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  • Author: Simeon Djankov
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the 15 years of President Vladimir Putin's rule, state control over economic activity in Russia has increased and is greater today than in the immediate postcommunist era. The concentration of political and economic power in Putin's hands has led to an increasingly assertive foreign policy, using energy as a diplomatic tool, while plentiful revenues from extractive industries have obfuscated the need for structural reforms at home. The West's 2014 sanctions on Russia have brought about economic stagnation, and with few visible means of growth, the economy is likely to continue to struggle. Watching Europe struggle with its own growth, in part because of deficiencies in its economic model, Russia will not be convinced to divert from state capitalism without evidence of a different, successful economic model. Changing course can only be pursued in the presence of political competition; the current political landscape does not allow for such competition to flourish
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: After surviving its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and the near collapse of its common currency, Europe is now engulfed by hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa. It needs new and permanent migration institutions and resources not only to accommodate the influx of refugees but also to set up a new border control system throughout the region. These demands pose a challenge for European policymaking as serious as the euro crisis of the last five years. Kirkegaard proposes a migration and mobility union, to be implemented gradually, with the goal of comprehensively reforming European migration policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Politics, Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Angel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The rules and buffers created in the last few years to enable the euro area to withstand another sudden stop of credit and market-driven panic in one or more of its member states are welcome steps, but they are widely recognized as inadequate. Ubide proposes creating a system of stability bonds in the euro area, to be issued by a new European Debt Agency, to partially finance the debt of euro area countries—up to 25 percent of GDP. These stability bonds should be initially backed by tax revenues transferred from national treasuries, but ultimately by the creation of euro area–wide tax revenues, and used to fund the operations of national governments. They could also be used for euro area–wide fiscal stimulus, to complement the fiscal policies of member states. Such bonds would strengthen the euro area economic infrastructure, creating incentives for countries to reduce their deficits but not forcing them to do so when such actions would drive their economies further into a downturn. The bonds would permit the euro area to adopt a more flexible or expansionary fiscal policy during recessions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Ángel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Inflation in the euro area is too low, just 0.9 percent year-on-year in December 2013, and inflation expectations, measured from inflation derivative contracts, have shifted lower, indicating that markets expect some small probability of deflation in 2014 and average inflation over the next five years in the 1.25 to 1.5 percent range. The European Central Bank (ECB), however, seems to be content with this outlook. Its current projections show a very slow economic recovery and inflation at just 1.3 percent in two years' time. Yet the ECB describes the risks to inflation as balanced. This puzzling assessment might be due to the fact that the ECB's definition of price stability is less precise than that employed by other central banks, and some ECB members may interpret the definition as setting a ceiling, rather than a target, for inflation at close to but below 2 percent. But if one considers the ECB's self-assessment of success since its creation—achieving 2 percent inflation on average—its current inflation forecast of 1.3 percent would fall short of achieving its price stability mandate.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Mark Twain once wrote an essay about the difficulties of learning what he called "The Awful German Language." Similar barriers to comprehension seem to plague those trying to explain recent German economic performance. By most measures, Germany has the best functioning labor market among large economies in the West, with levels of employment reaching those in the United States at the end of the turbo-charged 1990s. A debate has stirred, however, about whether this success has come with a price—specifically, whether Germany's domestic structural reforms have lowered living standards for Germany's low income workers and worsened income inequality and whether Germany is fortuitously and perhaps selfishly riding a wave of strong foreign demand for German exports.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For the major advanced economies and the world as a whole, insufficient aggregate demand—that is, too little spending—impeded recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-09. By manipulating their currencies to boost their net exports, many countries made a bad situation worse for their trading partners, which saw demand shifted away. The world needs policies that increase total demand rather than policies that fight over the allocation of the existing amount of demand.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Switzerland, Singapore
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Ukraine has experienced a year of unprecedented political, economic, and military turmoil. The combination of Russian military aggression in the east and a legacy of destructive policies leading to pervasive corruption has plunged the country into an existential crisis. The West, meanwhile, has been largely paralyzed with uncertainty over how to assist Ukraine without reviving Cold War hostilities. Yet all is not lost for Ukraine. A tenuous ceasefire, along with the successful elections of President Petro Poroshenko in May and a new parliament in October offer an opportunity for economic reform. If the current ceasefire in the east holds, Ukraine has a great opportunity to break out of its vicious circle of economic underperformance. Yet, the window of opportunity is likely to be brief. The new government will have to act fast and hard on many fronts to succeed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Natalia Aivazova
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Five years since the global economic crisis began in 2008, many of the world's advanced economies are still struggling with sluggish growth and high levels of joblessness, especially among younger workers. In June 2013 the European Council expressed concern that “youth unemployment has reached unprecedented levels in several Member States” and called for “urgent action.” Much of the debate in Europe and the United States has focused on fiscal and monetary measures; while macroeconomic policy can address cyclical problems, a wide consensus recognizes the need to address structural challenges. One such challenge is a mismatch between the skills demanded by employers and those available among the population, especially younger workers. This mismatch can be addressed in part through the implementation of apprenticeship programs. The European Council recently concluded that “high quality apprenticeships and work-based learning will be promoted, notably through the European Alliance for Apprenticeships.” However, in the United States, where many are struggling to find jobs after graduating, apprenticeship programs hardly draw government and private-sector resources. Boosting apprenticeships could give both European and US workers the much-needed skills and competitive edge.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Labor Issues, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Ángel Ubide
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The euro area has made significant strides in the last six months in designing a banking union. The goal has been to centralize supervisory decision making and improve the management of failing banks while protecting European taxpayers and imposing costs on creditors through so-called bail-ins to reduce moral hazard. Euro area leaders have reached some political agreements, and legislation is being prepared for eventual adoption by the European Parliament and then the various member states. This progress has been hailed as a step in the right direction, with particular praise for the euro area leaders' plan to endow the European Central Bank (ECB) with supervisory powers and create new rules for managing troubled banks.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since gaining independence in December 1991, Ukraine has vacillated between the European Union and Russia for economic and political cooperation. Until recently neither had offered Ukraine much, but in the last few months, things have heated up. Ukraine's intention to sign an Association Agreement for political association and economic integration with the European Union has raised a furor in the Kremlin, which is now trying to block Ukraine from aligning itself with the European Union. Moscow has imposed trade sanctions in clear violation of its obligations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is pursuing an intense confrontation.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, World Trade Organization, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Ukraine, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Simon Johnson, Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In July 2013, the United States and the European Union launched negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The talks aim to craft a comprehensive accord matching or exceeding the reforms achieved in their previous trade pacts. Since both sides have included financial services in prior free trade agreements (FTAs), they implicitly recognized that the TTIP accord would also cover this sector. But what will be included in the financial services chapter is still subject to debate.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten, Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Doom and gloom about the euro abounds. An increasing number of commentators and economists, including here at the Peterson Institute, have begun to question whether the common currency can survive.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Contagion from Greece, together with domestic political uncertainty in Italy, caused interest rates on Italian sovereign debt to spike in the second half of 2011. As shown in figure 1, the risk spread above German bunds for 10-year Italian government bonds rose from 200 basis points in early July 2011, to a range of 300 to 400 basis points after the July 21 Greek package with its new emphasis on private sector involvement. There was a second surge to the 400 to 500 basis point range in November through January, following the October 27 Greek package that insisted on a 50 percent reduction in private sector claims.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Italy
  • Author: William R. Cline, John Williamson
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In 2008 we introduced a semiannual series providing estimates of fundamental equilibrium exchange rates, or FEERs (Cline and Williamson 2008a). The economic concept of FEERs was first set forth by Williamson (1983). An operational method for arriving at multilaterally consistent estimates of FEERs was developed by Cline (2008) and has been applied over the past five years in this series of estimates. This issue marks the valedictory round of the series for Williamson, who is retiring.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Lisbon
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Hyperinflation is one of the most misused words in the English language. Two years ago, I heard a prominent American investor say that we were about to get hyperinflation, “not 15 percent a year as under Jimmy Carter but perhaps 5 percent a year.” Hyperinflation is usually 1,000 percent or more a year. The standard definition by Philip Cagan (1956) is that hyperinflation starts when inflation reaches 50 percent a month, and then the economy is in hyperinflation for one year until monthly inflation falls and stays below 50 percent.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Regional Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 08-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: One of the big questions of our time is whether the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) will survive. Too often, analysts discuss a possible departure of one or several countries from the euro area as little more than a devaluation, but I argue that any country's exit from the euro area would be a far greater event with potentially odious consequences. Exit from the EMU cannot be selective: It is either none or all.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Widespread currency manipulation, mainly in developing and newly industrialized economies, is the most important development of the past decade in international financial markets. In an attempt to hold down the values of their currencies, governments are distorting capital flows by around $1.5 trillion per year. The result is a net drain on aggregate demand in the United States and the euro area by an amount roughly equal to the large output gaps in the United States and the euro area. In other words, millions more Americans and Europeans would be employed if other countries did not manipulate their currencies and instead achieved sustainable growth through higher domestic demand.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: C. Fred Bergsten, Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Getting the diagnosis right is a prerequisite for understanding the euro area predicament and evaluating key decisions taken since early 2010. As we laid out in Bergsten and Kirkegaard (2012), while the euro area faces multiple overlapping and mutually reinforcing elements of fiscal (Greece), banking (Ireland/Spain), and competitiveness (Southern periphery) crises, it is first and foremost facing a crisis of institutional design. The common currency as designed in the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 is a half-built house without the critical components of banking and fiscal union necessary to sustain it through the type of crushing economic and financial down- turn witnessed since October 2008.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Nicolas Véron
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On June 29, 2012, the heads of state and government of the 17 euro area countries issued a landmark statement that started with the sentences “We affirm that it is imperative to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns. The Commission will present Proposals on the basis of Article 127(6) for a single supervisory mechanism shortly. We ask the Council to consider these Proposals as a matter of urgency by the end of 2012. When an effective single supervisory mechanism is established, involving the ECB [European Central Bank] for banks in the euro area the ESM [European Stability Mechanism] could, following a regular decision, have the possibility to recapitalize banks directly” (Euro Area Summit Statement 2012). This statement was received by the investor community and the European public as marking the initial step towards a European banking union, i.e., a shift of the key instruments of banking policy from the national to the European level to enable the formation and maintenance of an integrated European banking system.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anders Åslund
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the current financial crisis plaguing Europe, Latvia stands out for resolving its financial problems quickly and resolutely. After contracting 24 percent in 2008 and 2009, it grew at the rate of 5.5 percent in 2011. The speed and determination. with which the government carried out austerity measures in 2009 and restored confidence after suffering the worst output decline is a crucial lesson for the ailing South European countries—Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Many policy observers and economists have dismissed Latvia's crisis resolution as irrelevant to the situation in Southern Europe. The Latvian orange, they say, cannot be compared with the South European apples. I argue otherwise.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece, Latvia