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  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since Azerbaijan regained its independence in 1991, it has been only the world's second Shi'ite-led state after Iran. Azerbaijan respects separation of mosque and state, and despite pressure from its neighbors, remains independent from political domination. Given its strategic importance, safeguarding the country's independence remains a US priority. And the threat from Iranian meddling is particularly acute. From Tehran's perspective, the combination of Azerbaijan's pre-19th-century Iranian past, modern Azerbaijan's embrace of secularism, and its relative economic success challenge Iran's legitimacy. As Iranian authorities have sought to undermine and destabilize Azerbaijan through political, clerical, charitable, and media channels, Azerbaijan's counterstrategy has been both restrained and effective.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Sovereignty, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Derek M. Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: New data published in the American Enterprise Institute-Heritage Foundation China Global Investment Tracker show that China continues to invest heavily around the world. Outward investment excluding bonds stood at $85 billion in 2013 and is likely to reach $100 billion annually by 2015. Energy, metals, and real estate are the prime targets. The United States in particular received a record of more than $14 billion in Chinese investment in 2013. Although China has shown a pattern of focusing on one region for a time then moving on to the next, the United States could prove to be a viable long-term investment location. The economic benefits of this investment flow are notable, but US policymakers (and those in other countries) should consider national security, the treatment of state-owned enterprises, and reciprocity when deciding to encourage or limit future Chinese investment.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Sovereign Wealth Funds
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: William C. Greenwalt
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Pentagon has been undergoing major procurement reform since 1984, but hoped-for results have not been achieved. Bipartisan acquisition reform legislation was passed in the 1990s, but these positive changes did not hold. At the heart of the current procurement dilemma is too much faith in central planning and too little faith in the free market. Policymakers must first remedy the incentives underlying reform, and five overarching categories are driving the misplaced incentives: trust in central planning leading to increased bureaucracy, preference for defense-unique versus commercial solutions, distrust of the defense industry and profit motives, fear that the workforce is incapable of exercising discretion, and finally, preoccupation with cost certainty and maintaining low prices over achieving results and value. By reaching out to and incentivizing the private sector, the Pentagon can help reform the procurement system by lowering costs, restoring competition, and delivering taxpayers the best value for their money.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Economics, Markets, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Bruce E. Bechtol
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: South Korea is in a unique position. It is an economic powerhouse and a thriving democracy that faces the most ­ominous and imminent threat on its borders of any democracy in the world. Moreover, this is a threat that continues to evolve, with increasing missile, cyber, special operations, and nuclear capabilities and a new leader who shows no signs that he will be any less ruthless or belligerent than his father. To meet this threat, Seoul has undertaken a number of efforts to better deter and defend against North Korean capabilities and provocations, including increasing the defense budget, upping training with US forces, creating new command elements, and establishing plans for preemptive strikes against imminent North Korean missile launches. However, in part because of administration changes in Seoul, the South Korean effort has been uneven. And decisions remain to be made in the areas of missile defense, tactical fighter aircraft, and command-and-control arrangements that will be significant for not only South Korea but all states that have an interest in Northeast Asia's peace and stability.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Development, Emerging Markets, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: United States, East Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Bryan McGrath
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Despite the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) taking its name from the ocean that ties Canada and the United States to their European allies, for most of NATO's history the alliance focused primarily on land power. However, with continental Europe at peace, the drawdown in Afghanistan, the rise of general unrest in North Africa and the Levant, and the American intent to pivot toward Asia, questions are increasingly arising about the capabilities of NATO's European navies to project power and sustain operations around their eastern and southern maritime flanks. These questions have grown even more urgent in the wake of those same navies' uneven performance in the 2011 military campaign against Muammar Gaddafi's Libya. Examining the major navies of America's European allies reveals a general desire, with the exception of Germany, to maintain a broad spectrum of naval capabilities, including carriers, submarines, and surface combatants. But given the significant reduction in each country's overall defense budget, procuring new, sophisticated naval platforms has come at the cost of rapidly shrinking fleet sizes, leaving some to wonder whether what is driving the decision to sustain a broad but thin naval fleet capability is as much national pride as it is alliance strategy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, NATO, Cold War, Treaties and Agreements, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, North America
