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Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Does poverty lead to crime? We shed light on this question using two independent and exogenous shocks to household income in rural India: the dramatic reduction in import tariffs in the early 1990s and rainfall variations. We find that trade shocks, previously shown to raise relative poverty, also increased the incidence of violent crimes and property crimes. The relationship between trade shocks and crime is similar to the observed relationship between rainfall shocks and crime. Our results thus identify a causal effect of poverty on crime. They also lend credence to a large literature on the effects of weather shocks on crime and conflict, which has usually assumed that the income channel is the most relevant one.

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China’s Hunger for U.S. Planes and Cars: Assessing the Risks

April 8, 2014 Comments off

China’s Hunger for U.S. Planes and Cars: Assessing the Risks (PDF)
Source: U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

The U.S. trade deficit with China continues to grow but at a slower rate. A key reason for this is the boom in U.S. automotive and aerospace shipments to China. As China becomes more affluent and urbanized, ordinary Chinese are driving more cars and traveling more by frequently by air. China’s future demand, however, could be affected by pollution, traffic bottlenecks, and other factors. U.S. companies must also contend with China’s industrial policy, which tilts the playing field toward domestic industry. In the long run, technology transfer and off-shoring could erode U.S. competitiveness and take business away from U.S. plants.

CRS — Foreign Assistance to North Korea

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Foreign Assistance to North Korea (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Between 1995 and 2008, the United States provided North Korea with over $1.3 billion in assistance: slightly more than 50% for food aid and about 40% for energy assistance. Since early 2009, the United States has provided virtually no aid to North Korea, though episodically there have been discussions about resuming large-scale food aid. Additionally, the Obama Administration officials have said that they would be willing to consider other types of aid if North Korea takes steps indicating that it will dismantle its nuclear program, a prospect that most analysts view as increasingly remote. As of March 2014, barring an unexpected breakthrough, there appears little likelihood the Obama Administration will provide large-scale assistance of any type to North Korea in the near future. Members of Congress have a number of tools they could use to influence the development and implementation of aid programs with North Korea.

Country Analysis Brief: South Korea

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: South Korea
Source: Energy Information Administration

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that South Korea was the world’s ninth-largest energy consumer in 2011. Korea is one of the top energy importers in the world and relies on fuel imports for about 97% of its primary energy demand because the country lacks domestic energy reserves. In 2013, the country was the second-largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the fourth-largest importer of coal, and the fifth-largest net importer of total petroleum and other liquids. South Korea has no international oil or natural gas pipelines and relies exclusively on tanker shipments of LNG and crude oil. Despite its lack of domestic energy resources, South Korea is home to some of the largest and most advanced oil refineries in the world. In an effort to improve the nation’s energy security, oil and gas companies are aggressively seeking overseas exploration and production opportunities.

New From the GAO

April 1, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Puerto Rico: Information on How Statehood Would Potentially Affect Selected Federal Programs and Revenue Sources. GAO-14-31, March 4.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-31
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661335.pdf

2. Puerto Rico: Informacion Sobre Como la Estatidad Afectaria Determinados Programas y Fuentes de Ingresos Federales. GAO-14-301, March 4.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-301
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661704.pdf

3. National Preparedness: HHS Has Funded Flexible Manufacturing Activities for Medical Countermeasures, but It Is Too Soon to Assess Their Effect. GAO-14-329, March 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-329
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662121.pdf

4. Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs. GAO-14-340SP, March 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-340SP
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662183.pdf
Podcast - http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/662072

5. Programa Para Mitigar Activos Problemáticos: Es necesario un mayor esfuerzo en el control de préstamos equitativos y en el acceso a los programas de vivienda por parte de personas sin dominio del ingles. GAO-14-457, March 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-457
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662186.pdf

6. American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Economic Indicators Since Minimum Wage Increases Began. GAO-14-381, March 31.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-381
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662128.pdf

7. Missile Defense: Mixed Progress in Achieving Acquisition Goals and Improving Accountability. GAO-14-351, April 1.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-35
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662199.pdf

8. Afghanistan: Changes to Updated U.S. Civil-Military Strategic Framework Reflect Evolving U.S. Role. GAO-14-438R, April 1.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-438R

Income Distributions, Inequality, and Poverty in Asia, 1992-2010

April 1, 2014 Comments off

Income Distributions, Inequality, and Poverty in Asia, 1992-2010
Source: Asian Development Bank Institute

In this paper, income distributions for developing countries in Asia are modeled using beta-2 distributions, which are estimated by a method of moments procedure applied to grouped data. Estimated parameters of these distributions are used to calculate measures of inequality, poverty, and pro-poor growth in four time periods over 1992–2010. Changes in these measures are examined for 11 countries, with a major focus on the People’s Republic of China (PRC), India, and Indonesia, which are separated into rural and urban regions. We find that the PRC has grown rapidly with increasing inequality accompanying this growth. India has been relatively stagnant. Indonesia has grown rapidly after suffering an initial set back from the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

CRS — Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan Since 2001

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan Since 2001 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Major U.S. arms sales and grants to Pakistan since 2001 have included items useful for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, along with a number of “big ticket” platforms more suited to conventional warfare. In dollar value terms, the bulk of purchases have been made with Pakistani national funds, although U.S. grants have eclipsed these in recent years. The Pentagon reports total Foreign Military Sales agreements with Pakistan worth about $5.2 billion for FY2002-FY2012 (sales of F-16 combat aircraft and related equipment account for about half of this). Congress has appropriated more than $3 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) for Pakistan since 2001, more than $2 billion of which has been disbursed. These funds are used to purchase U.S. military equipment for longer-term modernization efforts. Pakistan has also been granted U.S. defense supplies as Excess Defense Articles (EDA).

CRS — Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

U.S. policy toward the Central Asian states has aimed at facilitating their cooperation with U.S. and NATO stabilization efforts in Afghanistan and their efforts to combat terrorism; proliferation; and trafficking in arms, drugs, and persons. Other U.S. objectives have included promoting free markets, democratization, human rights, energy development, and the forging of East-West and Central Asia-South Asia trade links. Successive Administrations have argued that such policies will help the states to become responsible members of the international community rather than to degenerate into xenophobic, extremist, and anti-Western regimes that contribute to wider regional conflict and instability. Soon after the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, all the Central Asian “front-line” states offered over-flight and other support for coalition anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan hosted coalition troops and provided access to airbases. In 2003, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also endorsed coalition military action in Iraq. About two dozen Kazakhstani troops served in Iraq until late 2008. Uzbekistan rescinded U.S. basing rights to support operations in Afghanistan in 2005 after the United States criticized the reported killing of civilians in the town of Andijon. The Kyrgyz leadership has notified the United States that it will not extend the basing agreement. U.S. forces will exit the “Manas Transit Center” by mid-2014 and move operations to other locations. In recent years, most of the regional states also have participated in the Northern Distribution Network for the transport of U.S. and NATO supplies into and out of Afghanistan.

CRS — U.S.-Vietnam Nuclear Cooperation Agreement: Issues for Congress

March 31, 2014 Comments off

U.S.-Vietnam Nuclear Cooperation Agreement: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

U.S.-Vietnamese cooperation on nuclear energy and nonproliferation has grown in recent years along with closer bilateral economic, military, and diplomatic ties. In 2010, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding that Obama Administration officials said would be a “stepping stone” to a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement. This agreement was signed by the two countries in December 2013.

Under section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (as amended), this agreement is subject to congressional review. The nuclear cooperation agreement is expected to comply with all the terms of the Atomic Energy Act as amended and therefore will be a “non-exempt” agreement. This means that it will enter into force upon the 90th day of continuous session after its submittal to Congress (a period of 30 plus 60 days of review) unless Congress enacts a Joint Resolution disapproving the agreement.

Vietnam would be the first country in Southeast Asia to operate a nuclear power plant. Vietnam has announced a nuclear energy plan that envisions installing several nuclear plants, capable of producing up to 14,800 megawatts of electric power (MWe), by 2030. Nuclear power is projected to provide 20%-30% of the country’s electricity by 2050. Significant work remains, however, to develop Vietnam’s nuclear energy infrastructure and regulatory framework.

Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

The unsustainable federal budget outlook will inevitably push entitlement reform to the forefront of the national policy debate. As America’s leaders consider reform options, they will have much to learn from the experience of other developed countries, several of which have recently enacted far-reaching overhauls of their state pension systems that greatly reduce the long-term fiscal burden of their aging populations. Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate places America’s aging challenge in international perspective, examines the most promising reform initiatives in nine other developed countries, and draws practical lessons for U.S. policymakers.

Reforms in Land Use and Local Finances Will Help Make China’s Urbanization More Efficient

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Reforms in Land Use and Local Finances Will Help Make China’s Urbanization More Efficient
Source: World Bank

  • In the last 30 years, urbanization helped lift half a billion people in China out of poverty
  • Urban strains caused by inefficient urban sprawl are showing
  • New report lays out comprehensive reform agenda toward efficient, inclusive and sustainable urbanization

AU — The G20: a quick guide

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The G20: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This is a quick guide to basic information about the G20, as well as links to useful summary resources. The G20 background section includes the G20’s history, its members, the hosting system and G20 meeting processes, as well as a brief discussion of selected policy areas. Material on Australia and the G20 includes Australia’s involvement in the G20, Australia’s G20 goals for 2014 and speeches and press releases on the G20. A short list of links provides access to more resources on the G20.

CRS — Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims in the East China (ECS) and South China Sea (SCS), particularly since late 2013, have heightened concerns among observers that ongoing disputes over these waters and some of the islands within them could lead to a crisis or conflict between China and a neighboring country such as Japan, the Philippines, or Vietnam, and that the United States could be drawn into such a crisis or conflict as a result of obligations the United States has under bilateral security treaties with Japan and the Philippines.

More broadly, China’s actions for asserting and defending its maritime territorial and EEZ claims have led to increasing concerns among some observers that China may be seeking to dominate or gain control of its near-seas region, meaning the ECS, the SCS, and the Yellow Sea. Chinese domination over or control of this region, or Chinese actions that are perceived as being aimed at achieving such domination or control, could have major implications for the United States, including implications for U.S.-China relations, for interpreting China’s rise as a major world power, for the security structure of the Asia-Pacific region, for the longstanding U.S. strategic goal of preventing the emergence of a regional hegemon in one part of Eurasia or another, and for two key elements of the U.S.-led international order that has operated since World War II—the non-use of force or coercion as a means of settling disputes between countries, and freedom of the seas.

Asia’s Stock Markets: Are There Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons?

March 25, 2014 Comments off

Asia’s Stock Markets: Are There Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons?
Source: International Monetary Fund

Stock markets play a key role in corporate financing in Asia. However, despite their increasing importance in terms of size and cross-border investment activity, the region’s markets are reputed to be more “idiosyncratic” and less reliant on economic and corporate fundamentals in their pricing. Using a model that draws on international asset pricing and economic theory, as well as accounting literature, we find evidence of greater idiosyncratic influences in the pricing of Asia’s stock markets, compared to their G-7 counterparts, beyond the identified systematic factors and local fundamentals. We also show proof of a significant relationship between the strength of implementation of securities regulations and the “noise” in stock pricing, which suggests that improvements in the regulation of securities markets in Asia could enhance the role of stock markets as stable and reliable sources of financing into the future.

Lessons for a Negotiated Settlement in Afghanistan — If History Serves as a Guide

March 21, 2014 Comments off

Lessons for a Negotiated Settlement in Afghanistan — If History Serves as a Guide
Source: RAND Corporation

Historical insurgencies that ended in settlement after a stalemate have generally followed a seven-step path. A “master narrative” distilled from these cases could help guide and assess the progress toward a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan.

Asia — Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth

March 21, 2014 Comments off

Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth
Source: World Bank

Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) are growing twice as fast as the rest of the world and by 2030, it is expected that 70 percent of SEA population will live in cities. Worldwide, cities account for around two-thirds of global energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While cities have always been the engines of economic growth, now they also hold the key to a sustainable development in SEA. Given their size and dynamic growth, SEA cities today have a unique opportunity to also become global engines of green growth by choosing energy-efficient solutions for their infrastructure needs.

Improving energy efficiency isn’t just good for the environment; it’s good for economic growth, says a World Bank report, “Energizing Green Cities in Southeast Asia – Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning.” According to the report, there is a clear correlation between investments in energy efficient solutions in infrastructure and economic growth, based on a study of three cities – Da Nang in Vietnam, Surabaya in Indonesia and Cebu City in the Philippines. By improving energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions, cities not only help the global environment, but they also support local economic development through productivity gains, reduced pollution, and more efficient use of resources.

mHealth in China and the United States: How Mobile Technology is Transforming Health Care in the World’s Two Largest Economies

March 20, 2014 Comments off

mHealth in China and the United States: How Mobile Technology is Transforming Health Care in the World’s Two Largest Economies
Source: Brookings Institution

Health care represents a major challenge for many countries as rising health care costs, aging populations, access disparities and chronic illnesses threaten traditional health care systems. Mobile technology can help address these issues, argue Darrell West, Joshua Bleiberg, and a number of academics with the China Academy of Telecommunication Research of MIIT, by boosting productivity, aiding communications, encouraging better health data collection, and analysis and helping providers improve affordability access and treatment.

In particular, China and the United States provide strong examples of recent developments and emerging opportunities in mobile health, or mHealth. In order to best leverage these advances, China and the United States must change operations and policy practice in order to facilitate the growth of the mHealth sector and ultimately capture the benefits of mobile technology in healthcare, these scholars assert.

The authors suggest four ideas that policymakers can extol and undertake to speed the development and adoption of mHealth:

1. Mobile devices offer the potential to improve affordability of health care by lowering disparities based on geography and income. Policymakers should encourage the use and adoption of cellphones, smartphones, and tablets in medical care;

2. Public officials should reimburse health providers who offer consultations, diagnoses, and treatment through remote monitoring devices and other types of mobile technologies;

3. Mobile phones aid the patient experience by providing a means to deliver medical reminders and diagnostic information to patients and physicians. Reminders via text messages or mobile phones can encourage patients to take medication at the suggested time and dosage, and this will improve the quality of patient care;

4. mHealth helps policymakers by encouraging better health data collection and analysis. Figuring out what works and doesn’t work is one of the biggest challenges in health care.

CRS — Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations for and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2015

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations for and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2015 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)
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CRS — Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990 (updated)

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report, updated as warranted, discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, or Republic of China (ROC), including policy issues for Congress and legislation. Congress has oversight of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, which has governed arms sales to Taiwan since 1979, when the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) instead of the ROC. Two other relevant parts of the “one China” policy are the August 17, 1982, U.S.-PRC Joint Communique and the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been significant. The United States also expanded military ties with Taiwan after the PRC’s missile firings in 1995-1996. However, the U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty terminated in 1979.

Democracy in Afghanistan The 2014 Election and Beyond

March 18, 2014 Comments off

Democracy in Afghanistan The 2014 Election and Beyond
Source: RAND Corporation

Afghanistan’s upcoming presidential election is the most important political event in that country’s decade-long transition to democracy. A successful election would be a major blow to the Taliban and al Qaida, and would renew Afghan efforts to bring the war to a favorable conclusion. The defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan would be a major setback for similar groups worldwide, many of which look to Afghanistan as a sort of template for how to accomplish a jihadist takeover. By contrast, a failed election and a renewed push by the Taliban could become a rallying cry and a morale boost to the same groups. Because the stakes are high, the international community should recognize that, despite a dozen years of frustration and halting progress, Afghanistan’s political and economic reconstruction needs one more push before the milestone election. Helping Afghanistan across the electoral finish line will increase the odds that the country will find some sort of solution to its internal stability and, thus, be able to deny safe haven to al Qaida and its affiliates.

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