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  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, the US economy has been plagued by sluggish wage growth and rising income inequality. The debate over inequality in the 1980s and 1990s focused on the growing disparity between the earnings of skilled and unskilled workers and the earnings of the super-rich. Growing inequality between capital and labor income has now been added to these concerns. Remarkably, the growth in real GDP per worker over the decade of the 2000s, which averaged 1.7 percent annually, was actually more rapid than in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s, yet in the 2000s workers saw almost no increase in their take-home pay. Consistent with this gap between labor productivity and wage growth was a pronounced decline in the share of US national income earned by workers. As labor's share has declined, the share of capital has risen and has been especially concentrated in corporate profits. As profits are far less equally distributed than wages, this increase has contributed to rising income inequality. There are several plausible reasons for this development—globalization, automation, weak bargaining power of labor, political capture, higher markups—but the natural starting point for explaining factor income shares is the neoclassical theory of the functional distribution of income enumerated by John Hicks and Joan Robinson in the 1930s. In this framework there are two possible explanations for labor's recent declining share. The first is that capital and labor are gross substitutes, and the second is that capital and labor are gross complements. Several papers have explained the recent decline in labor's share in income by claiming that capital has been substituted for labor. Lawrence puts forward the alternative "gross complements" explanation for the declining US labor share. He shows that despite a rise in measured capital-labor ratios, labor-augmenting technical change in the United States has been sufficiently rapid that effective capital-labor ratios have actually fallen in the sectors and industries that account for the largest portion of the declining labor share in income since 1980. In combination with estimates that corroborate the consensus in the literature that the elasticity of substitution is less than 1, these declines in the effective capital-labor ratio can account for much of the recent fall in labor's share in US income at both the aggregate and industry level. Paradoxically, these results also suggest that increased capital formation, ideally achieved through a progressive consumption tax, would raise labor's share in income.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Tomas Hellebrandt, Paolo Mauro
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the next two decades the structure of world population and income will undergo profound changes. Global income inequality is projected to decline further in 2035, largely owing to rapid economic growth in the emerging-market economies. The potential pool of consumers worldwide will expand significantly, with the largest net gains in the developing and emerging-market economies. The number of people earning between US$1,144 and US$3,252 per year in 2013 prices in purchasing power parity terms will increase by around 500 million, with the largest gains in Sub-Saharan Africa and India; those earning between US$3,252 and US$8,874 per year in 2013 prices will increase by almost 1 billion, with the largest gains in India and Sub-Saharan Africa; and those earning more than US$8,874 per year will increase by 1.2 billion, with the largest gains in China and the advanced economies.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Martin Kessler
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper describes seven salient features of trade integration in the 21st century: Trade integration has been more rapid than ever (hyperglobalization); it is dematerialized, with the growing importance of services trade; it is democratic, because openness has been embraced widely; it is criss-crossing because similar goods and investment flows now go from South to North as well as the reverse; it has witnessed the emergence of a mega-trader (China), the first since Imperial Britain; it has involved the proliferation of regional and preferential trade agreements and is on the cusp of mega-regionalism as the world's largest traders pursue such agreements with each other; and it is impeded by the continued existence of high barriers to trade in services. Going forward, the trading system will have to tackle three fundamental challenges: In developed countries, the domestic support for globalization needs to be sustained in the face of economic weakness and the reduced ability to maintain social insurance mechanisms. Second, China has become the world's largest trader and a major beneficiary of the current rules of the game. It will be called upon to shoulder more of the responsibilities of maintaining an open system. The third challenge will be to prevent the rise of mega-regionalism from leading to discrimination and becoming a source of trade conflicts. We suggest a way forward—including new areas of cooperation such as taxes—to maintain the open multilateral trading system and ensure that it benefits all countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Martin Kessler
  • Publication Date: 07-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper describes seven salient features of trade integration in the 21st century: Trade integration has been more rapid than ever (hyperglobalization); it is dematerialized, with the growing importance of services trade; it is democratic, because openness has been embraced widely; it is criss-crossing because similar goods and investment flows now go from South to North as well as the reverse; it has witnessed the emergence of a mega-trader (China), the first since Imperial Britain; it has involved the proliferation of regional and preferential trade agreements and is on the cusp of mega-regionalism as the world's largest traders pursue such agreements with each other; and it is impeded by the continued existence of high barriers to trade in services. Going forward, the trading system will have to tackle three fundamental challenges: In developed countries, the domestic support for globalization needs to be sustained in the face of economic weakness and the reduced ability to maintain social insurance mechanisms. Second, China has become the world's largest trader and a major beneficiary of the current rules of the game. It will be called upon to shoulder more of the responsibilities of maintaining an open system. The third challenge will be to prevent the rise of mega-regionalism from leading to discrimination and becoming a source of trade conflicts. We suggest a way forward—including new areas of cooperation such as taxes—to maintain the open multilateral trading system and ensure that it benefits all countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, North America
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past 10 years, central banks and governments throughout the developing world have accumulated foreign exchange reserves and other official assets at an unprecedented rate. This paper shows that this official asset accumulation has driven a substantial portion of the recent large global current account imbalances. These net official capital flows have become large relative to the size of the industrial economies, and they are a significant factor contributing to the weakness of the economic recovery in the major industrial economies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Jeffrey J. Schott, Julia Muir, Minsoo Lee
