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  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Runs by prime-brokerage clients and derivatives counterparties were a central cause of the World Financial Crisis. Worried about potential losses, many hedge funds withdrew their assets from brokerage accounts at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in the weeks before these banks failed. Although Morgan Stanley did not fail, it also suffered from the withdrawal of prime brokerage assets. These runs, together with runs by short-term creditors, precipitated Bear Stearns' and Lehman's demise. Even if these firms would have failed anyway, the runs made their failures much more sudden and chaotic, and made coherent policy responses much harder.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Steven Dunaway
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The current economic and financial crisis has brought about a significant change in global economic governance as the international forum for discussions on the crisis has shifted from the small group of advanced countries in the Group of Seven (G7) to the Group of Twenty (G20), a broader group including important emerging market countries. The G20 summit held in Washington, DC, on November 15, 2008, dealt with the immediate concerns fostered by the crisis and focused on both macroeconomic policy actions needed to support global growth and ideas for implementing financial market reforms. Follow-up G20 summits are expected, starting with a gathering in the United Kingdom in April 2009. However, for these discussions to have a substantial impact, the agenda will have to be broadened beyond economic stimulus and financial market regulation. If not, global policymakers will miss a critical chance to make the world economy and financial markets more stable, as then U.S. treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. pointed out: If we only address particular regulatory issues—as critical as they are—without addressing the global imbalances that fueled recent excesses, we will have missed an opportunity to dramatically improve the foundation for global markets and economic vitality going forward. The pressure from global imbalances will simply build up again until it finds another outlet.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Information about prices and quantities of assets lies at the heart of well-functioning capital markets. In the current financial crisis, it has become clear that many important actors-both firms and regulatory agencies-have not had sufficient information. Distributed by the Center for Geoeconomic Studies, this Working Paper proposes a new regulatory regime for gathering and disseminating financial market information. The authors argue that government regulators need a new infrastructure to collect and analyze adequate information from large (systemically important) financial institutions. This new information framework would bolster the government's ability to foresee, contain, and, ideally, prevent disruptions to the overall financial services industry.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Laurie A. Garrett
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Though the United States of America faces its toughest budgetary and economic challenges since the Great Depression, it cannot afford to eliminate, or even reduce, its foreign assistance spending. For clear reasons of political influence, national security, global stability, and humanitarian concern the United States must, at a minimum, stay the course in its commitments to global health and development, as well as basic humanitarian relief. The Bush administration sought not only to increase some aspects of foreign assistance, targeting key countries (Iraq and Afghanistan) and specific health targets, such as the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the President's Malaria Initiative, but also executed an array of programmatic and structural changes in U.S. aid efforts. By 2008, it was obvious to most participants and observers that too many agencies were engaged in foreign assistance, and that programs lacked coherence and strategy. Well before the financial crisis of fall 20 08, there was a strong bipartisan call for foreign assistance reform, allowing greater efficiency and credibility to U.S. efforts, enhancing engagement in multilateral institutions and programs, and improving institutional relations between U.S. agencies and their partners, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), recipient governments, corporate and business sector stakeholders, faith-based organizations (FBOs), academic-based implementers and researchers, foundations and private donors, United Nations (UN) agencies, and other donor nations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Debt, Development, Economics, Health, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Brad W. Setser, Arpana Pandey
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: China reported $1.95 trillion in foreign exchange reserves at the end of 2008. This is by far the largest stockpile of foreign exchange in the world: China holds roughly two times more reserves than Japan, and four times more than either Russia or Saudi Arabia. Moreover, China's true foreign port- folio exceeds its disclosed foreign exchange reserves. At the end of December, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE)—part of the People's Bank of China (PBoC) managed close to $2.1 trillion: $1.95 trillion in formal reserves and between $108 and $158 billion in “other foreign assets.” China's state banks and the China Investment Corporation (CIC), China's sovereign wealth fund, together manage another $250 billion or so. This puts China's total holdings of foreign assets at over $2.3 trillion. That is over 50 percent of China's gross domestic product (GDP), or roughly $2,000 per Chinese inhabitant.
  • Topic: International Relations, Debt, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Israel, Asia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Robert McMahon
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Interview with Michael Chertoff, Former Homeland Security Secretary, on how immigration reforms are essential to normalize labor flows. The global economic crisis has triggered calls in some U.S. policy circles for tightening immigration rules to prevent non-Americans from competing for scarce jobs. Yet despite conditions, lawmakers should be preparing changes to immigration policy in anticipation of the country's economic revival, says former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who had jurisdiction over immigration issues. "We are going to need to have some workers coming from other parts of the world to do the jobs that Americans will not be willing to do," Chertoff said. In addition, he said, U.S. officials should increase contacts with Mexican authorities to work out a system for rationalizing the legal flow of migrant workers into the United States. He also stressed that tough enforcement of immigration laws, at the workplace and border, must be at the core of comprehensive reforms.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Human Rights, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Joseph S. Nye Jr, Philip D. Zelikow
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Stephen C. Freidheim Symposium on Global Economics Transcript: Joseph Nye, Philip Zelikow, Sebastian Mallaby, and Richard Medley discuss the global consequences of the financial crisis This session was part of the Stephen C. Freidheim Symposium on Global Economics: Financial Turbulence and U.S. Power, which was made possible through the generous support of Stephen C. Freidheim.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Globalization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott G. Borgerson
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea—the instrument that created the overarching governance framework for nearly three-quarters of the earth's surface and what lies above and beneath it—has been signed and ratified by 156 countries and the European Community, but not by the United States. The Law of the Sea Convention, with annexes (hereafter in this report referred to as the “convention”), and the 1994 agreement on its implementation have been in force for more than a decade, but while the United States treats most parts of the convention as customary international law, it remains among only a handful of countries—and one of an even smaller number with coastlines, including Syria, North Korea, and Iran—to have signed but not yet acceded to the treaty.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Law, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs, Maritime Commerce
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea, Syria
  • Author: Brad W. Setser, Arpana Pandey
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: This paper was originally published in January 2009. The May update incorporates quarter one 2009 data on China's foreign reserves, the Treasury International Capital (TIC) capital flows data for December, January, and February, and the results of the June 2008 survey of foreign portfolio investment in the United States. The June 2008 survey indicated that China bought fewer Treasury bonds and more equities than the authors estimated in the January paper.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Jeb Bush, Thomas McLarty
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The United States, a country shaped by generations of immigrants and their descendants, is badly mishandling its immigration policy, with serious consequences for its standing in the world. The urgency of this issue has led the Council on Foreign Relations to convene an Independent Task Force to deal with what is ordinarily regarded as a domestic policy matter. America's openness to and respect for immigrants has long been a foundation of its economic and military strength, and a vital tool in its diplomatic arsenal. With trade, technology, and travel continuing to shrink the world, the manner in which the United States handles immigration will be increasingly important to American foreign policy in the future. The Task Force believes that the continued failure to devise and implement a sound and sustainable immigration policy threatens to weaken America's economy, to jeopardize its diplomacy, and to imperil its national security.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Immigration
  • Political Geography: United States, America