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  • Author: Alan Reynolds
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Estimates of the elasticity of taxable income (ETI) investigate how high‐​income taxpayers faced with changes in marginal tax rates respond in ways that reduce expected revenue from higher tax rates, or raise more than expected from lower tax rates. Diamond and Saez (2011) pioneered the use of a statistical formula, which Saez developed, to convert an ETI estimate into a revenue‐​maximizing (“socially optimal”) top tax rate. For the United States, they found that the optimal top rate was about 73 percent when combining the marginal tax rates on income, payrolls, and sales at the federal, state, and local levels. A related paper by Piketty, Saez, and Stantcheva (2014) concluded that, at the highest income levels, the ETI was so small that comparable top tax rates as high as 83 percent could maximize short‐​term revenues, supposedly without suppressing long‐​term economic growth. Such studies could be viewed as part of a larger effort to minimize any efficiency costs of distortive taxation while maximizing assumed revenue gains and redistributive benefits.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Tax Systems, High-Income People
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Isabella M. Pesavento
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Adoption, particularly adoption out of foster care, has not been well studied within the field of economics. Researchers may avoid this topic because the adoption market greatly deviates from a typical market, and the system and data collection are highly fragmented, with relatively little federal coordination. Rubin et al. (2007) and Thornberry et al. (1999) show that instability in foster care placements produces negative welfare outcomes, and Hansen (2006), Barth et al. (2006), and Zill (2011) demonstrate that adoption out of foster care is socially and financially beneficial. Yet, children waiting to be adopted out of foster care are in excess supply, which has been exacerbated in recent years. I hypothesize that this is, in part, due to misaligned incentives of government officials and the contracted foster care agencies. I show that earnings are prioritized over ensuring permanent child placement, which hinders the potential for adoption, and government oversight fails to correct such iniquities because of career interests.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Children, Incentives, Foster Care, Adoption
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Bocharnikova
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article investigates the dynamics of individual economic well‐​being in Estonia and Finland over three periods: (1) 1923–1938, when both countries were similarly situated; (2) 1960–1988, during which Estonia was under Soviet control; and (3) 1992–2018, after Estonian independence. Economic well‐​being is calculated using the purchasing power of wages in terms of the affordability of a minimal food basket. The results show that, in 1938, the purchasing power of wages in Estonia was 4 percent lower than in Finland; in 1988, it was 42 percent lower; and, by 2018, the gap had fallen to 17 percent. Consequently, as measured by the purchasing power of wages, well‐​being in Estonia and Finland was similar before the Soviet occupation, widely diverged during Soviet rule, and converged after Estonian independence, with the transition from plan to market.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, History, Culture
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Estonia
  • Author: Scott Lincicome
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Labor market and cultural disruptions in the United States are real and important, as is China’s current and unfortunate turn toward illiberalism and empire. But pretending today that there was a better trade policy choice in 2000—when Congress granted China “permanent normal trade relations” (PNTR) status and paved the way for broader engagement—is misguided. It assumes too much, ignores too much, and demands too much. Worse, it could lead to truly bad governance: increasing U.S. protectionism; forgiving the real and important failures of our policymakers, CEOs, and unions over the last two decades; and preventing a political consensus for real policy solutions. Indeed, that is happening now.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Markets, Bilateral Relations, Trade, Protectionism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kam Hon Chu
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In addition to foreign investment absorption, Hong Kong plays a pioneering role in the internationalization of the renminbi (RMB). Despite the lack of comprehensive statistics on the volume of offshore RMB transactions, Hong Kong is for sure one of the largest, if not the largest, global centers for offshore RMB businesses. According to the Triennial Central Bank Survey (BIS 2019), for instance, Hong Kong was the largest global offshore RMB foreign exchange market, with an average daily turnover of US$107.6 billion as of April 2019, considerably higher than the US$56.7 billion for London and the US$42.6 billion for Singapore.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Investment, Financial Development
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: John A. Allison
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Covid‐​19 pandemic greatly increased the scope and power of the Federal Reserve. The Fed created a number of new emergency lending facilities, which allowed it to make off‐​balance sheet loans and buy the debt of corporations and municipalities through special purpose vehicles backstopped by the Treasury under the CARES Act. Meanwhile, the Fed’s large‐​scale asset purchase program, known as quantitative easing (QE), was put on steroids after the pandemic struck in March 2020. The Fed has been purchasing longer‐​term Treasuries and mortgage‐​backed securities amounting to $120 billion per month, pushing the size of its balance sheet to an astonishing $7 trillion.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael J. Casey
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For all the upheaval of 2020, it’s perhaps not surprising that the 50‐​year anniversary of a major piece of financial legislation came and went with little fanfare. But the 1970 U.S. Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) deserves much scrutiny.1 In mandating that financial institutions maintain customer identity records and report illicit activity to government agencies, the BSA was a landmark statute by any measure. It paved the way to an ever‐​expanding system of international surveillance that’s a cornerstone of U.S. economic power.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Finance, Surveillance
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jesús Fernández‐​Villaverde
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The monetary arrangements of societies are the result of the interplay of technology and ideas. Technology determines, for example, which coins can be minted and at what cost. For centuries, minting small‐​denomination coinage was too costly to induce Western European governments to supply enough small change (Sargent and Velde 2002). Only the arrival of steam‐​driven presses fixed this problem (Doty 1998). Simultaneously, ideas about private property and the scope of government determined whether private entrepreneurs were allowed to compete with governments in the supply of small change (Selgin 2008). Technology and ideas about money engage dialectically. Technological advances shape our ideas about money by making new monetary arrangements feasible. Ideas about desirable outcomes direct innovators to develop new technologies.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Monetary Policy, Cryptocurrencies
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Chorzempa
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Digital currency and fintech have been some of the most powerful forces for freedom and personal liberty in China for the past decade, but their future influence is uncertain. Starting as a disruptive force that gave Chinese unprecedented autonomy in their financial lives, connected either to global cryptocurrency networks or local tech ecosystems built by private firms, a new chapter is beginning. In this new era, one speech urging an emphasis on innovation instead of regulation can seemingly bring the full force of the Chinese state to bear onto a firm that once disrupted state banks with impunity. Technologies like blockchain first embraced by libertarians and cryptography enthusiasts as freeing money from dependence on the state look poised to become tools for governments to increase their ability to monitor and shape financial transactions. Meanwhile, disruptive fintech tools have become symbiotic with the major state banks, which will retain their role as the core of the financial system.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Finance, Digital Currency , Transactions
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jill Carlson
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Possessions, or property, have been reiterated as a human right over the course of the centuries since Locke first wrote — enshrined in everything from the U.S. Declaration of Independence to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (1948: 217, A III). Nevertheless, executives, judiciaries, legislative bodies, and central banks around the world have continually broken their social contract on this front: not only failing to defend the natural rights of possessions and property, but often actively harming individuals’ ability to hold value and to freely transfer and exchange assets. Access to a free, open, and functional financial system is a fundamental human right. One that is continuously violated by states and policymakers globally.
  • Topic: Economics, Finance, Money, Economic Rights
  • Political Geography: South America, Venezuela
  • Author: Jeb Hensarling, Phil Gramm, John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Fed’s huge balance sheet allows it to engage in credit policy (the composition of the balance sheet is by definition credit policy), which inherently auto‐​resides in fiscal policy — but should auto‐​reside with Congress. This discussion, moderated by John B. Taylor, took place at the Cato Institute’s 38th Annual Monetary Conference on November 19, 2020. The transcript has been edited for publication.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve, Credit
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Zainab Usman, David Landry
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Many African countries have placed economic diversification high on the policy agenda, yet they first need to define what it means in their specific structural and socioeconomic contexts. For decades, economic diversification has been a policy priority for low- and middle-income economies. In the words of former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, “We know that economic diversification is good for growth. Diversification is also tremendously important for resilience.” Unfortunately, this goal continues to elude many African countries. In fact, the continent is home to eight of the world’s fifteen least economically diversified countries. This reality weakens the foundation of their economic transfomation and slows their pace of progress. It also makes these countries particularly vulnerable to sudden external shocks, as the pandemic-induced disruption of tourism and oil-dependent economies has illustrated. Given the importance of diversifying African economies, it is critical to recognize how various dimensions of diversification can have different implications for the menu of policy options. Closely associated with the process of structural transformation from lower to higher productivity sectors, economic diversification has three evident dimensions. The first relates to the expansion of economic sectors that contribute to employment and production or gross domestic product (GDP) diversification, and the second is associated with international trade or exports diversification. This paper, however, focuses on a third dimension that the economics literature pays scant attention to: fiscal diversification. This fiscal element involves expanding government revenue sources and public expenditure targets and can therefore play a central role in helping to catalyze broader economic transformation through the expansion of activity in specific industries and sectors. It is also critical that policymakers effectively measure the extent to which this objective is being achieved. Both the expansion of existing economic sectors and the creation of new ones may diversify an economy. But these processes are vastly different in practice and will garner distinct outcomes. Of the main tools used by economists to measure diversification, the Theil Index differentiates between the respective contributions of new economic sectors and existing ones to overall diversification. Another tool widely used by development practitioners—the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) framework—has significant potential for evaluating fiscal diversification but would need to capture more information on government revenue collection and spending and link them to policy objectives.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance, Diversification, Trade
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Vijay Singh Chauhan, Sruti Vijayakumar
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement has placed trade facilitation initiatives high on the agenda of international governments. This case study of India studies what trade facilitation may mean for a fast-paced economy. In this paper the authors use the trigger presented by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) to undertake a comprehensive review of various publicly available studies for India relating to performance measurement of the ecosystem that handles the cross-border movement of goods, focusing on the period since 2015. The paper summarizes the results of six key composite performance indicators—namely, (1) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD’s) trade facilitation indicators (TFIs); (2) the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Index; (3) the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index (LPI); (4) the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Global Competitiveness Index (GCI); (5) the World Bank’s World Governance Indicators (WGIs); and (6) the United Nations’ Global Survey on Trade Facilitation and Paperless Trade Implementation (GSTF-PTI). This paper, by examining these composite survey-based indicators and the intertemporal trends they exhibit for India, reveals that they have not been moving in agreement with each other and that some of the trends are evidently counterintuitive. A comparison between delineated subindicators of select composite indicators sometimes indicates surprising trends. Import cargo release times (a performance measurement prescribed by the TFA) for the largest containerized port in the country, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), have been extracted from various studies that have relied on the data from the customs automation system; the container tracking system, which employs radio-frequency identification (RFID); and survey-based studies, including the Trading Across Borders (TAB) component of the World Bank’s EODB Index. These import cargo release time studies present a consistent trend of improvement since 2017. The paper, therefore, highlights the greater robustness of cargo release time trends, based particularly on technology-enabled data-driven studies as a more meaningful metric for measurement of performance of border management agencies and practices vis-à-vis survey or perception-based indicators representing “enablers” of trade facilitation.
  • Topic: Economics, Trade, WTO
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Risto Rönkkö, Stuart Rutherford, Kunal Sen
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: In this paper, we examine the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the livelihoods of the poor. We use an unusually rich data set from a ‘financial diaries’ study known as the Hrishipara Daily Diaries Project. The data set tracks the economic and financial transactions of 60 individuals and their families in a semi-rural setting in Bangladesh on a real-time basis from October 2019 to September 2020. We document individual diarists’ behavioural responses to COVID-19, which reveal the varied experiences of the poor during the pandemic. We find that the pandemic and associated government lockdowns had significant negative effects on the livelihoods of the poor in our study, with financial inflows and outflows, incomes, and household expenditures below pre-pandemic levels during the pandemic period. To cope with the pandemic, households drew down on their cash reserves at home, as well as cutting down on non-food expenditures to protect their spending on food.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Finance, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia
  • Author: Annalena Oppel
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Community or interpersonal support as a critical source of livelihood sustenance in the Global South can exhibit unequal dynamics. An understanding of these practices is primarily tied to the conceptual space of poverty or small communities. Less is known about how social support systems might respond to structural inequalities. I address this by exploring how support practices might be shaped by inequalities in the Namibian context. I draw on primary network data to assess inequality as a social dynamic within the space of support and evaluate whether providing worse-off others corresponds to former discriminatory practices under the apartheid regime. My results suggest that inequality has normalized a sense of support as necessity for black but not white Namibians. More broadly, by recognizing differences in group practices, I evidence that exploring support practices across structural inequalities can enhance insights on the social replication of inter- and intragroup-based inequalities.
  • Topic: Economics, Race, Inequality, Social Networks
  • Political Geography: Africa, Namibia
  • Author: Olivier Bargain, Maria C. Lo Bue
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, including Morocco, currently record the lowest rates of female labour force participation (FLFP) in the world. These rates — between 20-30% in 2019 — appear substantially low in comparison to Western countries, but also compared to low- and middle-income countries that average between 40% (Asia) and 55% (Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa).
  • Topic: Economics, Gender Issues, Women, Employment, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Jake Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Tax credits for research and development are a means of incentivizing the private sector to invest their own resources on challenging problems. However, in practice, the fungibility of tax credits and other monetary elements can lead to misalignment between the public good represented by R&D and the actions of the company. In this policy brief, we consider the existing mechanism of tax credits. We see how they can encourage private sector risk-taking to enable research and development (R&D) outcomes. However, our goal is to go beyond economic growth benefits, and to include the less tangible considerations of public good and public purpose in the research and development domain. We then suggest an expansion of tax credits focused on supporting the researchers involved in the R&D and encouraging innovation in both large organizations and in startups and small businesses. This approach builds upon the existing framework of agency-led, mission-defined support of the private sector used by the U.S. government, as occurs in other programs such as America’s Seed Fund (sometimes known by its acronyms, SBIR and STTR). The integration of specific agency- and mission-focused elements to the credit system ensures that these additive credits support research and researchers whose R&D outcomes will improve the health, prosperity, and opportunity for the U.S. as a whole. Specific means of implementing this public-purpose R&D credit system under existing authorities within the executive branch are suggested, along with the public-facing mechanisms for creating and maintaining the evaluation approach of what constitutes “public purpose” as science and society progress.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, International Affairs, Tax Systems, Tax Credits
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Mehdi Lahlou
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic has turned into a global economic crisis with severe social effects in the least developed countries, particularly in Africa. Pre-existing challenges related to widespread poverty, demographic growth, food insecurity and governance issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. While migration remains one of the key elements of the partnership agenda between Africa and the European Union, the aggravating socioeconomic situation in the African continent due to the impact of COVID-19 and its implications for migration dynamics requires going beyond business-as-usual approaches. The renewed scenario calls for a more comprehensive and development-oriented approach to migration, requiring new policy initiatives addressing the wider set of conditions that, beyond constituting developmental challenges in their own right, also drive migration in North Africa as well as in Sub-Saharan African countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, European Union, Mobility, Asylum, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, North Africa
  • Author: Helle Munk Ravnborg, Bernard Bashaasha, Rikke Broegaard, Michael Byaruhanga, Evelyne Lazaro, Festo Maro, Khamaldin Mutabazi, Teddy Nakanwagi, David Tumusiime
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This DIIS Working Paper describes the design of a questionnaire survey developed and implemented in order to trace the development outcomes of foreign agricultural investments in six research locations in Tanzania and Uganda. The questionnaire survey was conducted as part of the Agricultural Investors as Development Actors (henceforward AIDA) research programme which, in particular, focuses on development outcomes in terms of employment, migration, food security and wider dynamic economic effects, such as access to technology, infrastructure and markets; land markets and perceived security of land tenure; and water access and security of tenure. The working paper which serves as a methodological reference document describes the approach which was employed for drawing six independent samples of 400 respondents each, as well as the approach developed for computing a foreign agricultural investment exposure index and for computing a locally informed household poverty index.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Environment, Poverty, Water, Food, Governance, Inequality, Investment, Land Rights
  • Political Geography: Sub-Saharan Africa, Africa
  • 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: 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: Tamta Gelashvili, Helge Blakkisrud, Nino Kemoklidze
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: De facto states – unrecognized secessionist entities that eke out a living on the margins of the international system – are often heavily dependent on external patron states for economic aid and investment. When the parent state – the state that the de facto state seeks to break away from – responds to the secessionist attempt by imposing sanctions or economic blockades, this further exacerbates such dependency. Moreover, due to their lack of international recognition, de facto states often have limited opportunities to engage with the outside world beyond the patron and the parent state. However, closer examination of one such de facto state, Abkhazia, reveals that de facto states can enjoy some bounded independent economic agency. Abkhazia’s maneuvering between Russia as “patron,” Georgia as “parent state,” and the wider international community (here exemplified by the EU) in the sphere of trade and economic interaction has important implications for de-facto state conflict transformation.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Emerging States, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Stein Sundstol Eriksen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2017–2018, NUPI (the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs) headed a project where political economy analyses were undertaken in eleven of Norway’s partner countries. These analyses were published as eleven separate reports. The reports focused on power relations and political developments in the partner countries, but they also analyzed the nature of governance. After the publication of the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators for 2019, the MFA approached NUPI and requested that we summarize the findings of this report for Norway’s eleven partner countries and assess these findings in light of the political economy analyses. We were also asked to investigate whether there were any connections between the nature and quality of governance on the one hand, and the nature of social policies and the human rights situation on the other. This report presents the findings of this assessment of the governance scores in the light of the above-mentioned political economy analyses. The report is structured as follows: Firstly, after briefly describing the governance indictors used by the World Bank, we summarize the eleven countries’ scores on the various governance indicators. Secondly, we assess the evolution of governance in the eleven countries, by comparing the scores in the 2019 report with those from 2011. Thirdly, we summarize the findings of the political economy analyses of the eleven countries and discuss how they fit with the governance scores. Finally, we present the eleven countries’ expenditure on social policies, as reported in the ILOs World Social Protection Report, and the human rights situation for the partner countries, and then describe how these findings relate to the governance scores.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Political Economy, Governance, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Norway
  • Author: Gad Levanon, Frank Steemers
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: In the first half of 2021, wages grew at the fastest pace in over 20 years. The sudden surge is likely to challenge organizations in recruitment, retention, and compensation strategies in the near term—and over the next decade. Wage growth in the US through 2022 and beyond fits into three distinct phases: 1) strong wage growth in the spring and summer of 2021; 2) moderating wage growth by late 2021 and during 2022; and 3) renewed acceleration of wages in 2023 and beyond, most notably in blue-collar and manual services.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Business , Wage Growth
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The physical infrastructure base of the US economy, once an advantage in global competition, has become a liability. This problem has multiple causes, several of which CED has addressed in recent policy statements, and our nation’s elected policymakers are now taking up the need for additional funding. But the nation needs not only adequate funding but also a more-efficient regulatory process for our infrastructure investment—choosing the right projects, with the minimum delay, and executing them at the least possible cost. Regulatory paralysis is one of the causes of our infrastructure shortfall. It needs attention if we are going to spend our tax dollars on infrastructure wisely and efficiently so that the US economy remains globally competitive. Streamlining regulatory procedures, promoting competition, and cutting red tape across federal, state, and local governments are key to increasing investment, decreasing cost, and maximizing efficiency. Business as usual will not suffice. It takes too long and costs too much to deliver infrastructure projects, preventing us from achieving the advancements and improvements that a future-focused, competitive economy requires. CED has consistently advocated “smart regulation,” subjecting new regulations to rigorous cost-benefit analysis and reviewing existing regulations for continuing cost effectiveness to enhance efficiency and achieve quicker execution, greater benefits, and lower costs. With long delays between project conception and execution, and often multiple layers of jurisdiction and review, a smart regulation approach could ensure that the rules governing review and permitting of projects address all important concerns and ensure that net benefits are maximized over time at all levels of government on a comprehensive and timely basis.
  • Topic: Economics, Infrastructure, Governance, Regulation, Business , Economic Policy, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds are required by law to produce an annual report on April 1 of each year. It is by no means a shock that the report is late in any year; it happens often. This year, however, there is probably more of a justification that the report was released only yesterday, five months late. The economic and health care environments are perhaps as chaotic and uncertain as they have been in living memory.
  • Topic: Economics, Health Care Policy, Social Security
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Hannah Foreman
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Timor-Leste is a small democratic country in an increasingly strategic region. Since gaining independence in 2002, Timor-Leste has made remarkable progress as Asia’s youngest democracy, but it has a long way to go in improving its economic and political situation. ASEAN membership for the Timorese is viewed as a way to reconcile economic, security, and geopolitical interests, while carving out a regional identity. Timor-Leste’s push for ASEAN membership started in 2011 and intensified during the latter half of 2019 when Foreign Minister Dionisio Babo Soares visited all ten ASEAN capitals in the summer followed by ASEAN fact finding missions in Dili in the fall. While Timor-Leste’s response to COVID-19 is impressive, the economic toll continues to be severe. Therefore, ASEAN membership is a comparatively lower priority this year, but is still under consideration by members, based on Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s speech during the recent ASEAN Summit.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Democracy, Geopolitics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Timor-Leste, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Prabir De
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the health and economies of countries in the Bay of Bengal. India, Bangladesh, and Nepal are the region’s most affected countries in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths, followed by Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It seems that Bhutan and Thailand, the least affected countries in the region, have successfully escaped the brunt of the pandemic. All these countries implemented strict lockdowns as early as March 2020, and the region’s recovery rates have been relatively high. However, the devastation from the pandemic did not reach its peak until after the lifting of lockdowns. The economic costs of the pandemic have soared and are still climbing. Today, most Bay of Bengal countries are facing a second or third wave of COVID-19 infections. India has been badly hit by a huge second Coronavirus wave, registered daily cases over 400,000 since Aril 2021. The damage being done by these additional waves is more intense than their predecessors. The Bay of Bengal countries are now looking for COVID-19 vaccines. India serves as the region’s primary producer of immunizations. Two Indian pharmaceutical companies have launched vaccines, with five more firms in the race to launch their own treatments. When vaccines are developed in India, they are easier to distribute across the region. In terms of availability, accessibility, and affordability, India’s vaccines are better suited to the needs of the region. In recent months, India has successfully supplied over 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to many Bay of Bengal countries, with Thailand being a notable exception. India has also ensured more supply of the vaccines in the neighborhood.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, India, Nepal, Thailand, Bhutan, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Michael Mariano, Adam Sacks
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: We all remember our first concert or seeing our favorite band live, but rarely do we think of the stagehands, lighting techs, and ushers who worked hard to deliver these memorable experiences or the impact they have on our local, state, and national economies. In order to better understand the economic impact this important industry has across the United States, Oxford Economics developed a customized framework to analyze the impact of the concerts and the live entertainment industry's nationwide economic contributions in 2019 and conducted an in-depth analysis of the economic impacts of live event venues, artists, and visitor spending in terms of economic output, labor income, taxes, and jobs. Due to the pandemic putting a pause on live events in 2020, this report examined 2019 data to ensure a complete analysis could be conducted that is in line with regular performance of the industry. The industry drives significant economic activity that supports businesses, households, and government finances across the United States. In the wake of COVID-19, live events were shut down for over a year. Beyond the cultural loss involved, the US economy has incurred massive losses in GDP, employment, household income, and tax revenue due to the absence of live events. After a year of isolation, many crave getting back to enjoying memorable live experiences safely in 2021 and into the 2022 and 2023 seasons, which position the industry for growth in the coming years. The Concerts and Live Entertainment Industry, as defined by this report, includes all live musical performances, such as festivals and concerts, and comedy shows held in amphitheaters, clubs, theaters, arenas, stadiums, and other venues. Not included in this analysis are theater, Broadway, sporting events, and family shows.
  • Topic: Economics, Culture, Music, popular culture, Entertainment
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Paweł Markiewicz
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The U.S. economy is emerging from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To maintain growth and at the same time achieve climate and technology goals, the Biden administration is pushing large socio-economic programmes. To pass them in Congress, the administration will be forced to reach compromises with factions within the Democratic Party. Biden also will need some Republican support. In foreign policy, these programmes aim to strengthen the U.S. position in its rivalry with China, something that also opens greater possibilities for closer cooperation with the EU.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, COVID-19, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Luke Patey, Elizabeth Wishnick
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Video
  • Institution: Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
  • Abstract: From its Belt and Road Initiative linking Asia and Europe, to its "Made in China 2025" strategy to dominate high-tech industries, to its significant economic reach into Africa and Latin America, China is rapidly expanding its influence around the globe. Many fear that China's economic clout, tech innovations, and military power will allow it to remake the world in its own authoritarian image. But despite all these strengths, a future with China in charge is far from certain. Rich and poor, big and small, countries around the world are recognizing that engaging China produces new strategic vulnerabilities to their independence and competitiveness. Researching the book took Dr. Patey to East Africa, Latin America, Europe, and East Asia over the past five years and he will discuss how countries in these parts of the world are responding to China’s rise and assertiveness. This event was cosponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, the APEC Study Center and the Columbia Harvard China and the World Program at Columbia University.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Geopolitics, Soft Power, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Bayram Gungor
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Rest: Journal of Politics and Development
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: The relationship among the FDI, GDP and Export has gained vast attention among the researchers and policy-makers. There are many studies on the interaction of these variables using various econometric approaches in the literature. However, it has seen that the findings have been different from country by country. Therefore, this study's main problematic is to estimate the coefficients that show the interaction among the FDI, GDP and Export covering 1980-2019 in Turkey. The ARDL Bounds Model and Granger Causality approach were selected to measure the coefficients statistically. Three models were executed to calculate the short-run and long-run coefficients. While the Model 1 and Model 3 were found statistically significant to explain the dependent variables, the Model 2 was found statistically insignificant. Because of this, the Model 2 was excluded from the study. The short- run coefficients were also found statistically significant to explain the dependent variables of the Model 1 and Model 3. While GDP affects the FDI positively in Model 1, GDP affects the Export negatively in Model 2. The ECT was found statistically significant at 0.01. The speeds of adjustment of the Model 1 and Model 3 were calculated as approximately 93% and 16% levels, respectively. Unlike the ARDL Bounds Model, the Granger Causality test was implemented to measure the variables' causal relationship. It was seen that there is only a unidirectional Granger causal relationship running from GDP to FDI in the Model 1 and from GDP to Export in the Model 2.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Direct Investment, GDP, Exports
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Engin Yüksel
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report assesses the impact of Turkish-Qatari cooperation between 2002 and 2020 on conflict and geopolitical competition across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa based on close examination of its drivers. The report notes that neither ideological nor economic drivers adequately explain the recent blossoming of Turkish-Qatari relations. Converging political interests and pragmatism offer a more compelling explanation. On the one hand, Turkey aspires to play a regional leadership role and uses its cooperation with Qatar to strengthen its soft power claim to leadership of the Sunni world. On the other hand, Qatar seeks to ensure its territorial and dynastical safety from Saudi Arabia and its allies – the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain (the Quartet) – by working with Turkey, the recent thaw of the Al-Ula declaration notwithstanding. Turkish-Qatari collaboration is therefore best seen as a pragmatic partnership enabled by compatible geopolitical perspectives, particularly regarding the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Partnerships, Geopolitics, Conflict, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Jos Meester, Johannes Claes, Claire Elder, Guido Lanfranchi
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report explores SME growth and resilience in the fragile Somali context during the COVID-19 pandemic, including its relation to wider political-economic developments. The pandemic has demonstrated how Somali businesses have continued to be resilient and at times even thrive during crisis, but it has also exposed the sizeable vulnerability associated with the Somali territories’ trade, import dependence and financing system. The global COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply and trans-shipment of goods. This has created shortages and price fluctuations for Somalia’s import-based economy and hampered the country’s payment system. It has also reduced remittances, buying power, access to finance and tax revenues. Shifts in funding streams have realigned political financing patterns and created price instability as political actors seek new ventures through which to move funds. Although the economic shock brought about by COVID-19 has not structurally changed the Somali political economy, it has exacerbated existing patterns of inequality. The contribution of the private sector to the COVID-19 response has likely supported a range of livelihoods throughout the Somali territories, yet the preferential access to governance and strong competitive position that allowed this also highlights a worrying level of inequality and market concentration, and raises questions regarding government legitimacy. It seems likely that the COVID-induced economic crisis has therefore reinforced rather than destabilised those dynamics that prevent small businesses from competing on an equal footing and fragile situations from developing and stabilising.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Politics, COVID-19, Fragile Markets
  • Political Geography: Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Jos Meester, Guido Lanfranchi
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, the UAE and China have vastly expanded their economic, political and military footprint in the Horn of Africa, and their actions now have the potential to shape developments in the region. Room for cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Beijing exists on issues such as maritime security, regional stability, and economic development. Moreover, the two countries’ interaction could lead to improvements in the Horn’s underdeveloped infrastructure by triggering a race to investment. Yet, development and stability in the region might suffer if the strategic interests of external players take precedence over local ones, or if local elites (mis)use external support for narrow domestic political calculations. The EU and its member states have high stakes in the Horn’s stability. To optimise their engagement, European policymakers should be aware of the implications of the Emirati and Chinese presence, and they should strive to improve cooperation among the wide range of external players active in the Horn.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Politics, Military Affairs, Economic Development , Economic Stability
