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jason Furman
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Unemployment insurance in the United States has played a critical role in both protecting workers who lost their jobs and supporting the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The abrupt expiration of any form of expanded unemployment insurance at the end of July 2020 would create problems both for the workers directly affected and for the economy as a whole, reducing GDP by about 2.5 percent in the second half of 2020—more than a typical year’s worth of economic growth. Furman emphasizes that expanded unemployment insurance should continue, with adjustments made as the unemployment rate changes. He also points out that the unemployment insurance system had major shortcomings even before the COVID-19 crisis and should be permanently reformed.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Unemployment, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Matthew Fisher, Adnan Mazarei
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) adapts its strategy to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, it should develop a new temporary lending instrument to assist emerging-market countries facing pandemic-related fiscal and balance of payments difficulties. A dedicated IMF Pandemic Support Facility would help meet the exceptional financing needs of emerging-market countries at a time of high uncertainty while providing more lenient repayment periods and also allow the Fund to be more flexible in its operations with minimum disruptions to its existing facilities.
  • Topic: Emerging Markets, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Patrick Honohan, Adnan Mazarei
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Lebanon has spent the last 20 years juggling an excessive level of debt and current account deficits. Apparent financial wizardry by the central bank (Banque du Liban) helped keep the exchange rate fixed, inflation low, and debt service flowing until 2020. But these efforts merely postponed the inevitable, at a high cost. Repeated shocks to the Lebanese economy and governance weaknesses pushed the financial contraption over the cliff before the COVID-19 outbreak. The explosion that ripped through the Port of Beirut in early August added to the disarray. The Lebanese pound has crashed, the government has defaulted on some of its debt, and restrictions have been placed on deposit withdrawals and access to foreign exchange. Lebanon faces an uncertain future of uneven suffering. It will need foreign assistance, but such assistance will not extend to covering the losses of the banking system. How the losses are distributed will set the scene for Lebanon’s future development. Policymakers should aim for fairness, predictability, and stability without overindebtedness.
  • Topic: Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, Central Bank, Banking
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic and an unprecedented global recession have triggered fears of a debt crisis requiring massive intervention by international financial institutions as well as debt restructuring by private and official creditors. Truman draws two lessons for the current crisis, based on his ring-side experience during the debt crises of the 1980s. First, the initiation of debt relief will require a broad consensus among four groups: the borrowing countries, their foreign creditors, the authorities of the countries in which those creditors are located, and international institutions. Reaching consensus takes time. Second, implementation of the consensus framework will be case by case, because of differences in the political and economic circumstances of each country, which will militate against simple replication for different countries and against implementation all at the same time. Any framework will not be self-implementing. While the call for rapid action is understandable, applying a one-size-fits-all approach will not be possible.
  • Topic: Debt, Emerging Markets, History, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, World Bank, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Julien Maire
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In March 2020, most countries implemented stringent measures—closing schools and workplaces, limiting public gatherings, and curbing travel—to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. Using the Oxford Stringency Index and smartphone data from Google, Maire examines the effects of the stringent measures implemented in March–May 2020 on individual mobility. The results suggest that stringent measures were more effective at reducing individual mobility in higher-income countries than in lower-income countries and that the differences reflect factors such as extreme poverty, perception of risk, the share of vulnerable employment, number of hospital beds, age distribution of the population, and population density. Understanding how the effects of lockdown measures on individual mobility differed across countries is important to determine the effectiveness of such measures on health outcomes and their impact on economic activity.
  • Topic: Health, Science and Technology, Governance, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: President Donald Trump launched a trade war to eliminate the longstanding US trade deficit. But the trade deficit has only grown on his watch because tariffs were the wrong policy choice. Trade deficits are not always a bad thing, but a wealthy country like the United States should not run a perpetual deficit. Decades of US trade deficits have piled up debt that makes future generations of Americans less well off, as they must pay interest and dividends to foreigners. Cheap imports and the decline in exports have also contributed to the loss of a significant number of US manufacturing jobs. The main cause of the deficit is a secular overvaluation of the dollar, driven by excessive financial flows into dollar assets from foreign official and private investors. Although Trump’s policies have failed, achieving balanced trade is not a hopeless quest. President-elect Joseph Biden should direct his Treasury secretary to pursue a more sensible dollar policy that can tame the deficit without violating any international norms or rules.
  • Topic: Economic Growth, Currency, Trade Deficit
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Patrick Honohan
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Good international economic policy requires good comparative data on national economic performance. In May 2020, the World Bank published the latest comprehensive update of purchasing power parities (PPPs), as part of the International Comparison Program. Produced for 176 countries, these PPPs are used to convert data (especially GDP and other quantities based on national income accounts) from national currencies to a common basis in a way that is meaningful for economic analysis. PPP-adjusted data are essential because the distortions caused by sharp exchange rate movements are significant, especially for times of macroeconomic turbulence. The newly released PPP data contain fewer surprises than those published in previous updates and are an invaluable tool, but Honohan explains why PPPs should be used with caution and an understanding of their limitations. Apart from removing distortions caused by market exchange rate movements, PPPs remove the impact of other factors affecting relative prices, especially productivity differences, which Honohan argues should not be removed if one wishes to compare the overall economic size or strength of a country or region. Adjusting for productivity, he finds that the United States retains its position as the world’s largest economy for the time being, and the European Union (even without the United Kingdom) is just ahead of China.
  • Topic: World Bank, Economic Growth, Currency, Data, Productivity
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Nicholas R. Lardy, Tianlei Huang
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Despite predictions by some observers that the United States and China are headed for a “decoupling,” China’s integration into global financial markets is accelerating. Regulatory reform has opened China’s financial market to many US and other foreign financial institutions. Foreign ownership of onshore Chinese stocks and bonds is growing rapidly and is likely to continue to expand in 2021. And inbound foreign direct investment (FDI) is on track to hit a new record in 2020. This integration is very asymmetric, however. China retains relatively tight control over both outbound direct investment and outflows of portfolio capital. US efforts to roll back the trend of deepening financial integration by threatening to delist Chinese companies traded on US markets and prohibiting any US investment in 35 Chinese companies that the Department of Defense alleges to be linked to the Chinese military appear to be largely symbolic.
  • Topic: Financial Markets, Investment, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott, Euijin Jung
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: US refusal to allow the appointment of new judges (or members) to the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body—a key component of its renowned dispute settlement system—has pushed the organization into an existential crisis. The Appellate Body no longer has the requisite number of members to hear new cases on appeal. The terms of two of the three remaining members have expired, leaving the WTO without an appeal function. US officials charge that certain Appellate Body decisions on WTO dispute panel rulings have expanded WTO obligations and constrained WTO rights—what trade lawyers call “judicial overreach”—and so they have blocked the appointment of new Appellate Body members until other WTO countries address US complaints. Schott and Jung analyze the WTO cases brought against the United States and find that the problem of judicial overreach seems to surface primarily in a subset of US losses in antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) cases that target specific methods of calculating dumping margins. They warn that disabling the whole appellate system is a disproportionate response to the specific problem. It will weaken enforcement of WTO obligations and undermine prospects for negotiations to update the WTO rulebook, thus corroding the rules-based trading system, one that has been modeled on US law and practice. A better approach would be to exempt AD/CVD cases from appellate review (while still subjecting them to dispute panel rulings). This targeted change in the WTO Appellate Body process, coupled with procedural reforms already advanced in proposals that have been widely supported by WTO members, could mitigate US concerns and allow the Appellate Body to be repopulated.
