At the 2009 G20 Pittsburgh Summit, leaders recognized the problem of fuel subsidies and made a commitment “to rationalize and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” (G20 2009). But Asian economies have gone the other way, and are pushing economic growth at a breakneck pace underpinned by fuel subsidies not only to consumers, but also to oil companies, mostly through production incentives. These subsidies have created an expectation that gas and oil are cheap and plentiful fuels available on demand. Yet without oil, the world would grind to a halt and chaos and social upheaval would probably ensue. Alternative and renewable energy resources are simply not yet available on a large commercial scale, leaving many people without recourse. [Read more]
This is the first question I have met across at the ADBI seminar on APEC on January 28th. Of course they have not. Nobody raised this within APEC, because APEC is a non-binding organization. But so long as APEC sticks in its weak modality, it may get left behind mushrooming FTAs. What is the APEC’s raison d’etre nowadays? Established in 1989, APEC seeks to promote trade and economic cooperation in the Asia and Pacific region. In 1994 in Bogor, Indonesia, APEC leaders pledged to achieve free and open trade and investment in the Asia and Pacific region by 2010 for developed members and by 2020 for developing economies. [Read more]
Is fiscal and/or political union, where more sovereignty is shared among countries in Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union, the way forward for the eurozone to stay together and deal with economic and financial divergences among member states? Differences in size, development, and institutions present the monetary union with a policy coordination dilemma, as countries often tend to let domestic interests prevail on agreed commitments. At the current juncture, and learning from the sovereign debt crisis, the countries of Europe need to consider what is the best institutional framework for the monetary union. Such a framework should avoid the building up of imbalances and help countries to live with the euro and within the currency union. [Read more]
While there has been strong promotion of free global trade in goods and services as well as in capital inputs, the case has not been made so forcefully for increasing the international mobility of the other factor of production, labor. A recent article in The Economist, Free Exchange—Border Follies, surveys the latest research on the potential benefits of increasing international labor migration (The Economist 17 November 2012). The estimates are staggering, with possible increases in world output and income ranging from 30% to 100% (amounting to an additional $20 trillion to $70 trillion) depending on the level of migration assumed. These calculations swamp the potential benefits of increasing international trade, which is estimated to be less than 3% of global output. [Read more]
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just released a new policy paper on capital flows (IMF 2012). A recent editorial in the Financial Times describes it this way:
As far as intellectual shifts go, the U-turn by the International Monetary Fund on capital controls is remarkable. In the 1990s, the IMF came close to including the promotion of capital account liberalisation in its rule book. On Monday, after a thorough three-year review, the fund has accepted institutionally that direct controls can play a useful role in calming volatile, international capital flows. (Financial Times. 3 December 2012)
The background story to the IMF’s U-turn might begin with the 1997 Asian financial crisis. [Read more]
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said philosopher George Santayana. The aim of this paper is to draw lessons from Asia’s supposed “growth miracle” by disaggregating when, where—and why—growth occurred to better understand the roles of exogenous factors versus domestic policy choices. Our thesis is that the post-World War II “miracle” growth shared by many regional economies was a result of a unique set of circumstances linked not to their “Asian-ness”—but to exogenous, geo-political, developments and, in particular, to the Cold War. The Cold War was a battle for ideological leadership in political and economic domains between two nuclear powers who grew to accept a status quo based on the principle of mutual assured destruction (MAD). [Read more]
Although it is widely considered to be an ineffective policy, a number of developing countries offer universal fuel subsidies. However, the prolonged implementation of fuel subsidies creates a misallocation of resources as a subsidy targets the fuel rather than the consumer. Consequently, fuel subsidies benefit the affluent more than the poor. A number of countries implement fuel subsidies, including Algeria, the People’s Republic of China, Ecuador, Egypt, Indonesia Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Venezuela. Granado et al (2010) reported that in countries that have subsidized fuel, on average, the top income quintile consumed about six times more subsidized fuel than the bottom quintile. [Read more]
The Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011 was the biggest earthquake recorded in Japanese seismic history, and the fourth largest recorded in the world. The scope of the triple disaster consisting of an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear accident, far exceeded that of the Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. The repercussions of this disaster spread far beyond the geographical areas directly affected. For example, electric power supply capacity in the Kanto area, which accounts for about 40% of Japanese gross domestic product (GDP), fell at one stage by about 40% from the normal peak—a severe constraint on economic activity, and the supply of nuclear-generated electric power has largely been cut off since then. [Read more]
The G20 leaders group achieved several significant examples of international economic cooperation in the first few meetings during the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. In the fraught crisis atmosphere, the G20 discussion encouraged bolder fiscal expansion, discouraged trade protectionism, spurred the world’s financial regulators into action to re-write the inadequate rules, and drew attention to the antiquated governance structure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). With the immediate threat of global depression averted and the eurozone crisis not amenable to a global approach, many commentators observe that more recent meetings have lost a sense of urgency and purpose. This group has been successfully established as the paramount international economic coordination body (taking over that role from the G7 and G8) with a far more representative membership, but with the urgency of the immediate crisis gone, critical attention is focusing on the G20’s composition and agenda. [Read more]
The recent global financial crisis has renewed concerns about the inherent instability of the current international monetary system in which the world’s demands for asset or liquidity are met predominantly using the currency of one country, the United States dollar. If the supply of the global currency is inadequate to support global trade, the world faces deflationary risks. However, since the country issuing the global currency has the privilege of borrowing abroad in its own currency cheaply, its borrowing and, hence the supply of global currency, may become excessive. This may eventually become unsustainable, and may have significant systemic implications for the rest of the world, as witnessed in the global financial crisis. [Read more]
- Tan Chee Hoong on Is political union Europe’s solution to the eurozone crisis?
- Dr. Will Hickey on Indonesia’s fuel subsidies benefit the rich far more than the poor
- Tariq Ali on Is political union Europe’s solution to the eurozone crisis?
- Vikram Chowdery on Is regional economic integration enough? The search for ‘Wave 3’ growth
- Vikram Chowdery on Internationalization of emerging market currencies: A way forward
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