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Aldo Ferrari, Eleonora Tafuro Ambrosetti, Maxim Matusevich, Marianne Belenkaya, Andrei Kolesnikov, Alicja Curanović, Alexander Graef, Paola Magri
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: What drives Russia’s foreign policy in Vladimir Putin’s times? Why did the Kremlin decide to annex Crimea, occupy South Ossetia, intervene in Syria, or give its blessing to Nord Stream II? When explaining Russia’s foreign policy, the consolidation of Putin’s autocratic tendencies and his apparent stability despite many economic and political challenges have contributed – at least in the West – to an excessive “Putin-centrism” and the relative neglect of other agents of domestic politics. As a result, many facets of the country’s foreign policy decisions are misunderstood or shrouded under a thin veil of vagueness and secrecy. This Report attempts to fill this gap, exploring the evolving distribution of political and economic power under the surface of Putin’s leadership to assess the influence of different “lobbies” on Russia’s foreign policy. Who decides what in Moscow? The answer, unsurprisingly, is not always “Vladimir Putin”. All of the contributions in the volume underline the complexity of Russia’s decision-making process beneath the surface of a monolithic and increasingly personalistic government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Politics, Authoritarianism, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Chisako T. Masuo
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: The core problem in the Chinese Coast Guard Law is that it shows the Chinese authorities' readiness to use it as a domestic foundation for implementing a maritime military-civil fusion (MCF) strategy aimed at establishing Chinese control inside the first island chain in East Asia. China has improved its surveillance capabilities over the ocean dramatically in last years. Intentionally adopting an ambiguous strategy mingling security and economic affairs altogether, China is trying to expand its maritime sphere of influence and even make incursions into others' waters, using private fishermen as well as civilian officials and military personnel as the situation demands. Countries that share concerns with China should strengthen international technical cooperation in strategic domains and build seamless surveillance systems to keep an eye on various Chinese actors' external activities.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Maritime, Coast Guard, Readiness
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Zsolt Darvas
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The estimation of payments from the European Union’s COVID-19 economic recovery fund, Next Generation EU (NGEU), to each EU country in 2021-2026 involves uncertainties, yet the overall magnitudes can be estimated with a reasonable degree of precision. In contrast, estimating member states’ contributions to the repayment of EU debt (which will be issued to finance NGEU spending) is burdened with enormous difficulties, primarily related to the uncertainty of gross national income projections up to 2058. Some numerical scenarios can be put forward to illustrate the difficulties in estimating the amounts of such future contributions.
  • Topic: Economics, Governance, European Union, Macroeconomics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Kaan Sahin, Tyson Barker
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Technological leadership has become a central dimension of geopolitical power. In this development, the primary front in the emerging tech power rivalry is between the US (United States of America) and China (People’s Republic of China). The European Union (EU) has fallen behind and needs to catch-up. The stakes in this race are high and will have an impact on economic competition, national security and broader values-based notions of political order. This study sheds light on Europe’s approach to technological mastery. This study looks into the progress of the EU and its member states across selected technological fields and their global entanglements with other nations and technology actors.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Science and Technology, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Markus Jaeger
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: Although President Biden has made US foreign policy more predictable, its medium- and long-term direction and concomitant implications for transatlantic relations are less certain. This report presents three scenarios of how US strategy might evolve. They provide insight into how the United States behaves in the spheres of security and international economy under different conditions and why, suggesting ways for the EU and Germany to preemptively mitigate risks and positively influence future policy.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Grand Strategy, Risk, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Claudia Schmucker
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The European Union must position itself in a new geo-economic environment in which the United States and China are increasingly using their economies to shape international relations, as well as regional and global regulatory structures. Although the EU has a good grasp of the challenges that this new environment poses, it does have vulnerabilities in its bilateral and multilateral channels that require attention.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Environment, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Regulation, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Markus Jaeger
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: The Biden administration has just issued its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance. The guidance document states the need to “build back better at home” and acknowledges that “international economic policies must serve all Americans” – a theme often referred to as “foreign policy for the middle class”. While the interim guidance does not preclude cooperation with China in selected policy areas, it is unambiguous in considering China a strategic competitor. The prospect of intensifying China-US geopolitical and (geo)economic competition is bad news for Germany, which has high value trading and investment relationships with both countries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, National Security, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Didi Kirsten Tatlow, András Rácz
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)
  • Abstract: China and Russia want to maintain Germany’s political status quo: Centrist, at times mercantilist policies, have often worked in their favor. Now, with the Green Party ascendant and public opinion shifting, neither Russia nor China can be sure that classic "centrism” will emerge after September. Russia and China will increase their influence and interference efforts in the run-up to the election and beyond, using informational, political, and cyber tactics, and economic and political networks.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Public Opinion, Elections
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Eurasia, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera Center for Studies
  • Abstract: As long as Turkey pursues its regional ambitions, any understandings with the US and the West will necessarily have a hard ceiling. However, Ankara seems to be pursuing a more conciliatory policy in the region and in its relations with the West for both economic and strategic reasons.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Bilateral Relations, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Rapprochement, Strategic Interests , Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On July 15, Khuzestan in South West Iran witnessed a range of protests against the disintegrating economic and living conditions in the country, particularly the lack of water within the province, which was called ‘water protests’ or ‘thirst protests’, This was extended to other Iranian cities outside Khuzestan. The protesters' demands evolved to demand the overthrow of the regime itself raising slogans of ‘Death to Khamenei’.
  • Topic: Economics, Water, Minorities, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: On the Tunisia’s 64th Republic Day -Sunday, July 25, 2021- the so-called 25 July Movement called for massive protests all over the country. Consequently, many responded and started protesting in Bardo Square, near the parliament, in the capital Tunis. The protests soon spread across other governorates, such as Sousse, the coastal governorate, Sfax (in the south), and El-Kef (in the northwest). In response, President Kais Saied announced, on July 26, 2021, the dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and his cabinet, which consisted of 25 ministries. Saied decided to take charge of executive power until he chooses another politician to form a new government. He further suspended the current parliament and lifted the parliamentary immunity of all its members. Besides, he decided to rule by issuing decrees instead of the laws, which the parliament was supposed to pass. These decisions were announced after the emergency meeting that was chaired by president Saied, and attended by military leaders and security officials on the day the protests and rallies broke out. The protesters demanded reforming the economy, combatting corruption and terrorism, dismissing the Mechichi cabinet, and dissolving the parliament.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Reform, Crisis Management, Ennahda Party
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Mervat Zakaria
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: Uncovering the limitations of the Chinese Iranian agreement The Economic Cooperation Agreement signed between Iran and China in March 2021 unfolded a development plan that includes China injecting $ 400 billion into various sectors of the Iranian economy. This grants Tehran an opportunity to increase the pressures imposed on the new US administration, regarding resumption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action held with the P5+1 in 2015, as well as confronting the surrounding regional threats and alleviating internal pressures by improving the Iranian standard of living.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Karam Saeed
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The stripping of a young man on June 8, by Tunisian police in the district of Sidi Hassine, west of the capital Tunis, has sparked a wave of angry protests that swept the whole country. The popular tensions do not stem only from a rejection of violations by the security forces of the cabinet headed by Hichem El Mechichi. Rather they are being stoked by the escalating political polarization among the presidency, the cabinet and the parliament. This is accompanied with the underperformance of state institutions failing to carry out their essential functions, in addition to the deteriorating living conditions, the messy monetary policies, increasing reliance on borrowing from other countries, while at the same time cutting subsidies. All of this triggered the recent wave of protests.
  • Topic: Economics, Protests, Institutions, Police
  • Political Geography: North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Muthana Al-Obeidi
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: The New Mashriq Plan, which was announced in the Baghdad tripartite summit (which brought together president Abdel-Fattah El-sisi of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and the Iraqi prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi), stimulated a lot of analyses, which reflected two opposing views. Some analysts seemed to be overly optimistic about the outcomes of this Iraqi-Egyptian-Jordanian project. On the other hand, others adopted a more skeptical, even pessimistic, attitude, believing that it will fail to achieve its purpose, on account of the many challenges it has to face. Despite all the analyses available about the project, questions are still being raised, such as: How did the project develop? What is its economic agenda? What about its political dimensions? And, last but not least, what will its future be like?
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Egypt, Jordan
  • Author: Nawar Samad
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Future for Advanced Research and Studies (FARAS)
  • Abstract: A Russian business delegation visited Lebanon in late June 2021 to offer support to the country by cultivating projects in the oil sector, development plans for the energy industry as well as the ports in Beirut and Tripoli. For the past two years, Lebanon, which is going through the worst economic and financial crisis in its history, and has been trying to secure international aid to survive, is now facing the attractive Russian economic bailout offer. Although such an offer is welcomed by Lebanon, the Russian initiative raises concerns across the West, and particularly in the United States, which is in control of Lebanon’s banking system and still has significant influence on the state’s politics and financial sector. The United States believes that it is not possible to dissociate this Russian offer from Moscow’s desire to expand its influence in a region, in which it already established military presence and gained access to the Eastern Mediterranean, where a conflict is underway over investment of newly-discovered gas fields.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Financial Crisis, Gas
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Middle East, Lebanon