Orthodox Christianity in the 21st Century

Orthodox Christianity in the 21st Century. Pew Research Center. November 8, 2017.

Over the last century, the Orthodox Christian population around the world has more than doubled and now stands at nearly 260 million. In Russia alone, it has surpassed 100 million, a sharp resurgence after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Yet despite these increases in absolute numbers, Orthodox Christians have been declining as a share of the overall Christian population – and the global population – due to far faster growth among Protestants, Catholics and non-Christians. Today, just 12% of Christians around the world are Orthodox, compared with an estimated 20% a century ago. And 4% of the total global population is Orthodox, compared with an estimated 7% in 1910. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 64 pages, 861.33 KB].

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Monetary Policy in a New Era

Monetary Policy in a New Era. Brookings Institution. Ben S. Bernanke. October 12, 2017

The former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke presented the following framework at a conference on Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy at the Peterson Institute on October 12-13, 2017. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 49 pages, 713.9 KB].

Civil Society at a Crossroads: Exploring Sustainable Operating Models

Civil Society at a Crossroads: Exploring Sustainable Operating Models. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Shannon N. Green. October 12, 2017

Around the world, civil society is at a crossroads. Buffeted on one side by questions about their relevance, legitimacy, and accountability from governments and their beneficiaries, civil society organizations (CSOs) face pressure to demonstrate their value to and connection with local communities. On the other side, civil society is having to adjust to a rapidly deteriorating legal and operational environment, as countless governments pursue regulatory, administrative, and extra-legal strategies to impede their work. Nonstate actors also pose a threat to the sector, attacking human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, environmentalists, and labor unionists in unprecedented numbers. Simultaneously, CSOs are encountering major disruptions to their revenue streams because of changing donor priorities and government restrictions on foreign funding, and to their business model from emerging forms of civic activism. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages, 1.46 MB].

An Overview of Global Initiatives on Countering Closing Space for Civil Society

An Overview of Global Initiatives on Countering Closing Space for Civil Society. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Jana Baldus, Annika Elena Poppe, Jonas Wolff. September 13, 2017

This document maps institutionalized initiatives—by governments, regional bodies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—that have been created in response to the global phenomenon of increasing restrictions on civil society space. In varying ways, these initiatives pursue the goal of reclaiming civic space and countering governments’ attempts to close space: spanning from advocacy from afar to financial support as well as legal and technical assistance provided to and by civil society on the ground. This collection has been generated on the basis of references to initiatives in several key works and has been complemented by references in other publications and targeted online searches as well as through feedback from regional experts in the context of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon).1 While it contains governmental and nongovernmental—often multi-stakeholder—initiatives with regional, sometimes even global, reach, it neither contains initiatives that are specific to a particular government and particular countries nor initiatives that solely focus on monitoring restrictions of civil society. The majority of the initiatives listed here have been created in the past couple of years in response to closing space; most of the initiatives are active today, although some are (temporarily) inactive or have ceased. The following overview is mainly based on the information offered online by the initiatives themselves. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 30 pages, 634.29 KB].

Who Is In Charge of Financial Stability, Why, and What They Can Do

Who Is In Charge of Financial Stability, Why, and What They Can Do. Brookings Institution. Rochelle M. Edge and Nellie Liang. August 11, 2017

Since the global financial crisis, many countries have set up new authorities to address emerging financial stability risks. In a new paper, Federal Reserve Board Associate Director Rochelle Edge and Miriam K. Carliner Senior Fellow Nellie Liang study these authorities to determine their ability to set macroprudential policies to reduce potential systemic risks that could arise, for example, from rapidly rising house prices or persistently low interest rates.

Using a new dataset for 58 countries, Liang and Edge find that although formal multi-agency financial stability committees (FSCs) have been created in 41 countries, just two have direct powers to set policies and only 11 can issue “comply or explain” directives, in which an agency is expected to respond by taking the directed action or explain why it did not. Regression results suggest the arrangements are designed more to share information than to take actions. As a result, most new financial stability authorities are not well positioned to direct countercyclical macroprudential policies, and provide meaningful alternatives to monetary policy to reduce time-varying financial stability risks. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 46 pages, 617.19 KB].

As Cities Grow Worldwide, So Do the Numbers of Homeless

As Cities Grow Worldwide, So Do the Numbers of Homeless. YaleGlobal. Joseph Chamie. July 13, 2017

Homelessness is a mark of failure for communities in providing basic security. Based on national reports, about 2 percent of the world’s population may be homeless. Another 20 percent lacks adequate housing, reports demographer Joseph Chamie. Such statistics come with a caveat. Obtaining accurate numbers is difficult, mostly due to wild variations in definitions around the globe. Also, measuring homelessness is costly: Cities may under-count due to embarrassment while individuals avoid officials due to shame and fear of arrest and harassment. Reasons for homelessness include “shortages of affordable housing, privatization of civic services, investment speculation in housing, unplanned and rapid urbanization, as well as poverty, unemployment and family breakdown,” Chamie explains. “Also contributing is a lack of services and facilities for those suffering from mental illness, alcoholism or substance abuse and displacement caused by conflicts, natural disasters and government housing policies.” Even people with jobs can struggle to keep homes. As experts debate whether the issue can be resolved or not, some governments offer support programs while others do what they can to chase the homeless off to other locales. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Will Rising Interest Rates Lead to Fiscal Crises?

Will Rising Interest Rates Lead to Fiscal Crises? Peterson Institute for International Economics. Policy Brief, 17-27. Olivier Blanchard and Jeromin Zettelmeyer. July 2017

A balanced, broad-based economic recovery seems under way in all major regions of the world. Managing the recovery poses challenges in the short run but they appear relatively benign. Looking forward, however, the authors see a set of new risks: (1) Partly because of the crisis and partly because of subsequent low growth, public debt has reached postwar historical highs in many advanced countries; (2) productivity growth, and with it potential growth, has declined. Whether it remains low or picks up in the future is uncertain; (3) interest rates are expected to increase from their current low levels. By how much and at what pace is—again—uncertain; and (4) many advanced countries have strong populist movements (or even populist leaders) espousing risky macroeconomic policies. The authors warn that rising interest rates, combined with low growth, high debt, and populist pressure, would be a recipe for fiscal crises. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 7 pages, 172.09 KB].