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  • Author: Derek M. Scissors
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Reactions to the Chinese Communist Party's announcement of major economic reforms in November have ranged from unbridled optimism to skepticism about the party's ability to implement sweeping change. In fact, the reforms themselves are flawed in multiple ways-most are inauthentic, uncredible, or nonviable. However, the areas of land and finance offer more limited prospects for true reform. The primary means of judging reform progress should be progress in reducing excess capacity. The most likely outcome is that the party will claim success but the economy will slowly stagnate, harming China's partners.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Reform
  • Political Geography: China, East Asia
  • Author: Derek M. Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Chinese foreign investment declined through mid-2014 for the first time since the financial crisis. By sector, energy draws the most investment, but a slump in energy spending means that metals and real estate have been more prominent so far in 2014. The United States has received the most Chinese investment since 2005, followed by Australia, Canada, and Brazil. China invests first in large, resource-rich nations but has also diversified by spending more than $200 billion elsewhere. Chinese investment benefits both China and the recipient nation, but host countries must consider thorny issues like Chinese cyberespionage and subsidies.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, International Trade and Finance, Terrorism, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Canada, Asia, Brazil, Australia
  • Author: Derek M. Scissors
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: New data published in the American Enterprise Institute-Heritage Foundation China Global Investment Tracker show that China continues to invest heavily around the world. Outward investment excluding bonds stood at $85 billion in 2013 and is likely to reach $100 billion annually by 2015. Energy, metals, and real estate are the prime targets. The United States in particular received a record of more than $14 billion in Chinese investment in 2013. Although China has shown a pattern of focusing on one region for a time then moving on to the next, the United States could prove to be a viable long-term investment location. The economic benefits of this investment flow are notable, but US policymakers (and those in other countries) should consider national security, the treatment of state-owned enterprises, and reciprocity when deciding to encourage or limit future Chinese investment.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment, Sovereign Wealth Funds
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Jon Kyl, Jim Talent
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When President Obama took office, the armed services of the United States had already reached a fragile state. The Navy had shrunk to its smallest size since before World War I; the Air Force was smaller, and its aircraft older, than at any time since the inception of the service. The Army was stressed by years of war; according to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, it had been underfunded before the invasion of Iraq and was desperately in need of resources to replace its capital inventory.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Economics, Politics, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: John L. Kokulis
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The rise in military health care spending has been a primary driver of the large growth in military personnel compensation over the past decade. Left unchecked, these costs will impact the ability of the DoD's Military Health System (MHS) to support its three critical missions: 1. Readiness for deployment: Maintaining an agile, fully deployable medical force and a health care delivery system so they are capable of providing state-of-the-art health services anytime, anywhere; 2. Readiness of the fighting force: Helping commanders create and sustain the most healthy and medically prepared fighting forces anywhere; and 3. The benefits mission: Providing long-term health coaching and health care for 9.7 million DoD beneficiaries.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Economics, Health, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William C. Greenwalt
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Pentagon has been undergoing major procurement reform since 1984, but hoped-for results have not been achieved. Bipartisan acquisition reform legislation was passed in the 1990s, but these positive changes did not hold. At the heart of the current procurement dilemma is too much faith in central planning and too little faith in the free market. Policymakers must first remedy the incentives underlying reform, and five overarching categories are driving the misplaced incentives: trust in central planning leading to increased bureaucracy, preference for defense-unique versus commercial solutions, distrust of the defense industry and profit motives, fear that the workforce is incapable of exercising discretion, and finally, preoccupation with cost certainty and maintaining low prices over achieving results and value. By reaching out to and incentivizing the private sector, the Pentagon can help reform the procurement system by lowering costs, restoring competition, and delivering taxpayers the best value for their money.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Economics, Markets, Reform
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Patrick Keller
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The "grand narrative" of German security policy since the end of the Cold War has oscillated between Germany's reluctance to use hard power and Germany's desire to be seen as supportive of its American and European allies. This is reflected in the varying decisions it has made during foreign military operations and in the manner in which Germany's military has conducted those operations. At the same time, the German military has undergone a series of reforms designed to modernize German forces and to make them more flexible and deployable. But a stagnant and low level of defense expenditures has made carrying out these reforms an ongoing challenge to the German military and German defense ministry. Germany has a vital interest in a stable and liberal international order and, hence, in having a military capable of helping maintain that order. As Europe's leading economic power and, increasingly, as Europe's central political actor, Germany could and should take the lead in reversing the precipitous decline in European hard power.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Economics, International Security, Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Andrew Shearer
  • Publication Date: 08-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Like many other Western states, following the Cold War, Australia cut its defense budget, resulting in significant shortfalls in key military capabilities. Since the mid-1990s, successive Australian governments have outlined plans intended to boost the capabilities of Australia's armed forces. However, these strategic ambitions have in recent years been undercut by changes in government spending priorities and shortfalls in the national budget, jeopardizing the long-standing technological advantage Australian forces have enjoyed over other states in the region. As major Asian states such as China continue to grow their economies and modernize their armed forces, Australia must commit sufficient resources to its modernization agenda or risk losing its ability to help shape the Asia-Pacific ­security environment and risk fulfilling its role as a key US partner in America's pivot to Asia.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Cold War, Economics, Armed Forces
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: As the leadership of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (hereafter DPRK, or North Korea) looks to the future, economic development figures centrally in its officially proclaimed agenda. This year, as it has done every year over the past decade, the government's joint New Year editorial stressed the imperative of economic construction, broadly outlining the sorts of improvements that are to be achieved over the remainder of the current calendar year, and intoned that "The present grand onward march for the improvement of the people's standard of living demands that a full-scale offensive be launched in the overall economic front." But economic growth and development has just taken on a whole new importance in North Korean policy, one that extends beyond rhetoric: this past January, for the first time in over two decades, Pyongyang has formally unveiled a new multi-year economic plan: a 10-year "strategy plan for economic development" under a newly formed State General Bureau for Economic Development. The new economic plan is intended not only to meet the DPRK's longstanding objective of becoming a "powerful and prosperous country" [Kangsong Taeguk] by 2012 (the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung), but also to promote North Korea to the ranks of the "advanced countries in 2020."
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Foreign Aid
  • Political Geography: Israel, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This paper examines global demographic prospects to the year 2030 and assesses the influence that impending population trends may have upon economic performance in coming years for the world as a whole and the major regional economies. A reasonably reliable assessment of prospective global trends to 2030 is feasible today because the overwhelming majority of people who will be living in that future world are already here, alive today. This includes all of that future world's senior citizens and almost its entire workforce. Major changes in global population trends are in the offing--among these, a sharp slowdown in the growth of available manpower, with impending declines of manpower for some regions, and pervasive population aging. Furthermore, in many of today's important "emerging markets" demographic pressures may constrain economic growth more significantly than is currently appreciated. Coping with these looming demographic realities will require far-reaching reforms and innovations if we hope to maintain the pre-crisis tempo of global economic growth (much less accelerate it).
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Poverty
  • Author: Apoorva Shah
  • Publication Date: 09-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In a country where two out of five citizens, about 450 million people, live in poverty, it is no exaggeration to say that the development experience of Kerala – a coastal state on the southwestern tip of India – stands out as extraordinary. Despite a history of anemic economic growth, this state of 32 million boasts effectively universal literacy rates and life expectancy levels close to many Western societies. Because of this, the “Kerala model” has been hailed by NGOs, development experts, and Western academics as an alternative path for human development in which a robust welfare system rather than economic growth drives social progress.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Poverty
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Kerala
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The array of postbubble stresses and uncertainties identified in the January 2010 Economic Outlook (“The Year Ahead”) promised that the new year would see plenty of volatility in markets. That is exactly what is playing out as we move through the first quarter. As risks accumulate, it may be that 2010 is shaping up as a mirror image of 2009, reversing last year's down-then-up pattern with an up-then-down pattern this year.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Market conditions in the United States, Japan, China, and Europe portend a weakening global economy. While not dramatic in any one region save an earthquake-burdened Japan, these conditions could accumulate to create a problematic loss of momentum for global growth, especially compared to current upbeat consensus views for the second half of 2011.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Global Recession
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: January ended on a note of diminished hope for a sustainable global recovery as stock markets retreated from their midmonth highs. Since mid-February, however, higher hopes for a sustainable global recovery have returned. Equity markets have rallied along with markets for corporate and global sovereign bonds. Some mitigation of perceived risks facing global investors has provided a chance for hope to “float up,” and it has done so. Tension over the cohesion of the European Monetary Union and, in particular, concerns over a possible sovereign-debt default by Greece have eased, and investors continue to hope that the debt problems in Greece will not spread to the rest of Europe.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: February always brings with it the president's proposals for taxing and spending in the coming fiscal year. The president's budget proposals are accompanied by congressional and administration estimates of the path deficits and government debt are expected to take in coming years. Last year, those projections, especially a three-year string of actual and projected deficits over a trillion dollars from 2009 through 2011, excited widespread comment and handwringing about runaway deficits and their allegedly damaging effects in the form of lower growth, higher inflation, and higher interest rates.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: We can expect 2010 to be a volatile year. This likelihood is underscored by looking back at 2008 and 2009. Two thousand eight was a highly volatile year leading up to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September, which was followed by the risk of a total systemic meltdown. That sharp and obvious risk spike prompted massive policy responses that were simply the largest that central banks, with rate cuts and liquidity provision, and governments, with tax cuts and spending increases, could manage. The result—beginning in March 2009—was a linear rise in the prices of risky assets, the result of massive relief once the slip into a global depression had been averted and the acute phase of the crisis in the financial sector had passed.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe
  • Author: H. E. Frech III
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The OECD has undertaken an ambitious large-scale statistical analysis of the determinants of health and the relative efficiency of the health care systems of various OECD member countries (Jourmard, André, Nicq and Chatal 2008). The Report makes a useful contribution to a continuing stream of literature that focuses on health outcomes, rather than cost. While the primary emphasis of the Report is on new statistical analysis, it includes a valuable, though spotty, literature review.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Health
  • Author: Kevin A. Hassett
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This paper reviews the empirical literature on countercyclical policy. It finds that three types of countercyclical policies have been studied in the literature: built in stabilizers, temporary policy changes, and more permanent policy changes. The literature is decidedly mixed on the effectiveness of temporary changes, but more hopeful concerning the other two.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Martin S. Feldstein
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This paper comments on the experience of the U.S. economy in the 1930s, its lessons for managing the current economic downturn, and the relation of U.S. economic conditions to our future national security. Some of the conclusions are: (1) Although the current recession will be long and very damaging, it is not likely to deteriorate into conditions similar to the Depression of the 1930s. Policy makers now understand better than they did in the 1930s what needs to be done and what needs to be avoided. (2) The focus on domestic economic policies in the 1930s and the desire to remain militarily neutral delayed the major military buildup that eventually achieved the economic recovery. (3) A well-functioning system of bank lending is necessary for economic expansion. We have yet to achieve that in the current situation. (4) Raising taxes, even future taxes, can depress economic activity. The administration's budget proposes to raise tax rates on higher income individuals, on dividends and capital gains, on corporate profits and on all consumers through the cap and trade system of implicit CO2 taxes. (5) Inappropriate trade policies and domestic policies that affect the exchange rate can hurt our allies, leading to conflicts that spill over from economics to impair national security cooperation. Reducing long-term U.S. fiscal deficits would reduce the risk of inflation and thereby reduce the fear among foreign investors that their dollar investments will lose their purchasing power. (6) The possibilities for domestic terrorism and of cyber attacks creates risks that did not exist in the 1930s or even in more recent decades. The scale and funding of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security is not consistent with these new risks.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Terrorism, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On December 16, 2008, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke exercised decisive leadership at a watershed meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). In its official statement after the meeting, the committee pledged to “employ all available tools to promote the resumption of sustainable economic growth and to preserve price stability.” The pledge to preserve price stability was not a commitment to fight inflation, as is typical, but a highly unusual commitment to fight deflation.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The global financial and economic crisis that emerged in August 2007 has entered a dismaying fourth phase. The January 17–18, 2009, weekend edition of the Financial Times, which has been a major chronicler of the crisis and its many aspects, laid out a frightening timeline of an accelerating and intensifying oscillatory cycle of crisis and failed policy response that started just fifteen months ago. Each phase begins with a shock and ends with a seemingly decisive policy measure meant to contain or “fix” the crisis. Each phase is shorter than the previous one and culminates in a much larger policy response. Throughout the crisis, the losses of financial institutions have steadily grown at an accelerating pace as the underlying conditions in the financial sector and, since September 2008, in the underlying global economy deteriorate more rapidly. Such a disturbing pattern must be truncated by a large, coordinated global policy response to arrest the accelerating erosion of the market capitalization of multinational banks and insurance companies that has resulted.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: As the global financial and economic crisis has grown increasingly dire—the deterioration just since the November U.S. election is breathtaking—market participants and policymakers alike have looked to three past crisis models as part of an intensifying search for ways out of the current crisis. First, the Great Depression of the 1930s is being examined ever more closely for possible lessons now that commentators have moved past an under- standable reluctance to mention that experience as relevant to today's situation. Second, the Scandinavian financial crisis of the early 1990s, which included a proactive move toward bank nationalization by the Swedish government, is also widely discussed. Finally, many allusions have been made to the disquieting parallels between today's U.S. experience and that of Japan during its “lost decade” (1991–2001) of recession and deflation, especially after 1998.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On March 18, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke intensified the important battle against global deflation with a commitment to expand the Fed's balance sheet by an extra $1.15 trillion. With some luck and persistence, that step could boost growth by a percentage point or more and, even more important, substantially reduce the risk of deflation.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin, Vincent R. Reinhart, Peter J. Wallison
