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  • Author: Damian Wnukowski
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The transformation of ASEAN into an economic community is a significant step in the organisation’s integration process. The project, formally launched at the beginning of 2016, aims at creation of a single market of more than 620 million people, loosens the flow of goods, services and investment, which should underpin regional economic growth and catch the attention of foreign businesses. However, obstacles to economic cooperation remain, such as limitations on the movement of labour or capital, which shows that the integration process is not yet complete. The EU, which can benefit from a well-functioning market in this region, should share its own experience to support the ASEAN integration process.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Politics, Labor Issues
  • 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: Timo Behr, Tuomas Iso-Markku
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The outcome of the German federal elections on September 22nd will have a significant impact on the management of the on-going eurozone crisis and set the tone for the future course of European integration. Although the EU and the euro are largely absent from current electoral debates, significant differences on these issues exist both inside and between German political parties in the run-up to the September polls. However, in the absence of significant debate, fundamental decisions over the future of EU integration will be postponed until after the election, when a cross-party compromise appears more feasible. Regardless of the election outcome, the next German government is likely to prove more conciliatory on austerity policies in Europe and will boost domestic spending, but will retain some red lines on further EU integration. While the rhetoric and the pace of change might differ significantly depending on the shape that the next coalition government takes, German eurozone policies will continue to trade fiscal solidarity for structural reforms.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Since the US Federal Reserve signalled that a turn in the interest rate cycle may be on the horizon, UK and to a lesser extent Eurozone interest rates have tracked US rates higher. But the UK and Eurozone economies are less well placed than the US to cope with higher interest rates. Simulations carried out on our Global Economic Model show that higher rates would be particularly harmful to the UK economy's embryonic recovery. In an attempt to stem the rise in interest rates, the Bank of England and the ECB have introduce forward guidance but with little, if any, success. Markets do not seem convinced by the Bank of England's commitment to forward guidance and are testing its resolve. It seems likely that over time both central banks may have to strengthen their forward guidance, in the case of the Bank of England by augmenting it with further quantitative easing.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Mario Draghi's commitment a year ago to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro looks to have been an important turning point in the Eurozone crisis. Systemic risk has fallen, the euro has strengthened, spreads on peripheral debt have narrowed and bond and equity markets have become less sensitive to bad Eurozone news flow. Indeed, to date markets seem to have taken Draghi at his word and seem unwilling to test his resolve. But although confidence in the outlook for the Eurozone among investors has risen over the past year, the real economy is yet to emerge from recession. We continue to expect this to happen in the second half of this year, a view supported by this week's improvement in the PMI data. However, unless action is taken to reduce borrowing costs paid by households and companies in the peripheral economies, the recovery will be anaemic. With that in mind, the ECB's announcement that it will ease its collateral rules only marginally is disappointing.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: Comments from the US Federal Reserve aimed at signalling that monetary policy cannot stay at historically low levels indefinitely have caused bond yields and credit spreads to rise both in the US and abroad. Higher borrowing rates are particularly inappropriate for the Eurozone which, unlike the US, is still struggling to emerge from recession. This tightening of financial conditions will place pressure on the ECB to act. Although surveys show that investors' bearishness on US government bonds is at an extreme level, suggesting that in the coming weeks bond yields are more likely to fall than rise, the longer-term trend in bond yields is now upwards. But we do not expect the rise in yields over the next two or three years to kill off the US recovery. Consequently, we believe that the US equity market is still on an upward uptrend, albeit one that will experience regular spikes in volatility as the Fed gradually moves away from its ultra-loose policy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The European Central Bank has postponed any plans to introduce targeted measures to reduce the cost of borrowing for small and medium-sized businesses in the credit-starved peripheral Eurozone economies. Given the widening gap between the lower costs of borrowing for companies in Germany and France and the higher costs in the periphery, we think that there is a strong case for the ECB to take action. Simulations using our Global Macroeconomic Model show that if half the tightening in credit conditions seen since 2008 were to be reversed within two years, Eurozone GDP would be 0.7% higher by the end of 2017 than under our baseline forecast. There would be over 400,000 fewer people unemployed. This would be particularly beneficial for peripheral Eurozone risk assets.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Publication Date: 06-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The housing market is recovering, according to recent price and activity data. Post-crisis price corrections were smaller in the UK than in the US and much of Europe, and demand is now being bolstered by the government's Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes. This has given rise to some worries that the UK is in danger of inflating another house price bubble. While housing supply is very tight, we are not convinced that these schemes will have enough impact on demand to cause prices to take off.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe