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  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Legislation to reform Japan Post is again gathering steam in Tokyo. The real question is whether the latest act in this long- running drama will represent true reform or in fact will camouflage an entrenchment of Japan Post's formidable monopoly powers. Antireform proposals being lined up for consideration in the Diet would indefinitely extend effective government control of Japan Post's financial arms (thereby reversing the Koizumi era reforms). On the other hand, reform forces in the Japanese government want new legislation to guarantee a level playing field in banking and insurance between Japan Post and private firms, whether domestic or foreign.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Natural Disasters
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Peter A. Petri
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), currently at an advanced stage of negotiation, began as a small agreement but now has big implications. The TPP would strengthen ties between Asia and the Americas, create a new template for the conduct of international trade and investment, and potentially lead to a comprehensive free trade area (FTA) in the Asia-Pacific. It could generate large benefits—greater than those expected from the World Trade Organization's (WTO) global Doha Development Agenda. This Policy Brief reports on our ongoing quantitative assessment (with FanZhai) of the TPP and other Asia-Pacific integration efforts.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Israel, Asia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Our last policy brief on this long-running saga recounted political machinations, late in 2011, to reverse the Koizumi era reforms of Japan Post, a giant among state-owned enterprises (SOEs). As a brief background: Japan Post is a conglomerate of five companies: the parent, Japan Post Holdings; two subsidiaries concerned with operating post offices and delivering mail, namely Japan Post Network and Japan Post Services; and two giant financial arms, Japan Post Bank and Japan Post Insurance.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Law
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For several years China has run persistent current account surpluses that have been widely seen as the most serious single source of global imbalances on the surplus side, and mirrored by persistent systemically large US current account deficits on the other side. In recent years, however, both imbalances have shown moderation (figure 1). China's surpluses have posed questions of international policy rules, because they have reflected in part an unwillingness to allow the exchange rate to appreciate sufficiently to act as an effective equilibrating mechanism. Exchange rate intervention resulted in a massive buildup of international reserves, which rose from $615 billion at the end of 2004 to $3.2 trillion at the end of 2011 (IMF 2012a).
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Israel
  • Author: J. Bradford Jensen
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper argues that developing Asia is overlooking an opportunity for increased growth and development through trade in business services. Developing Asia would benefit from liberalizing services trade as it has benefited from liberalizing goods trade. This argument rests on these key findings: business services are important for growth, developing Asia is relatively under-endowed with business services, many business services are tradable, and developing Asia has relatively high barriers to services trade.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia
  • Author: Donghyun Park, Kwanho Shin
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: There is a widespread perception that Korea's services sector lags behind its dynamic world-class manufacturing sector. This paper empirically analyzes the past performance of Korea's services sector in order to assess its prospects as an engine of growth. The analysis resoundingly confirms the conventional wisdom of an underperforming service sector. In light of Korea's high income and development level, the poor performance of modern services is of particular concern. The authors identify a number of factors underlying the poor performance and set forth policy recommendations for addressing them. Overall, Korea faces a challenging but navigable road ahead in developing a high value-added services sector.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Israel, Korea
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In this paper Kirkegaard presents new micro-level data consisting of individual greenfield investment projects and mergers and acquisitions as a source for detailed analysis of services sector cross-border investment flows among the Asian Development Bank (ADB) regional membership in Asia. The new transactional foreign direct investment (FDI) data are methodologically distinct from traditional BPM5-compliant FDI data but found to yield generally comparable aggregates, when compared with the latest available International Monetary Fund (IMF) data from the Comprehensive Direct Investment Survey for the ADB regional membership. The services sectors are found to receive considerably larger amounts of foreign investment, when compared with the Asian region's manufacturing and raw materials sectors. OECD countries account for roughly three-quarters of total recorded inward services sector FDI of about $2 trillion, relatively evenly split between the United States, the EU-27, and regional OECD-level-income countries. The presence of sizable regional "upward flowing" services sector investments into OECD-level-income economies is verified. Kirkegaard draws preliminary policy conclusions based on the new transactional FDI data results concerning prospects for regional services sector liberalization, threshold income levels for inward services sector FDI, upward-flowing regional services FDI, and preferred modes of services sector investments.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Asia
  • Author: Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper uses a survey of 300 North Korean refugees to examine the experience of women in North Korea's fitful economic transition. Like other socialist states, North Korea has maintained a de jure commitment to women's rights. However, the authors find that women have been disproportionately shed from state-affiliated employment and thrust into a market environment characterized by weak institutions and corruption. As a result, the state and its affiliated institutions are increasingly populated by males, and the market, particularly in its retail aspects, is dominated by women. Among the most recent cohort of refugees to leave North Korea, more than one-third of male respondents indicate that criminality and corruption is the best way to make money, and 95 percent of female traders report paying bribes to avoid the penal system. In short, the increasingly male-dominated state preys on the increasingly female-dominated market. These results paint a picture of a vulnerable group that has been disadvantaged in North Korea's transition. Energies are directed toward survival, mass civil disobedience is reactive, and as a group, this population appears to lack the tools or social capital to act collectively to improve their status.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics, Gender Issues
  • Political Geography: Israel, North Korea
  • Author: Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A central hope of engagement with North Korea is that increased cross-border exchange will encourage the strengthening of institutions, and eventually, a moderation of the country's foreign policy. An unprecedented survey of Chinese enterprises operating in North Korea reveals that trade is largely dominated by state entities on the North Korean side, although the authors cannot rule out de facto privatization of exchange. Little trust is evident beyond the relationships among Chinese and North Korean state-owned enterprises. Formal networks and dispute settlement mechanisms are weak and do not appear to have consequences for relational contracting. Rather, firms rely on personal ties for identifying counterparties and resolving disputes. The weakness of formal institutions implies that the growth in exchange does not conform with the expectations of the engagement model and may prove self-limiting. The results also cast doubt that integration between China and North Korea, at least as it is currently proceeding, will foster reform and opening.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Israel, North Korea
  • Author: Jennifer Lee, Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Theory tells us that weak rule of law and institutions deter cross-border integration, deter investment relative to trade, and inhibit trade finance. Drawing on a survey of more than 300 Chinese enterprises that are doing or have done business in North Korea, the authors consider how informal institutions have addressed these problems in a setting in which rule of law and institutions are particularly weak. Given the apparent reliance on hedging strategies, the rapid growth in exchange witnessed in recent years may prove self-limiting, as the effectiveness of informal institutions erodes and the risk premium rises. Institutional improvement could have significant welfare implications, affecting the volume, composition, and financial terms of cross-border exchange.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Israel