Tag Archives: global

The 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis: Lessons for Country Vulnerability

     After the currency crises of 1994-2001, and especially the East Asia crises of 1997-98, a lot of research investigated what countries could do to protect themselves against a future repeat.  More importantly, policy makers in emerging markets took some serious measures.  Some countries abandoned exchange rate targets and began to float.   Many accumulated high levels of foreign exchange reserves.  Many moved away from dollar-denominated debt, toward other kinds of capital inflow that would be less vulnerable to currency mismatch, such as domestic currency debt or Foreign Direct Investment.   Some instituted Collective Action Clauses in their debt contracts to facilitate otherwise-messy restructuring of debt in the event of a severe negative shock.  A few raised reserve requirements or otherwise tightened prudential banking regulations (clearly not enough, in retrospect). And so on.

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Border Measures Could Make Climate Policy Better or — More Likely — Worse

The international press reports, “At Climate Talks, Danger to Free Trade Mounts.”

The Copenhagen negotiations have essentially failed to include, among the many topics covered, one that will be critical in the coming years:   the question of import tariffs or other trade penalties that individual countries apply against the products of other countries that they deem too carbon-intensive.    Such border measures are already in EU and US legislation (the Waxman-Markey bill, not yet passed by the Senate).    Properly designed, they could turn out to be the missing instrument needed to get each country to cut emissions without fear of others taking unfair advantage, via leakage.   More likely, national politics will turn them into protectionist barriers.

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Trying to Hit Ambitious Global Greenhouse Gas Goals, While Obeying Political Constraints

National leaders are meeting at the United Nations in New York today, to discuss the climate change negotiations.    Talks will continue at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh later in the week.   But hopes look very bleak for progress sufficient to produce at Copenhagen in December a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol  The biggest roadblock is the familiar game of “After you, Alphonse.”  The United States will not accept quantitative emission targets unless China, India and other developing countries do the same, at the same time.    But the developing countries will not cut their emissions below the Business as Usual path (BAU) unless the rich countries go first. 

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An Answer for the Roadblock to an International Climate Change Agreement



On her visit to India two days ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was publicly rebuffed when she raised the problem of global climate change.    The Indian environment minister declared “we are simply not in the position to take legally binding emissions targets.”


No single country can address this problem on its own.  Hence the international negotiations that will take place in Copenhagen in December to try to find a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol.   But the international effort has run into a seemingly insurmountable roadblock.     On the one hand, the US Congress is clear: it will not impose quantitative limits on US emissions of greenhouse gases if China, India, and other developing countries don’t impose quantitative limits on theirs.   Indeed, that is why the Senate was unwilling to ratify the Kyoto Protocol ten years ago. The logic seems completely reasonable:  why should US firms bear the economic cost of cutting emissions if carbon-intensive activities would just migrate to countries without caps and global emissions continue their rapid rise?   On the other hand, the leaders of India and China are just as clear:   they are unalterably opposed to cutting emissions until after the United States and other rich countries go first.   And why should they?   The industrialized countries created the problem of global warming, in the process of getting rich;  the poor countries should not be denied their turn at economic development.  As the Indians point out, Americans emit more than ten times as much carbon dioxide per person.      

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