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  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Ulrich Schetter
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In this paper, we develop a heterogeneous agent general equilibrium framework to analyze optimal joint policies of a lockdown and transfer payments in times of a pandemic. In our model, the effectiveness of a lockdown in mitigating the pandemic depends on endogenous compliance. A more stringent lockdown deepens the recession which implies that poorer parts of society find it harder to subsist. This reduces their compliance with the lockdown, and may cause deprivation of the very poor, giving rise to an excruciating trade-off between saving lives from the pandemic and from deprivation. Lump-sum transfers help mitigate this trade-off. We identify and discuss key trade-offs involved and provide comparative statics for optimal policy. We show that, ceteris paribus, the optimal lockdown is stricter for more severe pandemics and in richer countries. We then consider a government borrowing constraint and show that limited fiscal space lowers the optimal lockdown and welfare, and increases the aggregate death burden during the pandemic. We finally discuss distributional consequences and the political economy of fighting a pandemic.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Political Economy, Inequality, Economic growth, Fiscal Policy, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Chad P. Bown
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: While the public was transfixed by the Trump administration’s policies alleging that imports were a threat to America’s national security during 2017–20, there was a concomitant and more quiet US policy shift on the export side. Addressing the national security threat presented by exports posed different economic and institutional challenges from those associated with import policy, including the acknowledgment that export controls for legitimate national security reasons can be the first-best policy to confront the problem at its source. Yet, export controls could also be misused as a beggar-thy-neighbor policy to redistribute economic well-being across countries, even from one ally to another. This paper describes how US export control policy evolved over 2017–20, as well as the international institutions—first the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM), then the Wassenaar Arrangement—historically tasked with multilateralizing US export restrictions used to protect national security. With the potential for US export control policy to brush up more frequently against WTO rules designed to limit the use of export restrictions, the paper also highlights new challenges for the WTO’s system of resolving trade disputes. Overall, a US failure to strike the right balance for its export control policy would result in it being ineffective at addressing national security risks, costly for the economy, and problematic for trade and diplomatic relations.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, National Security, Exports, Trade
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert Sutter
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The so-called “truce” in the trade war with the signing of the phase one U.S.-China trade agreement on January 15 comes amid indicators that the intense U.S. government consensus pushback against a wide range of perceived challenges posed by China may be subsiding.
  • Topic: Government, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dylan O'Driscoll, Amal Bourhrous, Meray Maddah, Shivan Fazil
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Nearly a decade after the Arab Spring, the substantial political change that many across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have hoped for has yet to be seen. In fact, as the 2019 wave of protests shows, street protests continue to endure in the region, often over the same recurring issues. This paper takes a regional approach to understanding the state of the social contract in MENA countries. It describes, country-by-country, the impact of protest movements, or their absence, on relations between society and the state, and the likely effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on those relations. It then examines the roles and impact of external actors, and the attitudes that they have adopted towards protests. Based on this analysis, the authors recommend that the European Union (EU) adopts a new approach to regional security and stability that takes the needs of the populations as the starting point. This would involve a broader EU agreement on priorities in MENA that emphasize aspects that answer those needs.
  • Topic: Government, Arab Spring, Protests, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Harold Furchtgott-Roth, Kirk R. Arner
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: American businesses and consumers have an unequal relationship. Consumers generally are and should be sovereign because a consumer—not a seller, nor a third party, nor even the government—usually decides what to purchase. Consumers must like a business to buy its product or service. If a business has poor service, sales will suffer. And if a business is tainted by scandal, customers will flee. As courtiers of purchasing power, businesses go on bended knee to pay homage to the consumer. Typically, a business need not like a consumer to sell products or services. In most lines of business, a seller must sell to anyone willing to pay. And although there are types of businesses where a seller can legally refuse a sale, most rational sellers seek as many customers as possible.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Sovereignty, Regulation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ambika Khanna
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations
  • Abstract: India must consider new strategies that can be put in place to manage Pakistan's ongoing military aggression and security threat. One policy tool that has been used effectively by many countries but remains unexplored by India is the imposition of sanctions. This paper analyses the feasibility of imposing sanctions on Pakistan and the strategies India should consider to execute this effectively. It makes recommendations on how to establish a legal framework, amend existing laws, include Indian stakeholders with business interests in Pakistan, get government departments to collaborate on implementation, and considers diplomatic measures India can undertake.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Bilateral Relations, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, India
  • Author: Florence Banda-Muleya, Mbewe Kalikeka, Zambwe Shingwele, Philip Ngongo, Shebo Nalishebo
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR)
  • Abstract: Zambia’s current legal framework for public debt management is inadequate. The high level of external debt standing at US$11.2 billion and domestic debt at K80.2 billion due to fast pace of debt contraction; the resulting heightened risk of debt distress; and the weak implementation of the 2017-2019 Medium Term Debt Strategy (MTDS), raise questions on the adequacy of the laws that govern public debt management. Now more than ever, with Zambia quickly headed to its first bullet repayment on its Eurobond debt, the country needs to enhance its legal framework on Public Debt Management (PDM).
