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  • Author: Masahito Ambashi
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: This policy brief presents an overview of the ASEAN economy in terms of its economic relationship with multinationals, particularly Japanese companies, that have long invested in this region. ASEAN has been an attractor of foreign direct investment (FDI). Business interest in ASEAN has increased again recently due to the (i) relatively low wage of ASEAN compared to China, (ii) establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), (iii) economic partnership network with a core of ASEAN countries, (iv) large-scale market covered by ASEAN, and (v) rise of CLMV countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam). In these trends, ASEAN has established a reciprocal economic relationship with other countries and regions. To develop its economy, ASEAN member states are expected to further advance the AEC at a high level. Hence, ASEAN must address challenges such as deepening further economic integration and narrowing development gaps in the region. Most importantly, ASEAN still needs to increase the attractiveness of its 'whole region' as an essential and integral part of global value chains to draw further FDI.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Andre Sapir, Dirk Schoenmaker, Nicolas Veron
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union creates an opportunity for the remaining EU27 to accelerate the development of its financial markets and to increase its resilience against shocks. Equally, Brexit involves risks for market integrity and stability, because the EU including the UK has been crucially dependent on the Bank of England and the UK Financial Conduct Authority for oversight of its wholesale markets. Without the UK, the EU27 must swiftly upgrade its capacity to ensure market integrity and financial stability. Furthermore, losing even partial access to the efficient London financial centre could entail a loss of efficiency for the EU27 economy, especially if financial developments inside the EU27 remain limited and uneven.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Political stability, Brexit
  • Political Geography: Britain, Europe
  • Author: Zsolt Darvus
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The ‘poverty’ target set by the European Commission aims to lift “over 20 million people out of poverty” between 2008 and 2020 in the EU27. Progress to date against this target has been disappointing. Why is it so hard to reach the Europe 2020 ‘poverty’ target? What does the poverty indicator actually measure?
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jason Thistlethwaite, Melissa Menzies
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: To promote climate change risk mitigation in financial markets, the Financial Stability Board recently proposed the creation of a Climate Disclosure Task Force, coordinated through the G20, to develop standards for companies to disclose their exposure to climate change risks. With more than 400 existing disclosure schemes, this task will be challenging. This brief identifies the key categories of governance practices that must be addressed, how these divergent practices challenge end-users, and how the establishment of criteria that define effective and efficient reporting is a critical first step for the Climate Disclosure Task Force.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David S. Mitchell, Jeremy Smith
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: On November 18, 2015, the Obama Administration's Department of Labor (DOL) published two important legal opinions that propose to give states new options for expanding retirement coverage for private-sector workers. These opinions open the door for states to move forward along one of two distinct paths: a payroll deduction plan that avoids ERISA, or a more traditional model that would fall under ERISA. This issue brief summarizes these rules and highlights the tradeoffs state policymakers will face when deciding which of these new avenues to pursue. The brief will be updated once the proposals are finalized.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Labor Issues, Governance, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Susan Schadler
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Research on links between the level of a country’s public debt and its broader economic developments has been heatedly debated in the economic literature. Two strands of the research stand out — one linking the level of debt to a country’s GDP growth rate and the other examining the debt level as an EWI of economic crises. As a broad generalization, research at the moment favors the view that high levels of debt are not a cause, in and of themselves, of low growth nor are they particularly good predictors of impending economic or even debt crises. In principle, the empirical findings have obvious implications for policy makers confronting the question of how to fashion policies (and fiscal policy in particular) when a country has a high debt burden. The IMF, as both a contributor to the literature and an adviser concerned with preventing or dealing with debt crises, has a particularly important stake in navigating the findings. Whether in its surveillance (routine annual advice to all member countries) or the construction of its lending programs to support countries in or near crisis, the IMF must answer the question “how much does the level of debt matter?” Despite the empirical research that casts doubt on the importance of debt, the level of debt figures prominently in the algebra of debt sustainability and the IMF’s real world policy advice. This policy brief examines the nexus of the relatively strong conclusions coming from the academic research and the IMF’s policy advice. It addresses the following question: given that the broad conclusion from the academic literature is that the level of debt itself is not systematically bad for growth or stability, why does the debt level seem to figure rather prominently in the IMF’s policy advice and conditionality?
  • Topic: Debt, Development, Economics, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, GDP, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Samuel Howorth, Domenico Lombardi, Pierre Siklos
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Students of macroeconomics will have heard about the central role played by the so-called Phillips curve in both theoretical and empirical analyses for almost 70 years. In 1958, A. W. Phillips reported an inverse relationship between changes in wages and the unemployment rate (Phillips 1958). The progeny of his thinking led to a revolution both in policy making and in the development of theoretical links between the real and nominal macroeconomic variables. Names such as Samuelson, Solow, Phelps, Friedman, Lucas and Sargent became associated with refinements and enhancements of the core finding reported by Phillips. Indeed, all of these economists went on to become Nobel laureates in economics, although not exclusively because of their contributions to the analysis of what has since been called the Phillips curve. Indeed, the concept is so influential that it spawned several different versions of the trade-off used to guide policy makers as a menu for the choices they face when deciding whether the gains from lower inflation are offset by the economic costs of higher unemployment. Initially, expectations of individuals or firms were ignored. This briefly gave policy makers the impression that they could simply select an inflation-unemployment combination and implement the necessary policy mix to achieve the desired outcome. Once a role for expectations was incorporated, debate centred on how forward-looking individuals are. The more forward-looking, the less likely it was that policy makers would be able to “exploit” the trade-off because, unless wages rose in purchasing-power terms, the gains from lower unemployment would, at best, be temporary once workers realized that the higher inflation, at unchanged wages, actually drives real wages down. Indeed, the pendulum swung all the way to the conclusion — reached by the 1970s and early 1980s — that the Phillips curve was illusory and there was no trade-off policy makers could exploit.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, International Political Economy, Labor Issues, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marek Wasinski
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In a communication of 12 April, the European Commission assessed the potential political and economic consequences of suspending visa exemption for U.S. citizens. Lacking pressure from individual EU Member States, the Commission discouraged such a move and gave the EU Council and European Parliament three months to take an official position. It seems almost certain that the measure of applying pressure on a non-EU country will not be used to help Poland and four other Member States obtain visa-free travel to the United States or other countries with a similar restriction. However, if current trends continue, Poland should join the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme in five years.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, European Union, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Carolina Salgado, Marek Wasinski
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Visegrad Group is still a new label among policy makers as well as public and private investors, scholars and media in Brazil. However, since their accession to the EU in 2004, and the financial crisis that started in 2008, the four Central European countries in this group have started to look beyond Europe in order to formulate their economic and political agenda, aiming to boost partnerships, for example among the biggest South American countries such as Brazil. V4 and Brazil should build momentum to deepen cooperation in the most promising prospective areas such as trade, military, tourism and education.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Brazil
  • Author: Justyna Szczudlik
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Asia could be described as the world’s great construction site, and is already the focus of a scramble for infrastructure projects. Among countries competing for investments are not only China with its Silk Road initiative, but also Korea, Japan, India and ASEAN, which have prepared their own infrastructural strategies. The plethora of initiatives may have a positive impact on Asia, offering diverse solutions to the infrastructural bottleneck and reforms of existing institutions and modes of assistance. But there is also the risk that fierce competition may result in unprofitable projects, while economic slowdown could cause a decline in funding. For Europe these initiatives create opportunities to take part in new projects, but the EU should be aware that the projects will be implemented mainly in Asia and by Asian countries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Reform
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Tomasz Żornaczuk
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: At the beginning of 2016, almost 13 years after the Thessaloniki declaration to integrate the Western Balkans into the European Union, Brussels is left with Croatia as a Member State, Montenegro half way, at best, to becoming one, Serbia with first negotiation chapters just opened, and half of the region with no clear prospect of membership. But the wait-and-see approach that the EU had been employing for a number of years towards the enlargement policy in the Balkans has become even riskier in times of new international challenges. Among them, the ever-growing tensions between the West and Russia should, in particular, serve as motivation for the Union to look at enlargement in the Balkans from a geopolitical angle. Even if the Member States have in recent years shown less enthusiasm towards further rounds of enlargement, this should not discourage the EU institutions from undertaking an active role to revive the European integration process in the Balkans.
