Sebastian Mallaby uses the framework of central bank power to examine the rise and recent decline of the cult of the expert. He concludes that, ironically, experts need to play the political game if they hope to maintain their legitimacy; and that a healthy democracy is well served by a mix of public accountability and technocratic independence.
In this intriguing prequel to his upcoming book, Sebastian Mallaby reveals a new side to controversial former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan. Greenspan was often accused of trusting too much in markets and being blind to the effects of bubbles, but Mallaby shows that Greenspan, in fact, was the man who knew.
Trade Policy Has Become Politically Unpopular. These Steps Could Help Rehabilitate It. This piece is based on a new CFR discussion paper authored by Edward Alden and Robert E. Litan, titled “A Winning Trade Policy for the United States.”
New Census data shows promising increases in median household income and the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership would boost national income. Yet, U.S. politicians disparage rather than celebrate this tangible progress. What happened to American optimism?
Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics Robert Kahn argues that at the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit in Hangzhou, China, leaders called for governments to do more to support growth, but offered little in the way of new measures. Quietly, and away from the G20 spotlight, fiscal policy is becoming more expansionary, but current policies are unlikely to provide a meaningful boost to growth or soothe rising populist pressures.
“Although short-term debt poses one of the greatest threats to the financial stability of the United States, Dodd-Frank has done little to mitigate it. Fortunately, several experts have proposed ambitious ways of dealing with the problem, including expanding federal insurance of bank deposits, allowing the Federal Reserve to lend money to more firms in the case of a panic, and banning unregulated financial institutions from issuing runnable liabilities,” writes Robert E. Litan.
Donald Trump’s ungainly back-and-forth on immigration has a parallel in Britain, which is struggling to make sense of its own impetuous resolution to take control of its borders. Indeed, if Britain after the Brexit referendum is anything to go by, a Trump presidency would be dominated by zigzagging: sometimes to dilute past promises, sometimes to double down.
U.S. officials should accommodate a larger role for emerging countries, particularly China, in the multilateral development bank system, but from a position of strength and with ambition for MDBs in U.S. policy.
Venture capital (VC) firms spent over $25 billion funding clean energy technology (cleantech) start-ups from 2006 to 2011 and lost over half their money; as a result, funding has dried up in the cleantech sector. In this report, we present the most comprehensive account to date of the cleantech VC boom and bust, aggregating hundreds of investments to calculate the risk/return profile of cleantech, compared with those of medical and software technology investments. The results are stark—cleantech offered VCs a dismal risk/return profile, dragged down by companies developing new materials, chemistries, or processes that never achieved manufacturing scale. We conclude that the VC model is broken for the cleantech sector, which suffers especially from a dearth of large corporations willing to invest in innovation. Fortunately, new public and private capital may be on the way after announcements made at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit. If a new and more diverse set of actors avoids the mistakes of the cleantech VC boom and bust, then they may be able to support a new generation of cleantech companies."
Given the spectacle of this year’s presidential race, it is easy to overlook the parallel drama in the world of central banking. But when the monetary priesthood gathers Thursday for its annual seminar-cum-summer camp in Jackson Hole, Wyo., heretics will stalk the halls.
Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics Robert Kahn argues that markets have absorbed the initial economic shock from Brexit, but navigating the new landscape will remain a challenge. Two months after the vote, the politics of Brexit is producing a lengthy and uncertain renegotiation of Britain’s place in Europe and the world. Such extended uncertainty is likely to produce a long-lasting drag on both UK and European economies, which could ultimately threaten the viability of the European Union (EU).
In Market Madness, Blake C. Clayton shows that predictions of dwindling oil supplies and a rise in prices have been empirically proven incorrect. Technological advances and geopolitical shifts have repeatedly prompted sudden, severe drops in oil prices—exactly like the one we are experiencing today.
In By All Means Necessary, Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi explore the unrivaled expansion of the Chinese economy. China is now engaged in a far-flung quest, hunting around the world for resources, and deploying whatever it needs in the economic, political, and military spheres to secure them. More
In Money, Markets, and Sovereignty, the authors present a fascinating intellectual history of monetary nationalism from the ancient world to the present and explore why, in its modern incarnation, it represents the single greatest threat to globalization. More
In The Closing of the American Border, Edward Alden goes behind the scenes to tell the story of the Bush administration's struggle to balance security and openness in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. More