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: One year ago, on September 14, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. The next day the Dow fell five hundred points. Soon thereafter, the government essentially nationalized AIG, made Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley into bank-holding companies, and petitioned Congress for aid. In early September, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had been placed in government conservatorship. These events followed the bursting of the housing bubble. We present here three essays written by AEI scholars in the spring and summer of 2009 on the origins of the financial crisis whose reverberations we continue to feel today. Vincent R. Reinhart sets the stage by reminding us of the importance of getting the story of what happened right, as policy recommendations flow from our understanding of what occurred. He also tells us that “the narrative first written about the Great Depression was wrong in many important respects.” John H. Makin and Peter J. Wallison focus on the misguided policies that contributed to the crisis. In a new Economic Outlook, Makin discusses three important lessons of the financial crisis that should be understood in order to enable a faster, more effective policy response to future crises.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: China's economic statistics have become the envy of the world. On July 15, China reported a 7.9 percent growth rate for the second quarter of 2009 compared to the same period a year earlier. Meanwhile, China's stock markets are on fire, and its property markets are heating up fast as well. Shanghai's two stock markets are up 75 percent and 95 percent respectively so far this year. The more widely traded Hong Kong Index is up 27 percent, a stellar performance compared to largely flat stock markets in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In even stronger contrast, Russia, which is one of China's emerging-market peers, has seen its economy drop by 10.1 percent during the first half of this year, while its stock market has struggled as well.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Japan, China, Europe, Hong Kong
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Governor Zhou Xiaochuan's comment is an open acknowledgement that the “adverse feedback loop,” in which financial-sector problems hurt the real economy, which in turn intensifies negative conditions in finance, has hit China hard. China's real growth rate, which peaked at 13 percent in 2007 and is heavily dependent on exports, plunged to 6.1 percent on a year-over-year basis in the first quarter of 2009. Nominal growth, a measure of the current money value of goods and services, fell even more sharply, from 21.4 percent in 2007 to 3.6 percent in the first quarter of this year. The fact that the nominal growth rate is 2.5 percent below the real growth rate suggests that, at least as far as output is concerned, deflation has taken hold at a 2.5 percent rate in China.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The recent steps by the Federal Reserve to preempt deflation have—ironically and unexpectedly— prompted a surge in inflation fears both inside the United States and abroad, especially in China. Specifically, the Fed's measures to go beyond the stimulus inherent in a zero percent federal funds rate by purchasing Treasury and mortgage securities has conjured visions—especially in the eyes of major buyers of Treasury securities, China foremost— of massive money printing to underwrite trillions of dollars of additional government borrowing at low interest rates. As markets have shown, if that were the Fed's intention—which it decidedly is not—the effort would fail because excessive money printing—creating a money supply larger than the quantity of money demanded— would push up interest rates as inflation expectations rose.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: More than two years have passed since the U.S. housing bubble burst. That event ushered in a financial crisis that was not only intense but also stunning. So stunning in fact, that in August of last year, just a month before the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the global economy was close to a crisis worthy of comparison with the Great Depression, yet neither the markets nor the Federal Reserve had much of an inkling of what was to come. The Standard and Poor's (S) 500 Index had come down to about 1,300 from its October 2007 high of 1,576. Positive growth had just been reported for the U.S. economy during the second quarter of 2008 at an annual rate of 2.8 percent (later revised down to 1.5 percent). Almost one percentage point of that growth came from U.S. consumption, and government spending also contributed. The wave of relief after the Bear Stearns scare in March 2008 had provided a nice boost to the economy and to markets. That boost was further enhanced by the substantial contribution to growth from net exports (2.9 percentage points) thanks to what was, then, continuing strength in the global economy, especially in China, which had reported blistering 10.1 percent year-over-year growth in the second quarter of 2008. These and other positive components more than offset a drag from inventories and residential investment. In short, the real economy had not shown much evidence of damage emanating from the chaos that was churning in the financial sector.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The only thing scarier than the slide of the dollar, which has dropped by 15 percent since March, would be an attempt by the Federal Reserve to stop it. Such an attempt would show that we have learned nothing from the Bank of Japan's disastrous premature exit from a zero-interest policy in August 2000. Closer to home, it would resemble the Fed's premature move to mop up “excess” reserves by doubling reserve requirements in three steps between August 1936 and May 1937, which was followed by the third-worst recession of the twentieth century, from May 1937 to June 1938.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Wall Street is dancing again to the music of a sharp rise in stock prices. The question that remains is whether Main Street, currently languishing in a sad world of job losses, unavailable credit, and weakened balance sheets, will get to join the party. To put the question more precisely, will the “adverse feedback loop” that saw a financial collapse last fall that crushed the real economy work in reverse, so that a financial bounce boosts the real economy in coming quarters? The jury is still out on this important question.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Philip I. Levy
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Contrary to the common approach in the literature, the economic and other forces that push countries toward democratization are continuous rather than discrete. This paper argues that failure to account for the latent variable of "incipient democracy" can bias estimates of democracy's determinants. The paper presents a new avenue by which economic integration can foster democracy, one that focuses on the means for democratization rather than the motive. This strengthening of civil society is identified as a necessary component of economic integration with modern distributed production, though we would not expect to see it in autocracies dependent on natural resource trade. The arguments are applied to the case of China.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Aparna Mathur, Kevin A. Hassett, Gilbert E. Metcalf
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This paper measures the direct and indirect incidence of a carbon tax using current income and two measures of lifetime income to rank households. Our results suggest that carbon taxes are more regressive when annual income is used as a measure of economic welfare than when proxies for lifetime income are used.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anthony T. Lo Sasso
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The present upswing in state-level efforts to "do something about health care," combined with presidential campaign-related rhetoric, suggests that health care is back with a vengeance on the public consciousness. Many states are proposing what appear to be new strategies to cover the uninsured when in reality the "new" strategies rely on old approaches that have not proven highly effective in the past, notably community rating and guaranteed issue regulations. Using data culled from a popular health insurance distributor and the published literature provides a compelling portrait of the predictable distortions that can result from regulations aimed at improving perceived deficiencies in the non-group and small group health insurance markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Aparna Mathur, Kevin A. Hassett, Gilbert E. Metcalf
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In discussions over how best to implement mandatory restrictions on carbon, the most commonly discussed option is a cap-and-trade system. One critical economic question surrounding cap-and-trade is how to distribute the permits. The two main competing mechanisms are free allocations to polluters (usually based on past emissions levels, output levels, or carbon intensity) and the auction of permits.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Environment, Markets
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Now that Wall Street and the Federal Reserve have finished congratulating themselves for not having been alarmists—in other words, for failing to recognize that a recession was looming—they are now facing up to the onset of a U.S. recession and a rapidly spreading financial crisis. Having been late to reach that conclusion, they now grudgingly admit that we may have a brief "V-shaped" recession and are apparently hoping that Fed rate cuts and a fiscal stimulus package will quickly solve the economy\'s problems.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Japan experienced a disastrous decade of economic stagnation and deflation from 1991 to 2001 after bubbles in its stock market and land market collapsed. While some economic pain was unavoidable—given a 60 percent plunge in equity prices between late 1989 and August 1992, accompanied by the onset of what ultimately became a 70 percent drop in land values by 2001—the "lost decade" was not an inevitable outcome. It required a series of persistently wrong economic policy decisions that ignored the lessons learned in America's Great Depression of the 1930s and the subsequent research on the causes of that painful period.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, America, Asia
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In October 1907, J. P. Morgan stemmed a financial panic by coercing other banks to join him in providing credit to Wall Street brokerage firms teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.[1] This year, over the weekend including March 15—the ominous Ides of March—James Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, was the one to act. With the Federal Reserve squarely behind him and assuming the risk, he prevented a Bear Stearns bankruptcy by agreeing to purchase the firm, providing it with a decent burial, at a price of $2 per share. Bear Stearns's stock had been valued at over $160 per share just a year ago. The $2 price virtually wiped out the value of that stock, one-third of which is owned by its 14,000 employees. This was clearly not a bailout for Bear Stearns shareholders, and whether or not the steps taken by the Fed on March 16 were sufficient to arrest a further collapse of available credit and the economy remains to be seen. As long as house prices keep falling, the underlying problem for credit markets and the economy remains.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The desire to enhance and store wealth has been present ever since income rose above subsistence levels. In ancient times, prior to the creation of symbolic financial claims on wealth, wealth storage was, quite literally, the storage of intrinsically valuable articles in temples, pyramids, or other such formidable structures. Even today in Tibet, which was long a theocracy, a major repository of wealth can be seen in religious statues of solid gold resting in temples.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The bursting of every bubble is followed by statements suggesting that the worst is over and that the real economy will be unharmed. The weeks since mid-March have been such a period in the United States. The underlying problem—a bust in the residential real-estate market—has, however, grown worse, with peak-to-trough estimates of the drop in home prices having gone from 20 to 30 percent in the span of just two months. Meanwhile, the attendant damage to the housing sector and to the balance sheets tied to it has grown worse and spread beyond the subprime subsector.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Fed is in a bind, pulled toward easier monetary policy by a weak economy and fragile credit markets, while simultaneously needing to resist higher inflation. On Monday, June 9, after a weekend of headlines regarding a half-percentage-point rise in the unemployment rate, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke gave a pathbreaking speech entitled "Outstanding Issues in the Analysis of Inflation" at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's fifty-third Annual Economic Conference. In that speech, after suggesting that the risks of a substantial  economic downturn had diminished over the past month and citing further progress in the repair of financial and credit markets, he proceeded to address the problem of rising inflation. In two sentences, he contributed to a sharp, fifty-basis-point rise in two-year bond yields and boosted the market's assessment of the chance of a fifty-basis-point rise in the federal-funds target rate at the September 16 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) from virtually zero to nearly 70 percent.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Megan Davy
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) economies, usually susceptible to international financial turmoil, are especially vulnerable to even minor tremors in U.S. markets. Regional policymakers and entrepreneurs, therefore, have been closely watching the current U.S. subprime credit crisis. Here is the good news: all signs point to relatively minor symptoms in LAC countries—despite a rocky financial history during the 1980s and 1990s—thanks in large part to reforms undertaken in response to previous financial crises, as well as continued high commodity prices that will likely buoy export markets. Although the economic downturn in the United States and other global markets will likely expose lingering weaknesses in the region's economy, this latest crisis can provide an impetus to complete the unfinished business of building more modern, resilient economies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Andrew G. Biggs
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Until recently, Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was surprisingly responsible regarding Social Security, noting the urgency of reform and saying all options should be on the table. But having cornered himself with Democratic activists whose attitudes toward Social Security reform range from demagoguery to denial, his solution to the system's problems has veered leftward. He now plans to fix Social Security exclusively with higher taxes. The new Obama plan would not only fail to resolve the system's long-term problems, but would also impose significant costs on the economy as a whole.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Amity Shlaes, Vincent R. Reinhart, Allan H. Meltzer, John L. Chapman
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: How fragile is our financial system? What are the implications of the Fed's actions on Bear Stearns? Do we need new ways of thinking about the risks the system entails? In recent articles, four AEI scholars have looked closely at the evidence of what went wrong and what is ahead.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alan D. Viard
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Buried in the 227-page Social Security trustees' report are some dramatic numbers about Social Security's future promises. AEI resident scholar Alan D. Viard tells us that "a typical worker retiring in 2050 has been promised 47 percent more than today's retirees, and one retiring in 2080 has been promised more than double today's benefits." To address the program's financial problems, he says, the rules need to be changed to link future retirees' benefits to inflation. That move, he says, would go a long way toward solving the system's problems.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: N. Gregory Mankiw
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Income inequality is rising, and in this article, AEI visiting scholar N. Gregory Mankiw looks at the statistical evidence and causes. Government policy, he says, is unlikely to be the culprit because inequality has risen in Democratic and Republican administrations--we need to look instead at skills-based technological change and educational attainment. Education, Mankiw says, is key to understanding the broader trends, but it cannot fully explain the incomes of the super-rich.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Vincent R. Reinhart
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Senate Banking Committee approved legislation on May 20 that would empower the Federal Housing Administration to provide relief to mortgage borrowers teetering on the brink of default. The House has already passed similar legislation. Only two months ago, mortgage aid was viewed as unlikely, but the odds now favor it becoming law. For this change of fortune, the legislation's chief sponsors, Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), should thank one person in particular: Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence B. Lindsey
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: America has not had a nationwide housing crash since the 1930s. At one point during that calamity, an estimated 60 percent of all mortgages were in technical default. The rather primitive housing credit system of the time, which relied on five-year balloon mortgages, certainly exacerbated the problem, but the bulk of the problem was related to the general economic downturn. There have been some regional housing crashes that were short and relatively mild, most notably in California, Texas, and New England in the late 1980s and early1990s. Most of those were caused by declines in key local industries: oil in Texas, aerospace and defense in Southern California and Massachusett.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, California, England
  • Author: Frederick M. Hess, Kevin Carey
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: What if, instead of borrowing, students could arrange for investors to pay their college bills in exchange for a fixed percentage of their future income? In this article, Kevin Carey and AEI's Frederick M. Hess answer this provocative question. The time has come, they say, to think more creatively about financing college, especially because Congress seems more inclined to pour more money into loans and grants.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Author: Lawrence B. Lindsey
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Two AEI scholars have recently assessed the merits of Senator Barack Obama's approach to fixing the Social Security system's problems. In a March On the Issues, Andrew G. Biggs argued that the senator's plan would not fix the system's long-term problems and would impose significant costs on the economy as a whole. To read Biggs's article, visit www.aei.org/publication27704/. In June, Lawrence B. Lindsey wrote that requiring higher-end workers to pay additional taxes without getting additional benefits linked to their extra contributions would be “a big step toward turning Social Security from a contributory pension scheme into just another welfare program.” Below, Lindsey spells out the details.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The good news about the problems in the financial sector and the larger economy in the United States emanating from the persistent drop in house prices is that they will eventually end, and the underlying resiliency of the U.S. economy will reemerge. The bad news about these problems is that they are going to continue for some time and get worse before they improve. Efforts to address them so far have been ineffective because they have been aimed at containing a subprime credit crisis, not at containing a rapidly spreading primecredit, solvency crisis that is leading the U.S. economy into recession.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Amity Shlaes
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Democratic presidential candidates are invoking the New Deal as a model for addressing infrastructure, economic, and employment problems in the United States. But a careful look at New Deal spending suggests, in the words of Amity Shlaes, “not how much the public works achieved . . . [but] how little.” Advocates for new federal government spending on highways, buildings, and roads should carefully weigh the need against the damage that comes from projects and jobs created for political reasons.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The annual report of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS)—the central bankers' central bank—which appeared in late June, was somewhat schizophrenic. On the one hand, the BIS called for world interest rates to rise in order to deal with a “clear and present threat” from global inflation while, on the other hand, it warned that the global economy may be close to a “tipping point” into a “slowdown severe enough to transform the current period of rising inflation into a period of falling prices.” The simultaneous rise in oil prices and the fall in yields in government securities occurring as the BIS released this ambivalent statement captured well the tensions inherent in the stagflationary crosscurrents facing the global economy. Against this ominous background, the release of the BIS report coincided with the onset of a global bear market in equities.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Oil, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Speaking on August 22 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's Annual Economic Symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke entitled his important address “Reducing Systemic Risk.” Bernanke outlined three key elements of the Fed's response to what he described as “one of the most challenging economic and policy environments in memory.” First, the Fed has eased monetary policy, cutting the federal funds rate from 5.25 percent to 2 percent. Second, the Fed has expanded its liquidity support by developing new special lending facilities to mitigate “very severe strains in short-term funding markets.” The third and, as yet, unfinished element of the Fed's strategy involves “a range of activities and initiatives undertaken in our [the Fed's] role as financial regulator and supervisor.”