  • Author: Andrew Shearer
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Like many other Western states, following the Cold War, Australia cut its defense budget, resulting in significant shortfalls in key military capabilities. Since the mid-1990s, successive Australian governments have outlined plans intended to boost the capabilities of Australia's armed forces. However, these strategic ambitions have in recent years been undercut by changes in government spending priorities and shortfalls in the national budget, jeopardizing the long-standing technological advantage Australian forces have enjoyed over other states in the region. As major Asian states such as China continue to grow their economies and modernize their armed forces, Australia must commit sufficient resources to its modernization agenda or risk losing its ability to help shape the Asia-Pacific ­security environment and risk fulfilling its role as a key US partner in America's pivot to Asia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Cold War, Economics, Armed Forces
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Ahmad Khalid Majidyar
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: For decades the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been America's indispensable ally in the Middle East, and the ­Kingdom's stability remains vital for US strategic interests in the region. While antigovernment protests in the Kingdom's Sunni-majority regions have been small and sporadic in the wake of Arab Spring, there has been an unremitting unrest in the strategic Eastern Province, home to Saudi Arabia's marginalized Shi'ite minority and major oil fields. As in the 1980s, if government repression and discrimination push the Shi'ites to extremes, some may resort to violence and terrorism, jeopardizing American interests in the region, benefitting Iran and ­al-Qaeda, disrupting the equilibrium of global oil markets, and adversely affecting economic recovery in the West. To ensure lasting stability in the Kingdom, the United States must work with the Saudi government to achieve gradual but meaningful reforms that include integrating the Shi'ites into the Kingdom's sociopolitical system.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Islam, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Arabia, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Kuwait is perhaps America's closest Arab ally; it remains the only country in the Middle East on whose behalf the United States went to war. Although the Islamic Republic of Iran has at times tried to leverage Kuwait's large Shi'ite minority against the Kuwaiti state, it has mostly been unsuccessful. Indeed, Kuwait's Shi'ite ­community has repeatedly worked to prove its loyalty to Kuwait. Recent political instability, however, is again opening the door for sectarian forces to undermine Kuwait and, by extension, an important pillar of US defense strategy.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Defense Policy, Islam, Bilateral Relations, Sectarian violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The array of postbubble stresses and uncertainties identified in the January 2010 Economic Outlook (“The Year Ahead”) promised that the new year would see plenty of volatility in markets. That is exactly what is playing out as we move through the first quarter. As risks accumulate, it may be that 2010 is shaping up as a mirror image of 2009, reversing last year's down-then-up pattern with an up-then-down pattern this year.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Market conditions in the United States, Japan, China, and Europe portend a weakening global economy. While not dramatic in any one region save an earthquake-burdened Japan, these conditions could accumulate to create a problematic loss of momentum for global growth, especially compared to current upbeat consensus views for the second half of 2011.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Global Recession
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe
  • Author: Gary J. Schmitt, Thomas Donnelly
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: National security is neither a "sacred cow" nor just another federal budget line item. Providing for the common defense of the American people and our homeland is the primary responsibility of policymakers in Washington. However, in an effort to protect social entitlements like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the health care reform law from serious deficit and debt reduction efforts, President Obama has proposed not only to raise taxes, but also to cut another $400 billion more from future national security spending. As Obama said on June 29, 2011, "[Outgoing Secretary of Defense] Bob Gates has already done a good job identifying $400 billion in cuts, but we're going to do more."
