Since 2008, economic policymakers and researchers have occupied a brave new economic world. Previous consensuses have been upended, former assumptions have been cast into doubt, and new approaches have yet to stand the test of time. Policymakers have been forced to improvise and researchers to rethink basic theory. George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate and one of this volume’s editors, compares the crisis to a cat stuck in a tree, afraid to move.
The global economy has become increasingly, perhaps chronically, unstable. Since 2008, we have heard about the housing bubble, subprime mortgages, banks “too big to fail," financial regulation (or the lack of it), and the European debt crisis. Wall Street has discovered that it is more profitable to make money from other people’s money than by investing in the real economy, which has limited access to capital—resulting in slow growth and rising inequality.
For ten boom-powered years at the turn of the twenty-first century, some of America’s most prominent law and accounting firms created and marketed products that enabled the very rich—including newly minted dot-com millionaires—to avoid paying their fair share of taxes by claiming benefits not recognized by law. These abusive domestic tax shelters bore such exotic names as BOSS, BLIPS, and COBRA and were developed by such prestigious firms as KPMG and Ernst & Young. They brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from clients and bilked the U.S.
The development and deployment of cleaner energy technologies have become globalized phenomena. Yet despite the fact that energy-related goods account for more than ten percent of international trade, policy makers, academics, and the business community perceive barriers to the global diffusion of these emerging technologies. Experts point to problems including intellectual property concerns, trade barriers, and developing countries’ limited access to technology and funding.
This pithy and engaging volume shows that economists may be better equipped to predict the future than science fiction writers. Economists’ ideas, based on both theory and practice, reflect their knowledge of the laws of human interactions as well as years of experimentation and reflection. Although perhaps not as screenplay-ready as a work of fiction, these economists’ predictions are ready for their close-ups.
Macroeconomists have been caricatured either as credulous savants in love with the beauty of their mathematical models or as free-market fundamentalists who admit no doubt as to the market’s wisdom. In this book, Kartik Athreya draws a truer picture, offering a nontechnical description of prominent ideas and models in macroeconomics, arguing for their value as interpretive tools as well as their policy relevance.
Despite their common roots, international economics (IE) and international business (IB) have developed into two distinct fields of study. Economists have directed their efforts at formalizing the workings of international trade and investment at the macroeconomic level; business scholars have relied more on data-driven conceptual narratives than mathematical tools. But the recent focus of IE literature on firm heterogeneity suggests that IE would benefit from IB analyses of the behavior and organization of the internationalizing firm.
Energy utilization, especially from fossil fuels, creates hidden costs in the form of pollution and environmental damages. The costs are well documented but are hidden in the sense that they occur outside the market, are not reflected in market prices, and are not taken into account by energy users. Double Dividend presents a novel method for designing environmental taxes that correct market prices so that they reflect the true cost of energy.
One lens through which to view global economic interdependence and the spillover of shocks is that of decoupling (and then recoupling). Decoupling between developed and developing countries can be seen in the strong economic performance of China and India relative to that of the United States and Europe in the early 2000s. Recoupling then took place as developing countries sank along with the developed world during the deepening financial crisis of 2008.
Liberal internationalism has been the West’s foreign policy agenda since the Cold War, and the West has long occupied the top rung of a hierarchical system. In this book, Hilton Root argues that international relations, like other complex ecosystems, exists in a constantly shifting landscape, in which hierarchical structures are giving way to systems of networked interdependence, changing every facet of global interaction. Accordingly, policymakers will need a new way to understand the process of change.