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Political Economy
54. Panic
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The credit crisis that followed the collapse of the housing bubble turned into a financial panic on Wednesday, September 17, 2008. There was a run by households out of money-market funds and into safe Treasury bills, pushing their yields to zero for the first time since the Great Depression. There was a liquidity trap in the interbank market, in which banks that are supposed to lend to each other hoarded cash for fear of runs by their depositors and the insolvency of other banks. Financial markets simply froze in the midst of chaos.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Over the past several months as central banks and treasuries have struggled to manage a financial panic and avoid or diminish its soon-to-appear devastating impact on the global economy, I have often thought about the efforts of two great economists to understand the lessons of the Great Depression. John Maynard Keynes's monumental General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936, showed how a failure to understand the nature of the demand for money contributed to the Great Depression. “The importance of money essentially flows from being a link between the present and the future,” Keynes said.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: President-elect Barack Obama faces the most difficult economic challenge confronting an incoming American president since the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt seventy-six years ago in 1932. When he assumes office on January 20, Obama will need to act decisively with heretofore unprecedented fiscal policy steps, in conjunction with measures by the Federal Reserve to increase the money supply and lower long-term interest rates. All of this must be done to help contain and reverse the accelerating global slowdown by halting the rapidly deepening American recession. We can only hope that other national leaders and central banks will follow suit.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Robert W. Hahn, Anna Layne-Farrar
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Security in software networks relies on technology, law, and economics. As the cost of software security breaches becomes more apparent, there has been greater interest in developing and implementing solutions for different parts of the problem.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Government, Science and Technology
  • Author: Kevin A. Hassett, Alan D. Viard
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The statutory rate on corporate capital gains currently is equal to the statutory tax rate on ordinary corporate income. Although individual capital gains taxes have received an enormous amount of attention, both in the popular media and in the academic literature, corporate capital gains have received very sparse attention. In principle, however, the distortions that arise from corporate capital gain taxation are analogous to those that might arrive from individual capital gains taxation. Corporations might face a higher user cost of capital and they could find that their previous purchases have been “locked in” in the sense that asset sales are avoided because of their tax consequences.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Industrial Policy, Science and Technology
  • Author: Frederick M. Hess, Bryan C. Hassel
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In October 2006, the American Enterprise Institute convened a meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss what might be done to grow the human capital pipeline to support entrepreneurship in K–12 education. Participants included foundation officers, educational entrepreneurs, and policy analysts. While the gathering did not seek to formulate any grand consensus or blueprint, the authors hope that the following summary will spark further discussion and action on this critical issues in education reform.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Markets
  • Author: Aparna Mathur, Kevin A. Hassett
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Every year the Census Bureau reports data on income inequality and poverty, based on income estimates derived from the Current Population Survey. Our analysis suggests that the data may not be presenting an accurate picture. By under-reporting incomes, leaving out certain sources of income, and not making equivalence adjustments that are now standard among researchers, the reports present an imperfect picture of overall welfare. We develop an alternative that relies on data from the National Income and Product Accounts. Our data reveal that real median incomes have been increasing in the recent period, albeit at a slower rate than the long-term average. Using the same methodology for consumption, we find that consumption for all income groups, including the middle, has been growing robustly in recent times. This is in contrast to statistics reported by the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the most often cited data for all consumption analysis, which show middle class consumption declining.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Mark Falcoff
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Since its financial crisis six years ago, Argentina has faded somewhat from the headlines. This is no doubt due in large part to the disproportionate space our media outlets now devote to Iraq and Iran, but also to the fact that other Latin American news stories—particularly Fidel Castro's surgery and the antics of Venezuela's clownish president Hugo Chávez—have dominated coverage of the area. Argentina is not, however, a negligent regional actor.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Argentina, South America, Latin America, Venezuela
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: It is important at the outset to define the terms “financial firms” and “too much risk.” By “financial firms,” I mean commercial banks, investment banks, brokerages, and insurance companies that solicit and manage funds for the public. By “too much risk,” I mean actions undertaken by managers of financial firms that result in substantial losses for the shareholders (owners) of such firms. On an aggregate level, I call “systemic risks” those that emerge when regulators and policymakers are forced to choose between either reinforcing (with bailouts) the venturesome investing that created the problem or allowing substantial damage to depositors and shareholders in financial firms, and possibly to the economy as a whole.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Just as Wall Street was celebrating the presumed end of the latest financial crisis by pushing stocks to record highs, proclaiming continued strong earnings growth, and continuing to recite the mantra “slowdown, but no recession,” Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson provided a vivid reminder that the housing and mortgage crisis is not over. On Monday, October 15, while Citibank was reporting that compared with last year's results its third-quarter earnings had fallen by 57 percent, the Treasury's “super-SIV” plan was revealed. It seems that the Goldman Sachs alumni at Treasury—Paulson and his under secretary for domestic finance, Robert Steel—had become concerned that the offbalance- sheet special investment vehicles (SIVs) held by commercial banks might not be financeable. That would mean that not enough investors could be found to provide the short-term financing necessary to sustain SIVs, the repositories of hardto- value securitized mortgages that continue to plague bank balance sheets.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The global economic and financial picture is changing rapidly. A review of some of the key elements is in order, as the U.S. economy has slowed rapidly and the Federal Reserve has responded aggressively with rate cuts, while the Bank of England's tough policies pushed one of the United Kingdom's largest mortgage lenders, Northern Rock, to the brink of collapse as a bank run on that suddenly beleaguered institution ensued. Meanwhile, Japan, still the world's second-largest economy—though perhaps the least dynamic of the major ones—slipped into negative growth at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the second quarter after having initially reported growth over 2 percent. The rate-boost-obsessed Bank of Japan finally decided to stop raising rates, and, to add to the complexity of the picture, Japan's relatively new prime minister Shinzo Abe resigned, unable to provide the leadership sorely needed in a nation lacking economic and political direction.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, England
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: During a 10:00 a.m. conference call on August 17, 2007, Federal Reserve vice chairman Donald Kohn and New York Federal Reserve president Timothy Geithner were urging Citicorp chief executive Chuck Prince and his fellow big bank CEOs to use the Fed's discount window, which is set up to alleviate liquidity pressures on individual banks or on the banking system as a whole. Prince, the head of the world's largest bank (Or is it the second largest? No one really knows since bank balance sheets are so full of securities that cannot be priced.) may have been wishing that he had not chosen to offer a chillingly clear characterization of the global financial system a little more than five weeks earlier in a Financial Times interview on July 9, three weeks before the global credit markets began to seize up.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In a July 9 interview in Tokyo with the Financial Times about the surging, liquidity-driven financial sector, Citigroup chief executive Chuck Prince characterized the situation in global financial markets more insightfully than some investors might have wished: “When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will get complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing.” Prince elaborated further, saying that (as the article paraphrased it) “the way big Wall Street banks and hedge funds had picked up troubled subprime mortgage lenders was an example of how 'liquidity rushes in' to fill the gap as others spot a buying opportunity.”
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Tokyo
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The bond “conundrum” that Alan Greenspan spoke of toward the end of his tenure at the Federal Reserve is disappearing. Chairman Greenspan was drawing attention to unusually low longterm interest rates worldwide on bonds.1 More recently, however, in less than a month interest rates on U.S. ten-year notes have risen by 60 basis points with no change in expected inflation. The shift is all the more unusual because of its abruptness and relative magnitude: in statistical terms, it is a rise of three standard deviations in “real” (inflation-adjusted) rates in a market that has been quiet over the past five years. Moreover, the few “surprise” moves since the tech-stock bubble burst in 2000 have mostly been in a downward direction.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The American consumer is a very persistent spending machine. It is American consumption growth running at higher than 4 percent annualized— well above its long-term average—that has kept the economy comfortably out of recession for the past six months as the housing slowdown has subtracted more than a percentage point from growth. Even with a substantial additional drag on the U.S. economy from other areas—inventory liquidation, weakening net exports, and rapidly rising gasoline prices—the American consumer's spending surge has still been enough to keep GDP growth in positive territory.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On Friday, April 13, the Wall Street Journal's lead story on the unlucky U.S. economy was “Economy Enemy No. 1: Soft Capital Spending.” The nation's leading business newspaper was acknowledging a six-month slowdown in capital spending that has, along with the drag from the housing sector, been lowering U.S. growth.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: To the dismay and amazement of optimistic market players, not to mention Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, early in March former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan publicly assessed the probability of a recession this year to be one in three. This was a shock to those who had been carefully avoiding use of the “r word” while intensifying problems in the subprime mortgage market heralded the news that the housing correction, which had been declared “over” in January, was instead moving into a second, more intense, and unpleasant phase. Weaker investment (capital spending was actually a drag on fourth quarter growth) and an 8.7 percent drop in January durable goods orders further undercut hope for sustained general growth. The Fed's own economic outlook has looked to firmer capital spending as part of an economic recovery scenario.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Markets
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The slowdown in the housing sector that began early in 2006 subtracted over a percentage point from GDP growth during the second half of last year. Now, in 2007, analysts have declared that the worst of the housing slowdown is over. However, early in February, more serious problems emerged in the subprime mortgage market, the rapid growth of which supported the later stages of the housing boom in 2005 and 2006. Subprime mortgages are risky loans to weak borrowers who usually have to borrow the down payment on a home purchase, leaving them with mortgage obligations equal to 100 percent of the purchase price.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Top economic policymakers from China and the United States met in Beijing in mid-December 2006 for the first round of what has been called the U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED). There is a lot more at stake than the level of China's currency when the world's premier economic sprinter—China—meets with the world's premier economic long-distance runner—America. The fundamental issue at hand is the creation and preservation of wealth of two nations, each of which has much to teach the other. The right outcome from the dialogue would provide a substantial boost to the global economy in coming years, while the wrong outcome would threaten the continuation of global prosperity.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Beijing, Asia
  • Author: Yegor Gaidar
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In the summer of 2002, after the Russian government introduced the flat income tax, completed fiscal reforms, created the Stabilization Fund, and introduced land reform in Russia, I had a premonition that the window of opportunity for further reforms would be closing for a number of years. I was correct in my prediction.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia, Soviet Union
  • Author: Kevin A. Hassett
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The financial-aid system for college students is in a state of disarray. Federal aid and programs administered through the tax code are bureaucratic and include unfair provisions. Congress should stop using programs with a track record of little success and start using those that will give students the opportunities—and financial aid—they deserve.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Education, Government
  • Author: John E. Calfee
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Looming on the horizon is a political battle over direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription drugs.The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) is up for renewal, as it has been every five years since 1997. First passed in 1992, PDUFA authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to collect fees from pharmaceutical companies submitting new drugs for approval, as well as a separate annual fee for each prescription drug on the market. (Before PDUFA, taxpayers alone funded FDA product reviews.) Because user fees cover most salaries of FDA drug regulators, the pharmaceutical industry, Congressional leaders, and the FDA itself all support renewal. But this time around, Congress is expected to tack on provisions dealing with drug safety and other matters, especially DTCA.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Markets
  • Author: Frederick M. Hess
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Race-based hiring practices are commonplace in today's colleges and universities. Not even our country's highest court has been able to put a stop to them. What is needed to end them are determined efforts by alumni and trustees, strong voices within universities, and an engaged public.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics, Education
  • Author: Roger Bate
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The World Bank attempts to improve health in poor countries by providing advice in health financing and infrastructure development, as well as grants and loans to poor countries. This is a formidable mission given that the greatest difficulty poor countries have in carrying out public health programs is their lack of infrastructural, managerial and clinical capacity. Its efforts to this end have been diluted by irresponsible forays into disease control financing without a commensurate increase in institutional competence with only limited technical staff capacity. Instead of deferring to the World Health Organization for technical advice on malaria control, Bank staff members have promoted ineffectual malaria prevention and treatment, causing countries to move away from best practices in disease control. The Bank has been criticized in the Lancet medical journal, and its senior staff claim that changes have been made. This working paper reviews the most recent performance from the Bank, which demonstrates the continuing failure of its malaria work. The Bank should stick to its core mission of funding health systems and get out of the disease control business.
  • Topic: International Relations, Debt, Economics, Third World
  • Author: Roger Bate, Kathryn Boateng, Lorraine Mooney, Richard Tren
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: There are many factors which hamper health care delivery in the developing world. These factors include tariffs, taxes, corruption, such as bribes and other local price inflators on medicines and medical products. Non-tariff barriers, such as lengthy registration periods for medicines and onerous requirements to clear customs, also restrict the availability of medication in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, approximately one-third of the world's population lacks access to essential medicine and proper medical treatment. Drawing upon extensive evidence from surveys and accounts from the field, this paper examines the impact of tariffs, taxes and other markups on imported medicines and medical products provided to lesser developed countries by pharmaceutical companies, not-for-profit groups, for-profit corporations, multilateral and bilateral aid and health agencies. The paper discusses how these regulatory barriers affect access to medication. The authors conclude that although efforts to reform the current system of government revenue generation through tariffs collection may meet resistance in many developing countries, especially those featuring systemic corruption and those with domestic production, governments which take steps to eliminate tariffs could in fact expedite health care delivery and consequently improve the well-being of their people.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics, Health, Third World
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: "America is addicted to oil," President George W. Bush told the nation in his January 31 State of the Union address, "which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." Spelling out a plan for using technology "to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources," the president set a worthy goal to "make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past." Although the president's long-term vision is of a country less dependent on petroleum, a near-term solution for being less reliant on "unstable" sources of energy can be found in encouraging resource-rich nations in the Western Hemisphere to adopt sound policies for developing their oil and gas industries. Without a concerted effort right now engaging government and industry, however, we may witness some countries with vast potential embrace statist models that squander their natural resources and make them less reliable and less stable partners.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: A weak housing sector has accompanied every American recession since 1965, but not every episode of housing weakness has accompanied a recession. An annual drop in the growth rate of residential investment (a good measure of homebuilding activity) of more than 10 percent has coincided with a recession five of the seven times it has occurred since 1965. (In 1967 and in 1995, declines in residential investment occurred without a recession.) A significant drop in residential investment therefore appears to be a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition, for a U.S. recession.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The U.S. economy has slowed to a level below its trend growth rate during the second half of 2006. Trend growth, the rate that can be sustained over time without rising inflation, is probably about 3 percent, having been reduced by a quarter of a percentage point by weaker productivity data. As has often been the case over the past five years, the slowdown itself has set into motion market adjustments that may mitigate or even reverse it. Since August, interest rates on benchmark tenyear treasuries have dropped by about 60 basis points. That reduction, coupled with a stock market that is rising in part because of lower interest rates, has caused an easing of financial conditions equal to nearly 100 basis points since late June on the Goldman Sachs Financial Conditions Index. Meanwhile, since August, the price of oil has dropped by about $18 per barrel—which, if sustained, would be enough to add about 0.7 percentage points to U.S. growth over the next year.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The new Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, is making what cynics would call a serious mistake: he is being honest with the markets. The Fed is uncertain about the future path of U.S. growth and inflation. The most basic tenet of the theory of economic policy is that in circumstances of elevated uncertainty, policymakers should do less. Therefore, in his April 27 testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Bernanke suggested that the Fed might start doing less: Even if in the Committees judgment the risks to its objectives are not entirely balanced, at some point in the future the Committee may decide to take no action at one or more meetings in the interest of allowing more time to receive information relevant to the outlook [emphasis added]. The new Federal Reserve chairman, Ben Bernanke, is making what cynics would call a serious mistake: he is being honest with the markets. The Fed is uncertain about the future path of U.S. growth and inflation. The most basic tenet of the theory of economic policy is that in circumstances of elevated uncertainty, policymakers should do less. Therefore, in his April 27 testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Bernanke suggested that the Fed might start doing less: Even if in the Committees judgment the risks to its objectives are not entirely balanced, at some point in the future the Committee may decide to take no action at one or more meetings in the interest of allowing more time to receive information relevant to the outlook [emphasis added]. After its May 10 meeting, the Feds Open Market Committee reinforced the message of more uncertainty about the direction of the economy, saying: The Committee judges that some further policy firming may yet be needed to address inflation risks but emphasizes that the extent and timing of any such firming will depend importantly on the evolution of the economic outlook as implied by incoming information [emphasis added]. Chairman Bernanke and virtually all of his colleagues on the Open Market Committee have made it clear, most forcefully in their May 10 statement, that they view the Federal Reserves most important mandated objective as one of maintaining low and stable inflation. A glance at any long-run chart of U.S. growth and inflation data clearly demonstrates the basis for this view. Since the early 1980s, when inflation was reduced and held to low and stable levels, U.S. economic performance has improved markedly. Growth has been higher and steadier; productivity growth picked up especially after 1995 and has remained higher ever since. Virtually all macroeconomic data have stabilized in a way that has reduced the duration and severity of recessions, so that the last recession (in 2001) was barely detectable. The Great Moderation is an often-used term that describes policymakers pride and satisfaction with the beneficial results of bringing down inflation and holding it at low levels.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In their April 21 press release following their spring meeting in Washington, D.C., the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors added an important sentence to their usual bland statement that exchange rates should reflect economic fundamentals: Greater exchange rate flexibility is desirable in emerging economies with large current account surpluses, especially China, for necessary adjustments to occur. In their April 21 press release following their spring meeting in Washington, D.C., the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors added an important sentence to their usual bland statement that exchange rates should reflect economic fundamentals: Greater exchange rate flexibility is desirable in emerging economies with large current account surpluses, especially China, for necessary adjustments to occur. The G7, significantly, also called for an increased role for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help countries, including those in the G7 but also China and others in emerging Asia, meet the macroeconomic and financial policy challenge of globalization. Specifically, the G7 supported the strengthening of IMF surveillance, including through increased emphasis on the consistency of exchange rate policies with domestic policies and a market-based international monetary system and on the spillover effects of domestic policies on other countries. The G7s endorsement of greater exchange-rate flexibility and of an enhanced IMF role in implementing it is important. The IMF, having been founded after World War II to maintain stable exchange rates among major economies, has become an advocate on behalf of the major economies of global exchange-rate flexibility. The lesson regarding the need for G7 currency flexibility was learned after Americas August 1971 abandonment of fixed exchange rates, which was followed by a decade of adjustments to higher oil prices that would have wreaked havoc under fixed exchange rates. The lesson for needed currency flexibility in emerging markets was learned after the disastrous attempt, fostered in part by the IMF, to impose fixed exchange rates during the Asian and Russian crises of 1997 and 1998, which prolonged and exacerbated the market gyrations caused by the crises. Sadly, China response to the G7-IMF call for greater currency flexibility has been both negative and misguided. China's foolishly insouciant attitude, captured in a comment by Zhou Xiao-chuan, governor of the Peoples Bank of China, carries with it serious risks both for China and for the world economy. Zhous remark was quoted on April 24 in the Wall Street Journal: [T]he speed of moving forward (on yuan appreciation) is OK. Its good for China and welcomed by many other countries. China's currency has appreciated only 1.2 percent since its initial 2.1 percent revaluation last July 21. That is less than OK. The total 3.3 percent revaluation against the dollar really represents no adjustment at all in view of the 1 to 2 percent inflation differential (lower in China) that has persisted between the United States and China over the past two years. If China had allowed prices to rise instead of mandating caps on prices of important commodities like gasoline, there would be less pressure for the yuan to rise in value. Both the intervention to cap the yuans appreciation and the capping of domestic prices are building up potentially disruptive inflation pressure inside China, as we shall see below. The most dangerous aspect of China's increased efforts to prevent yuan appreciation, as measured by accelerating reserve accumulation over the past year, is the rising pool of liquidity inside China that has resulted. The level of excess reserves in Chinese banks is now larger, relative to GDP, than the level of excess reserves built up in Japan from 2001 to 2005 during the years of a prolonged, desperate struggle against deflation. China's currency undervaluation, coupled with the massive liquidity buildup in its banking system, has resulted in excessive investment in China's state enterprises that have close traditional ties with the liquidity-sodden banks. The usual Chinese response to excess reserves has been to boost reserve requirements for its banks. But to absorb the huge pool of excess reserves now in place, reserve requirements would have to be boosted by 5 percentage points to 12.5 per-cent, going far beyond previous moves of 0.5 to 1 percentage point, and far beyond what China's shaky, insolvent banks could endure. When the Peoples Bank of China boosted its one-year benchmark lending rate on April 26 by 27 basis points (to 5.85 percent), it took a tiny step that will do little to tighten China's monetary stance.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington
  • Author: Peter J. Wallison
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: At the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) recent hearings on Wal-Mart's application to acquire a bank-like institution in Utah that can accept FDIC-insured deposits, a representative of the National Association of Realtors testified that such an acquisition would violate the principle separating banking and commerce. No doubt the banks savored this rare support from the realtors, but what they may not have realized is that the joke is on them.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Politics
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Concerns over deflation have dominated monetary policy during the past several years in Japan, and also in the United States as recently as 2003. As a result, the Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve have been highly accommodative. In Japan, this took the form of a zero interest rate. In the U.S. context, it was manifest in rates at well below normal yardsticks, such as nominal GDP growth that would call for U.S. policy interest rates close to 6 percent rather than at current levels below 5 percent. Unusually accommodative monetary policies and the substantial liquidity flows they have entailed have boosted asset values and compressed risk spreads. Consequently, demand growth has persisted at high levels for long enough to cause modestly higher inflation. The time has come for tighter monetary policy, and central banks in the United States, Europe, and Japan have all begun to apply it.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe, Israel, East Asia
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In August 2000, with the Japanese growth rate holding above 2 percent, the Bank of Japan decided to initiate an end to the zero interest rate policy that it had initiated in March 1999. This step was taken despite the existence of modest deflation, indicated by readings of minus 0.2 to minus 0.5 percent on various measures of inflation. At that time, no central bank had thought seriously about deflation as a threat since the depression of the 1930s.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, East Asia
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On Tuesday, January 18, the yield on fifty-year inflation-protected U.K. government bonds (what the British call "indexed-linked gilts") dropped to 0.38 percent, about one-seventh the historical average of just over 2.6 percent for such debt instruments. Just a few months earlier, that yield had been over 1 percent, still extraordinarily low by historical standards, and especially low in an economy that has experienced fifty-three consecutive quarters of positive growth. A yield drop from 1 percent to 0.38 percent on a fifty-year bond corresponds to a 30 percent rise in its price over a period of just three months. That is an annual return of over 100 percent, much higher than the 13 percent annual increase in U.S. house prices at midyear and the 20 to 30 percent gains seen in the stock market before the March 2000 crash. The asset bubble has spread to long-term government bonds, especially those with inflation protection. What is going on here?
