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  • Author: George Selgin
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Not long ago a colleague of mine, who works regularly with legislators, attended a conference at which the lunch speaker, a famous economist, began by telling everyone why governments regulate financial institutions. The reasons the economist gave consisted of various (supposed) financial-market failures. Said the colleague to me later: “I just wanted to stand up and shout, 'That's got nothing to do with it!'” I relate this because some readers may otherwise fail to appreciate the importance of a work whose chief revelation is that financial legislation — and consequently the general structure of financial systems — are shaped by politics. My colleague didn't need to be told, but others, including many economists, evidently do. In Fragile by Design: The Political Origins of Banking Crises Scarce Credit, Charles Calomiris and Stephen Haber tell them. Banking arrangements, they argue, are “not a passive response to some efficiency criterion but rather the product of political deals that determine which laws are passed” (pp. 13 and 38). What's more, the laws such deals give rise to are, more often than not, detrimental to bank safety and soundness. In few words, banking instability has its roots, not in any fragility inherent to commercial banking, but in deals struck between governments and various interest groups. Fragile by Design is at once an alternative interpretation of the history of banking and a contribution to the debate on the causes of the recent crisis. Though other reviewers have tended to focus their attention on the latter contribution, many of Fragile by Design's most important insights, as well as many of its more serious flaws, are independent of its take on the subprime crisis. It is to those insights and flaws that I wish to draw attention
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Frederic Wehrey, Ariel I. Ahram
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Since the eruption of the Arab Spring in 2011, centralized military power has broken down in North Africa, the Levant, and Yemen, and several weak Arab states have turned to local militias to help defend regimes. While these pro-government militias can play important security roles, they have limited military capacity and reliability. Transitioning militia fighters into national guard forces with formal ties to the national command structure can overcome some of these limitations, but the shift must be accompanied by a wider commitment to security sector reform and political power sharing.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Shana Marshall
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The Egyptian military has gained unprecedented power since overseeing the ouster of two Egyptian presidents, Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and Mohamed Morsi in 2013. With its major political rivals sidelined, more than $20 billion in Gulf aid, and widespread domestic support for General-Turned-President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) has restarted its defunct industrial operations, secured control over massive infrastructure projects, and inserted generals at virtually all levels of government. But political overreach and internal rivalries may prove obstacles to long-term EAF control.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Egypt
  • Author: Owen Barder
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Governments, donors, and public sector agencies are seeking productive ways to 'crowd in' private sector involvement and capital to tackle international development challenges. The financial instruments that are used to create incentives for private sector involvement are typically those that lower an investment's risk (such as credit guarantees) or those that lower the costs of various inputs (such as concessional loans, which subsidise borrowing).
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Author: Mead Over, Gesine Meyer-Rath, Daniel J. Klein, Anna Bershteyn
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: The South African government is currently discussing various alternative approaches to the further expansion of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in public-sector facilities. Alternatives under consideration include the criteria under which a patient would be eligible for free care, the level of coverage with testing and care, how much of the care will be delivered in small facilities located closer to the patients, and how to assure linkage to care and subsequent adherence by ART patients. We used the EMOD-HIV model to generate 12 epidemiological scenarios. The EMOD-HIV model is a model of HIV transmission which projects South African HIV incidence and prevalence and ARV treatment by age group for alternative combinations of treatment eligibility criteria and testing. We treat as sunk costs the projected future cost of one of these 12 scenarios, the baseline scenario characterizing South Africa's 2013 policy to treat people with CD4 counts less than 350. We compute the cost and benefits of the other 11 scenarios relative to this baseline. Starting with our own bottom-up cost analyses in South Africa, we separate outpatient cost into non-scale-dependent costs (drugs and laboratory tests) and scale-dependent cost (staff, space, equipment and overheads) and model the cost of production according to the expected future number and size of clinics. On the demand side, we include the cost of creating and sustaining the projected incremental demand for testing and treatment. Previous research with EMOD-HIV has shown that more vigorous recruitment of patients with CD4 counts less than 350 appears to be an advantageous policy over a five-year horizon. Over 20 years, however, the model assumption that a person on treatment is 92 percent less infectious improves the cost-effectiveness of higher eligibility thresholds over more vigorous recruitment at the lower threshold of 350, averting HIV infections for between $1,700 and $2,800 (under our central assumptions), while more vigorous expansion under the current guidelines would cost more than $7,500 per incremental HIV infection averted. Granular spatial models of demand and cost facilitate the optimal targeting of new facility construction and outreach services. Based on analysis of the sensitivity of the results to 1,728 alternative parameter combinations at each of four discount rates, we conclude that better knowledge of the behavioral elasticities would be valuable, reducing the uncertainty of cost estimates by a factor of 4 to 10.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Carter Center
  • Abstract: This report outlines constitutional and legislative options for a political transition in Syria under the umbrella of the Final Geneva Communiqué, issued by the Action Group on Syria on 30 June 2012, and revived in early May 2013 at a meeting in Moscow between the U.S. and Russia. The Communiqué embodies the greatest degree of consensus that the international community has been able to achieve regarding the Syrian conflict, detailing a potentially viable path to a negotiated end to the civil war. Since May 2013, efforts by UN and Arab League Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and others to host a peace conference on Syria (dubbed "Geneva II"), have reinforced the importance of developing possible constitutional and legislative modalities for a transition.
  • Topic: Civil War, Government, International Cooperation, Armed Struggle
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Sheila A. Smith
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Electoral reform in the early 1990s ended single-party dominance in Japan and promised an era of new politics in which political parties would alternate control of the government. In the two decades that followed, Japan's foreign and domestic policy priorities were subjected to greater scrutiny and debate as Japan, like so many other nations around the globe, sought to reorient itself in a new post-Cold War world. The U.S.-Japan alliance that anchored Japan's postwar foreign policy was not immune to these domestic political reforms. For half a century, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) prided itself on managing the relationship with Washington. But its ouster in 2009 by the reformist Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) led many to expect that even Japan's alliance with the United States would be subject to serious review.
  • Topic: Government, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Asia
  • Author: Julia Grauvogel
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper examines the impact of regionally imposed sanctions on the trajectory of the Burundian regime and its involvement in the peace process following the 1996 coup in the country. Despite the country's socioeconomic and geopolitical vulnerability, the Buyoya government withstood the pressure from the sanctions. Through a vocal campaign against these sanctions, the new government mitigated the embargo's economic consequences and partially reestablished its international reputation. Paradoxically, this campaign planted the seed for comprehensive political concessions in the long term. While previous literature has attributed the sanctions' success in pressuring the government into negotiations to their economic impact, the government actually responded to the sanction senders' key demand to engage in unconditional, inclusive peace talks under the auspices of the regional mediator once the economy had already started to recover. The regime's anti-sanctions campaign, with its emphasis on the government's willingness to engage in peace talks, backfired, with Buyoya forced to negotiate after having become entrapped in his own rhetoric.
  • Topic: Government, Regime Change, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burundi
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: Creating an effective transition for the ANSF is only one of the major challenges that Afghanistan, the US, and Afghanistan's other allies face during 2014 2015 and beyond. The five other key challenges include: Going from an uncertain election to effective leadership and political cohesion and unity. Creating an effective and popular structure governance, with suitable reforms, from the local to central government, reducing corruption to acceptable levels, and making suitable progress in planning, budgeting, and budget execution. Coping with the coming major cuts in outside aid and military spending in Afghanistan, adapting to a largely self-financed economy, developing renewal world economic development plans, carrying out the reforms pledged at the Tokyo Conference, and reducing the many barriers to doing business. Establishing relations with Pakistan and other neighbors that will limit outside pressures and threats, and insurgent sanctuaries on Afghanistan's border. Persuading the US, other donors, NGCO, and nations will to provide advisors to furnish the needed aid effort through at least 2018, and probably well beyond.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Rich Karl, Magda Rich, P.G. Chengappa
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Despite estimates that the global butterfly trade generates over US$100 million annually in sales of pupae for exhibitions and deadstock for a range of collector and artisanal uses, almost no research has been conducted that unpacks the dynamics of these value chains. This paper remedies this gap by highlighting the governance structure of the value chain, with important implications on the benefits for chain participants, upgrading strategies, sectoral sustainability, and the potential for new market entrants. This research on live butterfly chains reveals the fragility of current modes of economic organization that promote overproduction as threatening the long-term viability for the industry as a whole. The authors propose an alternative governance model based on the use of individually transferrable quotas, or ITQs, as a means of improving the performance of certain butterfly value chains.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Governance