Does Greece Need More Official Debt Relief? If So, How Much?

Does Greece Need More Official Debt Relief? If So, How Much? Peterson Institute for International Economics. Working Paper, 17-6. Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Eike Kreplin and Ugo Panizza. April 2017

Creditor countries and international organizations continue to disagree whether Greece should receive additional official debt relief, and if so how much. This paper first shows that these disagreements can be attributed to competing assumptions about Greece’s future capacity to repay, particularly about economic growth and the fiscal primary balance. It next evaluates the plausibility of alternative primary balance assumptions using international evidence about fiscal adjustment experiences. It concludes that primary balance paths required to make Greece’s debt sustainable are not plausible and that Greece will therefore require additional debt relief. Finally, the paper shows that the debt relief measures suggested by the Eurogroup in May 2016 (albeit with significant caveats on whether they will in fact be granted or not) could be sufficient to address Greece’s sustainability problem, provided the Eurogroup is prepared to accept both very long maturity extensions on European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) debt (to 2080 and beyond) and interest deferrals that could lead to a large rise in EFSF exposure to Greece before it begins to decline. If the Eurogroup wishes to avoid the latter, it will become necessary to either (1) extend the scope of the debt restructuring, (2) lower the interest rates charged by the EFSF significantly below current predictions, or (3) extend European Stability Mechanism (ESM) financing beyond 2018 and delay Greece’s return to capital markets for a protracted period. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 54 pages, 479.65 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].

Fact Sheet: Clean Energy Job Growth in the United States

Fact Sheet: Clean Energy Job Growth in the United States. World Resources Institute. Helen Mountford, Joel Jaeger. March 2017

The clean energy economy in the United States—including wind, solar, and efficiency industries—is putting more and more Americans to work. This fact sheet outlines the latest data on how many Americans are working in clean energy and where the jobs are located. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 2 pages, 223.21 KB].

Is Europe An Optimal Political Area?

Is Europe An Optimal Political Area? Brookings Institution. Alberto Alesina, Guido Tabellini, and Francesco Trebbi. March 23, 2017

In “Is Europe an optimal political area?” Harvard University’s Alberto Alesina, Bocconi University’s Guido Tabellini and University of British Columbia’s Francesco Trebbi examine 15 EU countries and Norway from 1980-2009 to determine if the so-called European political project was “too ambitious.”
The authors examine cultural differences among European citizens along fundamental dimensions such as trust, obedience, and religiosity, finding that European cultural differences are widening in spite of an increasingly more economically integrated Europe from the 1980-2009. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 58 pages, 1.49 MB].

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. March 21, 2017

The United States is the largest investor abroad and the largest recipient of direct investment in the world. For some Americans, the national gains attributed to investing overseas are offset by such perceived losses as displaced U.S. workers and lower wages. Some observers believe U.S. firms invest abroad to avoid U.S. labor unions or high U.S. wages, however, 74% of the accumulated U.S. foreign direct investment is concentrated in high income developed countries, who are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Even more striking is the fact that the share of investment going to developing countries has fallen in recent years. Most economists conclude that direct investment abroad as a whole does not lead to fewer jobs or lower incomes overall for Americans and 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.

[PDF format, 15 pages, 744.57 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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