  • Topic: Government, World Trade Organization, Law, Judiciary, Trade
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gonzalo Huertas
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The unrelenting surge in prices in Venezuela has crippled the economy and deepened the humanitarian crisis there. Huertas lays out a feasible stabilization plan to stop Venezuela’s hyperinflation. The extent of the humanitarian crisis and shortage of basic goods and services suggests that, on the fiscal side, a stabilization plan should focus primarily on reallocating rather than reducing spending. The authorities should avoid austerity policies and instead spend on taking care of the Venezuelan people. Stabilizing the price level while providing relief to the country’s population would require significant financial assistance from the rest of the world, so it is critical that Venezuela secure strong financial support from the international community. Successful stabilization requires a credible plan to transition to a responsible fiscal policy, the financial resources to carry it out, and the political will to sustain it.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Finance, Inflation, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: South America, Venezuela
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Zhiyaou (Lucy) Lu
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In early 2019, several important members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) submitted noteworthy proposals in a realm of international commerce that has evolved faster than rules to govern it: e-commerce or digital trade. While countries agree on less controversial subjects like banning unsolicited commercial electronic messages, the three leading WTO members—China, the European Union, and the United States—have big differences in their approaches to more challenging issues: data flows, data localization, privacy invasions by data collectors, transfer of source code, imposition of customs duties and internet taxes, and internet censorship. Their differing viewpoints lead Hufbauer and Lu to conclude that the prospect of reaching a high-level WTO e-commerce agreement is not promising. To reach an agreement, either most of the contentious issues must be dropped or the number of participating countries must be sharply reduced. A WTO accord, even of low ambition, would have value if only to establish basic digital norms on matters such as banning unsolicited commercial messages and protecting online consumers from fraudulent practices. A more ambitious accord covering the controversial issues should be negotiated in bilateral and/or plurilateral/regional pacts rather than in the WTO.
  • Topic: Economics, World Trade Organization, Finance, Privacy, Data
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Monica de Bolle
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest in the summer of 2019 represent a government policy failure over many years, especially recently, as Brazilian public agencies that are supposed to curb man-made fires have been deliberately weakened. In keeping with his far-right nationalist campaign promises, President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has intentionally backed away from efforts to combat climate change and preserve the environment, which has emboldened farmers, loggers, and other players to engage in predatory activities in the rainforest. De Bolle calculates that if the current rate of deforestation is maintained over the next few years, the Amazon would be dangerously close to the estimated “tipping point” as soon as 2021, beyond which the rainforest can no longer generate enough rain to sustain itself. The tragic fires have demonstrated that protecting the Amazon rainforest is a global cause. The international attention provides an opportunity for the governments of Brazil and the United States to stop denying climate change and cooperate on strategies to preserve the rainforest and develop ways to sustainably use its natural resources. The international community should revive and expand the Amazon Fund to invest in ways to reduce deforestation through the possible use of payments for environmental services. Brazil should adopt and enforce regulations on land use in the Amazon region while cracking down on illegal uses, such as logging and mining, and should restore conditional rural credit policies to fight deforestation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Jair Bolsonaro
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Author: David Reifschneider, David Wilcox
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve faces two important monetary policy challenges: First, since the Great Recession it has struggled to move inflation convincingly up to the 2 percent target level. Second, during the next recession it will struggle to deliver enough support to the economy unless the recession is unusually mild. As a result, the search is on for alternative policy frameworks that might allow the Fed to achieve its monetary policy objectives more effectively. Among the alternatives is average inflation targeting (AIT). The basic idea is simple: Instead of aiming to return inflation over the medium term to the target rate of 2 percent, the Fed would aim to return the average of inflation over some period to the target rate. The crucial innovation of AIT is that when inflation has been running below the target rate, it would have the Fed aim for above-target inflation in the future, in order to bring average inflation up toward the target. Simulations of the Fed’s workhorse econometric model of the US economy (the FRB/US model) suggest that AIT would be a weak addition to the Fed’s policy toolkit for dealing with recessions and persistently low inflation. In addition, simple versions of AIT would sometimes compel the Fed to run an undesirably restrictive monetary policy. AIT is thus not a very appealing alternative to the current framework.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Sherman Robinson, Karen Thierfelder
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The terms of the US-China trade war change often, but the tariff escalations have inflicted documented economic damage on both countries. Expanding the conflict will only increase the damage and reverberate across the world economy. This Policy Brief uses a computable general equilibrium model of the global economy to analyze three scenarios that could unfold in coming months. The first scenario is the current situation (as of June 2019). Two additional scenarios assume implementation of proposed US tariffs and Chinese responses. The models project the situation after the two countries and the rest of the world adjust across a time horizon of three to five years. For the United States, higher tariffs raise prices and reduce demand for consumers and producers. For China, the tariffs raise the prices of consumer goods but have less direct impact on producers, because the Chinese have exempted some intermediate inputs. US exports and imports decline under all three scenarios. But China can successfully divert its exports away from the United States and escape maximum economic damage.