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Trade and investment in services are difficult to measure, and the regulatory barriers that inhibit the free flow of services are hard to quantify. As a result, very little attention has been paid to dismantling barriers to services trade and investment. Rather, free trade negotiations tend to focus on liberalizing merchandise trade. This paper examines what has been achieved in both regional and multilateral compacts by surveying international precedents involving Asian countries in which services reforms have been included in bilateral and regional trade pacts. The authors then assess the prospects for services trade negotiations and explore how services trade negotiations could be pursued over the next decade through two distinct channels: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a plurilateral approach among groups of WTO countries. The authors find that in the case of developing Asia, free trade agreements have largely excluded services or have only committed to "lock in" current practices in a narrow subset of service sectors. This is also the case in agreements negotiated between developing countries, which have produced less substantial commitments to liberalize services than those negotiated between developing and developed countries. Multilateral negotiations on services have also underperformed, as substantive negotiations on services in the Doha Round never really got underway. To that end, the authors advocate a stronger effort by developing Asian countries to prioritize services negotiations in their regional arrangements and to expand coverage of services in those pacts to a broad range of infrastructure services that are included in other FTAs in force or under construction in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets, World Trade Organization
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Lauge Skovgaard Poulsen
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: This paper compares the current foreign direct investment (FDI) recession with FDI responses to past economic crises. The authors find that although developed country outflows have taken an equally big hit as major developed countries have after past crises, outflows seem to be bouncing back more slowly this time. By contrast with the overall decline in recent years, inflows to emerging markets often remained stable during their past economic crises. Both patterns indicate that the global scale of the current crisis has led to a greater FDI response than after individual country crises in the past. Compared with global economic downturns since the 1970s, the current FDI recession has also been greater in magnitude. The exception is the FDI plunge in the early 2000s, despite the much smaller economic crisis at the time. The authors conclude by recommending that policymakers not just further liberalize FDI regimes—as they find was the typical pattern during earlier crises—but rather use the downturn to rethink their FDI policies with an enhanced focus on "sustainable FDI" promotion.
  • Topic: Globalization, Global Recession, Foreign Direct Investment, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Arvind Subramanian, Aaditya Mattoo
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Until recently, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been an effective framework for cooperation because it has continually adapted to changing economic realities. The current Doha Agenda is an aberration because it does not reflect one of the biggest shifts in the international economic and trading system: the rise of China. Even though China will have a stake in maintaining trade openness, an initiative that builds on but redefines the Doha Agenda would anchor China more fully in the multilateral trading system. Such an initiative would have two pillars. First, a new negotiating agenda that would include the major issues of interest to China and its trading partners, and thus unleash the powerful reciprocal liberalization mechanism that has driven the WTO process to previous successes. Second, new restraints on bilateralism and regionalism that would help preserve incentives for maintaining the current broad non-discriminatory trading order.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Israel
  • Author: C. Randall Henning, Mohsin S. Khan
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Currently, Asia's influence in global financial governance is not consistent with its weight in the world economy. This paper examines the role of Asia in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Group of Twenty (G-20). It looks in particular at how the relationship between East Asian countries and the IMF has evolved since the Asian financial crisis of 1997–98 and outlines how Asian regional arrangements for crisis financing and economic surveillance could constructively interact with the IMF in the future. It also considers ways to enhance the effectiveness of Asian countries in the G-20 process.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Israel, Asia
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, Thilo Hanemann, Lutz Weischer, Matt Miller
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Policymakers seem to face a trade-off when designing national trade and investment policies related to clean energy sectors. They have pledged to address climate change and accelerate the large-scale deployment of renewable energy technologies, which would benefit from increased global integration, but they are also tempted to nurture and protect domestic clean technology markets to create green jobs at home and ensure domestic political support for more ambitious climate policies. This paper analyzes the global integration of the solar photovoltaic (PV) sector and looks in detail at the industry's recent growth patterns, industry cost structure, trade and investment patterns, government support policies and employment generation potential. In order to further stimulate both further growth of the solar industry and local job creation without constructing new trade and investment barriers, we recommend the following: Governments must provide sufficient and predictable long-term support to solar energy deployment. Such long-term frameworks bring investments forward and encourage cost cutting and innovation, so that government support can decrease over time. A price on carbon emissions would provide an additional long-term market signal and likely accelerate this process. Policymakers should focus not on solely the manufacturing jobs in the solar industry, but on the total number of jobs that could possibly be created including those in research, project development, installation, operations and maintenance. Global integration and broader solar PV technology deployment through lower costs can be encouraged by keeping global solar PV markets open. Protectionist policies risk slowing the development of global solar markets and provoking retaliatory actions in other sectors. Lowering existing trade barriers—by abolishing tariffs, reducing non-tariff barriers and harmonizing industry standards—would create a positive policy environment for further global integration.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Globalization, International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance