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  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Euijin Jung, (Lucy) Lu Zhiyao
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The fraught negotiations over revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have focused largely on US demands to limit imports from Canada and Mexico. But one little discussed step could help the United States increase exports to Canada and Mexico in a way the Trump administration ought to support. US express shipments to its NAFTA partners are far below potential, partly due to what are called low de minimis thresholds in those countries. The de minimis threshold refers to the value of imported goods below which no duty or tax is collected, and the customs declaration is very simple.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joseph Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Many countries have squandered their natural resource endowments. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank routinely hector developing economies to save and invest more of their revenues from resources such as oil and gold for the benefit of future generations after the resources run out. But, can a country save too much of its resource revenues? Gagnon argues that since the first capital transfers to its Government Pension Fund Global in 1996, Norway has saved more than was needed to raise consumption of all generations equally. Norway’s excess saving imposes a cost on the rest of the world during periods of weak aggregate demand and ultralow interest rates. Gagnon proposes a counterfactual saving policy that would have increased Norway’s household consumption by nearly 9 percent on average from 1996 through 2017. The proposed policy would have reduced Norway’s current account surplus by more than one-third, or $13 billion per year on average, from 1996 through 2017. Even now, Norway could raise current consumption by more than US$2,000 per capita, while keeping the contribution of oil wealth to future generations equally large.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Norway
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: President Trump has asserted that trade balances are a key measure of a nation’s commercial success and that large US trade deficits prove that past trade approaches have been flawed. But trade deficits are not in fact a good measure of how well a country is doing with respect to its trade policies. Many of the assumptions on which the administration’s beliefs rest are not supported by the evidence. This Policy Brief argues that trade deficits are not necessarily bad, do not necessarily cost jobs or reduce growth, and are not a measure of whether foreign trade policies or agreements with other countries are fair or unfair. Efforts to use trade policy and agreements to reduce either bilateral or overall trade deficits are also unlikely to produce the effects the administration claims they will and instead lead to friction with US trading partners, harming the people the policies claim to help
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tetyana Payosova, Gary Clyde Hufbauer , Jeffrey Schott
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since its inception in 1995, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism has resolved an impressive number of trade disputes and has earned a reputation as the “crown jewel” of the global trading system. Today, however, the mechanism is in crisis. WTO members have failed to negotiate updates to the rulebook, including rules on dispute settlement itself. As a result, the WTO Appellate Body increasingly is asked to render decisions on ambiguous or incomplete WTO rules. Its interpretations of such provisions have provoked charges by the United States and others that binding Appellate Body rulings, which establish precedents for future cases, effectively circumvent the prerogative of member countries to revise the WTO rulebook and thus undercut the national sovereignty of WTO members. For the past few years, US officials have blocked appointments of Appellate Body members to force WTO members to negotiate new rules that address US concerns and limit the scope for judicial overreach. If this problem is not resolved, the Appellate Body soon will not have enough members to review cases and the vaunted WTO dispute settlement system will grind to a halt.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Christopher G. Collins, Mohammad R Jahan-Parvar, Thomas Pellet
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Immediately following the US presidential election in November 2016, many economists were concerned that increased uncertainty over economic policy would lead to a decline in the US stock market. From the time of the election to the end of 2017, however, the stock market, as measured by the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 index, increased by about 25 percent. Price swings since then have led investors and economists to increasingly ask: Was the stock market rise justified by an increase in actual and expected future dividends, or did it reflect unhealthy price developments, which may reverse in the future?
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Markets
  • Author: William R Cline
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The centerpiece of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 is the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated the net revenue loss from the tax overhaul at $1 trillion over the next decade. The underlying premise of the legislation is that lower corporate taxes will spur growth, with trickle-down wage benefits that spread the resulting economic gains.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Chorzempa
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Formidable barriers stand between the modern financial system and the hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens still using costly informal credit. For many, the financial data that could be used to give them a credit score that would lead to a fair priced loan exist but are not being used. This analysis finds that the most difficult barriers cutting these data off from their potential use for greater financial inclusion are the legal and political restrictions on data sharing and use, economic and competitive concerns from data holders, and the technical difficulty of integrating disparate systems. Policies that encourage coordination between public authorities and private actors in finance and technology can go a long way towards making these data available and driving access to credit in China. This shift would not only help borrowers: It would also encourage the needed economic rebalancing towards consumption, increase competition in the financial sector, raise efficiency through better credit allocation, and contribute to sustainable economic growth and social welfare.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Few challenges facing the European Union—immigration pressures, the need to decrease security dependence on an increasingly erratic United States, and the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (Brexit)—are compelling EU leaders to consider overhauling the revenue side of the European Union’s existing budget. To deal with these challenges in the future, the European Union will need resources—at a time when Europeans are increasingly skeptical about the effectiveness of budget-making in Brussels. Longstanding US budgetary procedures of trust fund accounting and earmarking government revenue towards specific priorities can provide a template for European policymakers. Shifting the EU budget towards more earmarked resources would reduce distrust among taxpayers by limiting Brussels’ spending discretion while focusing expenditures on specific challenges facing the European project.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Wojciech Lorenz
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia’s annexation of Crimea triggered a shift in NATO’s policy towards Georgia. NATO moved from mainly political support for Georgia’s NATO membership aspirations to enhanced practical military cooperation. Although it might be more difficult for Russia to coerce its small neighbour, the lack of visible progress on the path to NATO membership may weaken Georgian morale and lead to a reversal of democratic gains. Hence, it is important that during the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels the Allies offer additional support to help Georgia increase its resilience.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Georgia
  • Author: Łukasz Ogrodnik
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Austria’s government has declared it will be a bridge-builder in the European Union between its western and eastern members. This is in fact rather more an endorsement of the Union cohesion on the eve of Austria’s presidency of the EU Council than a genuine offer to represent the Visegrad states’ interests in the EU. Vienna is also trying to strengthen its position in Central Europe using regional cooperation initiatives such as the Slavkov Triangle, Three Seas Initiative, and the V4+ format. However, Austria’s pro-Russia stances and economic conflicts of interest have burdened relations with regional partners. Common goals remain limited but include the development of transport infrastructure, an endorsement of the European integration of the Western Balkans and strengthening the EU’s external borders.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Austria