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  • Author: Lawrence H. White
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Private commercial banks have been providing trusted money to the public for hundreds of years, in the form of banknotes (where allowed) and transferable deposit balances, as an integral part of their business model. Economically, money balances are a private good: they are rival in consumption (you and I can’t both simultaneously spend a given banknote or deposit balance) and excludable in supply (you and your bank can stop me from spending the funds in your wallet or account) (White 1999: 89). Accordingly, the market does not inherently fail to provide money efficiently.
  • Topic: Markets, Monetary Policy, Economy, State, Banks, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Eugene Rumer, Richard Sokolsky, Paul Stronski
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Russia has big Arctic plans, but how they will be realized is uncertain. For the United States this will likely mean the return to a Cold War–like environment rather than a new chapter in great-power competition in the Arctic. Russia’s Arctic ambitions have attracted increasing attention in the West over the past decade as climate change opens up new opportunities in the region for navigation and exploration of its riches. For its part, Moscow casts a wary eye on what it sees as a challenge from the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to its position and ambitions there. The Kremlin’s rhetoric about Western encroachment has become more strident, in sync with its enhanced military posture and ambitious economic and infrastructure projects.
  • Topic: NATO, Cold War, Infrastructure, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, North America, Arctic, United States of America
  • Author: Anirudh Burman
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As India’s economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, Indian businesses need efficient financial structures to regain their ground. Key reforms to India’s Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code could fill these gaps. One of the key drivers of economic recovery in India will be the efficient movement of capital from inefficient firms to efficient ones. The economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic has been severe, and India’s economy was one of the worst affected in 2020–2021. Though the economy is recovering faster than initial estimates, sustained economic recovery will not take place if stressed businesses cannot restructure their debts properly or if failing firms cannot be resolved efficiently. India’s bankruptcy law is key to solving these challenges. In 2016 India enacted the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC), which was a landmark reform to the nation’s financial system and the first comprehensive law to regulate insolvency.1 But the IBC has been suspended for a period of one year since the COVID-19-related lockdown was imposed in March 2020. In its place, India’s banking regulator, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has introduced a limited restructuring scheme for COVID-19-related stress in the meantime. Older mechanisms for insolvency that are still in operation have historically not worked according to expectations. As the one-year period of suspension comes to a close, this paper argues that bringing back the IBC—with adequate modifications—is an important prerequisite for sustained economic growth. India historically suffered from a patchwork framework of insolvency laws that either did not give lenders adequate powers to recover their debts upon default or only catered to the interests of certain kinds of lenders—to the exclusion of others.2 The IBC is a modern and comprehensive bankruptcy law that since its enactment has had a significant role in reducing the problem of nonperforming assets (NPAs), or “bad loans,” in India’s financial system. In the wake of the economic disruption caused by COVID-19, the Indian government suspended the operation of critical parts of the IBC. These changes meant that lenders could not trigger insolvency proceedings against defaulting businesses if the default occurred after March 20, 2020. While this suspension possibly prevented unnecessary business failures and provided a “calm period” for the economy, these measures have outlived their utility.
  • Topic: Law, Finance, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Ankit Bhatia
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: As India’s economy has become more urban and industrialized, property and land rights have evolved, too. In the states of Gujarat and Karnataka, key reforms in land leasing and change in land use show what may—and what may not—be a path forward. India is primarily an agrarian society. More than 60 percent of its population is dependent on agriculture and allied services and dwells in rural areas. In the past couple of decades, India has attempted to shift away from its rural-agrarian base toward an urban-industrialized economy. In this journey, it encountered many challenges, but none remain as severe and persistent as the ones related to the assignment and balancing of land and property rights. Land governance in India remains historically complex, politically sensitive, and economically inefficient. In recent times, state governments have attempted proactive measures to reform the sector and bring greater efficiency to land markets. Despite the exigency of these reforms, issues surrounding equity, abuse of power, and nexus among powerbrokers remain central and require thorough analysis. To unpack the fuller effects of the recent reforms, this paper aims to examine key reforms in land leasing and change in land use sub-sectors initiated by Gujarat and Karnataka states. The paper takes a comparative assessment approach to decipher the nuances and complexities of land governances in the two states. Given that land has deep historical connections, this paper briefly delves into the historical evolution of land leasing and change in land use regulation in the two states. The historical analysis highlights the political economy context of each sector and is followed by an in-depth review of the recent reforms. The paper covers reforms effectuated through legislative, executive, and judiciary actions. This approach allows a comprehensive tracking of different mechanisms at play. The paper brings out some interesting findings. In both the states, the change in land use sub-sector was able to reform more frequently than the land leasing sub-sector. Despite both states relying upon all three branches of government to initiate reforms, executive action was used most frequently. On occasion, the judiciary played a critical role, especially when lower branches passed judgments that provided windfall relaxation to the protective regulation. Further, the paper finds that most reforms were not structural in nature; they were merely attempts to ease the restrictions on the transfer of agricultural land. In a complete departure from past objectives, recent reforms attempted to dilute the protective framework of land leasing and change in land use regulation. It is understandable that socioeconomic and political realities have shifted and the archaic regulation may not serve its intended purpose. However, the recent reforms have failed to show a concrete new direction. Instead, they largely focused on allowing a greater transfer of land resources to industries, pushing toward more capital-intensive agriculture, and promoting digitalization of land-related governance and public service delivery.
  • Topic: Reform, Economy, Urban, Land Reform
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Josaphat Kweka, Julian Boys, Amrita Saha
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The private sector and enterprises have a key role to play in the development of the Tanzanian economy. This Policy Brief provides insights and solutions that could offer business sectors the vital policy support that they need to develop and grow.
  • Topic: Development, Economy, Economic Growth, Trade
  • Political Geography: Africa, Tanzania
  • Author: Adel Abdel Ghafar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The role played by countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Eastern Mediterranean is becoming increasingly important. This calls for an assessment of their evolving relationship with countries in the region, as well as their involvement in the Libyan conflict. Increased involvement by Gulf actors may inflame existing regional rivalries and geopolitical tensions. The interests of GCC countries in the Eastern Mediterranean are first analysed in the broader context of regional rivalries. Special attention is then devoted to Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Greece and Cyprus, while considering the role of other key regional actors such as Turkey and Israel. Recommendations on why and how the new US administration should intervene to decrease regional tensions are provided.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Gulf Nations, Geopolitics, Economy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Marie Hyland, Simeon Djankov, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: reater legal equality between men and women is associated with a narrower gender gap in opportunities and outcomes, fewer female workers in positions of vulnerable employment, and greater political representation for women. While legal equality is on average associated with better outcomes for women, the experience of individual countries may differ significantly from this average trend, depending on the countries’ stage of development (as proxied by per capita GDP). Case studies from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, and Spain demonstrate this deviation. Especially in developing countries, legislative measures may not necessarily translate into actual empowerment, due mainly to deeply entrenched social norms, which render legal reforms ineffective. Women are more likely than men to be in vulnerable employment in low- and lower-middle-income economies but less likely than men to be in vulnerable employment in upper-middle- and high-income economies. Analysis of a 50-year panel of gendered laws in 190 countries reveals that country attributes that do not vary or change only slowly over time—such as a country’s legal origin, form of government, geographic characteristics, and dominant religion—explain a very large portion of the variation across countries. This finding suggests that the path to legal equality between men and women may be a long and arduous one. Nevertheless, the data also show that the past five decades have seen considerable progress toward legal gender equality. Gendered laws do evolve, suggesting a role for legal reforms in women’s economic empowerment.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Law, Women, Inequality, Economy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, South Asia, India, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Spain
  • Author: Anna Stansbury
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: To what extent do US firms have an incentive to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)? Stansbury examines this question through a simple comparison of the expected costs of noncompliance (in terms of legal sanctions) to the profits firms can earn through noncompliance. In the case of the FLSA minimum wage and overtime provisions, typical willful violators are required to pay back wages owed and in some cases additional penalties, if detected by the Department of Labor (DOL). Based on available data on the penalties levied, a typical firm would need to expect a chance of at least 78-88 percent that its violation would be detected in order to have an incentive to comply with the FLSA. In practice, the probability of detection many firms can expect to face is likely much lower than this. In the case of the NLRA, a firm that fires a worker illegally is required to reinstate the worker with back pay if the violation is detected. Based on empirical estimates of the effect of unionization on firm profits, a typical firm may have an incentive to fire a worker illegally for union activities if this illegal firing would reduce the likelihood of unionization at the firm by as little as 0.15-2 percent. These analyses illustrate that neither the FLSA nor the NLRA penalty and enforcement regimes create sufficient incentive to comply for many firms. In this context, the substantial evidence of minimum wage and overtime violations, and of illegal employer behavior toward unions, is not surprising.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Regulation, Economy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • 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