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Charles Murray
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The twenty-fifth anniversary of the Atlas Foundation provided Charles Murray with an occasion to consider the influence of classical liberal ideas on policy and also to speculate on what lies ahead.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Author: Allan H. Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On November 16, eminent economist Milton Friedman passed away. Friedman made unparalleled contributions to free-market economics, demonstrating in Capitalism and Freedom the close relationship of free enterprise to political liberty. His philosophy has been extraordinarily influential regarding social and economic policies in governments around the world.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets, Politics
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Without a clearer understanding of the serious flaws in the government's official measure of poverty, most initiatives aimed at reducing poverty in the United States will be needlessly ineffective. New measures that take into account contemporary lifestyles and the dynamic U.S. economy will be more useful in helping the poor.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Poverty
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Douglas J. Besharov
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: It has been nearly ten years since President Bill Clinton signed the landmark 1996 welfare reform law. The anniversary has been the occasion for various news stories and opinion pieces, most of them praising the law's success in reducing welfare dependency. And it is true: welfare caseloads have fallen an astounding 60 percent since reform efforts began. But even as a strong supporter of welfare reform, I find it difficult to muster unqualified enthusiasm for the law and how it has been implemented.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Author: Peter J. Wallison
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In December, the London Stock Exchange celebrated a record year for foreign company new issues, with 129 new listings by companies from twenty-nine different countries. In contrast, the New York Stock Exchange registered a net gain of six foreign listings (a gain of nineteen and a loss of thirteen) in 2005, and NASDAQ gained a net of fourteen. According to a press report by the London Stock Exchange on its success, “about 38 per cent of the international companies surveyed said they had considered floating in the United States. Of those, 90 per cent said the onerous demands of the new Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance law had made London listing more attractive.” By now, it is well-known what harm Sarbanes-Oxley has done to the attractiveness of the U.S. securities markets, but what is not well- known is that the lack of resources available to a relatively obscure accounting group—engaged in the development of a technical-sounding disclosure system called XBRL—may also threaten not only the current primacy of the U.S. financial markets, but also the future competitiveness of U.S. companies.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, London
  • Author: John E. Calfee
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: With the fourth Vioxx lawsuit currently under way, a fourth jury is in the thick of trying to determine whether Merck is indeed liable for any injuries that may or may not have arisen from the use of its blockbuster arthritis drug. The trials have highlighted bad tort bar science in all its dubious glory—from questionable pathology reports to seriously exaggerated claims about the dangers of Vioxx—but they also raise a deeper issue. Every drug presents patients and doctors with a trade-off between benefits and risks. But how can physicians and drug companies strike a balance in the age of a hyperactive litigation? Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) weighed in on that question when it published a long-awaited rule to simplify drug labels. Up to now, extensive, cringe-inducing lists of every imaginable side effect of a medicine were a drug company's best hope of immunizing itself from lawsuits down the road. The FDA wants to simplify those impenetrable reams of fine print by preempting state-court lawsuits claiming that an FDA-approved label failed to warn patients of a potential danger.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Health, Human Welfare
  • Author: Charles Murray
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This much is certain: the welfare state as we know it cannot survive. No serious student of entitlements thinks that we can let federal spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid rise from its current 9 percent of GDP to the 28 percent of GDP that it will consume in 2050 if past growth rates continue. The problems facing transfer programs for the poor are less dramatic but, in the long term, no less daunting; the falling value of a strong back and the rising value of brains will eventually create a class society making a mockery of America's ideals unless we come up with some- thing more creative than anything that the cur- rent welfare system has to offer. So major change is inevitable—and Congress seems utterly unwilling to face up to it. Witness the Social Security debate of last year, a case study in political timidity. Like it or not, we have several years to think before Congress can no longer postpone action. Let's use this time to start thinking outside the narrow proposals for benefit cuts and tax increases that will be Congress's path of least resistance.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Phillip Swagel, N Gregory Mankiw
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: During the presidential campaign of 2004, no economic issue generated more heat or shed less light than the debate over offshore outsourcing. This fact was probably apparent at the time to any economist who followed politics, but it was felt especially acutely by the authors of this paper. We were then working at the Council of Economic Advisers as, respectively, chairman and chief of staff. While the job of the CEA is to focus on the economics of current policy debates, the environment in which that job is performed is highly political, especially in an election year. To some extent, therefore, this paper is a report from inside the eye of a storm.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Globalization, Political Economy
  • Author: Katrina Kosec, Scott Wallsten
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Government policies are routinely subjected to rigorous cost analyses. Yet one of today's most controversial and expensive policies—the ongoing war in Iraq—has not been. The $212 billion allocated by the U.S. Treasury has been widely reported. But the real, direct economic costs include more than budgetary allocations. Other costs include lives lost, injuries, and lost civilian productivity of National Guard and Reserve troops mobilized for the conflict. The conflict, however, also has gene rated cost savings, especially in terms of resources no longer being used to enforce UN sanctions and people no longer being killed by Saddam Hussein's regime.
  • Topic: Economics, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Veronique de Rugy
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Congress should direct home land security funding to program s that provide the greatest return in the most crucial security missions. Since the number of possible attacks is effectively unlimited and the resources we can devote to the fight against terror are limited, spending should not occur without a careful cost-benefit analysis. Most importantly, it is perfectly reasonable to decide not to implement an antiterrorism measure, not because it has no benefit, but because the costs are too high compared to the potential benefits. Of course, program s that are not cost effective should never be implemented.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Veronique de Rugy
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: International terrorism is probably the greatest security challenge America faces today. Policymakers have responded in two ways--going after terrorists abroad and improving security against terrorism at home by boosting homeland security funding. Regarding the latter, total spending directed to homeland security activities will be at least $50 billion for FY2006.Yet, the important question is whether America is getting the maximum level of benefit in exchange for this increase in spending. This paper performs a detailed review of homeland security's spending practices. First, it takes a look at the economics of homeland security spending and contrasts that with the politics of decision-making in this area. Second, it examines the state of homeland security spending. Finally, the paper analyzes how homeland security funds are being allocated and asks whether this is conducive to achieving improved security in the United States. This updated version also includes a review of federal spending to bolster port security.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Karlyn H. Bowman
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: What do Americans think about the health of the Social Security system and proposals to reform it? This AEI Public Opinion Study looks at how different pollsters have approached the issue. It provides historical data and includes trends on aspects of the debate from major pollsters.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On December 13 the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee (FOMC) raised the federal funds rate, the principal tool for setting monetary policy, by 25 basis points to 4.25 percent. At the same time, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors greatly simplified what had been a tortured statement explaining the basis for their actions and the factors that will govern future actions. The statement was remarkably brief: Despite elevated energy prices and hurricanerelated disruptions, the expansion in economic activity appears solid. Core inflation has stayed relatively low in recent months and longer-term inflation expectations remain contained. Nevertheless, possible increases in resource utilization as well as elevated energy prices have the potential to add to inflation pressures. The Committee judges that some further measured policy firming is likely to be needed to keep the risks to the attainment of both sustainable economic growth and price stability roughly in balance. In any event, the Committee will respond to changes in economic prospects as needed to foster these objectives. (emphasis added).
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Government, International Trade and Finance