U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues

U.S. Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. James K. Jackson. June 29, 2017

The United States is the largest direct investor abroad and the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in the world. For some Americans, the national gains attributed to investing overseas are offset by such perceived losses as offshoring facilities, displacing U.S. workers, and lowering wages. Some observers believe U.S. firms invest abroad to avoid U.S. labor unions or high U.S. wages, but 74% of the accumulated U.S. foreign direct investment is concentrated in high-income developed countries. In recent years, the share of investment going to developing countries has fallen. Most economists argue that there is no conclusive evidence that direct investment abroad as a whole leads to fewer jobs or lower incomes overall for Americans. Instead, they argue that the majority of jobs lost among U.S. manufacturing firms over the past decade reflect a broad restructuring of U.S. manufacturing industries responding primarily to domestic economic forces.

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Why Do People Oppose Globalization?

Why Do People Oppose Globalization? YaleGlobal. Farok J. Contractor. June 15, 2017

Politicians are reaping gains by wrapping themselves in flags and directing hostility toward globalization. “Humankind is developing an emerging ‘global consciousness’ – a collective sensitivity to noble thoughts as well as to phobias and ignoble protectionism,” explains Farok Contractor, a professor of global management at Rutgers University. Contractor describes how responses to global connections divide societies. One example is the embrace of Valentine’s Day by many consumers in Asia while some religious fanatics in India target foreign practices for eroding cultural traditions. Likewise, voters in rural United States and Britain, areas with few foreigners, fell prey to scaremongering about immigration while the more educated and wealthy in cities may be less threatened by multicultural ideas. Angst over job losses, stagnant wages and changing industries is real, but unscrupulous media and populists manipulate audiences by blaming globalization, trade and immigration rather than automation or the quest for modernization by majorities in many countries. Contractor concludes that “Globalization is a symptom of human desire and ambition leading to ever-increasing connections.” Nations that resist globalization, rather than engaging in thoughtful examination and policymaking, will encounter many negative consequences. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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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].

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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].

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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].

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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].

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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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