IOT, Automation, Autonomy, and Megacities in 2025: A Dark Preview

IOT, Automation, Autonomy, and Megacities in 2025: A Dark Preview. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Michael Assante, Andrew Bochman. April 26, 2017

This paper extrapolates from present trends to describe plausible future crises playing out in multiple global cities within 10 years. While predicting the future is fraught with uncertainty, much of what occurs in the scenarios presented here is fully possible today and, absent a significant course change, probable in the timeframe discussed.

It is not hard to find tech evangelists touting that ubiquitous and highly interconnected digital technology will bring great advances in productivity and efficiency, as well as new capabilities we cannot foresee. This paper attempts to reveal what is possible when these technologies are applied to critical infrastructure applications en masse without adequate security in densely populated cities of the near future that are less resilient than other environments. Megacities need and will deploy these new technologies to keep up with insatiable demand for energy, communications, transportation, and other services, but it is important to recognize that they are also made more vulnerable by following this path. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 16 pages, 294.46 KB].

Do Digital Currencies Pose a Threat to Sovereign Currencies and Central Banks?

Do Digital Currencies Pose a Threat to Sovereign Currencies and Central Banks? Peterson Institute for International Economics. Policy Brief 17-13.Daniel Heller. April 2017

Bitcoin is the first digital currency to have received widespread recognition and interest from users, developers, investors, central banks, and regulators, largely because of its “distributed ledger” technology, which allows it to provide relatively low-cost peer-to-peer transfers of money. Users own the bitcoin system and can make changes to the rules and protocol only by consensus or a supermajority of 95 percent. This communitarian ownership model and the fact that payments in bitcoin can be easily made from one end of the globe to another have led many to believe and hope that bitcoin will one day replace sovereign currencies—and the central banks that issue them. In addition, some observers see bitcoin as the origin of a fundamental transformation of the financial system toward a more decentralized structure. As a medium of exchange, bitcoin is still small compared with traditional channels, and it is held largely for speculation rather than transactions. Its lack of a mechanism for dampening the price effect of an increase in demand or reducing supply in case of a demand slump means that adopting bitcoin as a currency would be like reverting to a currency based on gold coins. As long as central banks continue to pursue stability-oriented monetary policies, they will have little reason to fear that the bitcoin system will replace them. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 8 pages, 302.31 KB].

Race to the Top: The Case for the Financial Stability Board

Race to the Top: The Case for the Financial Stability Board. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Policy Brief 17-12. Nathan Sheets. April 2017

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has helped strengthen international financial regulatory standards, and as a result, the global economy—and hence the US economy—is more resilient and better able to support strong, sustainable, and balanced growth. The FSB has provided a framework to encourage other jurisdictions to toughen their regulatory regimes in line with steps taken in the United States. The FSB, however, does not have a perfect track record. Sheets suggests several areas where the governance, transparency, and the work program of the FSB could be improved. Supporters of the FSB’s work need to do a better job of presenting the case for international cooperation and showcasing the FSB’s accomplishments. The United States has played a leadership role in the FSB since the group’s inception, and important benefits have flowed to the US economy as a result. If it fails to maintain its leadership position, other countries will step in to fill the vacuum, resulting in rules and practices in the global economy and financial system that evolve in directions that are inconsistent with US national interests. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 11 pages, 235.92 KB].

Twelve Economic Facts on Energy and Climate Change

Twelve Economic Facts on Energy and Climate Change: A Joint Report from the Hamilton Project and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. Brookings Institution. March 27, 2017

The United States is in the midst of an energy revolution. The North American shale boom has unlocked vast quantities of natural gas, upending domestic electricity markets and enabling rapidly growing export volumes. American shale oil has sent global oil prices to their lowest sustained level in a decade and slashed U.S. imports in half. Meanwhile, the cost of renewable fuels like wind and solar electricity has plummeted, and they now account for the majority of new electric generating capacity.

Given this technological and economic context, the United States has perhaps never been better positioned to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. Though it is often discussed as a future problem, climate change caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is happening now. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has increased from 317 parts per million in 1960 to more than 400 parts per million in 2016 (NOAA 2016), while the global average temperature has risen 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9° Celsius) above its 1960 level.

These changes are already impacting our everyday lives. Record-breaking temperatures, melting ice caps and more frequent coastal flooding, prolonged droughts, and damaging storms are just some of the intensifying risks we face as our planet continues to warm (IPCC 2007a). Despite these risks, the prices U.S. consumers pay for fossil fuels rarely reflect their costs, skewing consumption and investment choices away from cleaner fuels and discouraging the kinds of technological advancements that would allow the nation to make more efficient use of its energy resources. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages, 2.19 MB].

How To End The Practice of Anonymously Held Corporations, One Year Post-Panama Papers

How To End The Practice of Anonymously Held Corporations, One Year Post-Panama Papers. Brookings Institution. Aaron Klein. March 27, 2017

One of the core tenets of America’s terrorism finance and anti-money laundering (AML) strategies is that financial institutions are under an affirmative requirement to ‘know your customers’—or KYC. The centrality can be seen in the ubiquity of the KYC acronym, often appearing alongside AML as a merged six-letter short hand.
Despite the importance of the tenet, however, corporations are still legally able to set-up anonymous shell entities that are entitled to open bank accounts and not required to provide information regarding the company’s beneficial owners—a shady practice that received international attention almost one year ago with the publication of the now-infamous Panama Papers. How can banks be expected to know your customer, when the customer is entitled to anonymity? What are the implications of anonymous ownership and of revising this practice? [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Future of the Funds: Exploring the Architecture of Multilateral Climate Finance

Future of the Funds: Exploring the Architecture of Multilateral Climate Finance. World Resources Institute. Niranjali Manel Amerasinghe et al. March 2017

Multilateral climate funds play a key role in using public finance to help drive the economic and societal transformation necessary to address climate change. There is growing pressure for policymakers to make the architecture of funds more effective and coherent. This report examines seven key multilateral climate funds and recommends operational and architectural reforms to improve their ability to deliver low-emissions and climate-resilient development. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 100 pages, 4.62 MB].

Kicking a Crude Habit: Diversifying Away from Oil and Gas in the 21st Century

Kicking a Crude Habit: Diversifying Away from Oil and Gas in the 21st Century. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Working Paper 17-2. Cullen S. Hendrix. February 2017

Since the 1970s, oil and gas production has enriched many countries but also made them dangerously dependent on these resources for export revenue and government finance. As a result, development experts have counseled such countries to diversify their economies and export bases. Virtually all oil- and gas-rich countries are—and have been for decades—rhetorically committed to this goal and have allocated significant resources to infant industry development and infrastructure projects to boost their economies. However, some—such as Nigeria, Qatar, and Russia—have been more successful than others. This working paper examines the fortunes of 40 oil- and gas-dependent economies during the 21st century commodity boom and finds that in spite of oil and gas prices nearly trebling, a sizable majority (75 percent) of these countries saw oil and gas rents decrease as a share of GDP. Yet many oil- and gas-rich economies continue to rely very heavily on these resources for export revenue. Internal economic diversification in the 21st century has been less a matter of correct policy formation and implementation and more a matter of factors that shape the policymaking environment, with the findings suggesting a difficult road to economic diversification for the Gulf Cooperation Council economies. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 26 pages, 345.62 KB].