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Debt, War
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The future of America's national security hangs in the balance. Facing a looming Thanksgiving deadline, a select bipartisan panel of 12 lawmakers is struggling to hammer out legislation that would reduce the federal deficit by more than $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. However, it remains unclear if they will succeed.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Debt
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: February always brings with it the president's proposals for taxing and spending in the coming fiscal year. The president's budget proposals are accompanied by congressional and administration estimates of the path deficits and government debt are expected to take in coming years. Last year, those projections, especially a three-year string of actual and projected deficits over a trillion dollars from 2009 through 2011, excited widespread comment and handwringing about runaway deficits and their allegedly damaging effects in the form of lower growth, higher inflation, and higher interest rates.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: We can expect 2010 to be a volatile year. This likelihood is underscored by looking back at 2008 and 2009. Two thousand eight was a highly volatile year leading up to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September, which was followed by the risk of a total systemic meltdown. That sharp and obvious risk spike prompted massive policy responses that were simply the largest that central banks, with rate cuts and liquidity provision, and governments, with tax cuts and spending increases, could manage. The result—beginning in March 2009—was a linear rise in the prices of risky assets, the result of massive relief once the slip into a global depression had been averted and the acute phase of the crisis in the financial sector had passed.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe
  • Author: Thomas P. Gies
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: How might recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) affect federal labor law? Controversial appointee Craig Becker is known for advocating policies that fall outside the mainstream view of labor laws. Although the views of one member of the NLRB will not automatically translate into dramatic policy changes, concerns that members of the NLRB may rewrite important principles of federal labor laws through litigation are not unfounded. Whether President Barack Obama's NLRB would be able to enact key provisions of the Employee Free Choice Act through litigation rather than congressional action remains to be seen.
  • Topic: Labor Issues, Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War, administrations of both political parties have underfunded the military, first harvesting a "peace dividend" by reducing the size of the force and then repeatedly postponing investments needed to replace worn out equipment and preserve the technological advantages that have been a traditional source of American strength. Now, just as this strain on the military--engaged in today's persistent irregular wars, yet unable to prepare fully for the wars of the future--reaches a point of crisis, come new calls to cut the Defense Department's budget, amplified by the fears of a faltering economy, the federal government's desire to boost spending elsewhere, and its inability to rein in other spending. Yet the arguments frequently made for Pentagon spending cuts are concocted from a mix of faulty analysis and out-of-context "facts."
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Debt
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On December 16, 2008, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke exercised decisive leadership at a watershed meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). In its official statement after the meeting, the committee pledged to “employ all available tools to promote the resumption of sustainable economic growth and to preserve price stability.” The pledge to preserve price stability was not a commitment to fight inflation, as is typical, but a highly unusual commitment to fight deflation.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The global financial and economic crisis that emerged in August 2007 has entered a dismaying fourth phase. The January 17–18, 2009, weekend edition of the Financial Times, which has been a major chronicler of the crisis and its many aspects, laid out a frightening timeline of an accelerating and intensifying oscillatory cycle of crisis and failed policy response that started just fifteen months ago. Each phase begins with a shock and ends with a seemingly decisive policy measure meant to contain or “fix” the crisis. Each phase is shorter than the previous one and culminates in a much larger policy response. Throughout the crisis, the losses of financial institutions have steadily grown at an accelerating pace as the underlying conditions in the financial sector and, since September 2008, in the underlying global economy deteriorate more rapidly. Such a disturbing pattern must be truncated by a large, coordinated global policy response to arrest the accelerating erosion of the market capitalization of multinational banks and insurance companies that has resulted.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: As the global financial and economic crisis has grown increasingly dire—the deterioration just since the November U.S. election is breathtaking—market participants and policymakers alike have looked to three past crisis models as part of an intensifying search for ways out of the current crisis. First, the Great Depression of the 1930s is being examined ever more closely for possible lessons now that commentators have moved past an under- standable reluctance to mention that experience as relevant to today's situation. Second, the Scandinavian financial crisis of the early 1990s, which included a proactive move toward bank nationalization by the Swedish government, is also widely discussed. Finally, many allusions have been made to the disquieting parallels between today's U.S. experience and that of Japan during its “lost decade” (1991–2001) of recession and deflation, especially after 1998.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On March 18, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke intensified the important battle against global deflation with a commitment to expand the Fed's balance sheet by an extra $1.15 trillion. With some luck and persistence, that step could boost growth by a percentage point or more and, even more important, substantially reduce the risk of deflation.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ronald W. Reagan
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In 1988, as he was about to step down as president, Ronald Reagan received the Francis Boyer Award, AEI's highest honor. He chose for the theme of his speech that December evening, eleven months before the Berlin Wall fell, the struggle of people everywhere for freedom. In his speech, he anticipated the momentous events that would occur in 1989: “So while our hopes today are for a new era, let us remember that if that new era is indeed upon us, there was nothing inevitable about it. It was the result of hard work—and of resolve and sacrifice on the part of those who love freedom and dare to strive for it.” Freedom works, he said. He saluted the Solzhenitsyns, the Sakharovs, and the Sharanskys, saying, “We have seen the thrilling spectacle of mankind refusing to accept the shackles placed upon us.” As we recall the events of November 1989, it is important to remember the struggle and to recommit ourselves to the hard work of extending freedom to those who have yet to enjoy its blessings.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Cold War, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Berlin
  • Author: Christopher DeMuth
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: AEI senior fellow Irving Kristol—godfather of the neoconservative movement and one of the towering intellectual figures of the twentieth century—died peacefully on September 18 at the age of eighty-nine. Mr. Kristol's connection to AEI began long before he became a full-time scholar at the Institute in 1988. In 1973, he gave the first of AEI's Distinguished Lectures on the Bicentennial of the United States. The lectures were delivered at historic sites around the country, and Mr. Kristol's lecture, “The American Revolution as a Successful Revolution,” was given at St. John's Church in Washington, where many of the nation's presidents have worshipped. We reprint excerpts from it below after a tribute to him written by Christopher DeMuth, the D. C. Searle Senior Fellow at AEI.
  • Topic: Cold War, Politics, International Affairs, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: China's economic statistics have become the envy of the world. On July 15, China reported a 7.9 percent growth rate for the second quarter of 2009 compared to the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, China's stock markets are on fire, and its property markets are heating up fast as well. Shanghai's two stock markets are up 75 percent and 95 percent respectively so far this year. The more widely traded Hong Kong Index is up 27 percent, a stellar performance compared to largely flat stock markets in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In even stronger contrast, Russia, which is one of China's emerging-market peers, has seen its economy drop by 10.1 percent during the first half of this year, while its stock market has struggled as well.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Japan, China, Europe, Hong Kong
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: A new truth of geopolitics has emerged during 2009. It is that the complex and rapidly evolving Sino-American relationship has become the most important bilateral relationship either country has. To this observation, made recently by William C. McCahill Jr. in the November 13 special issue of The China Report, must be added another claim: the course of the Sino-American relationship in both the economic and the political spheres will play a growing role in determining the levels of global economic and geopolitical stability. Trips like President Barack Obama's three-day visit to Shanghai and Beijing November 15–17 will probably be made with increasing frequency in coming years.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, America, Shanghai, Beijing
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The recent steps by the Federal Reserve to preempt deflation have—ironically and unexpectedly— prompted a surge in inflation fears both inside the United States and abroad, especially in China. Specifically, the Fed's measures to go beyond the stimulus inherent in a zero percent federal funds rate by purchasing Treasury and mortgage securities has conjured visions—especially in the eyes of major buyers of Treasury securities, China foremost— of massive money printing to underwrite trillions of dollars of additional government borrowing at low interest rates. As markets have shown, if that were the Fed's intention—which it decidedly is not—the effort would fail because excessive money printing—creating a money supply larger than the quantity of money demanded— would push up interest rates as inflation expectations rose.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: More than two years have passed since the U.S. housing bubble burst. That event ushered in a financial crisis that was not only intense but also stunning. So stunning in fact, that in August of last year, just a month before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the global economy was close to a crisis worthy of comparison with the Great Depression, yet neither the markets nor the Federal Reserve had much of an inkling of what was to come. The Standard and Poor's (S) 500 Index had come down to about 1,300 from its October 2007 high of 1,576. Positive growth had just been reported for the U.S. economy during the second quarter of 2008 at an annual rate of 2.8 percent (later revised down to 1.5 percent). Almost one percentage point of that growth came from U.S. consumption, and government spending also contributed. The wave of relief after the Bear Stearns scare in March 2008 had provided a nice boost to the economy and to markets. That boost was further enhanced by the substantial contribution to growth from net exports (2.9 percentage points) thanks to what was, then, continuing strength in the global economy, especially in China, which had reported blistering 10.1 percent year-over-year growth in the second quarter of 2008. These and other positive components more than offset a drag from inventories and residential investment. In short, the real economy had not shown much evidence of damage emanating from the chaos that was churning in the financial sector.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The only thing scarier than the slide of the dollar, which has dropped by 15 percent since March, would be an attempt by the Federal Reserve to stop it. Such an attempt would show that we have learned nothing from the Bank of Japan's disastrous premature exit from a zero-interest policy in August 2000. Closer to home, it would resemble the Fed's premature move to mop up “excess” reserves by doubling reserve requirements in three steps between August 1936 and May 1937, which was followed by the third-worst recession of the twentieth century, from May 1937 to June 1938.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Wall Street is dancing again to the music of a sharp rise in stock prices. The question that remains is whether Main Street, currently languishing in a sad world of job losses, unavailable credit, and weakened balance sheets, will get to join the party. To put the question more precisely, will the “adverse feedback loop” that saw a financial collapse last fall that crushed the real economy work in reverse, so that a financial bounce boosts the real economy in coming quarters? The jury is still out on this important question.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Now that Wall Street and the Federal Reserve have finished congratulating themselves for not having been alarmists—in other words, for failing to recognize that a recession was looming—they are now facing up to the onset of a U.S. recession and a rapidly spreading financial crisis. Having been late to reach that conclusion, they now grudgingly admit that we may have a brief "V-shaped" recession and are apparently hoping that Fed rate cuts and a fiscal stimulus package will quickly solve the economy\'s problems.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Japan experienced a disastrous decade of economic stagnation and deflation from 1991 to 2001 after bubbles in its stock market and land market collapsed. While some economic pain was unavoidable—given a 60 percent plunge in equity prices between late 1989 and August 1992, accompanied by the onset of what ultimately became a 70 percent drop in land values by 2001—the "lost decade" was not an inevitable outcome. It required a series of persistently wrong economic policy decisions that ignored the lessons learned in America's Great Depression of the 1930s and the subsequent research on the causes of that painful period.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, America, Asia
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In October 1907, J. P. Morgan stemmed a financial panic by coercing other banks to join him in providing credit to Wall Street brokerage firms teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.[1] This year, over the weekend including March 15—the ominous Ides of March—James Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, was the one to act. With the Federal Reserve squarely behind him and assuming the risk, he prevented a Bear Stearns bankruptcy by agreeing to purchase the firm, providing it with a decent burial, at a price of $2 per share. Bear Stearns's stock had been valued at over $160 per share just a year ago. The $2 price virtually wiped out the value of that stock, one-third of which is owned by its 14,000 employees. This was clearly not a bailout for Bear Stearns shareholders, and whether or not the steps taken by the Fed on March 16 were sufficient to arrest a further collapse of available credit and the economy remains to be seen. As long as house prices keep falling, the underlying problem for credit markets and the economy remains.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The desire to enhance and store wealth has been present ever since income rose above subsistence levels. In ancient times, prior to the creation of symbolic financial claims on wealth, wealth storage was, quite literally, the storage of intrinsically valuable articles in temples, pyramids, or other such formidable structures. Even today in Tibet, which was long a theocracy, a major repository of wealth can be seen in religious statues of solid gold resting in temples.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The bursting of every bubble is followed by statements suggesting that the worst is over and that the real economy will be unharmed. The weeks since mid-March have been such a period in the United States. The underlying problem—a bust in the residential real-estate market—has, however, grown worse, with peak-to-trough estimates of the drop in home prices having gone from 20 to 30 percent in the span of just two months. Meanwhile, the attendant damage to the housing sector and to the balance sheets tied to it has grown worse and spread beyond the subprime subsector.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Fed is in a bind, pulled toward easier monetary policy by a weak economy and fragile credit markets, while simultaneously needing to resist higher inflation. On Monday, June 9, after a weekend of headlines regarding a half-percentage-point rise in the unemployment rate, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke gave a pathbreaking speech entitled "Outstanding Issues in the Analysis of Inflation" at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's fifty-third Annual Economic Conference. In that speech, after suggesting that the risks of a substantial  economic downturn had diminished over the past month and citing further progress in the repair of financial and credit markets, he proceeded to address the problem of rising inflation. In two sentences, he contributed to a sharp, fifty-basis-point rise in two-year bond yields and boosted the market's assessment of the chance of a fifty-basis-point rise in the federal-funds target rate at the September 16 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) from virtually zero to nearly 70 percent.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ted Brennan, Robert "Bobby" Charles, Henry Cuellar, Roberta Jacobson, Armand Peschard-Sverdrup
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Drug abuse and related crime claim nearly thirty-five thousand American lives and sap $180 billion from our economy every year.1 Although the United States is understandably preoccupied with the threat of Islamic terrorism, it must never let down its guard against the well-financed, bloodthirsty, illicit drug cartels that exact a staggering price on our well-being and economy. President George W. Bush's fiscal year 2009 budget proposes to spend well over $14 billion for federal programs to suppress demand and attack supply. Because most cocaine and heroin find their way to the U.S. market through Mexico, it is essential that Mexican authorities confront the illegal drug syndicates whose cross-border crime threatens both countries. The Mérida Initiative—named for the Yucatan city where Bush, then-president of Guatemala Óscar Berger, and Mexican president Felipe Calderón met in March 2007—proposes to make a $1.4 billion multiyear U.S. contribution to support Mexican law enforcement and judicial reforms in their antidrug efforts. The challenges are formidable: Mexico's relatively weak judicial institutions are hard-pressed to take on these well-heeled gangsters on their own, and both sides are protective of their national sovereignty. Nevertheless, both countries have signaled their commitment to this cause: at a February 7, 2008, hearing, the Drug Enforcement Agency's chief of intelligence, Anthony Placido, praised the tangible measures being taken and sacrifices being made by Mexico today and urged skeptical U.S. lawmakers to seize the opportunity to cooperate with Mexican allies against a common foe. Despite heavy media focus on the counternarcotics elements of the initiative, when the specifics of the initiative are examined, it is clear that its aim is to strengthen Mexico's security institutions, enabling them to deal with the threat nonstate actors—be they terrorists, organized crime, criminal gangs, or domestic radical groups—pose to the country's security.
  • Topic: Crime, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: One step ahead of the devil himself, Fidel Castro is proposing to pass the baton to his revolutionary partner and younger brother, Raúl. With characteristic audacity, the old dictator is hoping that he can bamboozle a gullible international community into recognizing such a succession as a fait accompli. Of course, there is no reason that the successor regime will be able to consummate this arrangement as long as the rest of the world gives the welfare of the Cuban people a second thought. Fidel's disintegration makes way for an extraordinarily expectant time in Cuba's history. Men and women of good will on the island may yet snatch their future from a decrepit and discredited regime, and outsiders' only role should be to help them in every way possible. We should bear in mind at this critical hour that one false move—by the United States, in particular—could confer legitimacy on a “new” Cuban dictator and consign 11 million Cubans to prolonged desperation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Communism
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Megan Davy
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) economies, usually susceptible to international financial turmoil, are especially vulnerable to even minor tremors in U.S. markets. Regional policymakers and entrepreneurs, therefore, have been closely watching the current U.S. subprime credit crisis. Here is the good news: all signs point to relatively minor symptoms in LAC countries—despite a rocky financial history during the 1980s and 1990s—thanks in large part to reforms undertaken in response to previous financial crises, as well as continued high commodity prices that will likely buoy export markets. Although the economic downturn in the United States and other global markets will likely expose lingering weaknesses in the region's economy, this latest crisis can provide an impetus to complete the unfinished business of building more modern, resilient economies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: With a newly elected South Korean president willing to join the United States in standing up to North Korea, the Bush administration now has a unique opportunity to put pressure on Kim Jong Il to abandon his country's nuclear program and desist from its human rights abuses. In this article, AEI's Nicholas Eberstadt asks whether the administration will seize the opportunity.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Douglas J. Besharov
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Finding that an op-ed by Michael Gerson poorly defined the conservative approach to social problems, Douglas J. Besharov outlined six principles that underlie the conservative position on government social programs. Besharov notes that being cautious about the possible ill effects of government intervention is not unique to conservatives. It is simply realistic to be skeptical about the federal government's ability to mitigate serious social welfare problems.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Amity Shlaes
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Democratic presidential candidates are invoking the New Deal as a model for addressing infrastructure, economic, and employment problems in the United States. But a careful look at New Deal spending suggests, in the words of Amity Shlaes, "not how much the public works achieved . . . [but] how little." Advocates for new federal government spending on highways, buildings, and roads should carefully weigh the need against the damage that comes from projects and jobs created for political reasons.
  • Topic: Government, Industrial Policy, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Henry Olsen
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's pro-faith, pro-government message is similar to the platforms of conservative political parties on the European continent. But is the Christian Democratic party model one that the GOP should consider emulating?
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Andrew G. Biggs
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Until recently, Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was surprisingly responsible regarding Social Security, noting the urgency of reform and saying all options should be on the table. But having cornered himself with Democratic activists whose attitudes toward Social Security reform range from demagoguery to denial, his solution to the system's problems has veered leftward. He now plans to fix Social Security exclusively with higher taxes. The new Obama plan would not only fail to resolve the system's long-term problems, but would also impose significant costs on the economy as a whole.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott Gottlieb
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Although John Edwards is no longer a presidential candidate, his attacks on the U.S. health care system will continue to resonate. As a candidate, he used the tragic case of Nataline Sarkisyan, who died while awaiting a liver transplant, as an indictment of the U.S. medical system and an argument for a European-style single-payer system. But AEI's Scott Gottlieb, M.D., argues that there is little support for Edwards's argument that a single-payer system would be better for people who need transplants. The data show, he says, that organ access in the United States, our willingness to transplant the sickest patients, and U.S. medical outcomes are among the best in the world.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Amity Shlaes, Vincent R. Reinhart, Allan H. Meltzer, John L. Chapman
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: How fragile is our financial system? What are the implications of the Fed's actions on Bear Stearns? Do we need new ways of thinking about the risks the system entails? In recent articles, four AEI scholars have looked closely at the evidence of what went wrong and what is ahead.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Walter Berns
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Debate over whether to keep the Electoral College or move to a system of direct popular election of the president is a hardy perennial of the presidential election season. In this article, the eminent constitutional scholar Walter Berns reminds us of the arguments in favor of the Electoral College and dissects the proposals of those who would nullify it without having to abolish it.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alan D. Viard
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Buried in the 227-page Social Security trustees' report are some dramatic numbers about Social Security's future promises. AEI resident scholar Alan D. Viard tells us that "a typical worker retiring in 2050 has been promised 47 percent more than today's retirees, and one retiring in 2080 has been promised more than double today's benefits." To address the program's financial problems, he says, the rules need to be changed to link future retirees' benefits to inflation. That move, he says, would go a long way toward solving the system's problems.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James Q. Wilson
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In an article in the Los Angeles Times on March 30, 2008, James Q. Wilson dissected a new report that suggests the United States incarcerates too many people. Wilson acknowledges that there are problems with U.S. imprisonment policy, but he maintains that an argument about the cost of prisons needs to take into account their benefits.
  • Topic: Civil Society
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Danielle Pletka
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On April 8, Iran announced that it was expanding its plans to enrich uranium, despite demands from the United Nations (UN) Security Council that it halt the program. Iran will start installing six thousand more centrifuges in addition to its three thousand existing ones. In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, AEI vice president Danielle Pletka reviewed recent U.S. and UN policy toward Iran; examined the evidence on sanctions, arguing that they are taking a toll on Iran's economy; and looked at what other options we now have for dealing with Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The name Fethullah Gülen is virtually unknown in the United States. Self-exiled here for more than a decade, this prominent Turkish theological and political thinker is the leader of a movement estimated conservatively to have more than a million followers in Turkey. The movement controls a business empire of charities, real estate, companies, and schools. Thousands of Gülen's followers populate Turkey's bureaucracies. AEI's Michael Rubin believes that, just as many people remained clueless or belittled concerns about Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's intentions in Iran thirty years ago, many may be making the same mistake today about Gülen, who professes to want to weld Islam with tolerance and a pro-European outlook. Rubin introduces us to a man who could play a prominent role in Turkey's future at a time when Turkey's "secular order and constitutionalism have never been so shaky."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: N. Gregory Mankiw
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Income inequality is rising, and in this article, AEI visiting scholar N. Gregory Mankiw looks at the statistical evidence and causes. Government policy, he says, is unlikely to be the culprit because inequality has risen in Democratic and Republican administrations--we need to look instead at skills-based technological change and educational attainment. Education, Mankiw says, is key to understanding the broader trends, but it cannot fully explain the incomes of the super-rich.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Political Geography: United States