  • Topic: Economics, Global Markets, Finance, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon, Christopher G. Collins
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Central banks in the three largest advanced economies (the United States, Japan, and the eurozone) have only limited ammunition to fight a recession based on the tools used to date. The Federal Reserve has the most amount of tried and tested ammunition in this group. If a recession were to hit the US economy now, the Fed would be able to deliver monetary stimulus equivalent to a cut in the short-term policy interest rate of about 5 percentage points, which is sufficient to fight a mild but not severe recession. The European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan have little ability to ease policy with tools used to date, about the equivalent of a 1 percentage point cut in the policy rate. But they can engage in more exotic forms of monetary policy, such as large-scale purchases of equity and real estate and direct transfers to households, which the Fed cannot do. These tools, however, are largely untested and face political resistance. An important implication of this analysis is that raising expected inflation before a recession hits has a much larger benefit than has been widely recognized. A higher long-run inflation rate gives central banks more room to not only cut their policy rates but also use forward guidance and quantitative easing to reduce longer-term rates.
  • Topic: Global Recession, Economy, Central Bank
  • Political Geography: Japan, Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Cullen S. Hendrix, Sooyeon Kang
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The nature and magnitude of geopolitical risk is changing more rapidly than the ability to anticipate it, with increasingly severe economic consequences. This Policy Brief discusses the economic costs and risks associated with episodes of political instability, arguing that firms, government agencies, and international institutions must update their forecasting and risk assessment efforts to take global factors into account. Since the global financial crisis, political instability has shifted from emerging-market countries in the developing world to larger, more globally impactful econo¬mies. Acknowledging this changing risk profile—and developing better tools to predict major episodes of instability—will allow both policymakers and firms to plan with greater confidence.
  • Topic: Economics, Geopolitics, Economy, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For more than three decades the goal of becoming “the factory of the world” has been at the core of China’s development strategy. This strategy, in combination with high rates of domestic investment and low rates of consumption, made Chinese production the most manufacturing intensive in the world. But as its wages have risen, China’s competitiveness in the most labor-intensive manufacturing industries has eroded. Its ability to assemble products remains a major source of its exports, but it has also tried to shift toward more sophisticated value-added production domestically. Chinese domestic spending has shifted away from investment toward more consumption as citizens’ incomes have grown. Like Americans, Chinese people are also spending more on services than on manufactured goods. All these changes are fundamentally altering the structure of China’s production, reducing the role of manufacturing, and increasing the skill levels of workers in manufacturing. This Policy Brief reviews the challenges posed by these developments for China’s long-term goal of achieving more inclusive growth. It presents evidence that commonly held perceptions that Chinese manufacturing employment growth is robust are wrong. In fact, such growth has peaked and China is now following the pattern of structural change that is typical of a more mature emerging economy, in which the share of employment in manufacturing declines as workers are increasingly employed in services.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Economic Growth, Manufacturing
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For years China has been one of the world’s most rapidly growing sources of outward foreign direct investment. Since peaking in 2016, however, Chinese outward investments, primarily to the United States but also the European Union, have declined dramatically, especially in response to changes in China’s domestic rules on capital outflows and in the face of rising nationalism in the United States. Concerns about growing Chinese influence in other economies, the ascendant role of an authoritarian government in Beijing, and the possible security implications of Chinese dominance in the high-technology sector have put Chinese outward investments under intense international scrutiny. This Policy Brief analyzes the most recent trends in Chinese investments in the United States and the European Union and reviews recent political and regulatory changes both have adopted toward Chinese inward investments. It also explores the emerging transatlantic difference in the regulatory response to the Chinese information technology firm Huawei. Concerned about national security and as part of the ongoing broader trade friction with China, the United States has cracked down far harder on the company than the European Union.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, National Security, Foreign Direct Investment, Investment
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Lee G. Branstetter, Britta Glennon, J. Bradford Jensen
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For decades, US multinational corporations (MNCs) conducted nearly all their research and development (R&D) within the United States. Their focus on R&D at home helped establish the United States as the unrivaled leader of innovation and technology advances in the world economy. Since the late 1990s, however, the amount of R&D conducted overseas by US MNCs has grown nearly fourfold and its geographic distribution has expanded from a few advanced industrial countries to many parts of the developing world, creating an innovation system that spans the globe. Like many aspects of globalization, including the offshoring of manufacturing over recent decades, the globalization of R&D raises concerns about US competitiveness and loss of technological leadership. At the same time, the spreading geographic location of innovation presents opportunities for US-based companies if the right policies are adopted to seize them. The research presented in this Policy Brief demonstrates that US innovators continue to remain involved in important ways in US MNCs' global R&D activities, and fears of a hollowing out of US capacity to innovate—based probably on previous fears about the hollowing out of US-based manufacturing—may be overstated. Indeed, the large and growing pool of highly educated scientists and engineers in the developing world could increase the rate of global productivity growth, to the advantage of US-based companies and the world in general. The authors conclude that a productive way to capitalize on the globalization of MNC R&D is not to oppose it but to combine emerging-market talent with MNC experience so that innovation can flourish to improve global living standards and fuel economic progress.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology, Multinational Corporations, Risk, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Adnan Mazarei
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Suffering under Western sanctions and security challenges, Iran faces problems as well from its fragile banking system, which has been languishing for decades. Liquidity and solvency weaknesses pose a growing risk to the country’s financial stability. The sanctions reimposed by the United States in 2018 have heightened these vulnerabilities, but the problems also result from the heavy-handed role of the state, corruption, and the Central Bank of Iran’s failure to regulate and supervise the system. Iran’s ability to avoid a run on its banks is aided by their reliance on liquidity assistance, deposit insurance, and regulatory forbearance from the central bank. Depositors are forced to be patient because they have limited options to invest elsewhere. Iran has thus avoided a full-blown banking crisis. But the situation is not sustainable. Banks remain susceptible to external shocks, which could come from a complete halt to oil exports or war.
  • Topic: Security, Financial Crisis, Sanctions, Banks, Financial Institutions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Takashi Tashiro
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For many years, the Japanese government has promised an eventual return to primary budget surpluses, but it has not delivered on these promises. Its latest goal is to return to primary balance by 2025. Blanchard and Tashiro, however, argue that, in the current economic environment in Japan, primary deficits may be needed for a long time, because they may be the best tool to sustain demand and output, alleviate the burden on monetary policy, and increase future output. What primary deficits are used for, however, is equally important, and the Japanese government should put them to better use. The authors recommend that, given Japan’s aging population, the government should spend on measures aimed at increasing fertility—and by implication population and output growth—which are likely to more than pay for themselves.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Budget, Fiscal Policy, Deficit
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Adnan Mazarei
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Faced with fluctuating oil prices and other uncertainties, the oil-rich countries of the Middle East and North Africa have made efforts—some for decades—to diversify their exports, in order to reduce their dependence on oil revenue and generate much-needed jobs. The results of these diversification efforts have been disappointing overall, raising concerns about the region's stability and potential risk to the global economy. Transparent public debates and dialogue are needed, especially with the private sector, about policies that have worked and those that have not, the costs and benefits of various diversification strategies, and improving governance of public resources being used for diversification.
  • Topic: Oil, Natural Resources, Gas, Finance, Diversification, Transparency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The International Monetary Fund (IMF)—a quota-based institution—faces a test of its survival as the linchpin of the global financial safety net. Its roughly $1.4 trillion in total financial resources is scheduled to begin to shrink in 2020. In 2015, IMF members committed to strengthening IMF financial resources in the 15th General Review of Quotas, which will end in December 2019. Over the past 25 years, the United States has led the way for a gradual redistribution of IMF quota shares toward faster-growing emerging-market and developing countries. Any significant redistribution of quota shares requires an increase in total quotas. Because of its share of votes in the IMF, the United States must agree to any change in quotas. The Trump administration, however, has signaled that it favors no such change. If the United States does not reverse its stance, IMF members will lose an opportunity to strengthen the institution at a time of global financial uncertainty. Truman says the United States could still change its position and recommends how other member countries should press it to do so.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Politics, International Monetary Fund, Global Political Economy, Donald Trump, Economic Cooperation
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Claudia Biancotti, Paolo Ciocca
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past few years, it has become apparent that a small number of technology companies have assembled detailed datasets on the characteristics, preferences, and behavior of billions of individuals. This concentration of data is at the root of a worrying power imbalance between dominant internet firms and the rest of society, reflecting negatively on collective security, consumer rights, and competition. Introducing data sharing mandates, or requirements for market leaders to share user data with other firms and academia, would have a positive effect on competition. As data are a key input for artificial intelligence (AI), more widely available information would help spread the benefits of AI through the economy. On the other hand, data sharing could worsen existing risks to consumer privacy and collective security. Policymakers intending to implement a data sharing mandate should carefully evaluate this tradeoff.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Science and Technology, Privacy, Internet, Monopoly, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeromin Zettelmeyer
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: ermany’s new National Industrial Strategy 2030, unveiled by Economy Minister Peter Altmaier in February 2019, advocates an aggressive industrial policy. Although it stays clear of the virulent economic nationalism of the 1930s and the protectionism of President Donald Trump, its tone and much of its content are unmistakably nationalist. Zettelmeyer concludes that three of Altmaier’s five proposals—attempting to further raise the German share of manufacturing, restricting non-EU imports of intermediate goods, and promoting national champions in Germany and the European Union—are bad policies. The two remaining ideas—preventing some foreign takeovers and ramping up state support for certain technologies—are somewhat easier to justify, based on either market failures or the risk of technological dependence on foreign companies susceptible to political interference. But even in these areas, the specific policies proposed may well do more harm than good.
  • Topic: Economics, Nationalism, European Union, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Cullen S. Hendrix, Sooyeon Kang
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The nature and magnitude of geopolitical risk is changing more rapidly than the ability to anticipate it, with increasingly severe economic consequences. This Policy Brief discusses the economic costs and risks associated with episodes of political instability, arguing that firms, government agencies, and international institutions must update their forecasting and risk assessment efforts to take global factors into account. Since the global financial crisis, political instability has shifted from emerging-market countries in the developing world to larger, more globally impactful econo¬mies. Acknowledging this changing risk profile—and developing better tools to predict major episodes of instability—will allow both policymakers and firms to plan with greater confidence.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Geopolitics, Political stability, Risk
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For more than three decades the goal of becoming “the factory of the world” has been at the core of China’s development strategy. This strategy, in combination with high rates of domestic investment and low rates of consumption, made Chinese production the most manufacturing intensive in the world. But as its wages have risen, China’s competitiveness in the most labor-intensive manufacturing industries has eroded. Its ability to assemble products remains a major source of its exports, but it has also tried to shift toward more sophisticated value-added production domestically. Chinese domestic spending has shifted away from investment toward more consumption as citizens’ incomes have grown. Like Americans, Chinese people are also spending more on services than on manufactured goods. All these changes are fundamentally altering the structure of China’s production, reducing the role of manufacturing, and increasing the skill levels of workers in manufacturing. This Policy Brief reviews the challenges posed by these developments for China’s long-term goal of achieving more inclusive growth. It presents evidence that commonly held perceptions that Chinese manufacturing employment growth is robust are wrong. In fact, such growth has peaked and China is now following the pattern of structural change that is typical of a more mature emerging economy, in which the share of employment in manufacturing declines as workers are increasingly employed in services.
  • Topic: Economic Growth, Manufacturing, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Lee G. Branstetter, Britta Glennon, J. Bradford Jensen
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For decades, US multinational corporations (MNCs) conducted nearly all their research and development (R&D) within the United States. Their focus on R&D at home helped establish the United States as the unrivaled leader of innovation and technology advances in the world economy. Since the late 1990s, however, the amount of R&D conducted overseas by US MNCs has grown nearly fourfold and its geographic distribution has expanded from a few advanced industrial countries to many parts of the developing world, creating an innovation system that spans the globe. Like many aspects of globalization, including the offshoring of manufacturing over recent decades, the globalization of R&D raises concerns about US competitiveness and loss of technological leadership. At the same time, the spreading geographic location of innovation presents opportunities for US-based companies if the right policies are adopted to seize them. The research presented in this Policy Brief demonstrates that US innovators continue to remain involved in important ways in US MNCs' global R&D activities, and fears of a hollowing out of US capacity to innovate—based probably on previous fears about the hollowing out of US-based manufacturing—may be overstated. Indeed, the large and growing pool of highly educated scientists and engineers in the developing world could increase the rate of global productivity growth, to the advantage of US-based companies and the world in general. The authors conclude that a productive way to capitalize on the globalization of MNC R&D is not to oppose it but to combine emerging-market talent with MNC experience so that innovation can flourish to improve global living standards and fuel economic progress.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Multinational Corporations, Risk, Innovation
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mary Lovely
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: he Trump administration’s Section 301 tariffs are an ineffective response to US concerns about China’s high-technology aspirations. They are a prime example of 20th century tools aimed at the knowledge-embodying trade flows of the 21st century. Instead, these tariffs disadvantage American producers and harm US allies operating in East Asia while missing the mark on penalizing Chinese domestic firms that may have misappropriated US and other advanced economies’ technologies.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Tetyana Payosova, Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Euijin Jung
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The mechanics of US withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been widely explored, with an emerging consensus among legal experts that President Donald Trump does have the authority to pull out of the accord. This Policy Brief examines the legal procedures in Canada and Mexico in the event that either country decides to withdraw or terminate NAFTA. Relative to the United States, Canada and Mexico have clearer legal procedures. To terminate NAFTA in Canada, the Department of International Trade would send the notice to withdrawal upon approval by the Cabinet and the Order in Council. In Mexico, the president can notify withdrawal from NAFTA under Article 2205, following Senate approval. To raise tariffs to the MFN level, Canada requires amendment of federal statutes that requires passage in both chambers of the Parliament through regular procedures. To raise its tariffs, Mexico requires a bill to amend federal legislation that has the approval of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada, Mexico
  • Author: Jeromin Zettelmeyer et al
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Greece’s debt currently stands at close to €330 billion, over 180 percent of GDP, with almost 70 percent owed to European official creditors. The fact that Greece’s public debts must be restructured is by now widely accepted. What remains controversial, however, is the extent of debt relief needed to make Greece’s debt sustainable.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Greece
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Once again, the United States and other members of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been asked to address the adequacy of IMF financial resources and the distribution of voting power in the Fund. Observers are justified in thinking that they just witnessed this drama. IMF members completed an agreement on the size of IMF quota resources and governance—or voting power—reform in November 2010. As part of that agreement on the 14th general review of IMF quotas, members committed to bring forward the completion of the 15th general review of quotas to January 2014. The target was not met because the United States delayed approving the 2010 agreement until December 2015, which was necessary for the implementation of the 14th review. As a result, in December 2016, the governors of the IMF freshly resolved to complete the 15th review by the spring of 2019 or the fall of 2019 at the latest.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Euijin Jung, (Lucy) Lu Zhiyao
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The fraught negotiations over revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have focused largely on US demands to limit imports from Canada and Mexico. But one little discussed step could help the United States increase exports to Canada and Mexico in a way the Trump administration ought to support. US express shipments to its NAFTA partners are far below potential, partly due to what are called low de minimis thresholds in those countries. The de minimis threshold refers to the value of imported goods below which no duty or tax is collected, and the customs declaration is very simple.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joseph Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Many countries have squandered their natural resource endowments. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank routinely hector developing economies to save and invest more of their revenues from resources such as oil and gold for the benefit of future generations after the resources run out. But, can a country save too much of its resource revenues? Gagnon argues that since the first capital transfers to its Government Pension Fund Global in 1996, Norway has saved more than was needed to raise consumption of all generations equally. Norway’s excess saving imposes a cost on the rest of the world during periods of weak aggregate demand and ultralow interest rates. Gagnon proposes a counterfactual saving policy that would have increased Norway’s household consumption by nearly 9 percent on average from 1996 through 2017. The proposed policy would have reduced Norway’s current account surplus by more than one-third, or $13 billion per year on average, from 1996 through 2017. Even now, Norway could raise current consumption by more than US$2,000 per capita, while keeping the contribution of oil wealth to future generations equally large.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Norway
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: President Trump has asserted that trade balances are a key measure of a nation’s commercial success and that large US trade deficits prove that past trade approaches have been flawed. But trade deficits are not in fact a good measure of how well a country is doing with respect to its trade policies. Many of the assumptions on which the administration’s beliefs rest are not supported by the evidence. This Policy Brief argues that trade deficits are not necessarily bad, do not necessarily cost jobs or reduce growth, and are not a measure of whether foreign trade policies or agreements with other countries are fair or unfair. Efforts to use trade policy and agreements to reduce either bilateral or overall trade deficits are also unlikely to produce the effects the administration claims they will and instead lead to friction with US trading partners, harming the people the policies claim to help
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tetyana Payosova, Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Jeffrey Schott
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since its inception in 1995, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism has resolved an impressive number of trade disputes and has earned a reputation as the “crown jewel” of the global trading system. Today, however, the mechanism is in crisis. WTO members have failed to negotiate updates to the rulebook, including rules on dispute settlement itself. As a result, the WTO Appellate Body increasingly is asked to render decisions on ambiguous or incomplete WTO rules. Its interpretations of such provisions have provoked charges by the United States and others that binding Appellate Body rulings, which establish precedents for future cases, effectively circumvent the prerogative of member countries to revise the WTO rulebook and thus undercut the national sovereignty of WTO members. For the past few years, US officials have blocked appointments of Appellate Body members to force WTO members to negotiate new rules that address US concerns and limit the scope for judicial overreach. If this problem is not resolved, the Appellate Body soon will not have enough members to review cases and the vaunted WTO dispute settlement system will grind to a halt.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Christopher G. Collins, Mohammad R Jahan-Parvar, Thomas Pellet
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Immediately following the US presidential election in November 2016, many economists were concerned that increased uncertainty over economic policy would lead to a decline in the US stock market. From the time of the election to the end of 2017, however, the stock market, as measured by the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 index, increased by about 25 percent. Price swings since then have led investors and economists to increasingly ask: Was the stock market rise justified by an increase in actual and expected future dividends, or did it reflect unhealthy price developments, which may reverse in the future?
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Markets
  • Author: William R Cline
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The centerpiece of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 is the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated the net revenue loss from the tax overhaul at $1 trillion over the next decade. The underlying premise of the legislation is that lower corporate taxes will spur growth, with trickle-down wage benefits that spread the resulting economic gains.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Chorzempa
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Formidable barriers stand between the modern financial system and the hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens still using costly informal credit. For many, the financial data that could be used to give them a credit score that would lead to a fair priced loan exist but are not being used. This analysis finds that the most difficult barriers cutting these data off from their potential use for greater financial inclusion are the legal and political restrictions on data sharing and use, economic and competitive concerns from data holders, and the technical difficulty of integrating disparate systems. Policies that encourage coordination between public authorities and private actors in finance and technology can go a long way towards making these data available and driving access to credit in China. This shift would not only help borrowers: It would also encourage the needed economic rebalancing towards consumption, increase competition in the financial sector, raise efficiency through better credit allocation, and contribute to sustainable economic growth and social welfare.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Few challenges facing the European Union—immigration pressures, the need to decrease security dependence on an increasingly erratic United States, and the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (Brexit)—are compelling EU leaders to consider overhauling the revenue side of the European Union’s existing budget. To deal with these challenges in the future, the European Union will need resources—at a time when Europeans are increasingly skeptical about the effectiveness of budget-making in Brussels. Longstanding US budgetary procedures of trust fund accounting and earmarking government revenue towards specific priorities can provide a template for European policymakers. Shifting the EU budget towards more earmarked resources would reduce distrust among taxpayers by limiting Brussels’ spending discretion while focusing expenditures on specific challenges facing the European project.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe