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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