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  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: The growth rates witnessed in markets across Latin America in the decade to 2010 pulled millions out of poverty, led to rapid growth of the middle class and helped to demonstrate the promise of emerging markets. Since then, however, growth has slowed dramatically across the region. 2015 will mark the fifth successive year of deceleration in Latin America, which has slowed more than any other emerging market region. With concerns over the ability of emerging markets to withstand a slowdown in China and monetary policy normalisation in the US growing, risks to the growth and financing outlook for Latin America persist. However, as economic recovery starts to gather pace in the region, opportunities for investment and growth will also re-emerge. This report provides a snapshot of the current political and economic landscape in the region, and in some of Latin America’s largest economies: Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. Each article analyses key concerns and presents our view of the outlook going forward, helping you to influence decision-making and economic outcomes for your business.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Jan Techau
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) pledged in 2014 to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of their gross domestic products by 2024. It is unrealistic to assume that this goal will ever be reached by all 28 allies, and yet the 2 percent metric persists—and it has assumed a significance beyond its face value. It is about addressing Europe’s growing security vacuum and defining who will be in charge of European security.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Economics, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alan Guidetti
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Rumours in American media and within policy circles in Washington hint at a shift in the making in US policy towards China. Accordingly, the carefully managed balance between cooperation and constraint, which was designed to accompany and guide the rise of China, might give way to a more confrontational US posture. The cause for a reorientation in US policy is ascribed to the assertiveness of Beijing in the territorial disputes and land reclamations in the China Seas. However, the growing US nervousness about China, as illustrated by blunt warnings to Beijing by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, goes beyond the Chinese build-up of artificial islands, which fuels the current dispute. Washington recently opposed Chinese efforts to set up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a central pillar of the “New Silk Road” project that will advance the centrality of China within the Eurasian space and beyond. As competition rises between the two powers, sources of tension multiply, thereby increasing risks of conflict.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Power Politics, Hegemony
  • Author: Juha Jokela
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: The Arctic region is currently undergoing major and rapid transformation, both environmentally and economically. This report, the outcome of a EUISS Task Force, examines how these changes carry significant political implications, and highlights the new security challenges that are emerging in the region.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Politics, Biosecurity
  • Political Geography: Arctic
  • Author: Simeon Djankov
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Since the promising start of its transition from a centrally planned economy to capitalism, Hungary has failed to join Western Europe in terms of living standards and democracy. The dominant political figure in Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, shares many features with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Both view the increasing role of the state as economically beneficial, and both consider the Western European economic model to be flawed. Hungary is headed towards centrally planned capitalism, demonstrated by the partial nationalization of the banking sector, the monopolization of some sectors of the economy, and the reversal of the pension reforms of 1998. Plagued by the most persistent budget deficit of any post-communist country, Hungary's greatest challenge is to establish a fiscally sustainable growth path.
  • Topic: Communism, Economics, Politics, Governance, Authoritarianism, Russia
  • Political Geography: Hungary, Western Europe
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: After the plunge in commodity prices in 2015, the outlook for raw materials remains highly uncertain amid slowing economic growth in China and looming interest rate rises in the US. In China—which gobbles up nearly one-half of the world’s consumption of aluminium, copper and coal—demand for base materials risks moderating further as the economy moves away from an investment-driven growth model. This will continue to have knock-on effects on the performance of commodity-exporting economies, weighing down on global consumption of raw materials. However, supply responses are beginning to emerge from commodity producers worldwide. Coupled with less favourable weather prospects, this will lead to some market tightening next year, allowing for some price stabilisation after four years of decline. This report provides a snapshot of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s current commodity price indexes, exploring the changing prices for industrial raw materials and food, feedstuffs & beverages. Each article provides analysis and forecasts across a number of key commodities, helping you to assess the fast-changing environment of commodity markets and influence key decision-making processes.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Lord Nicholas Stern, Jeremy Oppenheim, Amar Bhattacharya
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The agendas of accelerating sustainable development and eradicating poverty and that of climate change are deeply intertwined. Growth strategies that fail to tackle poverty and/or climate change will prove to be unsustainable, and vice versa. A common denominator to the success of both agendas is infrastructure development. Infrastructure is an essential component of growth, development, poverty reduction, and environmental sustainability.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Economics, Poverty, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Carol Graham, Shaojie Zhou, Junyi Zhang
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The past two decades in China brought unprecedented rates of economic growth, development, and poverty reduction. Indeed, much of the reduction in the world’s extreme poverty rates during that time can be explained by the millions of people in China who exited poverty. GDP per capita and household consumption increased fourfold between the years 1990 and 2005.1 China jumped 10 places forward on the Human Development Index from 2008 until 2013, moving up to 93 of 187 countries, and life expectancy climbed to 75.3 years, compared to 67 years in 1980.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Christine Zhang, Jeffrey Gutman
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Economic development is often tied to the evolution of local industry. One way to assess a country’s emergence as a major player in the global economy is by examining the ability of its domestic firms to compete on the global market. Public procurement—the purchase of goods, works, and services by governments—represents a significant portion of this market, making up an estimated average of 15 to 30 percent of a country’s GDP. Procurement in the developing world is especially noteworthy, since large projects are often partially or wholly financed by external donors such as the World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs), which encourage developing country governments to internationally advertise the goods, works, or services they require and to select the most competitive bid they receive. Yet the role of IFI-funded procurement in the emergence of global markets, particularly for and among developing countries, is seldom a topic of empirical study, despite its linkages to global growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, World Bank, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Micha'el Tanchum
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: With the removal of international sanctions on Iran, different markets will have a great interest in importing Iranian gas. But which market will benefit the most? In A Post-Sanctions Iran and the Eurasian Energy Architecture, Micha'el Tanchum, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Global Energy Center and the Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative, argues that the lifting of the sanctions carries the potential to radically restructure the Eurasian energy architecture and, as a consequence, reshape Eurasian geopolitics. After Iran meets its domestic demand for natural gas, it will have the option to export gas to two of the following three markets: European Union/Turkey, India, or China. Iran will not have enough natural gas to supply all three of these major markets. The pattern of Iran's gas exports in the immediate post-sanctions period will shape the relationship between two competing orientations in the Eurasian energy architecture: a system of energy relationships reinforcing the EU's outreach to the Eastern Neighborhood alongside a system of energy relationships reinforcing China's OBOR integration project. A pivot to China will not be favorable to EU's and NATO's interests as it decreases Europe's energy security. By contrast, an expanded Southern Gas Corridor to Europe would promote the extension of Euro-Atlantic influence in Eurasia.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Energy Policy, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iran, Eurasia
  • Author: Enrique Dussel Peters
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Weeks before Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with President Barack Obama in Washington, the Atlantic Council's Latin America Center launched a new report that unravels the complexities of the Latin America-China relationship. Titled China's Evolving Role in Latin America: Can it Be a Win-Win?, the report provides five recommendations to help both China and Latin America usher in a mutually beneficial post-commodity-boom relationship. The key to long-term success will be to insure that the relationship promotes—rather than delays—economic growth and social progress in the hemisphere. In the report, renowned Mexico-based China Expert Enrique Dussel Peters, an Atlantic Coucil author and Professor at the Graduate School of Economics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), calls for a ratcheting up of strategic planning and multilateral support so the relation¬ship is a win-win for all parties, including the United States. A deep dive of the state of play is provided for five countries: Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, and Venezuela. These countries illustrate the spectrum of ties with China, ranging from those with long and complex historical relation¬ships to those almost entirely structured around recent opportunities for economic cooperation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In 2030, will the Internet and related information and communications technologies (ICTs) continue to drive global innovation and prosperity? Or will that bright promise be swamped by an unstable and insecure Internet, so overwhelmed by non-stop attacks that it has become an increasing drag on economic growth? The answers, as far as we can predict, are not promising and mean the difference in tens of trillions of dollars in global economic growth over the next fifteen years.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Communications, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Robert P. Murphy, Patrick J. Michaels, Paul "Chip" Knappenberger
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: A vigorous campaign aimed at American policymakers and the general public has tried to create the perception that a federal carbon tax (or similar type of “carbon price”) is a crucial element in the urgently needed response to climate change. Within conservative and libertarian circles, a small but vocal group of academics, analysts, and political officials are claiming that a revenue-neutral carbon tax swap could even deliver a “double dividend” — meaning that the conventional economy would be spurred in addition to any climate benefits. The present study details several serious problems with these claims. The actual economics of climate change — as summarized in the peer-reviewed literature as well as the U.N. and Obama Administration reports — reveal that the case for a U.S. carbon tax is weaker than the public has been told.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Energy Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Julio Garin, Robert Lester, Eric Sims
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This paper evaluates the welfare properties of nominal GDP targeting in the context of a New Keynesian model with both price and wage rigidity. In particular, we compare nominal GDP targeting to inflation and output gap targeting as well as to a conventional Taylor rule. These comparisons are made on the basis of welfare losses relative to a hypothetical equilibrium with flexible prices and wages. Output gap targeting is the most desirable of the rules under consideration, but nominal GDP targeting performs almost as well. Nominal GDP targeting is associated with smaller welfare losses than a Taylor rule and significantly outperforms inflation targeting. Relative to inflation targeting and a Taylor rule, nominal GDP targeting performs best conditional on supply shocks and when wages are sticky relative to prices. Nominal GDP targeting may outperform output gap targeting if the gap is observed with noise, and has more desirable properties related to equilibrium determinacy than does gap targeting.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Markets, GDP
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joshua R. Hendrickson, David Beckworth
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, the Federal Reserve has conducted a series of large scale asset purchases. Given the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate, the objective of this policy has been to generate an increase in real economic activity while maintaining a low, stable rate of inflation. The effectiveness of large scale asset purchases and the ability of the central bank to achieve a particular target has been subject to debate. The monetary transmission mechanism is of primary importance for understanding the effects of both the recent large scale asset purchases and of monetary policy more generally. The purpose of this paper is to propose a monetary transmission mechanism and to present empirical support for this mechanism. In particular, this paper suggests that monetary policy is transmitted through changes in the growth rate of transaction assets through both a direct and indirect effect. First, an increase in the growth rate of the monetary base, whether through lump sum transfers or open market operations, generates a real balance effect that increases real economic activity. Second, the indirect effect is through bank lending. Since bank loans are often a function of nominal income, expansionary monetary policy increases bank lending. Since economics agents are forward-looking and the the effects of monetary policy are persistent, monetary policy is transmitted through the expected future time path of the growth of transaction assets and nominal income. This characteristic is especially important in light of the policy recommendations of Sumner (2011, 2012) and Woodford (2012), in which the central bank attaches an explicit target for the level of nominal income to large-scale asset purchases.1
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Therese M. Vaughan, Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: International activity related to the regulation and supervision of financial services has exploded since the global financial crisis. The crisis exposed weaknesses in the structure for regulating internationally active banks, and motivated a number of work streams aimed at strengthening standards (most notably, significant revisions to the Basel capital standard for internationally active banks, now known as Basel III). The insurance sector was also stressed by the meltdown in financial markets that occurred in 2007-2008, albeit far less than the banking sector, and, with the exception of AIG, it is generally recognized that insurers played little role in the financial crisis, and that traditional insurance activities do not pose a systemic risk to the financial system.1,2 Nonetheless, the insurance sector has also been targeted for a new stream of regulatory initiatives at the international level. The most important organizations with respect to these activities are the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), both based in Basel, Switzerland. The purpose of this paper is to review these developments and to highlight potential concerns for U.S. insurance markets.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mark Schneider, Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The literature on decentralized public programs suggests that errors in the targeting of anti-poverty programs are rooted in the capture of these programs by local elites or local politicians. Consistent with the literature on moral economy in political science and experimental economics, we argue that voters in contexts of rural poverty prefer local leaders who target subsistence benefits to the poor. In a high information village context, where voters and leaders know each other, we argue that local elections lead to the selection of local leaders with pro-poor preferences over the distribution of these benefits. We show this with a novel theory of local politicians’ social preferences. We test our theory with unique data from a behavioral measure, conducted in the context of a lottery with a modest cash prize in rural India, that captures a scenario in which local leaders have full discretion and anonymity over allocation among members of their rural communities. We analyze our data using a novel estimation strategy that takes the characteristics of the pool of potential beneficiaries into account in decisions over allocation under a budget constraint. We find that local leaders have strong preferences for targeting the poor, and particularly those they believe supported them politically in the past. This article suggests that free and fair elections at the local level can powerfully encourage pro-poor targeting even in contexts of weak institutions and pervasive poverty. It also makes a fundamental contribution to research on distributive politics by challenging research in this area to demonstrate the effect of electoral strategies and other distortions on allocation relative to local leaders’ baseline distributive preferences.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Politics, Political Theory, Elections
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Emily Isaac
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy
  • Abstract: In the past five years, San Francisco has become home to dozens of new online and mobile “service networking” companies that claim to be “revolutionizing” the way work gets done. Making up what has come to be known as the “platform economy,” these technology companies provide the platforms for online and mobile marketplaces in which users can buy and sell their goods and services. Together, these “platform economy” companies make up a concentrated innovative cluster in the San Francisco Bay Area, and, more specifically, San Francisco proper. One of the sharing economy’s pioneers and largest success stories, TaskRabbit Inc. allows users to outsource small jobs and tasks to local contractors—or, in company lingo, neighborhood “Taskers.” Launched out of Boston in 2008, TaskRabbit is just one of many tech startups that have left Boston for the San Francisco Bay Area. Since relocating to San Francisco, the company has received $37.5 million in venture funding, is available in 20 cities, and reportedly has 1.25 million users and over 25,000 Taskers. Indeed, TaskRabbit exemplifies the immeasurable benefits of strategically locating a firm in an industry cluster.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology, Communications, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Paul Fishstein , Murtaza Edries Amiryar
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The general expectation among Afghans after the fall of the Taliban was that the state, equipped with financial resources and technical assistance from the international community, would once again take the lead in the economic sphere. Instead, Kabul adopted a market economy. The move remains controversial in some quarters. This report, derived from interviews conducted in 2015 and 2010, takes stock of the competing ideologies in Afghanistan today with respect to the economy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Eugenio Cerutti, Lawrence H. Summers
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Blanchard, Cerutti, and Summers explore two issues triggered by the global financial crisis. First, in most advanced countries, output remains far below the prerecession trend, suggesting hysteresis. The authors look at 122 recessions over the past 50 years in 23 countries and find that a high proportion of them have been followed by lower output or even lower growth. Second, while inflation has decreased, it has decreased less than anticipated, suggesting a breakdown of the relation between inflation and activity. The authors estimate a Phillips curve relation over the past 50 years for 20 countries and find that the effect of unemployment on inflation, for given expected inflation, decreased until the early 1990s but has remained roughly stable since then. The paper concludes with implications for monetary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, GDP
  • Political Geography: Global Focus