The day after P5+1 (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, along with the European Union) and Iranian negotiators reached an interim agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the press that implementation of the agreement would make the planned deployment of U.S. SM-3 missile interceptors in Romania and Poland unnecessary.
Perhaps — the SM-3 deployments are to be made as part of the European phased adaptive approach (EPAA) to missile defense. But the United States and NATO would need time, considerable time, before making a decision along the lines that Mr. Lavrov suggests.
The Russian foreign minister based his remark on the fact that NATO’s primary justification for the EPAA has been the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles. Iran has ballistic missiles that can hit targets 1600 kilometers away, including Turkey. It has also tested, but not yet deployed, a ballistic missile with a range of 2200 kilometers, capable of reaching into southeastern Europe.
NATO worries in particular about Iran’s future potential to combine a nuclear warhead with a ballistic missile. Under phase 1 of the EPAA, shipboard SM-3 missile interceptors in the eastern Mediterranean Sea provide a capability to defend against current Iranian ballistic missiles. The planned deployments in Romania in 2015 (phase 2) and Poland in 2018 (phase 3) envisage more capable SM-3 interceptors, including with the ability to engage longer-range Iranian missiles.
The first and obvious response to Mr. Lavrov is that no one yet knows for certain whether the P5+1 and Iran will succeed in reaching a final settlement regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The November 24 agreement was a very positive step. It was only an interim step, however, and the negotiators still face tough issues amidst a considerable degree of mistrust.
In the end, an agreement acceptable to Tehran would almost certainly leave Iran with some uranium enrichment capacity, albeit tightly constrained and under close monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency. That would leave a latent nuclear weapons breakout capability. The shorter the time it would take for Iran to exercise a breakout scenario, the more likely that NATO would see missile defense as a useful hedge. The longer the time, the less necessary a missile defense capability against Iran might be.
The P5+1 dialogue with Iran does not address ballistic missiles. If, as part of a settlement of broader differences with Tehran, the Iranians were to cease developing longer-range missiles, that also could undermine the Iran argument for EPAA phases 2 and 3.
This question would only be considered at some point down the road. But if there is a significant walk-back of Iran’s nuclear program (and of its ballistic missile program), questions will naturally arise about the logic for phases 2 and 3. The fact is that, other than Iran, no state near NATO poses a ballistic missile threat to the Alliance — with the exception of Russia. But the SM-3 interceptors to be deployed in phases 2 and 3 will be capable of engaging only medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which Russia has given up under the terms of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
To be sure, Iran might continue its ballistic missile program, arming the missiles with conventional warheads. Those, however, would be of far less concern to NATO if the Iranian nuclear program were reliably limited.
So, an Iran settlement could lead to questioning the rationale for going forward with the EPAA. After all, the phased adaptive approach from the beginning implicitly included the notion that the level of missile defense effort could be adjusted downward as well as upward, depending on the assessment of the threat. If there is no serious threat, it makes little sense for the United States and NATO to spend precious defense dollars to deploy SM-3 interceptor missiles in Europe that would have no targets. But it is not yet the slam-dunk call that Mr. Lavrov suggested.
Were Washington and NATO to consider this, they would have to weigh one very important political angle: the need to assure allies — particularly allies in Central Europe who feel more exposed — of the continuing U.S. security commitment to the Alliance.
This would be a particularly tricky question for the Obama administration. While its September 2009 decision to reconfigure missile defense in Europe to the EPAA was correct in substance, the administration terribly mismanaged the rollout, providing no real advance consultations with allies. Understandably, the allies were not amused.
The administration handled the March 2013 decision to cancel phase 4 of the EPAA better. It nevertheless left some allies wondering whether Washington was making decisions regarding their security without taking account of their views.
If developments with and in Iran create the possibility to reconsider the EPAA — still a big if — Washington would want to engage allies early in a consultative process. In that case, Poland and Romania might seek some other U.S. deployment if phases 2 and/or 3 were to be scrubbed. Neither seems to worry about an Iranian missile attack; what interests them most is the presence of the small U.S. military detachments that would deploy to their territory to operate the SM-3s.
Washington would in that case be wise to carefully consider whether and how it might replace the SM-3 deployments. Some limited U.S. conventional capabilities (and U.S. troops) could play the assurance role. They might even contribute to reducing the need that Central European allies now see for keeping U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe.
What could the U.S. military deploy to Poland and Romania? That would have to be worked out. The Polish military is interested in Patriot air defense missiles, and the U.S. Army has deployed a training battery to Poland for exercises. That kind of capability would be small, clearly defensive and very likely of interest to both Poland and Romania. It could smooth any decision to alter the EPAA and provide visible assurance of the U.S. security commitment.
The irony is that if things played out this way, it would mean cancelling the deployment of SM-3 missile interceptors, which are too slow to engage Russian strategic ballistic missiles, and deploying in their place U.S. Patriot batteries that would put some very credible air defense capability in Central Europe. Mr. Lavrov might want to think about what he wishes for.Authors
(Version in 中文)
It’s the season for shopping. We have Cyber Monday in the United States and Singles Day in China (November 11 or 11/11). So, while we are pondering shopping, try to guess which consumer market is growing the fastest. The answer is…China!
China had the largest consumption increase in the world. This was true in 2011, true in 2012, and likely to be true again this year (see chart). Consumption in China is also generally thought to be weak. Indeed, the government and the IMF are calling for more consumer-based growth. How could consumption, in effect, be both weak and strong at the same time?
Consumption is not weak…
The chart shows the US$ increase of consumption in China and other large economies. China has been tops for the past few years (see the bars). It has also had the fastest real growth in consumption (see the dots). The US$ increase (bars) is a combination of the pace of consumption growth, size of the economy, and exchange rate. For China, exchange rate appreciation also contributes to the large measured increase in US$, as well as the negative bar for Japan this year. So whether measured in US$ terms or real growth, among major economies, China’s consumer market is the fastest growing in the world.
It is also true that consumption as a share of GDP has been declining. It has fallen by some 10 percent of GDP over the past 10 years or so. However, a big reason for the decline is that GDP has been growing fast, even faster than consumption. This is just arithmetic. In real terms, however, consumption has grown about 9 percent a year for the past decade—a fantastic outcome! This just happens to be less than the 10 percent average growth in GDP.
Two factors are behind the declining share of consumption. First, household saving has been rising. The reasons are complex, and perhaps not fully understood, but pre-cautionary motives are a popular explanation. Households are uncertain about how much health, education, and pension the government will provide, so self-insure by increasing saving. Second, household income has been growing slower than GDP. Same story as above: Household income has been growing fast, but just not as fast as GDP. These factors are each discussed further in “Sino-Spending”.
Moving to consumer-based growth
Rebalancing toward more consumer-based growth means, in short, boosting the consumption to GDP ratio. Consumer-based growth, however, is a foreign concept to macroeconomists. We tend to look at growth from the supply-side of the economy: Capital (factories) and labor (workers) are combined with technology (total factor productivity) to produce output (GDP). The consumer-based growth story, however, can also be told from the supply-side of the economy.
Expanding the service sector is a critical step for achieving more consumer-based growth. The service sector, while growing, is smaller in China in terms of output and employment than comparator economies. As the service sector takes a larger and larger share of the economy, household income (and thus consumption) will naturally rise as a share of GDP. Moreover, advances in the service sector could also lower the price for many consumer services and thereby increase sales (e.g., consumption) see IMF Working Paper.
Other reforms will also help. Strengthening the financial sector will help finance the expansion of the service sector, a part of the economy that currently has difficulty accessing credit. It will also boost household income directly, as new financial products boost investment income. Social security reform, meanwhile, could help reduce pre-cautionary saving. Moreover, payroll taxes are very high and regressive (employee plus employer social contributions often exceed 40 percent of wages). Reducing the contribution rates will help boost labor income directly through lower taxes and indirectly by boosting employment.
These are just some examples. In fact, many other reforms announced at the recent Third Plenum will also help lift the consumption ratio. Higher resource taxation, labor market reforms, and land reform could all help boost household income and lower household saving—either directly or indirectly by shifting the economy more toward services.
As reforms take hold, the end result should be a rise in the consumption to GDP ratio. It happens as a welcome by-product of moving to a more balanced and sustainable growth path, which also leads to a larger service sector, lower household saving rates, and a higher labor share of income. It also means a more inclusive (improved labor market) and environment-friendly (services are less polluting than industry) growth path.
And, since consumption will be growing faster than GDP, it will also be more consumer-based growth.
ตอนที่ผมได้รับมอบหมายให้มาทำวิดีโอเกี่ยวกับโครงการขนส่งอย่างยั่งยืนเมืองเชียงใหม่ ผมว่า คงน่าสนใจมากที่จะได้เห็น เมืองที่ใหญ่เป็นอันดับสองของประเทศมีความเปลี่ยนแปลงไปอย่างไร เพราะครั้งสุดท้ายที่ผมมาเชียงใหม่ก็เมื่อ 15 ปีก่อน ในช่วงยุคปี ค.ศ. 90 นู้น
ตอนนี้ เชียงใหม่เป็นเมืองที่มีชีวิตชีวาและเปี่ยมด้วยศักยภาพ มีเสียงบอกต่อกันมาถึงความกระตือรือร้นและความริเริ่มสร้างสรรค์ แล้วก็ยังคงรักษามรดกและอัตลักษณ์ที่เป็นเอกลักษณ์ของตนไว้
In a couple of days, I will embark upon a trip to Asia. Every time I visit Asia, I can feel that dynamism and intensity are in the air. It feels like moving forward in time. Hardly surprising as under current trends, developing Asia alone will account for half of global GDP by 2050. Back to Asia really means back to the future.
This time, I will visit three countries—Cambodia, Korea, and Myanmar. These countries represent three different chapters of the great Asian story, each in their own unique way.
Korea is a country that has propelled itself from very low income levels to one of the world’s richest economies in an astoundingly short period of time. It has a well-deserved reputation for innovation, technological brilliance and hard work. I am convinced it can stay at the leading edge, especially by making labor markets more inclusive—including for women—and making the services sector more dynamic and productive.
Cambodia is in a different but also very promising place. In true Asian fashion, it has grown strongly in recent years, and is now a frontier economy, ready to take that next step to becoming a dynamic emerging market. To keep the momentum, it needs to continue investing in the future, ensuring that all participate in the prosperity of Cambodia, and ensuring that Cambodia participates fully in the prosperity of the region—including through ASEAN integration.
Myanmar is still at an earlier stage of development. It is now on the verge of a great awakening, a great opening to the world. Well positioned in the heart of Asia, at the intersection of India and China, I am sure that its future will be bright. Right now, its priorities are threefold. First, invest in the future—infrastructure, health, education. Second, include all people in development—the poor, and women too. Third, integrate further into the broader regional economy.
In each country, in addition to government officials, I will meet students, civil society and women leaders—the people destined to inherit the Asian economy with their boundless talent and energy. I am particularly privileged to attend the Myanmar Women’s Forum in Yangon, alongside one of my personal heroes—Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
In each country too, I will be stressing that the IMF is there to help for the long haul— to listen to them, to serve them, and partner with them as they reach out to take the inheritance that is rightfully theirs. I hope that they will see the IMF as a true and steadfast friend.
As always, I expect to leave Asia inspired and optimistic—and ready for my next visit!
Since the early 2000s, Brazil’s economy has grown at a robust clip, with growth in 2010 reaching 7.5 percent—its strongest in a quarter of a century. A key pillar of its hard-won economic success has been sound economic policies and the adoption of far-reaching social programs, which resulted in a substantial decline in poverty.
In the last couple of years Brazil’s growth slowed down. Although other emerging market economies experienced a similar slowdown, the growth outturns in Brazil were particularly disappointing. And the measures taken to stimulate the economy did not produce a sustained recovery. This is because unleashing sustained growth in Brazil requires measures geared not at stimulating domestic demand but at changing the composition of demand towards investment and at increasing productivity.
Inadequate infrastructure and imbalances in demand are hampering Brazil’s growth process. During 2011-13 private consumption in Brazil has been strongly supported by very low unemployment, broad gains in real wages (partly owing to large increases in minimum wages), and buoyant credit expansion.
But investment has been disappointingly weak. Global uncertainties played a role, especially in 2011, but the main factors behind the sluggish investment have been home-grown, including the steady loss of competitiveness.
To address this situation, the recent report on Brazil’s economy prepared by IMF staff recommends solidifying Brazil’s macroeconomic policy framework and adopting measures and reforms geared at increasing the economy’s productive potential and improving competitiveness.
The tightening of monetary conditions initiated by Brazil’s central bank in April is a step in the right direction that has helped lower inflation expectations and contain inertia.
Sustained fiscal consolidation, through adherence to a fiscal primary surplus of about 3 percent of GDP, would also be important as it would keep domestic demand in check, lower public indebtedness, and bolster a recovery in confidence and investment.
The government’s renewed focus on policies to alleviate constraints on the economy’s productive capacity, in particular infrastructure concessions to the private sector, is also welcome.
The near-term outlook
Staff projects that Brazil will grow by about 2½ percent this year and next. Although higher than the growth rate of 2012, this performance will keep Brazil below its potential growth.
Moreover, the outlook is subject to many risks. The recovery could prove more unbalanced—that is, excessively dependent on consumption—and sluggish than envisaged. The factors underlying weak investment and supply constraints may be more severe than anticipated. Or investor confidence may not be restored. If those risks materialize, the response should not be further demand stimulus. This response would exacerbate domestic demand imbalances, widen the external current account deficit, reignite inflationary pressures and weaken confidence.
There are also external risks to the outlook stemming from Brazil’s reliance on foreign savings, and its highly integrated financial markets. However, the flexible exchange rate, strong monetary policy framework and large holdings of international reserves would provide protection against those risks.
Reaching full potential
Brazil can do better. To get the Brazilian economy close to potential growth—currently estimated at about 3½ percent—the government should focus on enhancing productivity and stepping up investment, including in infrastructure.
As noted, the government’s renewed focus on policies to alleviate constraints on the economy’s productive capacity is welcome. These efforts should be complemented with an overhaul of the minimum wage indexation mechanism and reforms to keep labor costs in check and prevent further erosion in competitiveness. Lowering and simplifying taxes and improving business conditions to lower what has become known as the custo Brasil should also be part of the agenda.
Small steps toward an agreement on climate change in 2015 were made at the recent 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) talks in Warsaw, Poland over the past two weeks. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference was extremely tense, with emotions running high after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the frustrations over slow-moving texts and the explosive new issues on the table such as “loss and damage.” The conference went a record 38 hours overtime— finally ending on Saturday night— and was marked by fasting, staged walkouts by developing countries and environmental groups, and frenzied last minute negotiations. In the end, the conference left the door open for a new agreement in 2015, but with a lot of work to be done in the coming two years.
The intense and emotional nature of the negotiations is not unusual at this stage of the game. What was meant to be an interim negotiating session whose main role was to produce a timeline from now until the final COP in Paris where a new agreement is to be struck, turned into a battle over familiar, longstanding issues that are inextricably tied to the negotiations on an eventual treaty. Ultimately negotiators were able to achieve compromises on a series of controversial issues—evidence that there is space for agreement and that political momentum is ramping up.
Hard fought compromises were made on issues such as reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+), and loss and damage (financial compensation for developing countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change for damages they would incur as temperatures increase). Crucially, a timetable was put forward to guide negotiations over the coming two years, which was arguably the most important and anticipated outcome of the talks. Small steps were made on discussions of financial contributions to fill existing funding mechanisms like the Adaptation Fund and Green Climate Fund, although this is an area of the UNFCCC process that is among the most contentious and cuts across almost every single issue under negotiation. Here are some highlighted outcomes in four major negotiating areas:1. Structure and timeline of the 2015 agreement
Compromise was reached on the framework for a 2015 agreement, resulting in a new text for the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) that will form the basis of negotiations going forward. The key portion of text reads: All nations should “initiate or intensify domestic preparations for their intended nationally determined contributions.” The hard-won language of “contributions” is intentionally vague and steps back from language sought by others that called for “commitments,” which would have implied mandatory actions as opposed to weaker voluntary actions. Additionally, it was agreed that these “contributions” should be ready by the end of the first quarter of 2015. The United States is among those advocating pledges be made by the end of the first quarter of 2015, while the European Union would like to see pledges on the table in 2014. The earlier countries are able to put forward pledges, the more likely a robust international review of these pledges can take place before the 2015 agreement is finalized.
Crucial language remaining in the text defines a 2015 agreement “in the context of adopting a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties." This text reflects a compromise by the United States—who would prefer an agreement that covers all countries by 2020—and large developing countries led by China and India who advocate for a clear division between countries based on common but differentiated responsibilities (or CBDR, a key founding principle of the UNFCCC). This language effectively kicks the conversation on emission reduction commitments and their legal nature down the road, increasing the likelihood for discord at Lima in 2014 and Paris in 2015. This new text also eliminated suggested language calling for a "legally binding treaty under international law," for which the European Union was advocating and for which the United States would not be able to sign up. At this point, the legal nature of the agreement is still undecided, leaving it the most politically important decision facing negotiators over the next two years.
2. Financial contributions
Finance and financial contributions have been a central part of recent negotiations, with developing countries calling for financial contributions to existing funding mechanisms before they were willing to talk about post-2020 emission reduction actions. Several fragmented pledges for new money emerged from Warsaw. The U.S. pledged $25 million as part of a major new $280 million funding initiative aimed at slowing deforestation and stemming its effect on world carbon emissions. In this initiative, the U.S. joined Norway, the U.K. and the World Bank in launching the "BioCarbon Fund Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes." The fund will provide incentives to developing countries that are taking steps to limit deforestation under the United Nations' REDD+ program. Norway pledged substantially more—$135 million—and the United Kingdom pledged $120 million.
Countries also promised $100 million to top up the existing Adaptation Fund, which was set up in 2008 to provide money for poorer countries to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The Adaptation Fund was given new pledges of assistance by mainly European countries: Norway pledged $2.5 million; Sweden pledged $30.2 million; Belgium pledged $1.6 million; and Germany pledged $40.7 million (or 30 million euros). Additionally, Sweden announced a $45 million commitment to the Green Climate Fund once it "becomes operational with all the necessary arrangements and standards in place," and Japan promised $16 billion to help developing countries reduce emissions over the next three years. Adding to the calendar in 2014, the U.K. announced that it will convene a “global summit” on climate finance next spring to build political momentum on financial issues.
3. Loss and damage
In addition to the existing mechanisms for delivering climate finance, such as the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund, calls have emerged recently for a new and separate process to assist poor countries after climate-linked losses (such as the aforementioned recent Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines). This loss and damage discussion became a seriously polarizing issue in these talks, and disagreements prompted the developing country G-77 to walk out of discussions late Tuesday night. Bilateral discussions took over late in the week in an attempt to achieve compromise between key countries, and this effort resulted in a new international mechanism. The new “Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage Associated with Climate Change Impacts” does not promise compensation for damages caused by climate change impacts in developing countries, a red line for the United States and other developed countries. The mechanism places the issue under an adaptation framework for at least three years, with a review built in for 2016. This outcome represents a hard-fought compromise between the United States, Nicaragua, the Bahamas and Fiji, and was seen as a satisfactory interim outcome for both sides.
The REDD+ program covers guidelines and provisions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, and it has emerged as one of the major success stories out of Warsaw. Negotiators reached several goals that were set at the 2010 conference in Cancun, agreeing on key text regarding scientific and technical rules, financing and a national coordination system. Additions to the text on technical issues included decisions to enforce environmental and human rights safeguards in REDD+ projects; lay the groundwork for a system to monitor, report and verify carbon emissions reductions from standing forests; establish national forest monitoring systems; institute reference levels—or base lines—upon which a country measures efforts in reducing deforestation; and create definitions for the drivers of deforestation (text on these decisions can be found here). Negotiators also agreed to text on REDD+ finance, including a clause saying that countries must show recent proof that safeguards are respected in order to receive compensation. Additionally, the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom announced the first major pledge for REDD+ since the 2009 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, a joint $280 million to the World Bank's BioCarbon Fund (mentioned above).
In conclusion, the Warsaw talks are best seen as the end of the first stage in a roughly three-year arc to develop a new climate agreement. In a difficult negotiation, one would not expect major breakthroughs or concessions in these early stages, nor did we see any in Warsaw. Yet plans for the coming two years were made, and, if followed, they would be an improvement in providing a more orderly discussion of commitments than has been the case in previous high-profile negotiations (such as Kyoto and Copenhagen). The loss and damage mechanism was created, but without any real substance. Provisions on REDD+ were agreed upon and should provide scope for the incorporation of forest carbon activities into national pledges. Despite these small successes, the bigger question is whether the cracks emerging between the developed and developing country parties will widen over the coming months.Authors
- Claire Langley
- Nathan Hultman
2013 has been a year of adjustment for Indonesia’s economy. In the recent edition of the Indonesia Economic Quarterly report, the flagship publication of the World Bank Indonesia office, we asked the questions: what are the drivers of this adjustment and how should policy respond?
As noted in a November 18 blog post, popular support is growing in Ukraine for integration with Europe and for an association agreement. That agreement lays out a road-map for drawing closer to the European Union and contains a free trade arrangement. On November 21, President Yanukovych’s cabinet announced that it would “suspend” preparations for signing the association agreement. While EU leaders have taken pains to make clear that the door remains open, Mr. Yanukovych appears set to miss the opportunity to sign the agreement at a November 28-29 summit with EU leaders in Vilnius. He also appears set to lose the increasingly pro-Europe Ukrainian public.
Within hours of the cabinet announcement, several thousand people gathered in Independence Square (Maidan Nezalezhnosti) in the center of Kyiv to protest the decision. Some of the protestors remained, setting the stage for a mass demonstration on Sunday, November 24, when Ukrainians turned out in force. Citizens wearing the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian and European Union flags marched in the cold holding signs that read “We are Ukrainians, we are Europeans” and “Ukraine = EU.”
In Kyiv, estimates put the number of protestors at 100,000 — making it the largest demonstration in Ukraine since hundreds of thousands took to the streets during the Orange Revolution in late 2004. In Lviv, an estimated 30,000 marched in support of integration with Europe. Since then large numbers of students in both Kyiv and Lviv have gone on strike. Protests continue in Kyiv and other cities, and many have pledged to continue until the end of the Vilnius summit.
The demonstrations undoubtedly bring back bitter memories for Mr. Yanukovych. After all, the Orange Revolution was directed against him, triggered by the overt ballot fraud that attempted to award him the presidential election over Viktor Yushchenko. The weeks-long protest resulted in a nullification of the stolen results and a new ballot — which Mr. Yushchenko won handily — in what domestic and international observers pronounced to be a free and fair process.
Indeed, Mr. Yanukovych remembers what happened. Following his 2010 election as president, this time in a free and fair election, he had changes made to Independence Square, which had served as the heart of the Orange Revolution. The installation of singing fountains and other accoutrements make it harder for the square to function well as a center of protest — harder, but not impossible.
The staying power of the demonstrators remains to be seen. The Orange Revolution taught Ukrainians that they could exercise real political power, even in the face of large-scale fraud and corruption. Unfortunately, following the revolution’s successful conclusion and the new election, President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko failed to effect major economic reforms and fell into a destructive personal feud, frittering away the opportunity that they had been given. The Orange government’s failure to deliver real change left Ukrainians disillusioned and cynical about politics.
That’s why the size of Sunday’s protest is notable. Also notable in many protest speeches is praise that these “EuroMaidan” protests are not connected to party politics and not led by major political party figures — though the politicians certainly are taking part. The protests appear driven by a desire for the better economic and political future that many Ukrainians feel would come with European integration. That sentiment is largely driven by youth, who make up a large segment of the protestors. As noted in the November 18 blog post, support for joining the European Union is much higher in the 18-29 age bracket than in any other.
During their childhood, Ukraine’s students witnessed the failure of politician-driven initiatives and seem to have chosen to look to ideas — in this case the European idea — for hope and inspiration. They are not willing to be charmed by politicians; as students rallied on Tuesday in Kyiv’s Shevchenko Park, opposition leader (and heavy-weight boxing champion) Vitali Klychko arrived to address them. He reportedly received “a cold shower” from the students. They chanted, “No politics,” and Mr. Klychko wished them luck and departed.
For the protests to achieve their aim, it will take more than students with luck. But the demonstrations show that, despite the democratic regression that has taken place in Ukraine over the past four years, real politics continue, and ordinary citizens have a voice. When Mr. Yanukovych travels to Vilnius for the summit with EU leaders — his office confirmed on Monday that he still plans to go — he will have one eye fixed back on what’s happening on the streets of Kyiv.Authors
- Steven Pifer
- Hannah Thoburn
The subject at the Aspen Strategy Group was “The Future of American Defense.” The speakers were Michelle Flournoy, a former under secretary of defense for policy, and Philip Zelikow, a professor of history at the University of Virginia. Not until time was running out on this otherwise interesting review of American defense policy was a question raised about the future of American policy towards China. Both speakers quickly leaped at the question, labeling it, in no uncertain terms, as the most important strategic question facing the Obama administration. Both argued that the U.S. had to engage China in the solution of global problems — make China a “stakeholder,” they said, using a word many forward-thinking diplomats have begun to apply to the U.S.-China dialogue.
Yes, these same diplomats are acutely aware of the uncertainties in the implementation of the new nuclear agreement with Iran, and they worry deeply about the Syrian civil war, which in recent months has shown a disturbing tendency to cross national boundaries. But when these diplomats and think tank experts lift their sights above the immediate horizon of problems facing the United States, they almost inevitably focus on China.
What will be the nature of U.S.-China relations 10 or 20 years from now? Will China be an ally, with whom cooperation would be the norm of the relationship? Or will China be a rival, against whom the U.S. would have to position its diplomatic and military resources?
The accumulating evidence would strongly suggest that China will become America’s chief rival in the Pacific; maybe China has already become America’s chief rival. One need look no further than recent developments in the East China Sea, where China and Japan have been arguing about which country has sovereignty over a sprawling chain of small uninhabited islands called the Senkakus in Japan and the U.S. The Chinese have another name for them — the Diaoyou islands. Why would either country argue about uninhabited islands? Because it is believed that they sit on vast natural gas reserves.
Last weekend, the Chinese astonished the U.S. and Japan, very close allies with similar views about Senkaku sovereignty, by declaring that all planes flying in this zone must get China’s permission. They must submit flight plans to Beijing. “If an aircraft doesn’t supply its flight plans,” the Chinese Ministry of National Defense announced, “China’s armed forces will adopt emergency defensive measures in response.”
Wait a minute!, was the immediate reaction in Tokyo and Washington. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel denounced the Chinese announcement as a “destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region,”…increasing “the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.” Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida echoed Hagel’s statement, describing the Chinese action as “one-sided” with the potential to “trigger unpredictable events” and “cannot be allowed.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qing Gang seized this moment fraught with unpredictable consequences to blast Japan and the U.S. He said, “Japan has no right to make irresponsible remarks” and “groundless accusations,” and the “U.S. should keep its word of not taking sides on the issue…and stop making improper remarks.”
Obviously, the U.S. felt it could not allow China to disrupt the status quo in the East China Sea, because within a few days two B-52 strategic bombers flew over the disputed islands without informing the Chinese. And the Chinese took no action. The U.S. described the overflights as “routine,” planned months before the Chinese announcement.
This is dangerous stuff. The Chinese only recently concluded an important meeting of their top leaders. Is their announcement concerning flights over the East China Sea a signal of a new tough policy? What will happen if the Japanese decide to test the Chinese warning?
President Obama clearly wants to accent diplomacy and lean no longer on military action, which seemed to be American policy in the last decade. That seems to be the message of his recent decisions with respect to Syria’s chemical weapons and Iran’s nuclear program. But, China casts a huge shadow over his strategic deliberations, raising questions about whether his preference for diplomacy can work in Asia, specifically in the East China Sea.Authors
The joint United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission successfully met its November 1 deadline for dismantling Syria’s declared chemical weapon production facilities. The work is far from over, however. As the process enters the next round — the removal or destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks — effective inspections will be needed to assure the international community that Syria has met its commitments. Inspections will likewise play a critical role in assuring the international community that Iran meets its commitments in the interim deal struck on November 24 and in any long-term settlement regarding its nuclear program.
Given the importance of inspections for international confidence that commitments are being met, we should be careful how we perceive their effectiveness. In some cases, the inspected state may not cooperate in a meaningful way. But that may not always mean an inspections failure. In other cases, when a state appears to cooperate and treats inspectors well, the inspection process can be misleading in assessing whether the inspections are effective. A state’s apparent cooperation during inspections does not always translate into successful inspections.
This article addresses three situations that have occurred with prior inspections experience. In North Korea, the DPRK regime’s perceived opposition to inspections was an accurate indicator of serious noncompliance. In Iraq, the poor treatment of inspectors and the Saddam regime’s combative attitude led observers to question the effectiveness of inspections, but later evidence revealed that nuclear materials had in fact been eliminated. Finally, in Libya and South Africa, the international community saw signs of good cooperation, but inspectors still missed some weapons of mass destruction (WMD) materials or facilities.
As inspections continue in Syria, and proceed in Iran, the international community should take care not to rely too heavily on perceptions of cooperation in judging the effectiveness of the inspections.
Observed difficulties with inspections and actual violations can go together. North Korea exhibited uncooperative behavior during inspections of its nuclear-related facilities, which led to low degrees of confidence on the part of the international community. After signing a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1992, North Korea provided the IAEA with an initial declaration of its nuclear materials, including a small amount of plutonium that North Korea claimed was reprocessed from damaged fuel rods. This declaration was followed by a series of inspections in 1992 and 1993.
From these inspections, the IAEA gathered that North Korea possessed more reprocessed plutonium than it declared. Additionally, it became apparent that North Korea hid certain facilities, including a nuclear waste facility and high-explosive test sites, from weapons inspectors. Responding to these actions, the IAEA board proposed that North Korea’s violations be referred to the U.N. Security Council, and later called for cuts in IAEA assistance to North Korea’s medical and agricultural nuclear technology programs. North Korea subsequently limited inspections and threatened to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Iraq presents a case where the international community perceived inspections to be highly troubled and the government as uncooperative. These hurdles, however, ultimately did not mean that inspections failed to identify and dismantle Iraq’s capabilities. In the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, the IAEA and the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) entered Iraq to verify the dismantlement of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs.
Iraq did not cooperate at many stages during seven years of inspections. Iraq failed to fully declare numbers or locations of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons material, and was often flagrantly uncooperative with inspections. Inspections ended in 1998 with the beginning of Operation Desert Fox, a U.S. military operation aimed at destroying the remaining WMD stocks, a clear signal that Washington had serious doubts about the effectiveness of the weapons inspections process.
Others also questioned the effectiveness of the inspections. As noted by former IAEA director Hans Blix during Congressional testimony in 1992, “In Iraq… we have had the most extensive rights to move around anywhere…and even after a year of this effort, we cannot say a hundred percent sure that there is nothing hidden yet.”
Despite this uncertainty, it turned out that the inspections were highly informative. After the second Gulf war and revelations in 2003 that Iraq no longer possessed WMD, Mohammed El Baradei, director of the IAEA from 1997-2009, concluded that, “I think the sanctions worked, and more importantly, the inspections worked… A combination of sanctions and inspections managed to disarm Iraq.” Iraq’s uncooperative approach toward inspections contributed to skepticism that Iraq’s WMD programs had been removed, even though it was later revealed that Iraq had in fact eliminated them.
With Iraq and North Korea, the need for caution in interpreting inspections was relatively clear. The international community may be more relaxed and see inspections as more effective when the inspected state appears to cooperate with inspectors. However, a state can feign cooperation to deceive, or alternatively, may lack the capacity to fully reveal all stockpiles, even if it intends to do so.
In practice, deception or incompetence have been difficult to differentiate, but either can undermine the effectiveness of inspections. The cases of South Africa and Libya demonstrate that cooperation during inspections can lead to optimistic perceptions of compliance, while in reality violations may exist.
The international community hailed South Africa for voluntarily giving up its nuclear weapons and praised the state for its cooperation during the disarmament process. After President De Kerk’s revelation that South Africa possessed nuclear weapons but had decided to destroy them, the IAEA engaged South Africa in 1992 to verify their dismantlement. Even though South Africa voluntarily renounced its nuclear weapons program, the government did not show full transparency during IAEA inspections.
For example, South Africa did not declare a site where it had planned to test a nuclear weapon. Additionally, South Africa did not disclose several key buildings essential to nuclear weapon development and assembly. Moreover, apparent discrepancies in declarations of fissile material required extensive IAEA investigation to ensure that South Africa was in full compliance with its commitment to eliminate its nuclear weapons program. Nonetheless, Peter Rickwood, an IAEA spokesman, stated that “I don’t think in any way at all there were obstacles put in our way.” Given South Africa’s overall cooperative relations with inspectors, these lapses in full disclosure did not impact the overall assessment of the inspections.
In 2003 Muammar Gaddafi surprised the international community with his decision to give up his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs. Libya was astonishingly transparent and cooperative, allowing the IAEA and the OPCW to access key personnel and facilities. As a result, weapons inspectors diverged from the stringent approach used by UNSCOM in Iraq, and instead sought to verify disarmament in a “trust and verify” approach. Libyan cooperation led Western policy-makers to believe that Libya had completely disarmed. President George W. Bush announced, “Libya was a threat. Libya is now peacefully dismantling its weapons programs…the world is better for it.”
Despite the sentiment that “Libya is done,” in 2011, Libya’s transitional government announced that it had found a small stockpile of chemical weapons that had not been previously declared. It is unclear whether the Gaddafi regime intentionally hid the cache from inspections, or if the failure to disclose was simply an oversight. The international community had accepted Libya’s cooperation as a sign of effective inspections, but the inspectors had missed a violation of Gaddafi’s commitment to eliminate his WMD.
In the cases of South Africa and Libya, the political leaderships cooperated with inspectors. However, the positive cooperation obscured what was actually a more mixed inspections outcome. These cases also suggest that a state’s perceived cooperation during inspections can influence the degree of stringency that is demanded by the international community, possibly further increasing chances that inspectors overlook violations.
Syria should receive credit for what the OPCW has considered “quite constructive” and “cooperative” behavior on weapons inspections. As the differences between the cases above suggest, however, perception plays a role in evaluating the effectiveness of weapons inspections. Quickly judging inspections in Syria as effective could have negative consequences later if the international community is not sufficiently demanding in the inspections process. Alternatively, problems that may arise, such as difficulties in inspector access, are an important indicator of possible noncompliance, but the international community should not interpret lack of full cooperation as an intention not to comply and should not underestimate the ability of inspectors to be effective even under difficult conditions. These lessons will apply as well as the international community observes Iran’s implementation of its commitments under the interim agreement and of any permanent settlement regarding its nuclear program.Authors
- Ariana Rowberry
- Jane Vaynman
In the early 1990s, selling condoms was highly controversial in Vietnam. For so long, condoms had been distributed to each household throughout the country for free for family planning use only. Condoms were not used for promoting safe sex. It was extremely difficult to convince the media to advertise condoms, very hard to convince the government that it was possible to generate revenue from selling condoms. People found it embarrassing to buy condoms in shops or drugs stores.
Vào đầu những năm 1990, tiếp thị xã hội bao cao su là một vấn đề gây nhiều tranh cãi ở Việt Nam. Trong một thời gian dài, bao cao su được phát miễn phí phục vụ mục đích kế hoạch hóa gia đình. Bao cao su chưa được đề cập như một biện pháp về tình dục an toàn. Thuyết phục giới truyền thông quảng cáo bao cao su là cực kỳ khó khăn, và việc thuyết phục chính phủ rằng có thể bán bao cao su trợ giá cũng là điều rất khó. Ai cũng cảm thấy ngượng và lúng túng khi mua bao cao su tại hiệu thuốc.
Sejak Panel Tingkat Tinggi PBB mengumumkan visinya untuk agenda pembangunan pasca-2015 pada bulan Mei, banyak perdebatan berpusat pada tidak adanya tujuan terkait ketidaksetaraan diantara 15 tujuan yang diusulkan dalam daftar panel. Presiden Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono mengomentari tentang tujuan ini di Jakarta bulan Juni yang lalu, menekankan bahwa prinsip “tanpa meninggalkan siapa pun” adalah inti dari visi Panel, dan masing-masing tujuan PBB berfokus untuk mengatasi ketidaksetaraan. Pada kenyataannya, tujuan pendidikan yang diusulkan termasuk komitmen ‘memastikan setiap anak, dalam kondisi apapun, menyelesaikan pendidikan dasar sehingga dapat membaca, menulis, dan berhitung dengan cukup baik untuk memenuhi standar pembelajaran minimal’.
On December 3, trade ministers from members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will begin three days of meetings in Bali, Indonesia for the ninth WTO Ministerial Conference—the fifth Ministerial Conference since the launch of the Doha Round of trade negotiation in 2001. And yet, concluding the Doha Round is not a goal of this Meeting. Instead, the aim is to finalize some key elements of the Round. A successful outcome at Bali, while short of the full Doha Round, will give the WTO a needed boost of confidence. As U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman recently observed, “in the WTO’s record: in its nearly twenty-year history, the WTO has never once produced a new, fully multilateral trade agreement.” A successful outcome at Bali will also raise the question of what is next for the Doha Round—whether to conclude the outstanding issues on the Doha Round, introduce new trade issues for negotiation or accept a period of stasis as countries seek to conclude mega-regional free trade agreements (FTAs) such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations.The WTO Bali Package
The elements of the Doha Round that are likely to be finalized at the WTO Ministerial in Bali are trade facilitation, agriculture and duty-free quota-free market access for the least developed countries (LDCs). The United States has made clear that these issues need to be considered as a package, so failure to agree on any one issue will likely lead to failure on all three issues. While not formally part of the Doha Round there are also other issues on the agenda for the meeting, the most important of these being expansion of the WTO International Technology Agreement (ITA).
An agreement on trade facilitation will produce the most significant economic benefits for all WTO members. According to one report, the gains from an ambitious outcome on trade facilitation could increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by close to $1 trillion annually with the majority of gains going to developing countries. Such an agreement would improve the efficiency and reduce the costs of moving goods through customs by adopting measures such as digitizing customs procedures and greater transparency. Success here is likely, as in addition to the economic gains there are no significant domestic losers from trade facilitation, which should make the domestic politics for each country easier to manage. That said, some countries are still insisting on being “paid” for trade facilitation. And special and differential treatment will need to be extended to developing countries to address concerns that they do not possess the technical capacity to implement customs reforms.
Negotiations on agriculture are also progressing. This includes new disciplines on export subsidies and tariff rate quotas for agriculture. Food export control is another issue under discussion. Here, the rising food prices from 2006 to 2008 and the use of export controls by some countries in response exacerbated the global under-supply of agricultural products, contributing to increasing global food prices and highlighting the need for a multilateral solution to this issue.
The third leg of a Bali package—duty-free quota-free trade for least developed countries—should be the easiest. Many developed countries including the United States and the European Union already provide tariff preferences for imports from LDCs under legislation such as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act in the U.S. and Everything But Arms in the EU. Emerging countries such as India and China are also expanding preferential access for LDCs. However, some of these programs do not cover all LDC exports or are limited by restrictive rules of origin, so reform of these programs will be necessary.What is next for the WTO?
A successful outcome in Bali will inject some credibility back into the WTO as a trade negotiating forum. The failure to conclude the Doha Round after 12 years has led many to question the future of multilateral trade rounds. Agreement at Bali will also underpin continuing political support for the WTO more broadly including its dispute settlement mechanism.
Yet a successful outcome in Bali will immediately raise the question of what is next for the WTO. In this regard it is important to note that finalizing some parts of the Doha Round will break with the single undertaking—the notion that the entire Doha Round needs to be agreed as a package. This should open the way for finalizing other parts of the Doha Round.
One way forward is to channel any new momentum created by a successful Bali outcome into concluding other elements of the Doha Round. For instance, WTO members could try to liberalize trade in environmental goods and services. President Obama has made this a priority and the 2012 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) agreement to reduce tariffs on a defined list of environmental goods provides a platform for building on work underway in the WTO on this issue.
That said, in order for further progress in the Doha Round a number of key stumbling blocks need to be overcome. The first of these is the impact on the WTO negotiating dynamics of the growing economic significance of emerging economies such as India, Brazil and China in particular. As former U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab (who served from 2006 to 2009) has observed, the failure of the Doha negotiations to reflect these new economic realities has been a key reason behind the inability to conclude the Doha Round. The WTO allows countries to self-identify as either developed or developing and the latter are not expected to make market access commitments equivalent to developed countries and are given more time to implement whatever trade liberalizations to which they agree. China and other large emerging economies have insisted they be treated as developing countries in the Doha Round while the U.S. and other developed countries see large emerging economies as important sources of global growth and world trade that should make commitments in the Round commensurate with their economic size. The low ambition that China has brought to the ITA negotiations this year and resistance by India to an ambitious outcome in Bali suggests that these large emerging economies remain unwilling to contribute more to shepherding Doha to a successful conclusion.
A second obstacle is the impact of what Brazil has referred to as the “misalignment of exchange rates” on world trade, which will need to be addressed before Doha can successfully be concluded. Here, the undervaluation of the Chinese yuan caused by its peg to the U.S. dollar has exacerbated the competitive pressures faced by industries in developed and developing countries from Chinese imports and heightened concerns about the impacts of lower tariffs being pursued under the Doha Round. Moreover, support by the U.S. Congress of including currency provisions in the TPP negotiations could presage a U.S. focus on this issue in the WTO context.
Another issue likely to complicate further progress in the Doha Round is the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) negotiations. TISA is being negotiated amongst a self-selected group of WTO members who are more ambitious on services than the rest of the WTO. This means that services liberalization is more likely under TISA than as part of the Round. However, because an outcome on services is the main area of the Doha Round that could produce outcomes of commercial significance for U.S. and other developed countries’ businesses, progress on services in Doha is key. And while TISA is not intended to replace services negotiations in the WTO, the ability to make progress on services in TISA will likely make the Doha round even less relevant for the business community, where business enthusiasm for past rounds was a necessary ingredient for their successful conclusion.
Failure to address these issues will make further significant progress on the Doha Round difficult, notwithstanding a successful outcome in Bali. An important wild card is what impact other large bilateral and regional FTAs such as TPP and TTIP are having on the Doha dynamics. A successful outcome in Bali might in part reflect a growing realization amongst the broader WTO membership that a failure to make progress on the Doha Round is leading to the creation of alternative international rules on trade and investment, such as those put forward by the U.S. and EU in TPP and TTIP. The desire to refocus global rulemaking back into the WTO where all countries have a vote could open up new possibilities for multilateral progress.
 Hoekman, Bernard and Will Martin. 2012. Reducing Distortions in International Commodity Markets: An Agenda for Multilateral Cooperation. Policy Research Working Paper No. 5928 (January). Washington: The World Bank
Everyone who travels to Thailand will want to have Chiang Mai on their list. It’s an old city which reflects the lovely northern Thai culture and has a lot of significant history behind it. My wife and I spent our first anniversary there because it’s very nice and peaceful. Chiang Mai is a place where Thais often go to recharge and take advantage of the slower pace of life. I have started recently travelling to Chiang Mai more often for work, but even that is also pleasurable.
Chiang Mai has grown so much, and so fast. We see more and more cars in the city center. The traffic jams are becoming problematic and the public transportation issue remains an unsolved problem. To help, the World Bank is supporting the Chiang Mai Municipality's vision of promoting “green mobility” with help from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). It is a small pilot project that supports non-motorized transport, such as walking and bicycling, by improving city center's walk path and bicycle lanes in the city center.
ใครๆ ที่มาประเทศไทย ก็ต้องมีเชียงใหม่อยู่ในรายการเที่ยว เพราะเชียงใหม่เป็นเมืองเก่าที่สะท้อนวัฒนธรรมทางเหนือของไทยได้อย่างงดงาม และยังแฝงแง่มุมทางประวัติศาสตร์ที่สำคัญไว้มากมาย ผมและภรรยาไปฉลองครบรอบแต่งงานในปีแรกที่นั่นเพราะเป็นเมืองที่สงบและสวยงาม เชียงใหม่เป็นจังหวัดที่คนไทยมักไปเที่ยวเพื่อพักผ่อนและดื่มด่ำกับจังหวะชีวิตที่ช้าลง ไม่นานมานี้ผมได้ไปเยือนเชียงใหม่บ่อยขึ้นเพราะเรื่องงาน แต่ถึงอย่างนั้น ก็ยังมีความพึงใจ
เชียงใหม่เจริญขึ้นมากและโตเร็วมาก ในตัวเมืองเราจะเห็นรถราเพิ่มขึ้น เริ่มเกิดปัญหารถติดและปัญหาระบบขนส่งมวลชนก็ยังไม่ได้รับการแก้ไข ธนาคารโลกจึงช่วยสนับสนุนวิสัยทัศน์ของเทศบาลนครเชียงใหม่ที่ต้องการส่งเสริม “ยานยนต์สีเขียว” (green mobility) ด้วยการสนับสนุนจากกับกองทุนสิ่งแวดล้อมโลก (Global Environment Facility) นี่เป็นโครงการนำร่องเล็กๆ ที่ส่งเสริมการใช้ยานพาหนะไร้เครื่องยนต์ เช่น การเดิน การปั่นจักรยาน โดยการพัฒนาทางเดินและทางจักรยานในใจกลางเมือง
The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is our nation’s most important anti-hunger program. Last year, the program distributed $75 billion in benefits to nearly 46.6 million people. These benefits had a remarkable impact on the prevalence of poverty in the United States. By including food stamp benefits in income, SNAP was estimated to keep 4.9 million Americans—including 2.2 million children—out of poverty in 2011. Similarly, the program also had an outstanding impact on the poorest of Americans, reducing the number of Americans in extreme poverty by half—from 1,600,000 to 857,000 in 2011.
Recent policy debate around SNAP has focused on the program’s provision of benefits to able-bodied adults without dependents, more commonly referred to as ABAWDs. In particular, there is concern among some policymakers and observers that the program is too generous and may serve as a disincentive to work. However, the characterization of SNAP as a program that discourages work on a wide scale for childless adults is not well-founded for several reasons. First, nearly nine out of ten SNAP recipients live in a home with at least one child, one disabled individual, or one elderly individual. Second, SNAP simply does not provide enough benefits to support a comfortable life without work. In periods of normal labor markets, most adults can only receive three months of benefits every three years if they are unemployed. Even then, the average benefit is less than $1.40 per meal—hardly enough to entice a worker to forego employment. Finally, many Americans rely on SNAP as a temporary support system when income is low, not as a permanent benefit. In any given year, most Americans will not participate in SNAP—prior to the Great Recession, participation rates peaked at 11.6 percent. But, about half of Americans will rely on SNAP at some point between the ages of twenty and sixty-five.
In this month’s economic analysis, The Hamilton Project focuses on two critical issues related to SNAP. The first is the widespread existence of both food insecurity and obesity among low-income children in the United States. Unfortunately, many children suffer from either or both of these conditions, and prevalence rates are especially high in particular regions of the country. The second critical issue we highlight is the role of SNAP in fighting poverty during times of weak labor markets. SNAP participation rises and falls in lockstep with the unemployment rate, highlighting SNAP’s role as a safety-net program that bolsters family resources when employment and wages are low.Widespread Food Insecurity and Childhood Obesity
Food insecurity is the most commonly used measure of food deprivation in the United States. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines the term as “limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.” When families report that they struggle to secure an adequate diet, members of that family are considered “food insecure.” This could mean that the children in that family do not eat for a day or two, or it could mean that the parents forego meals in order to feed their children. Children living in food-insecure households can also be obese. This is not necessarily surprising, given that one way to financially cope with food insecurity is to consume relatively less-expensive, highly processed, high-calorie foods, instead of more-expensive fresh produce.
Food insecurity exists everywhere in the United States, with 16.4 percent of households reporting conditions indicating food insecurity. The rate of food insecurity among children, at 22.4 percent, is even higher. The highest rates of child food insecurity in the country are found in New Mexico (30.6 percent) and Washington, D.C. (30.0 percent). Even in the most food-secure state in the country, North Dakota, one in ten children lives in a food-insecure household. Furthermore, as represented by the teal and purple states in figure 1 below, in 37 states and the District of Columbia, more than one in five children lives in a food-insecure household.
Though food insecurity and childhood obesity are national challenges, there are clear regional differences with regard to these threats to children’s well-being. The most food-insecure states are located in the South and the West. Indeed, with the exception of Ohio, all of the states with child food insecurity rates above 25.0 percent are located in the South or the West. This pattern largely holds for childhood obesity rates, with states in the South having some of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the country. Indeed, seven of the ten states with the highest rates of childhood obesity are located in the South. A new interactive chart allows you to see child food insecurity rates by state.
These food-insecurity rates were measured in 2011 when SNAP benefits were temporarily 13.6 percent higher due to a provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. If SNAP benefits had not been expanded, the rates of food insecurity almost surely would have been even more severe. The recent expiration of the temporary expansion in SNAP benefits and further proposed cuts to the program by Congress threatens to make the problem of child food insecurity even worse.Unemployment and Rising SNAP Participation
SNAP is a key program for providing assistance to Americans when they need support the most. This can be seen in the correlation between SNAP participation and unemployment rates in figure 2 below: SNAP participation rises during economic downturns and falls during recoveries. In 2013, the average participation rate for SNAP was 19.4 percent of the U.S. population, serving 47.7 million individuals each month, compared to a pre-recession participation rate of only 11.3 percent in 2007. As shown in the figure below, SNAP historically has tracked rates of unemployment and economic downturns closely (denoted by the teal dotted line and gray bars, respectively).
In recent years, use of food stamps has become increasingly responsive to economic fluctuations. This means that as unemployment increases—as it did drastically between 2007 and 2011—participation was also expected to increase. It is unsurprising, then, that SNAP participation rates increased as much as they have over the past five years; as the unemployment rate increased 93.5 percent between 2007 and 2011, SNAP participation rose by 64.4 percent over the same period.
As seen in the projected data in the shaded blue area in the figure above, SNAP participation rates are expected to fall as the economy continues to recover, as would be expected based on the pattern observed in previous recessions. By 2020, the participation rate is projected to revert to 2009 levels—about 14.3 percent of the population. See the technical appendix for a description of the calculations behind this and other figures cited in this report.Conclusion
Food insecurity and obesity are just two of the many struggles endured by low-income families in America, including those living in poverty at a given moment in time and those in the lower-middle class, often on the edge of poverty. On December 4th, The Hamilton Project will release three new papers and host a forum to highlight challenges faced by struggling lower-middle-class families.
The first panel in the forum will focus on a new proposal by Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern University to strengthen SNAP. Schanzenbach makes the case for protecting and maintaining existing budget resources and also offers five reforms that could strengthen SNAP, including incentives for healthier foods to promote better nutrition and a number of changes to the benefit formula.
A second panel will feature a new proposal by Melissa Kearney and Lesley Turner of the University of Maryland for a secondary-earner tax deduction targeted at lower-income, dual-earning families with children in order to help “make work pay.”
Recent developments in Congress around reform of the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) have allowed for a broader dialogue on changes to physician payment. This year’s looming physician payment cuts, approximately 24% and triggered by the dysfunctional SGR caps to Medicare spending, again threaten access to care for millions of patients across the country. Bipartisan and bicameral legislation has now emerged to repeal the SGR, replace it with stable updates, and provides incentives to move physicians away from fee-for-service payment into alternative payment models such as Accountable Care Organizations. On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform and the Richard Merkin Initiative on Payment Reform and Clinical Leadership at Brookings hosted a timely event on the next steps for Medicare Physician Payment Reform.
The day included an esteemed panel of guests that covered a range of topics from physician payment reform in Congress to opportunities and challenges for independent physician practices. The event’s final panel, with members representing clinical oncology, cardiology, private payers, and regional health initiatives, provided the much-needed private sector perspective that Medicare should draw upon to achieve success in their delivery and payment reform efforts.
Interestingly enough, the often elusive goals of payment reform in Medicare physician payments is not holding physicians and payers around the country from reforming the system in different ways:
- In clinical cardiology, the use of clinical registries as well as point of service decision supports (known as SmartCare) has helped to reduce unnecessary variation in care and encourage increased uptake of evidence-based medicine.
- Oncologists in small practices around the country are changing their day to day practices to make sure that patients have better care coordination and ultimately, a better experience while dealing with the most stressful clinical situations. They are doing this through a novel delivery system reform called the “Oncology Patient Centered Medical Home.” In the medical home in oncology, offices are staying open on weekends and weeknights and hiring nurses to spend their time coordinating the various specialty and primary care visits for patients and therefore, reducing duplicate tests, unnecessary emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
- Payers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield are changing the contracts they have with physicians to include payments for care that is value- oriented and not simply dependent on volume. Results from these types of contracts have been promising, which has encouraged others including Medicaid and Medicare to explore similar arrangements.
To arrive at the value-based health care system we need—one that empowers patients to take responsibility for their healthcare, rewards providers for delivering high quality and efficient care, and achieves cost savings for payers and the system at large—we must make cross-sector examination and learning more systematic and widespread. There are too many opportunities for success and informed learning not to engage and learn from all sides of the health care system.Authors
- Kavita Patel
- Jeffrey Nadel
What to do about the latest unreasonable demand from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, this time for a U.S. apology over accidental casualties? In fact there is a solution. And it can help us solve another problem—President Obama's reluctance to speak frankly and fully to his own country about a war that he feels Americans have long since tired of discussing. His only public rhetoric on the war in recent years tends to emphasize the need to end it. While understandable, that is inadequate. Americans need to know what they have accomplished and why, even at much more modest levels of effort in the future, it is worth staying the course.
President Obama should underscore, at a time when we have just commemorated Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in this country, the remarkable efforts of Afghans and Americans to fight a common foe and try to build an increasingly stable and secure Afghan state. Focus on the men and women in uniform on both sides who have made such noble sacrifices together, and suffered such losses. Honor the diplomats, aid workers, and other civilians from the United States, Afghanistan, and many other countries who have done so much so bravely as well. Focus on the many Afghans who, after the overthrow of the Taliban, returned home from many locations abroad to help rebuild their native land—as well as the tens of thousands who never left and who have also done their part to get things on track. Acknowledge the huge challenges still faced by the country while underscoring the case for hope.
That is the kind of speech a country at war deserves from its commander when its men and women are still deployed in harm's way, and when we are thinking about whether it has all been worth it—and whether to sustain a modest follow-on effort in 2015 and thereafter. America needs it. And it would actually help the war effort too, by underscoring America's commitment at a time when many Afghans and Pakistanis doubt that commitment. As a result, many hedge their bets, and their resolve against our common foe sometimes wavers. That is highly counterproductive.
Apologies may not belong in such a speech, per se. But acknowledgement of the many mistakes and difficulties—on all sides—can and must be part of it. That will provide also a natural opportunity to explain how hard we have worked, especially since the command of General Stanley McChrystal in 2009-2010 and thereafter under generals Petraeus, Allen, and now Dunford, to limit civilian casualties in a way never before seen in a sustained and intense conflict. We have done very well, but yes we can do better and there is no harm in saying so.Authors
Yesterday’s blog post described the coming budget challenges for the U.S. strategic triad, important elements of which are slated for modernization beginning in the next decade. Updating the legs of the triad could impose steep costs on the Defense Department budget in the 2020s and thereafter. It is difficult to see how the triad will be able to escape the consequences of tightening defense budgets. Further arms control steps could help.
Some analysts question the need to continue to maintain a triad, asserting that elimination of one leg could generate substantial savings. Looking at the pending modernization needs, elimination of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) could generate the greatest cost savings. But the sea-based leg of the triad has long been seen as the most survivable and most important, as evidenced by the fact that, under the New START Treaty, SSBNs will carry well over 60 percent of permitted U.S. deployed strategic warheads.
Many who favor moving from a triad to a dyad argue for eliminating the ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) leg. They note that ICBMs in fixed silos are vulnerable to attack. True, perhaps, but the Air Force decision to deploy only one warhead atop each Minuteman III makes them a much less attractive target than when the Minuteman III carried three warheads. An adversary would now have to target one or even two warheads on each Minuteman silo in order to destroy a single warhead — hardly an appealing exchange ratio.
Another reason argues for keeping ICBMs. An adversary wishing to destroy U.S. ICBMs in their silos would have to pour hundreds of nuclear warheads into the American heartland. A nuclear response would be assured — and would thus deter the attack in the first place. And, if the Air Force can come up with a life extension plan for the Minuteman, ICBMs could be relatively inexpensive to update.
This is, in any case, something of an academic debate. Current U.S. policy is to maintain a triad, and the concept enjoys broad popularity in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. The result of any budget reductions for the future triad — or of an arms control agreement that reduces U.S. (and Russian) strategic forces below the levels of New START — will most likely be reductions in two or three legs of the triad rather than abandonment of one.
Significant savings can still be found. If, for example, the new SSBN program were reduced from 12 boats to 10, the Navy would save $6-7 billion in construction costs and close to $20 billion in operating costs per boat — for a total savings of some $50 billion. Granted, these savings would be realized over many years (and later rather than sooner), but that can be said about reductions for virtually any large Pentagon weapons program. It makes sense to think about out-year budget savings as the kinds of pressure that we see on defense spending today will be with us for years, if not decades, to come.
There is, moreover, plenty of room to reduce U.S. strategic forces below the levels of New START and still maintain a strong triad.
In June in Berlin, President Obama proposed a one-third reduction in New START’s limit of 1550 deployed strategic warheads. That would reduce the limit on U.S. and Russian deployed strategic warheads to 1000-1100. Administration officials privately indicate that there would be a commensurate reduction in the limit of 700 deployed strategic missiles and bombers. That could bring that limit down to 500.
The U.S. military could comfortably maintain a strategic triad within the limits of 500 deployed strategic missiles and bombers, and 1000-1100 deployed strategic warheads. Using current New START counting rules, such a triad might look like the following:
- 300 deployed ICBMs, each carrying a single warhead = 300 deployed warheads
- 40 deployed bombers, each counted as a single warhead = 40 deployed warheads
- 160 deployed SLBMs carrying multiple warheads deployed on ten ballistic missile submarines = 660-760 deployed warheads (depending on whether the overall deployed warhead limit was 1000 or 1100)
This would be a robust and survivable strategic force, capable of deterring any adversary contemplating major aggression against the United States and its allies.
Some analysts would argue that 1000-1100 deployed strategic warheads — particularly as the Joint Chiefs of Staff have validated that number as sufficient to provide for an effective deterrent — could be implemented unilaterally, without regard to what other countries might deploy. That logic traces back to the George W. Bush administration, whose 2001 nuclear posture review determined that the United States needed 1700-2200 operationally deployed strategic warheads. Bush administration officials said the U.S. military would deploy that number … regardless of what Russia or China might deploy.
It would be preferable, however, to implement further strategic reductions below New START’s limits in conjunction with parallel reductions by Russia, whose force size is a primary driver of U.S. strategic force levels. Further U.S.-Russia arms control thus appears to be very much in the U.S. interest: if budget pressures are likely to drive down future U.S. strategic force levels — as they appear to be — it makes sense to seek negotiated limits that would bring down Russian strategic force levels in parallel.
True, Moscow has shown little interest of late in further reductions below the limits of the New START Treaty. But that position could change. Just as the United States faces future large expenditures to maintain its strategic triad, the Russians face similar large expenditures, and they face them now. Russian strategic force numbers are already well below New START’s limits on deployed strategic warheads and deployed strategic missiles and bombers. Rather than building back up to 1550 and 700 — and the most optimistic projection does not show Russia getting back to the latter limit until the late 2020s, if ever — negotiated reductions would reduce the cost burdens on both countries.
Additional nuclear reductions may become of greater interest to the Kremlin if the Russian economy continues to stagnate. And if the prices for oil and gas decline, that could have a major negative impact on the Russian federal budget.
There are a variety of reasons why nuclear arms reductions beyond New START make sense for the United States: to reduce the number of nuclear weapons that could threaten America, to expand the negotiating mandate to address non-strategic nuclear arms, to increase transparency, and to enhance the credibility of U.S. diplomacy to block nuclear proliferation. If defense budgets are going to drive the United States invariably to lower strategic force numbers, locking in arrangements that ensure that America’s nuclear peer also reduces offers one more compelling argument for nuclear arms control.Authors