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  • Author: Niall Ferguson
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: We are living through a paradox-or so it seems. Since September 11, 2001, according to a number of neo-conservative commentators, America has been fighting World War III (or IV, if you like to give the Cold War a number). For more than six years, these commentators have repeatedly drawn parallels between the "War on Terror" that is said to have begun in September 2001 and World War II. Immediately after 9/11, Al Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups were branded "Islamofascists". Their attack on the World Trade Center was said to be our generation's Pearl Harbor. In addition to coveting weapons of mass destruction and covertly sponsoring terrorism, Saddam Hussein was denounced as an Arab Hitler. The fall of Baghdad was supposed to be like the liberation of Paris. Anyone who opposed the policy of pre-emption was an appeaser. And so on.
  • Topic: Cold War, Economics, Terrorism, War, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: America, Iran
  • Author: Kenneth Rogoff, Yu-chin Chen, Barbara Rossi
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper studies the dynamic relationship between exchange rate fluctuations and world commodity price movements. Taking into account parameter instability, we demonstrate surprisingly robust evidence that exchange rates predict world commodity price movements, both in-sample and out-of-sample. Our results are consistent with a present value relationship in which the exchange rate depends on a present value of fundamentals including, for a core group of commodity exporters, the world price of their commodity exports. Because global commodity prices are essentially exogenous to these countries, we are able to avoid the endogeneity pitfalls that plague most of the related exchange rate literature. More directly, the analysis suggests that where commodity price forward markets are thin or non-existent, exchange rate-based forecasts may be a viable alternative for predicting future price movements.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Australia, New Zealand
  • Author: Mark Aguiar, Manuel Amador, Gita Gopinath
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: We characterize optimal taxation of foreign capital and optimal sovereign debt policy in a small open economy where the government cannot commit to policy, seeks to insure a risk averse domestic constituency, and is more impatient than the market. Optimal policy generates long-run cycles in both sovereign debt and foreign direct investment in an environment in which the first best capital stock is a constant. The expected tax on capital endogenously varies with the state of the economy and investment is distorted by more in recessions than in booms amplifying the effect of shocks. The government's lack of commitment induces a negative correlation between investment and the stock of government debt, a "debt overhang" effect. Debt relief is never Pareto improving and cannot affect the long-run level of investment. Further, restricting the government to a balanced budget can eliminate the cyclical distortion of investment.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Author: Richard N. Cooper
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: US objectives during the Cold War were to prevent Soviet attacks on the United States and its allies and to prevent the spread of communism as a political and economic system to other countries, whether by force or by threat, subversion, persuasion, or bribery. The principal instrument to prevent attack was an extensive build-up of defensive and retaliatory military forces, combined with political and military alliances that extended US protection to other countries in exchange for their engagement and support. The principal instruments for preventing the spread of communism by non-military means involved building an international economic system conducive to economic prosperity; engaging in persuasion, providing incentives, and occasionally imposing economic sanctions; and, not least, promoting a robust US economy that could serve as a stimulant to others and as a beacon for the benefits of a free, enterprise-based, market-oriented economy.
  • Topic: Cold War, Communism, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Abhijit Banerjee, Lakshmi Iyer
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Social scientists have long emphasized the importance of institutions in nurturing economic growth and development. Douglass C. North defines institutions as the “rules of the game in a society” which limit the set of choices for individuals and argues that institutions, both formal ones such as laws and constitutions, as well as informal ones such as social norms, are important in determining the transaction costs of production and exchange, and thereby have an impact on economic growth. He goes on to discuss the mostly incremental nature of institutional change and highlights the difficulties in implementing radical institutional change. This line of argument therefore suggests that the impacts of institutions are likely to be felt for a very long time, and hence points to the need for detailed historical analysis over long periods in order to quantify the impact of institutions.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Theory, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Kosuke Imai, Gary King, Clayton Nall
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: A basic feature of many field experiments is that investigators are only able to randomize clusters of individuals — such as households, communities, firms, medical practices, schools, or classrooms — even when the individual is the unit of interest. To recoup some of the resulting efficiency loss, many studies pair similar clusters and randomize treatment within pairs. Other studies (including almost all published political science field experiments) avoid pairing, in part because some prominent methodological articles claim to have identified serious problems with this “matched-pair cluster-randomized” design. We prove that all such claims about problems with this design are unfounded. We then show that the estimator for matched-pair designs favored in the literature is appropriate only in situations where matching is not needed. To address this problem without modeling assumptions, we generalize Neyman's (1923) approach and propose a simple new estimator with much improved statistical properties. We also introduce methods to cope with individual-level noncompliance, which most existing approaches assume away. We show that from the perspective of, among other things, bias, efficiency, power, or robustness, and in large samples or small, pairing should be used in cluster-randomized experiments whenever feasible; failing to do so is equivalent to discarding a considerable fraction of one's data. We develop these techniques in the context of a randomized evaluation we are conducting of the Mexican Universal Health Insurance Program.
  • Topic: Health, Political Theory, Socialism/Marxism
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Kimberly Theidon
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: On November 1, 2006, Peruvian president Alan García announced he would be proposing a new law that would include the death penalty as one sanction for terrorism in the Penal Code. As he argued, “We are not going to allow Shining Path to return and paint their slogans on the walls of our universities. Once this law is approved, anyone who commits the serious crime of terrorism will find themselves facing a firing squad. A war forewarned does not kill people.”
  • Topic: Political Violence, Terrorism, War
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Jason Beckfield
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper demonstrates the utility of a sociology of regional integration by addressing two central questions that have sparked much debate over the welfare state. Is there evidence of long-anticipated retrenchment? Does globalization cause that retrenchment? I redirect these debates by showing that there is evidence of retrenchment in Europe, and that regional integration – not globalization – accounts for it. Regional integration is conceptualized as the construction of supranational political economy in negotiated and bounded regions through political institutionalization and market expansion. I develop the argument that regional political integration should constrain the welfare state through policy feedbacks, the politics of blame avoidance, and the diffusion of classical-liberal policy scripts, while regional economic integration should constrain the welfare state by expanding labor markets and undermining labor unions. I assess these arguments with time-series cross-section models and data from 13 European Union (EU) and non-EU states. The results show that (1) there is evidence of retrenchment, (2) regionalization is significantly associated with retrenchment, and (3) the effect of regional integration is dampened in the strongest welfare states. I draw the general conclusion that regional integration is a new and consequential part of the social context that should receive more attention from sociologists.
  • Topic: Globalization, Regional Cooperation, Sociology
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Clark Kent Ervin
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: Sooner or later, somewhere or other, another natural disaster will strike America, be it a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake, or a flood. Sooner or later, somewhere or other, terrorists will attempt to strike America again. Indeed, many experts believe that the threat of another attack is rising. Al Qaeda is resurgent, having reconstituted itself along the Afghan-Pakistan border. And, recent history shows that terrorists are especially prone to strike during the transition from one administration to another or early in the term of a new government. Adding to our vulnerability, the nation is now bogged down in two wars and groaning under mounting debt, while our economy is sinking from the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
  • Topic: Security, Disaster Relief, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States, New York
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Carter Center
  • Abstract: The Carter Center led a small electoral observation mission for Ecuador's constitutional referendum on Sept. 28, 2008, to help promote a transparent and fair electoral process and accompany the country as it continues its political-institutional transformation. One of the major milestones in the process was the convening of the national constituent assembly (CA), which held session between November 2007 and July 2008. The CA's efforts culminated in the approval of a draft constitution, which was also approved by 63.93 percent of Ecuador voters during the Sept. 28, 2008, referendum.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Ecuador