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  • Author: Steve H. Hanke
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Monetary instability poses a threat to free societies. Indeed, currency instability, banking crises, soaring inflation, sovereign debt defaults, and economic booms and busts all have a common source: monetary instability. Furthermore, all these ills induced by monetary instability bring with them calls for policy changes, many of which threaten free societies. One who understood this simple fact was Karl Schiller, who was the German Finance Minister from 1966 until 1972. Schiller’s mantra was clear and uncompromising: “Stability is not everything, but without stability, everything is nothing” (Marsh 1992: 30). Well, Schiller’s mantra is my mantra. I offer three regime changes that would enhance the stability in what Jacques de Larosière (2014) has asserted is an international monetary “anti-system.” First, the U.S. dollar and the euro should be formally, loosely linked together. Second, most central banks in developing countries should be mothballed and replaced by currency boards. Third, private currency boards should be permitted to enter the international monetary sphere.
  • Topic: Debt, Foreign Exchange, Monetary Policy, Developing World, Inflation, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Clifford F. Thies, Christopher F. Baum
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was thought that major wars had become obsolete (Mueller 1989) and perhaps regional conflicts might be brought under control (Cederman, Gleditsch, and Wucherpfennig 2017). But, while the level of violence declined, the number of wars in the world appears to have reached a new steady state. A world that was once organized by East-West rivalry is now characterized by ethno-religious conflicts, as well as by spontaneously arising transnational terrorist organizations and criminal gangs. For various reasons, economists have become interested in investigating the causes and effects of war and other armed conflict (e.g., Coyne and Mathers 2011). This article uses a consistent measurement of these forms of violence across space and time to conduct a rigorous quantitative analysis of the effect of war on economic growth.
  • Topic: Cold War, War, History, Economic growth, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael D Bordo, Mickey D. Levy
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ratcheting up of tariffs and the Fed’s discretionary conduct of monetary policy are a toxic mix for economic performance. Escalating tariffs and President Trump’s erratic and unpredictable trade policy and threats are harming global economic performance, distorting monetary policy, and undermining the Fed’s credibility and independence. President Trump’s objectives to force China to open access to its markets for international trade, reduce capital controls, modify unfair treatment of intellectual property, and address cybersecurity issues and other U.S. national security issues are laudable goals with sizable benefits. However, the costs of escalating tariffs are mounting, and the tactic of relying exclusively on barriers to trade and protectionism is misguided and potentially dangerous. The economic costs to the United States so far have been relatively modest, dampening exports, industrial production, and business investment. However, the tariffs and policy uncertainties have had a significantly larger impact on China, accentuating its structural economic slowdown, and are disrupting and distorting global supply chains. This is harming other nations that have significant exposure to international trade and investment overseas, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Germany. As a result, global trade volumes and industrial production are falling. Weaker global growth is reflected in a combination of a reduction in aggregate demand and constraints on aggregate supply.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Economic growth, Tariffs, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, Asia, South Korea, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Lester, Huan Zhu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Donald Trump was a trade “hawk” long before he became president. In the late 1980s, he went on the Oprah Winfrey show and complained about Japan “beating the hell out of this country” on trade (Real Clear Politics 2019). As president, he has continued with the same rhetoric, using it against a wide range of U.S. trading partners, and he has followed it up with action (often in the form of tariffs). While many countries have found themselves threatened by Trump’s aggressive trade policy, his main focus has been China. As a result, the United States and China have been engaged in an escalating tariff, trade, and national security conflict since July 2018, when the first set of U.S. tariffs on China went into effect and China retaliated with tariffs of its own. In this article, we explore the U.S.-China economic conflict, from its origins to the trade war as it stands today. We then offer our thoughts on where this conflict is heading and when it might end.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Trade Wars, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Gunther Schnabl
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Twenty years after the introduction of the euro, the European Monetary Union (EMU) is at its crossroads. Following the outbreak of the European financial and debt crisis in 2008, the European Central Bank (ECB) took comprehensive measures to stabilize the common currency. Interest rates were cut to and below zero and several asset purchase programs have inflated the ECB balance sheet (Riet 2018). Within the European System of Central Banks, large imbalances have emerged via the TARGET2 payments system, which can be seen as quasi-unconditional credit in favor of the southern euro area countries (Sinn 2018). While the ECB terminated its asset purchase program at the end of 2018 and is expected to increase interest rates in late 2019, financial instability is reemerging. Growing uncertainty about the fiscal discipline of the Italian government has triggered a significant increase in risk premiums on Italian government bonds. In particular, in Italy and Greece, but also in Germany, bad loans and assets remain stuck in the banking systems. In the face of the upcoming downswing, European banks do not seem ready for new financial turmoil. In this fragile environment, the future path of the EMU is uncertain. To enhance the stability of the EMU, a group of German and French economists has called for a common euro area budget, for a strengthening of the European Stability Mechanism as lender of last resort for euro area countries and banks, as well as for a common European deposit insurance scheme (Bénassy-Quéré et al. 2018). In response, 154 German economists have warned against transforming the EMU into what they call a “liablity union,” which systematically undermines market principles and wealth (Mayer et al. 2018). In 2018, a French-German initative to introduce a common euro area budget faced strong opposition from a group of northern European countries as well as from Italy, symbolizing the political deadlock concerning reforms of the EMU. This article explains the different views on the institutional setting of monetary policymaking in Europe from a historical perspective. It begins with a description of the economic and monetary order in postwar Germany. It then discusses the positive implications for the European integration process and the economic consequences of the transformation of postwar German monetary order. The final section offers some economic policy recommendations.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Monetary Policy, Reform, European Union, Banks, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Sebastian Edwards
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: dea has emerged in economic policy circles in the United States: “Modern Monetary Theory” (MMT). The central tenet of this view is that it is possible to use expansive monetary policy—money creation by the central bank (i.e., the Federal Reserve)—to finance large fiscal deficits, and create a “jobs guarantee” program that will ensure full employment and good jobs for everyone. This view is related to Abba Lerner’s (1943) “functional finance” idea, and has become very popular in progressive spheres. According to MMT supporters, this policy would not result in crowding out of private investment, nor would it generate a public debt crisis or inflation outbursts.
  • Topic: Debt, Monetary Policy, Populism, Banks, Economic Policy, Inflation
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Tobias Adrian
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the decade since the global financial crisis, there has understandably been great concern about potential threats to global financial stability, and policymakers have wisely remained vigilant in watching for warning signs of possible economic risk. At the International Monetary Fund (IMF), we remain committed to providing our 189 member countries with farsighted analyses of trends in the financial markets, thus guiding them toward sound policy choices that help maintain economic stability.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Recession, Financial Crisis, Economy, Economic growth, Risk, IMF, Financial Stability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Griswold
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: President Trump has delivered on his promise to shake up Washington, arguably nowhere more so than in the policy space of international trade. President Trump’s trade agenda has challenged more than seven decades of bipartisan policy commitment to seeking lower trade barriers at home and abroad through negotiated agreements. While President Trump pays lip service to pursuing free trade and eliminating tariffs, his trade policies so far have been marked by higher U.S. duties on a range of products, from washing machines to steel. Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the administration has imposed duties on $250 billion of imports from China, with those duties set to escalate in 2019 absent an agreement with China. And under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the president is threatening to impose a 25 percent duty on imported automobiles in the name of national security. The Trump administration has renegotiated existing trade agreements with Canada, Mexico, and South Korea, but its modifications are as likely to restrict trade as expand it. One of the president’s first actions after assuming office was to withdraw the United States from the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have eliminated almost all duties with 11 trading partners around the Pacific Rim, including Japan.
  • Topic: Economy, Tariffs, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: P. H. Yu
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: As confrontation looms over Washington and Beijing, it is critical to identify the true nature of this challenge from an international relations perspective before any attempt to devise a counter measure. Wrong presumptions or prejudicial interpretations may lead to dire consequences of unforeseeable magnitude. One past example would be the U.S. government’s belief that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) before the American invasion in 2003. A more current example would be the American nuclear anxiety on North Korea and how President Trump bypassed conventional American strategic thinking and circumvented hawkish threats of preemptive nuclear annihilation to resolve a “draconian crisis” via “smart diplomacy.” These examples may shed light on a pathway to resolution for the current U.S.-China trade conflict. The United States and China have ample experience of weathering a crisis on the brink of war, whether it was on the Korean Peninsula or in Indochina. China today remains on the U.S. sanctions list for certain high-tech products and military equipment. Both the Trump administration and Congress continue to criticize China regularly, ranging from human rights to religious rights, from the rule of law to the autocratic political system, from the state-owned banks to restrictive market access to foreign corporations, and from currency manipulation to unfair trade practices.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Trade Wars, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: 1978 has been erratic, with many interruptions along the way. The end result, however, has been eye opening: the Middle Kingdom has become the world’s largest trading nation, the second largest economy, and more than 500 million people have lifted themselves out of poverty as economic liberalization removed barriers to trade. One of the enduring lessons from China’s rise as an economic giant is that once people are given greater economic freedom, more autonomy, and stronger property rights, they will have a better chance of creating a harmonious and prosperous society (see Dorn 2019). Nevertheless, China faces major challenges to its future development. There is still no genuine rule of law that effectively limits the power of government, no independent judiciary to enforce the rights promised in the nation’s constitution, no free market for ideas that is essential for innovation and for avoiding major policy errors, no competitive political system that fosters a diversity of views, and a large state sector that stifles private initiative and breeds corruption. China’s slowing growth rate, its increasing debt burden, environmental problems, and the increasing tension in U.S.-China relations compound the challenges facing Beijing.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, History, Trade Liberalization
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: David Bier
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has proposed a new regulation that would greatly expand an old rule banning legal residence to immigrants deemed “likely to become a public charge”—that is, someone who the government has the responsibility to care for (USCIS 2018). The rule does not, nor could it, change eligibility for welfare programs for noncitizens in the United States. Instead, it requires applicants to prove that they are not likely, in the future, to become so dependent on welfare that they become a “public charge.” Therefore, the question regarding this regulation is not whether it is appropriate for noncitizens to become dependent on welfare, but whether the government will accurately predict their likelihood of doing so.
  • Topic: Immigration, Welfare, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Andrew Liu
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In 2016 alone, China saw $9 trillion in mobile payments—in contrast to a comparably small $112 billion of mobile payments in the United States (Abkowitz 2018). The use of mobile payment systems such as Alipay and WeChat Pay are widespread in China, with users ranging from beggars to lenders to criminals. Previously, the mobile payments landscape was largely untouched and unregulated by the Chinese government because of its relative insignificance in the Chinese economy. However, with the explosive growth in mobile payment transactions, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) implemented a new mobile payment regulation on June 30, 2018. Most notably, the government will require all mobile payments to be cleared through the PBOC, and hence, all mobile payment transactions will begin to touch the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (Hersey 2017). The PBOC’s stated reasoning for implementing this regulation is to curb money laundering and fraud. While those are valid concerns, it is unlikely that there are not additional motivations for the new regulation. In this article, I analyze the effects this new regulation has had and will likely have on the various mobile payment system stakeholders, competitors, and users, and also uncover what underlying motives the PBOC has in implementing the regulation.
  • Topic: Government, Regulation, Economy, Banks, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Yiping Huang, Tingting Ge
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: When China began economic reform in 1978, it had only one financial institution, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), which, at that time, served as both the central bank and a commercial bank and accounted for 93 percent of the country’s total financial assets. This was primarily because, in a centrally planned economy, transfer of funds was arranged by the state and there was little demand for financial intermediation. Once economic reform started, the authorities moved very quickly to establish a very large number of financial institutions and to create various financial markets. Forty years later, China is already an important player in the global financial system, including in the banking sector, direct investment, and bond and equity markets. However, government intervention in the financial system remains widespread and serious. The PBOC still guides commercial banks’ setting of deposit and lending rates through “window guidance,” although the final restriction on deposit rates was removed in 2015. Industry and other policies still play important roles influencing allocation of financial resources by banks and capital markets. The PBOC intervenes in the foreign exchange markets from time to time, through directly buying or selling foreign exchanges, setting the central parity, and determining the daily trading band. The regulators tightly manage cross-border capital flows, and the state still controls majority shares of most large financial institutions.
  • Topic: Economics, Foreign Exchange, Reform, Financial Markets, Banks
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: David Boaz
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Democrats accuse President Trump of abuse of executive power and “thinking he is a dictator.” But then, Republicans made similar charges about President Obama. They all have a point. At least since the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, there has been a flow of power from civil society to government, from the states to the federal government, and from Congress to the executive branch. But a recent newspaper headline reminded me of some other headlines that tell a story.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Gene Healy
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For the past 17 years, presidents have used the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as a blank check to wage war whenever and wherever they please. Congress is now debating several replacement AUMFs—but these, too, pose the danger of granting the president far broader war powers than the Constitution envisioned. At a Capitol Hill Briefing, Cato’s GENE HEALY and JOHNGLASER made the case for repealing, rather than replacing, the AUMF.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Institute CATO
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Why do we pay $600 for EpiPens, a long-existing piece of technology that contains just a dollar’s worth of medicine? Why do hospitalized patients so frequently receive bills laden with inflated charges that come out of the blue from out-ofnetwork providers or that demand payment for services that weren’t delivered?
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In April, Cato’s Patrick Eddington introduced his new online initiative Checkpoint America: Monitoring the Constitution-Free Zone.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Cato Institute
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Congressional staff members play a vital role in shaping policy—they make decisions on which issues their bosses prioritize, which arguments the representatives and senators hear, and what language makes it into legislation. Cato’s popular Capitol Hill Briefings offer these staff members timely briefings on the most pressing issues facing their offices. At these events, Cato scholars and other experts update the staff on their latest scholarship and policy recommendations, critique current or upcoming legislation, and answer staffers’ questions.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Ambulances are notoriously expensive—one ride may cost more than $1,000, and insurance companies frequently refuse to cover them. In the past, patients had few alternatives to get themselves to the hospital—but in “Does Ride-Sharing Substitute for Ambulances?” (Research Briefs in Economic Policy no. 114), Leon S. Moskatel of Scripps Mercy Hospital and David J. G. Slusky of the University of Kansas demonstrate how the age of Uber and Lyft is changing that and is reducing expensive and unnecessary ambulance trips.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Gene Healy
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Presidential impeachments are vanishingly rare in American constitutional history: in the 230 years since ratification, only three presidents have faced serious attempts to remove them from office. And yet, as President Donald J. Trump’s tumultuous tenure continues, it seems increasingly plausible that we’ll see a fourth.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Democracy, Constitution
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Anna Maria Mayda
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Political leaders’ positions on the issue of immigration can be an important determinant of their electoral success or failure. Immigration took center stage in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and its aftermath, as now-president Donald Trump took strong stands on illegal immigration, the construction of a border wall, refugees from Syria, and “sanctuary cities.”
  • Topic: International Relations, Immigration
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Chris Edwards
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was the largest overhaul of the federal income tax in decades. The law changed deductions, exemptions, and tax rates for individuals, while reducing taxes on businesses.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Immigration
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Michael D Bordo
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Dodd Frank Act of 2010 (DFA) was designed to overcome the sources of excessive leverage and systemic risk in the U.S. financial sector perceived to have created the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–2008. Since then, considerable controversy has swirled around the efficacy of various components of the multifaceted act. Many have been critical of the Volcker Rule, while others have praised the elevation of capital ratios and the requirements for banks to undergo periodic stress tests. However, there has been mounting concern in the financial community, Congress, and the press over the negative impact of the DFA regulations on small banks and businesses.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Ryan Bourne
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Federal, state, and local governments seek to assist poor households financially using transfers, minimum wage laws, and subsidies for important goods and services. This “income-based” approach to alleviating poverty aims both to raise household incomes directly and to shift the cost of items, such as food, housing, or health care, to taxpayers. Most contemporary ideas to help the poor sit firmly within this paradigm
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: David Bier
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Texas law SB 4 imposes jail time on local police who fail to detain anyone whom federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requests. Data from Travis County, Texas, show that ICE targets large numbers of U.S. citizens. From October 2005 to August 2017, 814 targets of ICE detainers in Travis County-3.3 percent of all requests-claimed U.S. citizenship and presented officers with a Social Security number (SSN). ICE subsequently canceled or declined to execute about a quarter of those detainer requests. Based on statements from ICE officials, the best explanation for not executing these detainers is that ICE targeted at least 228 U.S. citizens in the county before canceling or declining to execute those detainers. SB 4 will likely increase the detention of U.S. citizens for supposed violations of immigration law by preventing local police from releasing them.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Immigration
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Roger Pilon
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It is perhaps not impertinent to suggest that American constitutional theory and history, owing to the longevity of the document that is their subject, hold lessons for constitutionalism everywhere, but especially for European constitutionalism—the more recent and ever evolving treaties that serve as a “Constitutional Charter” for the European Union. An American constitutionalist looking east today, seeing everything from Brexit to Grexit plus the reactions in European capitals, must be struck by the tension in the EU between exclusion and inclusion in its many forms, including individualism and collectivism. Those themes underpin my discussion here. The issues surrounding them are universal. They are at the heart of the human condition.
  • Topic: Markets, History, European Union, Constitution
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Charles I. Plosser
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It is a pleasure to be back here at Cato and to be invited to speak once again at this annual conference. This is one of the premier ongoing monetary policy conferences, and the participants, both at the podium and in the audience, attest to its prominence. This is a session on international monetary arrangements, and there has already been an interesting discussion. I find myself in substantial agreement with the comments of John Taylor, so I do not wish to repeat his points. What I will try to do is put the rules-based approach to international monetary policy coordination in a context that I hope will help us understand some of the past failures so we might avoid them in the future. In many ways, I will simply be reminding us of some principles we all have known for some time, yet which we seem to forget all too frequently.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Monetary Policy, Banks
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Judy Shelton
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: How often do we hear references to the notion that we live in a rules-based global trading system? Addressing the World Economic Forum at Davos in January 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May praised liberalism, free trade, and globalization as “the forces that underpin the rules-based international system that is key to our global prosperity and security” (Martin 2017). Chinese President Xi Jinping likewise extolled the virtues of a rules-based economic order at Davos, winning widespread praise for defending free trade and globalization (Fidler, Chen, and Wei 2017). But could someone please explain: What exactly are those rules? Because if we are going to invoke the sentimentality of Bretton Woods by suggesting that the world has remained true to its precepts, we are ignoring geopolitical reality. Moreover, we are denying the warped economic consequences of global trade conducted in the absence of orderly currency arrangements. We have not had a rules-based international monetary system since President Nixon ended the Bretton Woods agreement in August 1971. Today there are compelling reasons—political, economic, and strategic—for President Trump to initiate the establishment of a new international monetary system.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past few years I have been making the case for moving toward a more rules-based international monetary system (e.g., Taylor 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016a, 2016b, 2017). In fact, I made the case over 30 years ago in Taylor (1985), and the ideas go back over 30 years before that to Milton Friedman (1953). However, the case for such a system is now much stronger because the monetary system drifted away from a rules-based approach in the past dozen years and, as Paul Volcker (2014) reminds us, the absence of a rulesbased monetary system “has not been a great success.” To bring recent experience to bear on the case, we must recognize that central banks have been using two separate monetary policy instruments in recent years: the policy interest rate and the size of the balance sheet, in which reserve balances play a key role. Any international monetary modeling framework used to assess or to make recommendations about international monetary policy must include both instruments in each country, the policy for changing the instruments, and the effect of these changes on exchange rates. Using such a framework, I show that both policy instruments have deviated from rules-based policy in recent years. I then draw the policy implications for the international monetary system and suggest a way forward to implement the policy.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Central Bank
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ryan Murphy, Robert A. Lawson
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article uses newly gathered and available data and autoregressive methods to create an economic freedom index for the 1950s and 1960s for up to 95 countries. The resulting index allows not only for a longer time series but also for a larger sample of countries than has been previously available.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Economic growth
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: James A. Dorn
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since monetary policy operates in an uncertain world, discretionary policymaking relying on macroeconomic models of the economy is a weak reed upon which to base policy. The complexity of economic systems and constant changes in the underlying data mean errors may occur in a discretionary regime that can lead to monetary and financial instability.1 The 2008 financial crisis is a case in point: central bankers and their expert staffs failed to anticipate the crisis, and may have worsened it by keeping policy rates too low for too long (Taylor 2012). Moving to a rules‐​based regime would not eliminate radical uncertainty, but it could decrease institutional uncertainty—or what Robert Higgs (1997) has called “regime uncertainty”—and thus reduce the frequency of policy errors. Higgs focused on the uncertainty caused by fiscal and regulatory policies that attenuated private property rights by decreasing expected returns on capital. A discretionary monetary regime increases uncertainty about the future purchasing power of money and thereby undermines an important property right.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy, Economic structure, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Benjamen Powell
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The economic case for free immigration is nearly identical to the case for free trade. They both rely on a greater division of labor based on comparative advantage to ensure that allowing the free movement of goods and services or the free movement of people results in greater global wealth. Estimates of the global gains that could be achieved by the global adoption of an open immigration policy are massive, ranging from 50 to 150 percent of world GDP (Clemens 2011). Even a migration of just 5 percent of the world’s poor to wealthier countries would boost world GDP by more than could be gained by completely eliminating all remaining trade barriers to goods, services, and capital flows (Clemens 2011).
  • Topic: Economics, Immigration
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ning Wang
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ultimate success of China’s search for economic prosperity, cultural renaissance, and a “peaceful rise” depends, in large part, on whether a free market for ideas can reemerge and flourish in China. The concept of the “market for ideas” (sixian shichang) was first introduced to a Chinese audience by Ronald Coase and myself in How China Became Capitalist (Coase and Wang 2012, see also Coase 1974). It quickly won acceptance among academics and the media. China is the only leading economy where the production and communication of ideas remains under strict state control. Universities, the primary venue where new ideas are produced, are run by the state. Newspapers, radio and TV stations, and publishers are all controlled by the state; ideas unwelcome by the state have a hard time to see the light of day. Because the freedom to supply ideas, choose ideas, and criticize ideas is severely limited, the creativity of the Chinese people is underutilized and their innovative potential undertapped.
  • Topic: Economics, History, Freedom of Press
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Christine R. Guluzian
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: China’s New Silk Road initiative is a multistate commercial project as grandiose as it is ambitious. Comprised of an overland economic “belt” and a maritime transit component, it envisages the development of a trade network traversing numerous countries and continents. Major investments in infrastructure are to establish new commercial hubs along the route, linking regions together via railroads, ports, energy transit systems, and technology. A relatively novel concept introduced by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013, several projects related to the New Silk Road initiative—also called “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR, or B&R)—are being planned, are under construction, or have been recently completed. The New Silk Road is a fluid concept in its formative stages: it encompasses a variety of projects and is all-inclusive in terms of countries welcomed to participate. For these reasons, it has been labeled an abstract or visionary project. However, those in the region can attest that the New Silk Road is a reality, backed by Chinese hard currency. Thus, while Washington continues to deliberate on an overarching policy toward Asia, Beijing is making inroads—literally and figuratively— across the region and beyond.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Soft Power, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: John Greenwood
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This article provides an overview of the three episodes of quantitative easing (QE) pursued by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) since 2001. It begins with a brief account of the initial reluctant shift to unorthodox policies under BOJ Governors Hayami and Fukui in 2001–06 (here designated QE1) and then covers the equally reluctant adoption of QE by Governor Shirakawa in 2010–13 (QE2). The article then turns to an account of the attempt since April 2013 by the BOJ under Governor Kuroda, designated “quantitative and qualitative easing” (QQE), to revive the economy and achieve a 2 percent inflation target. None of these attempts at QE has been successful in raising the broad money growth rate for M2 sustainably above the 2–3 percent per annum range where it has languished for the past 25 years. Consequently, Japan’s attempts at QE have all failed to raise the equilibrium level of Japanese nominal GDP by any material magnitude, and so far, attainment of the 2 percent inflation target under QQE has remained elusive. At the time of writing (October 2016), the Japanese economy therefore continues to grow at a low rate with periodic lapses into deflation. After discussing the case of Japan, the article compares the experience of the United States in 1929–33, when there was no QE, and the experience of 2008–14, when the Fed conducted QE over three periods. The comparison is deliberately focused on the quantitative aspects of the policy, not its interest rate effects. Finally, the article explains that there are two brands of QE, and that the failure of QE in Japan is fundamentally due to the choice of the wrong brand of QE. Given the type of QE that the Japanese authorities have chosen, the policy cannot be expected to succeed, except under limited conditions.1 If QE were to be implemented according to a different design, the prospects of success would be much greater. In brief, the primary reason for the failure of BOJ-style QE or QQE derives from the habitual tendency to buy securities from banks instead of from nonbank private-sector entities (such as nonbank financial firms, nonfinancial firms, households, or foreigners). While QE policy in Japan boosts the monetary base, it does not increase broad money. But it is broad money that drives nominal GDP, not the monetary base.
  • Topic: History, Economy, Banks, Central Bank
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Fredrik Erixon, Bjorn Weigel
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The great value of innovation is not merely in invention but rather diffusion and adaptation. And real innovation requires an economy that runs on the culture of experimentation and is open to innovators and entrepreneurs contesting markets—challenging incumbents to such a degree that it redefines the market (like Apple’s iPhone did with the handset market in 2007). In the past decades, however, these forces of diffusion and adaptation simply have not been powerful enough; in fact, legislators have acted to shield incumbent businesses from them. Now the existential challenge that capitalism faces is the growing resistance to innovation.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Digital Economy
  • Political Geography: America, Global Markets
  • Author: Robert Levy
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: It’s doubtful that new gun controls—imposed mostly on persons who are not part of the problem—will be ef- fective. Accordingly, they should expire automatically after a reasonable test period. If they work, they can be reenacted. The Second Amendment doesn’t bar sensi- bleregulations,butitdemandsrigorfromourlawmak- ers and the courts in legislating and reviewing gun control measures.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Igor Lukšic, Milorad Katnic
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The first Montenegrin state started to take shape in the 8th century with the arrival of the Slavs and their mingling with the local population. Originally it was called Doclea, whose ruler received a royal insignia by the Pope Gregory VII in 1078 (Andrijaševi ´c and Rastoder 2006). Montenegro fell under the Ottomans in the late 15th century, but acted as a de facto independent state until formal recognition came at the Berlin Congress in 1878. Despite being on the victors’ side in the Balkan Wars and in World War I, it was annexed by Serbia and lost its sovereignty in 1918. After the Second World War it became a part of socialist Yugoslavia, where it remained until 1992. Montenegro’s political transition started in earnest after the Belgrade Agreement signed in March 2002. Montenegro held an independence referendum in 2006 and was subsequently admitted to the United Nations and other international organizations. Today Montenegro is engaged in accession talks with the European Union (EU).
  • Topic: History, Elections, State, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe, Montenegro
  • Author: Tain-Jy Chen, Ying-Hua Ku
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Against all odds, China has developed one of the most vibrant Internet industries in the world. According to Atomico (2015), which tracked venture capital (VC)-funded startups in the world, there were 156 Internet startups that had been founded in 2003–14 and that had become billion-dollar companies (based on market capitalization) by the end of 2014 after initial public offerings (IPOs). The United States leads the list with 86 companies, followed by China’s 30, and Sweden’s 5. All Chinese billion-dollar startups are consumer-related, while billion-dollar startups in other countries include business applications, games, and others. Similarly, the Wall Street Journal tracked unlisted VC-funded startups and identified 78 of them whose market valuation (measured by financing terms in the most recent round of funding) had exceeded one billion dollars in March 2015 (Table 1). The list includes startups in the Internet as well as other sectors. Again, the United States leads the list with 50 ventures, followed by China’s 8. All Chinese ventures are Internet-related, if Xiaomi, which tops the list of all startups and sells smartphones on the Internet, is also counted as an Internet company (Dow Jones Venture Source 2015). In short, Chinese startups are numerous, vigorous, and most successful in Internet-based consumer business.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Internet, Entrepreneurship, Business
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Stephen Kirchner
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Group of 20 sees itself as “the premier forum for international economic cooperation” (G20 2009b). This article examines its evolution and performance, and member countries’ compliance with G20 summit commitments. The G20 evolved as a response to the shortcomings of its predecessor, the G7/8. Yet its creation allowed member countries to avoid confronting many of the problems that arose out of the earlier forum. The best defense of the G20 is that it is the only institution of its type, but it still consumes scarce political and diplomatic capital, sometimes to the detriment of the policy objectives to which it is notionally committed. In this article, I compare data on members’ compliance with G20 summit commitments to proxy measures of the quality of domestic policies and institutions. While the proxies predict G20 compliance, it turns out that G20 compliance has no power to predict subsequent changes in domestic policies and institutions. The main implication of this data is that international economic and political cooperation is a symptom, not a cause, of domestic policies and institutions. Improvement in domestic policies makes the best contribution to advancing the G20 agenda, but such improvements do not appear to depend on the G20 process.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Governance, G20
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John B. Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In previous articles in the annual monetary issue of the Cato Journal, I drew on historical facts and economic theory to explain the benefits of rules-based monetary policy and why legislation could help the United States reap those benefits (Taylor 2011, 2013a). In this article, I discuss the international aspects of monetary policy, a subject often glossed over in modern debates about rules-based policy, at least compared with discussions about the classic rulesbased gold standard.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel L. Bennett
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: During his illustrious career spanning more than half a century, Richard Vedder has tirelessly advocated for limited government and free enterprise. Much of his scholarship has focused on examining how fiscal and labor market policies consistent with the principles of economic freedom are associated with economic and social benefits such as stronger economic performance (Vedder 1981, 1990), lower unemployment (Vedder and Gallaway 1996, 1997), and poverty alleviation (Vedder and Gallaway 2002). Vedder has also examined the impact of government policy on income inequality (Vedder 2006; Vedder and Gallaway 1986, 1999; Vedder, Gallaway, and Sollars 1988), an area that he and I have collaborated to study (Bennett and Vedder 2013, 2015). Thus, Vedder’s scholarship has contributed to our understanding of the impact that economic freedom exerts on economic outcomes.
  • Topic: Government, Income Inequality, Economy, Free Trade
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: There was perhaps no issue of greater importance to the financial regulatory reforms of 2010 than the resolution, without taxpayer assistance, of large financial institutions. The rescue of firms such as AIG shocked the public conscience and provided the political force behind the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act. Such is reflected in the fact that Titles I and II of Dodd-Frank relate to the identification and resolution of large financial entities. How the tools established in Titles I and II are implemented are paramount to the success of Dodd-Frank. This paper attempts to gauge the likely success of these tools via the lens of similar tools created for the resolution of the housing government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Financial Crisis, Reform
  • Author: Weiying Zhang
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: History and casual observations suggest that ideas and leadership are the two most important forces in all institutional changes. However, they have been absent or downplayed in conventional economic analysis of institutional changes. Conventional economics has exclusively focused on the notion of “interest” in explaining almost everything, from consumers' choices to public choices to institutional changes. IN particular, institutional changes have been modeled as a game of interests between different groups (such as the ruling and the ruled), with the assumption that there is a well-defined mapping from interests into outcomes.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Randall G. Holcombe
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Political capitalism is an economic and political system in which the economic and political elite cooperate for their mutual benefit. The economic elite influence the government's economic policies to use regulation, government spending, and the design of the tax system to maintain their elite status in the economy. The political elite are then supported by the economic elite which helps the political elite maintain their status; an exchange relationship that benefits both the political and economic elite.
  • Topic: Economics, War
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: George C. Bitros
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: In the aftermath of the unprecedented 2008 financial crisis, researchers of macroeconomics, finance, and political economy are showing renewed interest in the old but very significant question: Are central banks in large reserve currency democracies—in particular, the U.S. Federal Reserve—prone to creating asset bubbles, and if so, how is it possible to prevent the misuse of the banks' discretionary powers?
  • Topic: Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, England
  • Author: Thomas H. Mayor
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Karl Marx formulated his ideas in the middle of the 19th century when much of Europe, particularly England, was well along in what is often referred to as the Industrial Revolution. The central Marxist idea was that those who had wealth would reap the benefit of this revolution and become ever more wealthy while those who lived from their labor alone would be relegated to a bare subsistence. In his view, capital accumulation and increases in productivity do not benefit those who work for a living. Allegedly, those who own the means of production (wealth) and supposedly perform no work, receive all the benefits.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, England
  • Author: Ryan H. Murphy
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Contemporary economic policy debates are dominated by concerns regarding the rise in inequality (Stiglitz 2012, Piketty 2014). Primarily, this has led to a focus in re-invigorating redistribution. For instance, Robert Shiller (2014) has recently argued for indexing top marginal tax rates to inequality and using the revenues to fund transfer payments. Secondarily, there are the longstanding objections to “neoliberalism” in general, which has encouraged globalization and the liberalization of markets. To the extent that liberal reforms have improved economic institutions, might today's inequality subsequently derail them?
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Author: Richard E. Wagner
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Since the beginnings of the efforts of economist to give their discipline scientific grounding, economists have thought their theoretical efforts had relevance for addressing significant public issues. While the classical economists generally supported what Adam Smith described as the “system of natural liberty,” those economists also weighed in on numerous issues of public discussion. The tenor and substance of those efforts is set forth wonderfully by Lion Robbins (1952) and Warren Samuels (1966). While the analytical default setting of those economists was to support the system of natural liberty, they also recognized the value of sound public policy in supporting that stem. The classical economists thought that there could be publicly beneficial activities that the system. The classical economists thought that there could be publicly beneficial activities that the system of natural liberty would be unlikely to do well in providing. They also thought that there were activities provided through commercial transactions that could wreak significant effects on bystanders to those transactions. The amount of education acquired within a society was one such candidate (West 1965), with the care of the poor being another (Himmelfarb 1983). IN such matters as these, the classical economists engaged in strenuous debate and discussion that served as a forerunner to the development of welfare economics during the 20th century.
  • Topic: Government
  • Author: Philip K. Howard
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Phillip Howard is a lawyer nationally known for his best-selling books and extensive commentary on the dysfunctions of the American legal and political systems and the adverse effects those dysfunctions have on individual behavior and the overall workings of society.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America