  • Topic: Debt, Government, Economy, Public Debt
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zambia
  • Author: Reinound Leenders
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The institutional set-up of the Port of Beirut is emblematic of Lebanon’s post-war corruption and sectarian clientelism. Any investigation into the 4 August explosion needs to take into account the port’s dismal institutional record and how the current political class ensured its governance remained opaque and messy. This paper provides critical insights into the port’s set-up over the last 30 years highlighting the failing political system, a greedy political class, and entrenched mismanagement and corruption. It demonstrates how the bickering of key actors over the port’s control and the port’s institutional failures set the stage for the blast, pointing to an urgent need to build an accountable port authority as part of any reform effort.
  • Topic: Government, Governance, Accountability, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Thom Woodroofe, Brendan Guy
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The United States is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter. For that reason, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November will have an undeniable impact on the future of the global climate change regime. This is especially the case now that the United Nations’ COP26 Climate Change Conference has been postponed to 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, as Asia and the rest of the world consider whether and how to step up their levels of ambition as part of the five-year ratchet mechanism of the Paris Agreement, the United States has the potential to be either a catalytic force for that effort going into 2021 or an even stronger spoiler of the Agreement’s ongoing effectiveness at a crucial juncture. No country will be watching more closely than China. The 2014 U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change between President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping proved to be the watershed moment in the lead-up to the Paris Agreement, as the two countries signaled for the first time that they would act in a coordinated manner to combat climate change. Whether the United States and China can recapture that spirit of shared ambition in the future will have ripple effects on the positions of other major emitters as well — especially India, Japan, and Australia, which may not enhance their own levels of ambition without a stronger indication of further action by the United States and China. While President Donald Trump has begun the process of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement and rolled back domestic and international measures to combat climate change, it is clear that if a Democrat is elected president in 2020, they would make combating climate change a defining priority of their administration. Therefore, a clearer understanding of the specific approach that would underpin the climate diplomacy of a potential new Democratic president can provide greater reassurance to the international community as countries consider their own levels of ambition in the lead-up to COP26 and beyond. This paper, therefore, assesses the international climate policies of both Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders across six areas, including their proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; engage with other major emitters, including China; use trade policy as a lever for climate action; increase climate finance and remove fossil fuel subsidies; take action across other sectors, and embed climate action as a core national security priority. The authors also lay out three cross-cutting considerations for a potential new Democratic administration to maximize their efforts in the global fight against climate change, including how they can best structure their administration; engage other major emitters most strategically; and use all tools in the toolkit to reduce emissions. This includes a number of specific recommendations for how the candidates’ existing policies can best be elaborated, including with regard to China; plans to host a world leader summit on climate early in a new administration; and the tabling of a new 2030 emissions reduction target. The likely constraints and choices that will confront a new U.S. administration as they determine their approach to climate action are also highlighted in the paper. This paper is the first in a series of policy products that the Asia Society Policy Institute will publish as part of a new project exploring the possibilities around U.S.-China climate cooperation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Diplomacy, Government, Treaties and Agreements, Donald Trump, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Milan Vaishnav
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: With the BJP’s return to power following May 2019 general election, India appears to have ushered in a new dominant party system—one premised on a unique set of political principles, showing a clear break with what came before. In the wake of the 2019 general election results, which come on the back of significant political changes at the level of India’s states, there is empirical support for more unequivocal judgments. Indeed, the available evidence points in one direction: 2014 was not an aberration; it was instead a harbinger of a new era.10 India does appear to have ushered in a new, fourth party system—one that is premised on a unique set of political principles and that shows a clear break with what came before. In the 2019 general election, the BJP did the unthinkable: the party clinched a second consecutive majority in the Lok Sabha, a feat that was last accomplished by the Congress Party in 1980 and 1984.
  • Topic: Government, Elections, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India