  • Topic: Economics, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Serbia, Croatia
  • 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: Stanislav Secrieru
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although Transnistria, in exchange for meeting certain conditions, was allowed to benefit from the free trade agreement that Moldova signed with the EU, there are plenty of obstacles which could derail the deal. The business community in the breakaway republic is eager to enjoy the fruits of the DCFTA but is reluctant to shoulder the price of necessary reforms, the outgoing leader of the separatist enclave could undermine the agreement for electoral reasons, Russia might be tempted to test the EU’s resolve to defend its trade-related norms, and Moldova could erect bureaucratic barriers for producers from the left bank of the Nistru River. In the light of these many risks, the EU should persistently encourage all sides to stick to their commitments while averting disputes that would undermine enforcement of the DCFTA in Transnistria in a timely manner.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Elections, European Union
  • Political Geography: Moldova, Transnistria
  • Author: Piotr Kościński
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: At a time when many European countries are strengthening border protection (including building walls), migrants will seek new avenues to Europe. In this context and of particular importance will be the policy of the authorities of Ukraine, which currently, and despite the still unstable situation in the country (war in the east and economic problems) could become the country of choice for migrants. Another problem for Kyiv may be internal migration. Both forms increase the risk of migration to EU countries such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, which are neighbours of Ukraine. In this situation, additional EU assistance to the authorities in Kyiv will be necessary.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine
  • Author: Wei Wang, Gemma Estrada, Jurgen Conrad, Sang-Hyo Lee, Donghyun Park
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As demand from global markets declines, slowing exports of manufactured goods from the People's Republic of China means the country must increasingly rely on domestic markets for growth. Unlike manufactured goods, services—those "intangible" products that include everything from transportation to scientific research to real estate services—are geared more toward domestic markets. Services, then, will be key to the rebalancing process. However, while the service sector has grown rapidly in the PRC, it continues to lag behind other countries at similar stages of development. In addition, the sector is dominated by traditional low-end types of services, rather than knowledge-intensive services. Heavy regulatory burdens, barriers to trade in services, and an unfavorable policy environment have been major obstacles to upgrading the sector and improving its competitiveness. Policy reform should focus on strengthening competition to raise productivity, with the goal of increasing not only the number of jobs and contribution to GDP, but also of positioning the service sector to compete internationally and spur export growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Reform, GDP
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Fukunari Kimura, Lurong Chen
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: As mega free trade agreements (FTAs) are reshaping the rules of global governance, there is urgency for member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take proper actions in response to the changing world economic order. On one hand, they should closely observe the progress of negotiations and follow up the issues that are under discussion in mega FTAs. On the other hand, they have to accelerate the pace in concluding the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Yanfei Li
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: The recent ERIA report on 'Effective Power Infrastructure Investment through Power Grid Interconnections in East Asia' aims to support existing initiatives--the ASEAN Power Grid and Greater Mekong Subregion Power Master Plan--by quantitatively showing the possible economic and environmental benefits of such power grid interconnections. The study team selected specific candidate routes of cross-border transmission lines for further examination. They carried out the preliminary project planning and per kilowatt-hour cost estimation for the selected cross-border lines. The estimated results indicate that although these are capital-intensive projects, attainable benefits seem to be large enough to justify the investment well.
  • Topic: Economics, Climate Finance, Business
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Dirk Schoenmaker
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: What are the arguments for and against centralisation of insurance supervision? What would be the scope of a possible insurance union, and what would the legal basis be? How rapid should the move to insurance union be? This Policy Brief sets out to answer these questions.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: King Salman has confirmed his reputation as a religious conservative through the reappointment of traditionalist clerics However he has also made some effort to streamline the Saudi government Recent changes have given considerable power to two men from the next generation: King Salman's son and his nephew The result may be good for hard security measures, but less certain for the soft measures necessary for Saudi Arabia to weather the storm.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Economics, Islam, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: There hasn't been a lasting and successful end to an armed conflict in the Middle East in decades, and the newest fighting in Yemen can be seen through a lens of deep regional frustration over countless issues that seem to defy solutions The entire region is frustrated with the worsening status quo, but the consensus and creativity to meaningfully address the challenges is lacking, even with the newly announced Arab 'rapid response force' to an extremist problem that has been openly growing for a decade The only actors not frustrated are non-state actors, who fill the ever-widening chasm between what regional governments can deliver and what their populations demand.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Algeria
  • Author: William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: For several years, Afghanistan’s economy and public finances have worsened, culminating in a full-blown fiscal crisis in 2014. Political uncertainties, the weakening Afghan economy, corruption in tax collection, stagnant government revenues, and increasing expenditures have contributed to the current fiscal impasse. In the absence of bold actions by the Afghan government along with proactive international support to turn around the fiscal situation, the fiscal crisis and its insidious effects will continue.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Corruption, Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Ukraine's economy is flagging. But a Ukrainian economy, integrated with the rest of Europe and by extension, the world economy, is essential for the country's political stability and its ability to withstand Russian aggression. While the international community is yet to develop a large-scale macro-economic assistance program on the order of the Marshall Plan, the US government can utilize existing programming through its development agencies to provide an immediate positive jolt to the private sector economy in Ukraine.
  • Topic: Economics, Self Determination
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Ishrat Husain, Muhammad Ather Elahi
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Pakistan and Afghanistan are among each other’s largest trading partners. Though an agreement was signed in 2010 to strengthen trade relations and facilitate Afghan transit trade through Pakistan, implementation has been mixed, with many on both sides of the border complaining of continued barriers to exchange. Both nations need to improve trade facilitation through streamlined payments settlement and improved insurance mechanisms, the use of bonded carriers, visa issuance, trade financing, tax collection, and documentation.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan
  • Author: Edwin M. Truman
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: After the Obama administration's four failed attempts to win congressional approval of the 2010 quota and governance reform for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it is time to recognize that implementation of the agreement may be indefinitely delayed. The international community must therefore prepare for the likelihood of a new world order in which the IMF augments its funding and reforms its governing structure without US participation. This Policy Brief examines four options for the IMF: First, wait for the US Congress to pass the necessary legislation. Second, complete a new, augmented IMF quota and governance package and again wait for the United States to give its formal approval. Third, bypass the US Congress and risk losing the US veto over a few important decisions on the structure of the IMF. Fourth, let the Fund adopt a reform and financing package within a structure that potentially excludes US participation and eliminates the US veto in the new entity.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Governance, Reform
  • Author: Ryan Rutkowski
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Faced with slowing economic growth, Chinese policymakers now recognize that the service sector of the economy—transportation, communications, finance, and health care—could spur economic activity and employment. The catch is that China must reform these and other areas to accomplish this goal. Chinese leaders have outlined an ambitious agenda for reform, but myriad vested interests could slow or block their plans. This Policy Brief evaluates the steps taken so far and the difficulties that lie ahead in implementing them. If policymakers fail to reform and open up the service sector, they run the risk of seriously impairing China's growth prospects.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Theodore H. Moran, Lindsay Oldenski
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Japan is reemerging as the most important source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the United States. In 2013 Japanese firms were the largest source of new inflows of FDI into the United States for the first time since 1992, injecting almost $45 billion of fresh investment into the US economy in that year alone. Moran and Oldenski show how Japanese investment in the United States differs from that of other countries along several dimensions. These differences not only make FDI by Japanese firms especially valuable but point to some important policy goals for attracting it. Although the automotive sector is the single largest industry for Japanese investment in the United States, the focus should not be on competing to attract the auto industry in particular nor should any active industrial policy of "picking winners" be pursued. Japanese investment is unique because of its research and development intensity, manifested across a number of industries in which Japanese multinationals invest other than automobiles. US policy should focus on reinforcing and expanding the factors that attract high-performing firms and high-value production stages to the United States, regardless of industry.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Direct Investment, United States
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: Avinash D. Persaud
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Solvency II, which the European Parliament adopted in March 2014, codifies and harmonizes insurance regulations in Europe to reduce the risk of an insurer defaulting on its obligations and producing dangerous systemic side effects. The new directive tries to achieve these aims primarily by setting capital requirements for the assets of insurers and pension funds based on the annual volatility of the price of these assets. Persaud argues that these capital requirements will impose an asset allocation on life insurers and pension funds that does not serve the interests of consumers, the financial system, or the economy. The main problem with Solvency II is that the riskiness of the assets of a life insurer or pension fund with liabilities that will not materialize before 10 or sometimes 20 years is not well measured by the amount by which prices may fall during the next year. Solvency II fails to take account of the fact that institutions with different liabilities have different capacities for absorbing different risks and that it is the exploitation of these differences that creates systemic resilience. To correct this problem, Persaud offers an alternative approach that is more attuned to the risk that a pension fund or life insurer would fail to meet its obligations when they come due and less focused on the short-term volatility of asset prices.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Budget
  • Author: Jose De Gregorio
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Latin America's recent economic performance has been disappointing. After a very strong recovery from the Great Recession, growth has slowed considerably, and prospects for 2015 are dim. Among the seven largest economies in the region, output is expected to contract in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, and Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru are projected to grow by only about 3 percent. The decline was not caused by external factors but was mostly cyclical in nature and a result of low productivity. Although monetary and fiscal policies may still have a role in supporting demand in some instances, the main problem in the region is not a lack of demand but low productivity growth. Efforts must be made to foster productivity. Institutional weakness must be addressed and inequality reduced if sustainable high growth is to resume.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For nearly three decades, the dominant view on the role of the financial sector in economic development has been that greater financial depth facilitates faster growth. However, the Great Recession has shaken confidence in that view because of the contributing role of high leverage and such financial innovations as collateralized subprime mortgage-backed assets and derivatives on them. Recent studies from the International Monetary Fund and Bank for International Settlements have argued that "too much finance" reduces growth. In an environment of new doubts about finance following the Great Recession, these studies finding that there can be too much of it seem to have struck a responsive chord. Cline warns that these findings should be viewed with considerable caution. He first shows that correlation without causation could similarly lead to the conclusion that too many doctors spoil growth, for example. He the demonstrates algebraically that if the variable of interest, be it financial depth, doctors, or any other good or service that rises along with per capita income, is incorporated in a quadratic form into a regression of growth on per capita income, there will be a necessary but spurious finding that above a certain point more of the good or service in question causes growth to decline. In some situations, finance can become excessive; the crises of Iceland and Ireland come to mind. But it is highly premature to adopt as a new stylized fact the recent studies' supposed thresholds beyond which more finance reduces growth.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Caroline Freund, Sarah Oliver
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Regulatory standards protect consumers from defective products, but they impede trade when they differ across countries. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) seeks to reduce distortions in the automobile and other industries. Freund and Oliver evaluate the equivalence of automobile regulations in the United States and the European Union in terms of catastrophe avoidance and estimate the trade gains from harmonization. The UN 1958 Agreement on automobiles, which harmonizes regulations among signatories, is used to quantify the trade effect of regulatory convergence. The removal of regulatory differences in autos is estimated to increase trade by 20 percent or more. The effect on trade from harmonizing standards is only slightly smaller than the effect of EU accession on auto trade. The large economic gains from regulatory harmonization imply that TTIP has the potential to improve productivity while lowering prices and enhancing variety for consumers.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, European Union
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Using his European Debt Simulation Model (EDSM), Cline examines whether and to what extent additional debt relief is needed in Greece under the new circumstances. Greece's debt burden is significantly lower than implied by the ratio of its gross debt to GDP, because of concessional interest rates on debt owed predominantly to the euro area official sector. The IMF's call for debt relief recognizes the lower interest burden but argues that the gross financing requirement is on track to exceed a sustainable range of 15 to 20 percent. But in the Fund's June Debt Sustainability Analysis that threshold would not be exceeded until after 2030. A sustainability diagnosis based on such a distant future date would seem at best illustrative rather than definitive. The euro area creditors might, nonetheless, be well advised to provide two types of interest relief: an earmarked portion of interest otherwise due to finance a public works employment program; and additional interest relief to compensate for budget shortfalls caused by growth below plan levels. The sovereign debt situation should be alleviated by carrying out the bank recapitalization directly from the European Stability Mechanism to the banks, rather than through the sovereign as the intermediary. The large increase in the ratio of gross debt to GDP imposed by bank recapitalization is mostly an optical illusion because there would be a corresponding rise in state assets, but this increase could, nonetheless, further erode perceptions of sustainability.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, Budget
  • Political Geography: Greece
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Korea's decision to delay joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks was a tactical mistake. It is now left with primarily two options to participate: (1) ask to join the TPP, if possible between signature and entry into force, or (2) accede to the TPP after the agreement is ratified and goes into effect—either alone or as part of a group of countries seeking TPP membership. For Korea the burden of adjustment in the TPP—in terms of liberalization commitments—will probably be higher than had it joined as an original signatory. As a major trading nation, it stands to reap large gains from increased trade and investment with TPP countries and should opt to join the TPP as soon as the window for entry reopens.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: South Korea
  • Author: Lindsay Oldenski
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Reshoring—when firms shift manufacturing production back to the United States—has been getting a great deal of publicity lately. Oldenski examines the most recent data on the global operations of US firms and concludes that although some companies have reversed their previous offshoring decisions, there is no evidence of a widespread reshoring trend. But this should not be considered a defeat for US competitiveness. US multinationals continue to move operations offshore, but they also continue to grow stronger, producing more in their US operations and adding more to total US exports. The structure of US manufacturing has changed, but the ability to adapt to the changing nature of global business has been and will continue to be crucial to the continued growth of US manufacturing.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Monica de Bolle
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Public lending by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) may have done more harm than good in Brazil, adversely affecting real interest rates and productivity growth. Specifically, BNDES's large amounts of subsidized lending are responsible for substantial credit market segmentation, choking off monetary policy transmission. As a result, to maintain price stability the Central Bank of Brazil is forced to raise interest rates more than it might do otherwise in the absence of BNDES lending. Restoring Brazil's capacity to grow in the medium term requires a thorough rethinking of the role of BNDES. In particular, the bank's lending rates should be aligned with market prices, term and risk premia, while taking into account that, with an adequate transparency framework, public development banks can increase private sector participation instead of crowding it out.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Theodore Moran
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For more than a decade, China has complained about what it maintains has been a pattern of erratic and politicized treatment of Chinese investors when they attempt to acquire US companies. The Chinese want the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to be more open and transparent in its rulings and to not discriminate against Chinese firms. The United States is not likely to accede to these demands in any formal or legal manner. Moran proposes practical steps to address the concerns of Chinese investors without diluting CFIUS procedures. He provides a national security threat assessment filter, which allows Chinese investors—like investors of all nationalities—to determine when their proposed acquisitions might pose a genuine threat and when any such threat is simply not plausible. He also suggests that first-time Chinese investors seek expert counsel to overcome the secrecy surrounding CFIUS objections to figure out how to proceed with problematic acquisitions.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: Mohsin Khan, Karim Merzan
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a civil society group comprising the Tunisian General Labor Union; the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, October 9, 2015 "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia." In a new Atlantic Council Issue Brief, "Tunisia: The Last Arab Spring Country," Atlantic Council Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East Senior Fellows Mohsin Khan and Karim Mezran survey the successes of Tunisia's consensus-based transition and the challenges that lie ahead. "The decision to award this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Tunisia's National Dialogue Quartet is an extremely important recognition of the efforts made by Tunisian civil society and Tunisia's political elite to reach a consensus on keeping the country firmly on the path to democratization and transition to a pluralist system," says Mezran. With the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia embarked on a process of democratization widely regarded as an example for transitions in the region. The National Dialogue Conference facilitated by the Quartet helped Tunisia avert the risk of plunging into civil war and paved the way for a consensus agreement on Tunisia's new constitution, adopted in January 2014. In the brief, the authors warn that despite political successes, Tunisia is hampered by the absence of economic reforms. Facing the loss of tourism and investment following two terror attacks, Tunisia's economy risks collapse, endangering all of the painstaking political progress gained thus far. Unless the Tunisian government moves rapidly to turn the economy around, Tunisia risks unraveling its fragile transition.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Economics, Political Activism, Reform
  • Political Geography: Arab Countries, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: Commodity trading and the activities of trading companies influence economic and governance outcomes in developing countries. Typically privately owned with flexible business models, many trading companies work extensively in “high-risk” environments – including countries with weak institutions, conflicts or other challenges that scare away more risk-averse companies. Given the size of this footprint, and its prevalence in countries with high levels of corruption or poverty (or both), the quality of trading companies’ business practices is of serious concern. Trading companies play several roles through which they influence public institutions and public revenues, and they frequently build close relationships with top officials and political elites. They are major buyers of raw materials sold by governments and state-owned companies worldwide, and these transactions generate significant public revenues. Traders also provide large loans to governments, sell refined products, and enter into joint ventures with state-owned entities. They are expanding their upstream and downstream operations in developing countries as well.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Abstract: NRGI has created a series of short, illustrated overviews of key topics in NRGI's portfolio of work. Together they serve as a robust introduction for the lay reader to fundamental issues and concepts in resource governance. Most contain helpful figures and infographics, and each reader has a standard format: key messages, key concepts and case examples, and a final set of practitioner-orientated questions to ask. Each topic is explicitly linked to the relevant precepts of the Natural Resource Charter.
  • Topic: Economics, Industrial Policy, Oil, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William A. Byrd
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Some say reviving the Afghan economy in a time of intensifying violent conflict and declining external financial inflows will be impossible. Expectations need to be kept modest, and measures must go beyond conventional economic approaches in order to be effective. This brief puts forward some outside-the-box ideas, which, combined with greater government effectiveness and, hopefully, reductions in violent conflict, may help turn the economy around.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Joël Blit
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This policy brief recommends that to diminish the potential for holdup, uncertainty around patent rights should be reduced. Patents should be easily searchable and more easily understood by non-legal experts. In addition, patents should be narrower and more clearly demarcated. To the extent that the welfare costs of patents appear to outweigh their benefits, the requirements for obtaining a patent should be tightened. Further, patents should be made less broad and, concomitant with the reduction in the length of the product cycle, the length of patents should also be reduced.
  • Topic: Economics, Intellectual Property/Copyright, Governance, Law
  • Political Geography: North America
  • Author: Domenico Lombardi , Kelsey Shantz
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The annual CIGI Survey of Progress in International Economic Governance assesses progress in five areas of international economic governance: macroeconomic and financial cooperation; cooperation on financial regulation; cooperation on development; cooperation on trade; and cooperation on climate change. In this year’s survey, 31 CIGI experts conclude that international economic arrangements continue to show a level of “status quo,” averaging a score of 50% across all five areas. The 2015 survey indicates a slight improvement to the result of last year’s survey, which suggested a minimal regression overall. The experts’ assessment of progress was most promising in the area of climate change cooperation, with an average score of 57%, whereas the least promising area was macroeconomic and financial cooperation, with a score of 44%, indicating minimal regression. The remaining three areas polled all fell within the “status quo” range, with trade at 46%, development at 48% and international cooperation on financial regulation at 53%. Interestingly, in the area of cooperation on development, CIGI’s experts provided a relatively mixed assessment. Responses varied based on experts’ perception of the effectiveness of current rhetoric, from 70% (indicating some progress) to 10% (suggesting major regression). Compared to last year, climate change governance has made the greatest improvement, but the remaining three areas (with the exception of development, which was not included in the 2014 survey) have all, on average, regressed further or remained stagnant. This trend is cause for concern.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeffrey Schott, Eujiin Jung, Cathleen Cimino-Isaacs
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Of all the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by Korea with its major trading partners since the turn of the century, the Korea-China FTA may be the largest in trade terms. It is, however, far from the best in terms of the depth of liberalization and the scope of obligations on trade and investment policies. Korea and China agreed to liberalize a large share of bilateral trade within 20 years, but both sides incorporated extensive exceptions to basic tariff reforms and deferred important market access negotiations on services and investment for several years. Political interests trumped economic objectives, and the negotiated outcome cut too many corners to achieve such a comprehensive result. The limited outcome in the Korea-China talks has two clear implications for economic integration among the northeast Asian countries. First, prospects for the ongoing China-Japan-Korea talks will be limited and unlikely to exceed the Korea-China outcome. Second, Korea and Japan need to strengthen their bilateral leg of the northeast Asian trilateral and the best way is by negotiating a deal in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Korea
  • 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: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The latest semiannual fundamental equilibrium exchange rate (FEER) estimates find that the US dollar is now overvalued by about 10 percent, comparable to levels in 2008 through early 2010 and again in 2011. Unlike then, the current strong dollar does not reflect a weak renminbi kept undervalued by major exchange rate intervention by China. Instead, China's current account surplus has fallen sharply relative to GDP, and its recent intervention has been to prevent excessive depreciation rather than to prevent appreciation. Additionally, declines in the real effective exchange rates (REERs) for major emerging-market economies and resource-based advanced economies, driven by falling commodity prices in recent months, have strengthened the dollar. Recent increases in the REERs for the euro area and Japan have removed their modest undervaluation identified in the last FEERs estimates in May, and the Chinese renminbi remains consistent with its FEER. The dollar's rise by nearly 15 percent in real effective terms over the past two years could impose a drag of nearly one-half percent annually on US demand growth over the next five years. As the Federal Reserve moves to normalize US monetary policy, it may need to consider a gentler rise in interest rates than it might otherwise have pursued, both to temper possible further strengthening of the dollar in response to higher interest rates and to help offset the demand compression from falling net export
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • 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: Domenico Lombardi, Kesley Shantz
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The annual CIGI Survey of Progress in International Economic Governance assesses progress in five areas of international economic governance: macroeconomic and financial cooperation; cooperation on financial regulation; cooperation on development; cooperation on trade; and cooperation on climate change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Financial Crisis, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Susan Schadler
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: This policy brief examines a number of poses key challenges in the evolution of a coherent role for the IMF in future crises.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, International Monetary Fund
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Céline Bak
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Reporting on global trade in environmental goods would provide a comprehensive lens into diversification that will be needed for the transition to low-carbon economies, help countries benchmark the shorter- and longer-term impact of policies such as regulation and fiscal stimulus targeted at green growth, as well as innovation, and strengthen the G20 leaders’ commitment to inclusive and sustainable growth by providing visibility into the pace of investments to address climate change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, International Trade and Finance, G20
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Penelope Hawkins, Olaf Weber
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: One of the most important and topical discussions within the global multilateral arena is the challenge of meeting the world’s climate finance needs in order to reduce carbon emissions to sustainable levels and support adaptation strategies. The mobilization of finance is key in supporting the transition away from traditional high-carbon or business-as-usual economic pathways toward low-carbon, climate-resilient economic systems. A conference, Global Sustainability, Climate Change and Finance Policy, organized by the Centre for International Governance Innovation and the South African Institute for International Affairs and held in Johannesburg from July 1 to July 3, considered aspects of the debate.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Environment, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus