Do Governments Drive Global Trade Imbalances?

Do Governments Drive Global Trade Imbalances? Peterson Institute for International Economics. Working Paper 17-15. Joseph E. Gagnon. December 2017

This paper examines the extent to which government policies are responsible for the pattern of current account (trade) imbalances and, by implication, the extent to which such policies might be used to achieve the G-20 goal of reducing imbalances. Fiscal balances and foreign exchange intervention are the most important observable factors behind differences in current account balances across countries and over time. This finding is robust to alternative equation specifications, estimation techniques, and sample selections. The empirical results in this paper strongly suggest that G-20 countries (and others) have the necessary tools to achieve their stated goal of narrowing current account imbalances. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 26 pages].


EPA’s Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions

EPA’s Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants: Frequently Asked Questions. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. James E. McCarthy et al. December 19, 2017

 On October 10, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Obama Administration rule that would limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil-fuel-fired power plants. The action came in response to Executive Order 13783, in which President Trump directed federal agencies to review existing regulations and policies that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources. Among the E.O.’s specific directives was that EPA review the CPP, which was one of the Obama Administration’s most important actions directed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

 [PDF format, 60 pages].

Moving Beyond “Root Causes:” The Complicated Relationship between Development and Migration

Moving Beyond “Root Causes:” The Complicated Relationship between Development and Migration. Migration Policy Institute. Susan Fratzke and Brian Salant. January 2018.

 As policymakers in Europe and other high-income countries search for ways to reduce unmanaged migration, they are paying new attention to addressing the drivers of migration, in particular the lack of economic opportunities in countries of origin.

The logic, embedded in the European Commission’s 2015 European Agenda on Migration for example, suggests that if development assistance can improve livelihood prospects in countries of migrant origin, outward migration will decrease.

However, the nature of migrant decision-making and the complex relationship between migration and development suggest development assistance may be a blunt tool for reshaping migration patterns—and indeed one that could increase migration flows over the short term. Numerous studies have found that as countries become richer and their citizens have more resources at their disposal, emigration increases, at least initially. And while employment may decrease the likelihood that an individual will migrate in some contexts, in others it appears to increase those prospects.

Little solid research has been done on the extent to which development policies reshape migration, but the brief suggests shifting the focus of development assistance away from increasing individuals’ skills and assets toward the creation of opportunities at the local, regional, or national level. Investments in the broader economic or governance structures that are a prerequisite for economic growth and stability may offer more alternatives to emigration in the long run. In the shorter term, destination-country policymakers may need to accept the idea of working with, rather than against, migration trends to reap the development benefits of migration. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 19 pages, 797.53 KB].


The Federal Tax System for the 2017 Tax Year

The Federal Tax System for the 2017 Tax Year. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Molly F. Sherlock,  Donald J. Marples. December 26, 2017

 The 115th Congress has passed legislation that substantially changes the U.S. federal tax system (H.R. 1). This report describes the federal tax structure, provides some statistics on the tax system as a whole, as of 2017.  

[PDF format, 29 pages].

Testing the Value of the Postwar International Order

Testing the Value of the Postwar International Order. RAND Corporation.   Michael J. Mazarr, Ashley L. Rhoades. January 8, 2018.

 Since 1945, the United States has pursued its interests through the creation and maintenance of international economic institutions, global organizations including the United Nations and G-7, bilateral and regional security organizations including alliances, and liberal political norms that collectively are often referred to as the “international order.” In recent years, rising powers have begun to challenge aspects of this order. The purpose of this report is very specific: to evaluate the order’s value — to assess its role in promoting U.S. goals and interests, and to measure its possible economic benefits in a number of specific areas. To answer the question of the order’s value, we first had to define the components of the order that we proposed to evaluate for possible value to U.S. interests. We then reviewed broad assessments of the order, as well as detailed empirical work on its specific components. The resulting analysis produced five major findings: the postwar order offers significant value to U.S. interests and objectives; specifically in quantifiable and return-on-investment terms, the order contributes to outcomes with measurable value and appears to have a strongly positive cost-benefit calculus; the postwar order represents a leading U.S. competitive advantage; if the United States wants to continue to lead globally, some form of order is vital; and a functioning multilateral order will be essential to deal with emerging security and economic issues. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 124 pages, 1.09 MB].

Sustainable and Safe: A Vision and Guidance for Zero Road Deaths

Sustainable and Safe: A Vision and Guidance for Zero Road Deaths. World Resources Institute.  Ben Welle et al. January 2018

 More than 1.25 million people are killed on roads each year, the majority in developing countries, making traffic fatalities the tenth leading cause of death worldwide. Children, elderly and poor people are particularly vulnerable. Are drivers and pedestrians always to blame? Research from WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities and the Global Road Safety Facility of the World Bank finds that the most effective way to prevent traffic deaths is a systemic approach that shifts responsibility away from the drivers and pedestrians using roads to the city planners and officials designing them. Analysis in 53 countries found that those that have taken a “Safe System” based approach have achieved both the lowest rates of fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants and the greatest reduction in fatality levels over the past 20 years.  [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 76 pages, 5.3 MB].

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks

The Net Neutrality Debate: Access to Broadband Networks.  Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Angele A. Gilroy. December 20, 2017

 As congressional policymakers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major discussion point revolves around what approach should be taken to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and nondiscriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” While there is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality,” most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network. 

 [PDF format, 28 pages].