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  • Author: Marcus Noland, Erik Weeks
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In recent years, academic economists have come to appreciate the centrality of public institutions in contributing to economic performance. Yet Korea, arguably the premier success story of the last half-century, has sometimes been described as a First World economy with Third World institutions. Although Korea modestly underachieves on most of the 52 institutional indicators examined in this paper, it is not an outlier, and on most indicators it is converging on global norms from below.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland, Yoonok Chang
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Chronic food shortages, political repression, and poverty have driven tens of thousands of North Koreans into China. This paper reports results from a large-scale survey of this population. The survey provides insight not only into the material circumstances of the refugees but also into their psychological state and aspirations. One key finding is that many North Korean refugees suffer severe psychological stress akin to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This distress is caused in part by experiences in China. However, we demonstrate that it is also a result of the long shadow cast by the North Korean famine and abuses suffered at the hands of the North Korean political regime. These traumas, in turn, affect the ability of the refugees to hold jobs in China and accumulate resources for on-migration to third countries. Most of the refugees want to permanently resettle in South Korea, though younger, better-educated refugees have a greater inclination to prefer the United States as a final destination.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This study finds that North Korea's nuclear test and the imposition of UN Security Council sanctions have had no perceptible effect on North Korea's trade with its two largest partners, China and South Korea. Before North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, it was widely believed that such an event would have cataclysmic diplomatic ramifications. However, beginning with visual inspection of data and ending with time-series models, no evidence is found to support the notion that these events have had any effect on North Korea's trade with its two principal partners.
  • Topic: United Nations, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Stephan Haggard, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: North Korea's international transactions have grown since the 1990s famine period. Illicit transactions appear to account for a declining share of trade. Direct investment is rising, but the county remains significantly dependent on aid to finance imports. Interdependence with South Korea and China is rising, but the nature of integration with these two partners is very different: China's interaction with North Korea appears to be increasingly on market-oriented terms, while South Korea's involvement has a growing noncommercial or aid component. These patterns have implications for North Korea's development, the effectiveness of UN sanctions, and its bargaining behavior in nuclear negotiations.
  • Topic: Markets, United Nations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Anna Wong
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes international reserve diversification by examining changes in quantity shares of currencies held in foreign exchange reserves. It discusses alternative methodologies for constructing quantity shares and applies the preferred methodology to three sets of data on the currency composition of foreign exchange reserves: quarterly aggregate International Monetary Fund's Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves (IMF COFER) data, quarterly IMF COFER data for industrial- and developing-country groups, and annual data for 23 individual countries that disclose the currency composition of their foreign exchange reserve holdings. What can one infer from available data about the diversification of foreign exchange reserves since 1999? The analysis suggests four conclusions: (1) The behavior of the quantity shares of the US dollar and the euro in total reserves is consistent with net stabilizing intervention; their quantity shares tend to rise when these currencies are declining and vice versa. (2) The principal driver of this stabilizing diversification over the period 1999Q1–2005Q4 is Japan. (3) The industrial countries as a group but excluding Japan do not indicate stabilizing diversification. (4) The nonindustrial countries as a group display stabilizing diversification over short periods of only a few quarters. In summary, the aggregate data conceal much diversity in the practices of individual countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Asia
  • Author: Morris Goldstein
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This working paper assesses the progress made in improving China's exchange rate policies over the past five years (that is, since 2002). I first discuss four indicators of progress on China's external imbalance and its exchange rate policies—namely, the change in (and level of) China's global current account position, movements in the real effective exchange rate of the renminbi (RMB), the role of market forces in the determination of the RMB, and China's compliance with its obligations on exchange rate policy as a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). I then discuss why the lack of progress in improving China's exchange rate policies matters for the economies of the China and the United States and for the international monetary and trading system. I also argue that several popular arguments and excuses for why more cannot be accomplished on removing the large undervaluation of the RMB are unpersuasive. Finally, I consider what can and should be done by China, the United States, and the IMF to accelerate progress over the next year or two.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Exchange
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Japan faces significant challenges in encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship. Attempts to formally model past industrial policy interventions uniformly uncover little, if any, positive impact on productivity, growth, or welfare. The evidence indicates that most resource flows went to large, politically influential “backward” sectors, suggesting that political economy considerations may be central to the apparent ineffectiveness of Japanese industrial policy.
  • Topic: Development, Foreign Exchange, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This working paper evaluates the validity of available data on and the extent of the impact of offshoring on service-sector labor markets in the United States, EU-15, and Japan. A three-tier data validity hierarchy is identified. The impact of offshoring on employment in the three regions is found to be limited. Correspondingly, developing Asia is unlikely to experience large employment gains as a destination region. The paper highlights the case of the Indian IT industry, where the majority of job creation has been in local Indian companies rather than foreign multinationals. Domestic entrepreneurs have played a crucial role in the growth of the Indian IT-related service industry. However, increased tradability of services and associated skill bias in favor of higher skilled workers could have an uneven employment impact on developing Asia. Some high-skilled groups are benefiting and will continue to benefit dramatically from new employment opportunities and rising wage levels. Meanwhile, the same skill bias may eliminate many employment opportunities for unskilled or low-skilled groups in the region. Developing Asian countries therefore face a double educational challenge in the coming years: the need to simultaneously improve both primary and higher education.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Asia
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Yee Wong
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Frustrated with lackluster momentum in the WTO Doha Round and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and mindful of free trade agreement (FTA) networks centered on the United States and Europe, Asian countries have joined the FTA game. By 2005, Asian countries (excluding China) had ratified 14 bilateral and regional FTAs and had negotiated but not implemented another seven. Asian nations are also actively negotiating some 23 bilateral and regional FTAs, many with non-Asian partners, including Australia, Canada, Chile, the European Union, India, and Qatar. China has been particularly active since 2000. It has completed three bilateral FTAs—Thailand in 2003 and Hong Kong and Macao in 2004—and is initiating another 17 bilateral and regional FTAs. However, a regional Asian economic bloc led by China seems distant, even though China accounts for about 30 percent of regional GDP. As in Europe and the Western Hemisphere, many Asian countries are pursuing FTAs with countries outside the region. On present evidence, the FTA process embraced with some enthusiasm in Asia, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere more closely resembles fingers reaching idiosycratically around the globe rather than politico-economic blocs centered respectively on Beijing, Brussels, and Washington.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Washington, Canada, India, Beijing, Asia, Australia, Qatar, Chile, Hong Kong, Brussels, Macao
  • Author: Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: South Korea's experience is unparalleled in its combination of sustained prosperity, capital controls, and financial crisis. Over several decades South Korea experienced rapid sustained growth in the presence of capital controls. These controls and the delinking of domestic and international financial markets were an essential component of the country's state-led development strategy. As the country developed, opportunities for easy technological catch-up eroded, requiring more sophisticated corporate and financial sector decision making. But decades of financial repression had bequeathed a bureaucratized financial system and a formidable constellation of incumbent stakeholders opposed to transition to a more market-oriented development model. Liberalization undertaken in the 1990s was less a product of textbook economic analysis than of parochial politicking. The capital account liberalization program affected the timing, magnitude, and particulars of the 1997-98 crisis. Despite considerable reforms undertaken since the crisis, concerns remain about both South Korea's lending culture and its authorities' capacity to successfully regulate the more complex financial system. The main lesson of the South Korean case appears to be that while the state-led model may deliver impressive initial gains, transitioning out of this approach presents an exceedingly complex political-economy challenge.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea