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  • Author: Julio Garin, Robert Lester, Eric Sims
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: This paper evaluates the welfare properties of nominal GDP targeting in the context of a New Keynesian model with both price and wage rigidity. In particular, we compare nominal GDP targeting to inflation and output gap targeting as well as to a conventional Taylor rule. These comparisons are made on the basis of welfare losses relative to a hypothetical equilibrium with flexible prices and wages. Output gap targeting is the most desirable of the rules under consideration, but nominal GDP targeting performs almost as well. Nominal GDP targeting is associated with smaller welfare losses than a Taylor rule and significantly outperforms inflation targeting. Relative to inflation targeting and a Taylor rule, nominal GDP targeting performs best conditional on supply shocks and when wages are sticky relative to prices. Nominal GDP targeting may outperform output gap targeting if the gap is observed with noise, and has more desirable properties related to equilibrium determinacy than does gap targeting.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Markets, GDP
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joshua R. Hendrickson, David Beckworth
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, the Federal Reserve has conducted a series of large scale asset purchases. Given the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate, the objective of this policy has been to generate an increase in real economic activity while maintaining a low, stable rate of inflation. The effectiveness of large scale asset purchases and the ability of the central bank to achieve a particular target has been subject to debate. The monetary transmission mechanism is of primary importance for understanding the effects of both the recent large scale asset purchases and of monetary policy more generally. The purpose of this paper is to propose a monetary transmission mechanism and to present empirical support for this mechanism. In particular, this paper suggests that monetary policy is transmitted through changes in the growth rate of transaction assets through both a direct and indirect effect. First, an increase in the growth rate of the monetary base, whether through lump sum transfers or open market operations, generates a real balance effect that increases real economic activity. Second, the indirect effect is through bank lending. Since bank loans are often a function of nominal income, expansionary monetary policy increases bank lending. Since economics agents are forward-looking and the the effects of monetary policy are persistent, monetary policy is transmitted through the expected future time path of the growth of transaction assets and nominal income. This characteristic is especially important in light of the policy recommendations of Sumner (2011, 2012) and Woodford (2012), in which the central bank attaches an explicit target for the level of nominal income to large-scale asset purchases.1
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Therese M. Vaughan, Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: International activity related to the regulation and supervision of financial services has exploded since the global financial crisis. The crisis exposed weaknesses in the structure for regulating internationally active banks, and motivated a number of work streams aimed at strengthening standards (most notably, significant revisions to the Basel capital standard for internationally active banks, now known as Basel III). The insurance sector was also stressed by the meltdown in financial markets that occurred in 2007-2008, albeit far less than the banking sector, and, with the exception of AIG, it is generally recognized that insurers played little role in the financial crisis, and that traditional insurance activities do not pose a systemic risk to the financial system.1,2 Nonetheless, the insurance sector has also been targeted for a new stream of regulatory initiatives at the international level. The most important organizations with respect to these activities are the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB), both based in Basel, Switzerland. The purpose of this paper is to review these developments and to highlight potential concerns for U.S. insurance markets.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mark Schneider, Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The literature on decentralized public programs suggests that errors in the targeting of anti-poverty programs are rooted in the capture of these programs by local elites or local politicians. Consistent with the literature on moral economy in political science and experimental economics, we argue that voters in contexts of rural poverty prefer local leaders who target subsistence benefits to the poor. In a high information village context, where voters and leaders know each other, we argue that local elections lead to the selection of local leaders with pro-poor preferences over the distribution of these benefits. We show this with a novel theory of local politicians’ social preferences. We test our theory with unique data from a behavioral measure, conducted in the context of a lottery with a modest cash prize in rural India, that captures a scenario in which local leaders have full discretion and anonymity over allocation among members of their rural communities. We analyze our data using a novel estimation strategy that takes the characteristics of the pool of potential beneficiaries into account in decisions over allocation under a budget constraint. We find that local leaders have strong preferences for targeting the poor, and particularly those they believe supported them politically in the past. This article suggests that free and fair elections at the local level can powerfully encourage pro-poor targeting even in contexts of weak institutions and pervasive poverty. It also makes a fundamental contribution to research on distributive politics by challenging research in this area to demonstrate the effect of electoral strategies and other distortions on allocation relative to local leaders’ baseline distributive preferences.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Politics, Political Theory, Elections
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Emily Isaac
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy
  • Abstract: In the past five years, San Francisco has become home to dozens of new online and mobile “service networking” companies that claim to be “revolutionizing” the way work gets done. Making up what has come to be known as the “platform economy,” these technology companies provide the platforms for online and mobile marketplaces in which users can buy and sell their goods and services. Together, these “platform economy” companies make up a concentrated innovative cluster in the San Francisco Bay Area, and, more specifically, San Francisco proper. One of the sharing economy’s pioneers and largest success stories, TaskRabbit Inc. allows users to outsource small jobs and tasks to local contractors—or, in company lingo, neighborhood “Taskers.” Launched out of Boston in 2008, TaskRabbit is just one of many tech startups that have left Boston for the San Francisco Bay Area. Since relocating to San Francisco, the company has received $37.5 million in venture funding, is available in 20 cities, and reportedly has 1.25 million users and over 25,000 Taskers. Indeed, TaskRabbit exemplifies the immeasurable benefits of strategically locating a firm in an industry cluster.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology, Communications, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Paul Fishstein , Murtaza Edries Amiryar
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The general expectation among Afghans after the fall of the Taliban was that the state, equipped with financial resources and technical assistance from the international community, would once again take the lead in the economic sphere. Instead, Kabul adopted a market economy. The move remains controversial in some quarters. This report, derived from interviews conducted in 2015 and 2010, takes stock of the competing ideologies in Afghanistan today with respect to the economy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Eugenio Cerutti, Lawrence H. Summers
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Blanchard, Cerutti, and Summers explore two issues triggered by the global financial crisis. First, in most advanced countries, output remains far below the prerecession trend, suggesting hysteresis. The authors look at 122 recessions over the past 50 years in 23 countries and find that a high proportion of them have been followed by lower output or even lower growth. Second, while inflation has decreased, it has decreased less than anticipated, suggesting a breakdown of the relation between inflation and activity. The authors estimate a Phillips curve relation over the past 50 years for 20 countries and find that the effect of unemployment on inflation, for given expected inflation, decreased until the early 1990s but has remained roughly stable since then. The paper concludes with implications for monetary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis, GDP
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Gustavo Adler, Irineu de Carvalho Filho
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Many emerging-market economies have relied on foreign exchange intervention (FXI) in response to gross capital inflows. The authors study whether FXI has been an effective tool to dampen the effects of these inflows on the exchange rate. To deal with endogeneity issues, they look at the response of different countries to plausibly exogenous gross inflows and explore the cross-country variation of FXI and exchange rate responses. Consistent with the portfolio balance channel, they find that larger FXI leads to less exchange rate appreciation in response to gross inflows.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Foreign Exchange, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Jonathan D. Ostry, Atish R. Ghosh, Marcos Chamon
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The workhorse open-economy macro model suggests that capital inflows are contractionary because they appreciate the currency and reduce net exports. Emerging-market policymakers, however, believe that inflows lead to credit booms and rising output, and the evidence appears to go their way. To reconcile theory and reality, the authors extend the set of assets included in the Mundell-Fleming model to include both bonds and nonbonds. At a given policy rate, inflows may decrease the rate on nonbonds, reducing the cost of financial intermediation, potentially offsetting the contractionary impact of appreciation. The authors explore the implications theoretically and empirically and find support for the key predictions in the data.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Cline critiques OECD findings on "too much finance," which seem to imply that the optimal amount of credit in an economy is zero, given the linear specification of the main tests. If these results were taken literally, there would be a radical policy implication: Growth would be maximized by completely eliminating credit finance. He then finds that the negative impact of additional finance on growth is reversed when the appropriate (purchasing-power-parity) per capita income is applied and country fixed effects are removed. Separate tests for countries with intermediated finance below and above 60 percent of GDP show a significant positive effect of finance on growth in the lower group but an insignificant effect in the higher group. He also responds to critics of his earlier study.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, GDP
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: J. Bradford Jensen, Dennis P. Quinn, Stephen Weymouth
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The authors investigate a puzzling decline in US firm antidumping (AD) filings in an era of persistent foreign currency undervaluations and increasing import competition. Firms exhibit heterogeneity both within and across industries regarding foreign direct investment (FDI). Firms making vertical, or resource-seeking, investments abroad are less likely to file AD petitions and firms are likely to undertake vertical FDI in the context of currency undervaluation. Hence, the increasing vertical FDI of US firms makes trade disputes far less likely. Data on US manufacturing firms reveals that AD filers generally conduct no intrafirm trade with filed-against countries. Persistent currency undervaluation is associated over time with increased vertical FDI and intrafirm trade by US multinational corporations (MNCs) in the undervaluing country. Among larger US MNCs, the likelihood of an AD filing is negatively associated with increases in intrafirm trade. The authors confirm that undervaluation is associated with more AD filings. However, high levels of intrafirm imports from countries with undervalued currencies significantly decrease the likelihood of AD filings. The study also highlights the centrality of firm heterogeneity in international trade and investment in understanding political mobilization over international economic policy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Eujiin Jung, Tyler Moran, Martin Vieiro
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Hufbauer and colleagues critically evaluate the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s ambitious multipart project titled Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), which contains 15 "Actions" to prevent multinational corporations (MNCs) from escaping their "fair share" of the tax burden. Spurred by G-20 finance ministers, the OECD recommends changes in national legislation, revision of existing bilateral tax treaties, and a new multilateral agreement for participating countries. The proposition that MNCs need to pay more tax enjoys considerable political resonance as government budgets are strained, the world economy is struggling, income inequality is rising, and the news media have publicized instances of corporations legally lowering their global tax burdens by reporting income in low-tax jurisdictions and expenses in high-tax jurisdictions. Given that the US system taxes MNCs more heavily than other advanced countries and provides fewer tax incentives for research and development (R&D), implementation of the BEPS Actions would drive many MNCs to relocate their headquarters to tax-friendly countries and others to offshore significant amounts of R&D activity.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Adam S. Posen, Nicolas Veron
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Given no generally accepted framework for financial stability, policymakers in developing Asia need to manage, not avoid, financial deepening. This paper supports Asian policymakers' judgment through analysis of the recent events in the United States and Europe and of earlier crisis episodes, including Asia during the 1990s. There is no simple linear relationship between financial repression and stability—financial repression not only has costs but, so doing can itself undermine stability. Bank-centric financial systems are not inherently safer than systems that include meaningful roles for securities and capital markets. Domestic financial systems should be steadily diversified in terms of both number of domestic competitors and types of savings and lending instruments available (and thus probably types of institutions). Financial repression should be focused on regulating the activities of financial intermediaries, not on compressing interest rates for domestic savers. Cross-border lending should primarily involve creation of multinational banks' subsidiaries in the local economy—and local currency lending and bond issuance should be encouraged. Macroprudential tools can be useful, and, if anything, are more effective in less open or less financially deep economies than in more advanced financial centers.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Antoine Gervais
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: To date, empirical studies have focused almost exclusively on the trade exposure of the manufacturing sector, implicitly assuming that services are not tradable. However, because service trade has grown over time and now accounts for about 20 percent of global international transactions (and 30 percent of US exports), the traditional assumption that goods are tradable and services are not is increasingly inadequate. Gervais and Jensen use a unique dataset on the distribution of producers and consumers across regions of the United States to estimate the share of economic activity exposed to international competition. Their estimation method is a natural extension of the gravity model of trade and identifies trade costs in the absence of trade data. The estimated trade costs are higher on average for service industries, but there is considerable variation across industries within sectors. Using the trade cost estimates, they classify industries into tradable and nontradable categories. They find that accounting for tradable service industries nearly doubles the international exposure of the US economy, tradable services value added is unevenly distributed across geographical regions, labor productivity and wages are higher on average for tradable industries, and potential welfare gains from trade liberalization in the service sector are sizable.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Labor Issues, Global Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniele Ciani, Paolo Finaldi Russo, Valerio Vacca
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: This paper describes the main features of European SMEs’ financial behaviour and the policies recently put in place to support their funding. European SMEs are structurally more leveraged and charged with higher interest rates than large firms. Moreover, the crisis has deeply affected their fund-raising capacity, as banks reduced credit supply while non-bank funding was unavailable to most SMEs. Against this background, EU has focussed its policies on long-term investment and on a more favourable environment for SMEs financing, including through the launch of the Capital Markets Union. At the national level, most governments have provided guarantees and enhanced the role of national development banks. Nevertheless, key issues are still outstanding, such as the funding of innovative firms and the improvement of transparency and of the legal and regulatory frameworks.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-71-2
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Daniele Fattibene
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Russia’s “pivot to Asia” has come to the fore in the wake of the crisis over Ukraine. Growing tensions with the West over the common neighbourhood, coupled with economic sanctions, have accelerated this trend, with China gaining in strength as both an economic and military partner to Moscow. The Kremlin’s propaganda has sought to convince the broader public that Russia’s strategies in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Arctic region are a complement to China’s new Silk Road Economic Belt. Nonetheless, behind the headlines huge potential problems jeopardise the emergence of a durable Sino-Russian consensus in Eurasia. Against this backdrop, the EU should opt for “strategic patience.” This would be a far more effective policy choice than finger pointing, which only deepens the mutual ideological clash between the EU and Russia.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Asia
  • Publication Identifier: 978-88-98650-69-9
  • Publication Identifier Type: DOI
  • Author: Robert Z. Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, the US economy has been plagued by sluggish wage growth and rising income inequality. The debate over inequality in the 1980s and 1990s focused on the growing disparity between the earnings of skilled and unskilled workers and the earnings of the super-rich. Growing inequality between capital and labor income has now been added to these concerns. Remarkably, the growth in real GDP per worker over the decade of the 2000s, which averaged 1.7 percent annually, was actually more rapid than in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s, yet in the 2000s workers saw almost no increase in their take-home pay. Consistent with this gap between labor productivity and wage growth was a pronounced decline in the share of US national income earned by workers. As labor's share has declined, the share of capital has risen and has been especially concentrated in corporate profits. As profits are far less equally distributed than wages, this increase has contributed to rising income inequality. There are several plausible reasons for this development—globalization, automation, weak bargaining power of labor, political capture, higher markups—but the natural starting point for explaining factor income shares is the neoclassical theory of the functional distribution of income enumerated by John Hicks and Joan Robinson in the 1930s. In this framework there are two possible explanations for labor's recent declining share. The first is that capital and labor are gross substitutes, and the second is that capital and labor are gross complements. Several papers have explained the recent decline in labor's share in income by claiming that capital has been substituted for labor. Lawrence puts forward the alternative "gross complements" explanation for the declining US labor share. He shows that despite a rise in measured capital-labor ratios, labor-augmenting technical change in the United States has been sufficiently rapid that effective capital-labor ratios have actually fallen in the sectors and industries that account for the largest portion of the declining labor share in income since 1980. In combination with estimates that corroborate the consensus in the literature that the elasticity of substitution is less than 1, these declines in the effective capital-labor ratio can account for much of the recent fall in labor's share in US income at both the aggregate and industry level. Paradoxically, these results also suggest that increased capital formation, ideally achieved through a progressive consumption tax, would raise labor's share in income.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Marcus Noland, Kevin Stahler
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Decades ago, the Summer Olympic Games were an old boys' club; by many measures the Winter Games still are. Now, however, this old boys' club must compete with talented athletes from almost every country on earth, large and small, rich and poor, many of whom have found their comparative sporting niches. Looking forward, the image of the incumbent champion—rich, European, and male—will become ever more antiquated. This paper models the historical determinants of success at the Olympic Games in the context of their growing pluralism, evolving from their aristocratic and largely European male roots to the more gender-inclusive and geographically diverse showcase of athletic talent that is seen today. A wide set of socioeconomic variables is correlated with winning medals, particularly with respect to the Summer Games and women's events. Host advantage is particularly acute in judged contests such as gymnastics. However, there is evidence that the influence of correlates such as country size, per capita income, and membership in the communist bloc is declining over time as competition becomes increasingly diverse. These effects are less evident in the Winter Games, events that require significant capital investments, and judged contests.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Gender Issues, Sports
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Some advocates of far higher capital requirements for banks invoke the Modigliani-Miller theorem as grounds for judging that associated costs would be minimal. The M&M theorem holds that the average cost of capital to the firm does not depend on its capital structure (ratio of equity finance to debt finance), because any reduction in capital cost from switching to higher leverage using lower-cost debt is exactly offset by an induced increase in the unit cost of higher-cost equity capital as a consequence of the associated rise in risk. Statistical tests for large US banks in 2002–13 find that less than half of this M&M offset attains in practice. Higher capital requirements would thus impose increases in lending costs, with associated output costs from lower capital formation. These costs to the economy would need to be compared with benefits from lower risk of banking crises to arrive at optimal levels of capital requirements.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Politics, Budget
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tomas Hellebrandt, Paolo Mauro
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the next two decades the structure of world population and income will undergo profound changes. Global income inequality is projected to decline further in 2035, largely owing to rapid economic growth in the emerging-market economies. The potential pool of consumers worldwide will expand significantly, with the largest net gains in the developing and emerging-market economies. The number of people earning between US$1,144 and US$3,252 per year in 2013 prices in purchasing power parity terms will increase by around 500 million, with the largest gains in Sub-Saharan Africa and India; those earning between US$3,252 and US$8,874 per year in 2013 prices will increase by almost 1 billion, with the largest gains in India and Sub-Saharan Africa; and those earning more than US$8,874 per year will increase by 1.2 billion, with the largest gains in China and the advanced economies.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia