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Global Economy

The ebbs and flows of global economic conditions, trade and capital flows, thus have substantial implications for the Australian economy, and Australia’s major regional trading partners. Understanding the broad trends, and identifying emerging challenges and opportunities within the global economy, is central to the work of the International Economy Program at the Lowy Institute.

The highly integrated nature of the modern global economy became especially evident during the 2008 global financial crisis. What began as a localised problem within the residential asset-backed securities market in the United States, eventually brought down major financial firms across the Western world, and ultimately pushed the United States and Europe into a deep and prolonged recession. Although global economic growth has recovered somewhat since 2008, it is still much lower than pre-2008 trends, and the hangover from the crisis has manifested itself in the form of high unemployment levels throughout much of the developed and developing world, as well as an increasing level of inequality both within and between countries.

Understanding the economic rise of Asia, and particularly of the growing middle class within Asia, is also crucial to the broader work of the Lowy Institute. Political economy analysis on major players in the region, chiefly China, India and Indonesia, features heavily in the work of the East Asia Program and the International Security Program.  

What’s ahead for the global economy?

January is the month for new resolutions and economic forecasts and, sometimes, a bit of soul-searching over past inaccuracies. The International Monetary Fund, the chief forecaster for the global economy, just published an update on its October forecast. As usual, the IMF's central

Obama's legacy: Bold leadership on climate

Battling climate change was a signature issue of President Barack Obama’s tenure, particularly during the his second term. In contrast, President-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, vowed to roll back climate regulations such as the Clean Power Plan (CPP

Why is it so hard for the IMF to accept criticism?

The IMF's Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) was set up in 2001; since then it has produced 26 thoughtful and substantial reports on a wide range of IMF activities. Now the head of the IEO has co-authored a book with the key recommendation that the IMF should use the IEO evaluations to enhance its

Does Trump threaten Federal Reserve independence?

Will the well-established independence that the US Fed currently enjoys come under threat from a Trump administration, with its unconventional economic ideas? The checks and balances help: Janet Yellen’s tenure until January 2018 is assured and the Fed’s board turns over slowly, with

Unbundling globalisation

Brexit and Trump’s victory have caused a reassessment of economists’ rose-tinted vision of globalisation. Richard Baldwin’s The Great Convergence provides another perspective on what has happened and why it has not turned out to be as universally beneficial as was promised. Baldwin sees the

Why the TPP should be saved

Perhaps there is, as Ross Garnaut has argued, no silver lining to Donald Trump’s economics. But there may be a small silver lining to Trump’s rejection of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and his embrace of protectionist policies during the campaign. It depends if the response to these helps

Indonesia considers trade options post TPP

US President elect Donald Trump's confirmation he intends to pull out of the TPP has led to confusion and uncertainty across the region. For its part, Indonesia is still keen to sign on to the TPP but there are many factors to consider in the cost-benefit analysis on the topic the

Trump-sized upheaval in climate movement

The election of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States cast a long shadow over the climate conference in Morocco earlier this month. Delegates spent a lot of time expressing hopes that President-elect Trump was not serious when he declared climate change theory to be a 'hoax'

How US protectionism would threaten Australia

The impact of US President-elect Donald Trump's intended withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Australia could be seen as relatively benign, if one concentrated soley on trade in goods and services. After all, we have the Australia-United States FTA, concluded in 2004. The

Trump's voters will be disappointed by his economics

With all the campaign blather, posturing and hyperbole, we don’t know much about the specifics of President-elect Trump’s economic policy. One thing is clear: it is not possible to satisfy the inchoate economic expectations of those who elected him. Let’s focus on a couple of economic issues

APEC: Staggering past relevance

Even though it is the region’s second oldest multilateral mechanism, APEC continues to find relevance hard to come by. Best known for the photo taken at the annual leaders’ summit at which said leaders bond over the humiliation of donning often garish 'national attire', this grouping has never

The switch to renewables: Lessons from small islands

Those actively pushing for a future where renewables take over electricity generation often point to island grids such as El Hierro in the Spanish Canary Islands, Kodiak Island in Alaska, and King Island in Australia’s Bass Strait. On those islands and others, renewables have proved a

Gloomy forecasts for economic cooperation in Moscow

Last week the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration hosted a conference on the G20, BRICS and furthering international economic cooperation. In the same week, The Economist launched a ‘special report on Russia’ featuring a cover image of Vladimir

Barnaby Joyce's mixed messaging on property rights

There’s been a good deal of mixed messaging coming from Australia's Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce recently. This week he made headlines by declaring to an audience (which included the Chinese ambassador) that Labor's policies for insisting on rules concerning vegetation

The G20 Studies Centre draws to a close

Today marks the drawing down of the G20 Studies Centre at the Lowy Institute. The Centre was established to provide high quality public analysis of international economic governance. The government supported this work over the most intense period of the G20 for Australia, in the lead-up and the

Revitalising the multilateral trading system

The multilateral trading system has served Australia and our region exceptionally well, and it has delivered a program of trade liberalisation and reform over the years that has been important in underwriting global growth. But there is no doubt it is now facing multiple strains. The regrettable

If you want my opinion...

G20 summits are a busy time for scholars of global economic governance. There is a surprisingly small pool of us around the world who look at these issues day in, day out, and there are literally thousands of journalists whose minds are either turning to the G20 for the first time, or for the first

Green power has a long way to go

One factor driving energy policies across the world is repeated claims by activists that green energy is gaining substantial market share over its despised fossil fuel competitors. These claims, made for the likes of the Danish, German, Californian and even Chinese grids, are distorting the energy

Making the most of the G20

In this Lowy Institute Analysis, G20 Studies Centre Research Fellow and Project Director Tristram Sainsbury and Research Associate Hannah Wurf argue that the G20 should be at the centre of Australia’s approach to international economic engagement in the years ahead. Photo: Getty Images/VCG

The IMF debates economic neoliberalism

Like all big bureaucracies, the IMF shifts its operational doctrines slowly, rewriting its own history as it does so in order to avoid admitting past errors. We are currently witnessing another episode of this glacial move in relation to two issues: budget austerity and foreign capital flows.

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