National Funding of Road Infrastructure
Source: Law Library of Congress
This report examines the funding of roads and highways in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden. It provides a description of the infrastructure in the jurisdiction, information on the ownership and responsibility of the roads, and taxes or other ways of collecting money to fund the nation’s infrastructure. If applicable, a discussion of reforms or new initiatives is examined.
Backgrounder: The Group of Seven (G7)
Source: Council on Foreign Relations
The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal bloc of industrialized democracies—France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and Canada—that meets annually to discuss issues of common interest like global economic governance, international security, and energy policy. Proponents say the forum’s small and relatively homogenous membership promotes collective decision-making, but critics note that it often lacks follow-through and that its membership excludes important emerging powers. Russia belonged to the forum from 1998 through 2014—then the Group of Eight (G8)—but the other members suspended their cooperation with Moscow after its annexation of Crimea in March of that year.
Economic Survey of Germany 2014
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
The German economy has proven remarkably resilient in the face of recent crises. Unemployment has reached post-unification lows, reflecting ambitious reforms in the past decade and Germany’s status as a “safe haven”. The current account surplus remains large, although domestic demand has started contributing substantially to growth. However, Germany will face a number of challenges. Potential growth is estimated to fall on account of demographic changes over the next 20 years. The share of low-paying jobs has risen considerably. Public investment is low and government spending on key services to support inclusive growth, notably childcare, needs to rise further. On unchanged policies, targets for CO2 emission reductions will be missed. To address these issues, determined action is needed, building on the momentum of past reforms. Such action would also have positive international spillover effects on activity.
The German banks have weathered the euro area crisis well but potential risks arise from the low interest-rate environment and large derivative exposures. These potential risks are aggravated by high leverage of the country’s largest banks and persistent perceptions of government guarantees to banks. Lending growth has fallen in real terms in recent years, reflecting weak demand. In some respects, the government has moved ahead of many other OECD countries with reforms to reduce risks in the financial sector. Nonetheless, further steps to make the banks more robust would improve incentives for banks to take advantage of low interest rates to finance strong, sustainable economic growth. Such steps should include reducing high leverage, ambitious implementation of EU requirements for the reform of resolution legislation and addressing governance problems in the public banking sector.
The contribution of the services sector to value-added growth in Germany has been relatively small over the past 10 years. While export oriented manufacturing is exposed to international competition and responds with productivity-increasing innovation and human capital accumulation, service sector productivity is lagging. Competition often appears to be hindered by protection of incumbents. Reforming and deregulating the domestically oriented sectors, including network industries, crafts and professional services would release hidden growth potential and prove beneficial to the economy as a whole. It could also help strengthen domestic demand and make economic growth more balanced.
Full report available for purchase.
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.
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.
Global Pensions Asset Study – 2014
Source: Towers Watson
This is a study of the 13 largest pension markets in the world and accounts for more than 85% of global pension assets. The countries included are Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and the US. The study also analyses seven countries in greater depth by excluding the six smallest markets (Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong and South Africa).
The analysis includes:
- Asset size, including growth statistics, comparison of asset size with GDP and liabilities
- Asset allocation
- Defined benefit and defined contribution share of pension assets
- Public and private sector share of pension assets.
OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Fisheries (capture fisheries and aquaculture) supply the world each year with millions of tonnes of fish (including, notably, fish, molluscs and crustaceans). Fisheries as well as ancillary activities also provide livelihoods and income. The fishery sector contributes to development and growth in many countries, playing an important role for food security, poverty reduction, employment and trade.
This publication contains statistics on fisheries from 2005 to 2012. Data provided concern fishing fleet capacity, employment in fisheries, fish landings, aquaculture production, recreational fisheries, government financial transfers, and imports and exports of fish.
OECD countries covered
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States
Non-member economies covered
Argentina, Chinese Taipei, Thailand
Sentencing and Prison Practices in Germany and the Netherlands: Implications for the United States
Source: Vera Institute for Justice
Germany and the Netherlands have significantly lower incarceration rates than the United States and make much greater use of non-custodial penalties, particularly for nonviolent crimes. In addition, conditions and practices within correctional facilities in these countries—grounded in the principle of “normalization” whereby life in prison is to resemble as much as possible life in the community—also differ markedly from the U.S. In February 2013—as part of the European-American Prison Project funded by the California-based Prison Law Office and managed by Vera—delegations of corrections and justice system leaders from Colorado, Georgia, and Pennsylvania together visited Germany and the Netherlands to tour prison facilities, speak with corrections officials and researchers, and interact with inmates. Although variations in the definitions of crimes, specific punishments, and recidivism limit the availability of comparable justice statistics, this report describes the considerably different approaches to sentencing and corrections these leaders observed in Europe and the impact this exposure has had (and continues to have) on the policy debate and practices in their home states. It also explores some of the project’s practical implications for reform efforts throughout the United States to reduce incarceration and improve conditions of confinement while maintaining public safety.
Just Published: Law Library of Congress Report on Guest Worker Programs
Source: Law Library of Congress
A report titled Guest Worker Programs was recently added to the list of reports posted on the Law Library of Congress website under “Current Legal Topics” where you can also find a range of other comparative law reports on various topics.
The Guest Worker Programs report is based on a study conducted by staff of the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC). The report describes programs for the admission and employment of guest workers in fourteen selected countries:
- the Russian Federation,
- South Korea,
- the United Arab Emirates, and
- the United Kingdom.
It also provides information on the European Union’s Proposal for a Directive on Seasonal Employment, the Association Agreement between the European Union and Turkey regarding migrants of Turkish origin, and the Multilateral Framework of the International Labour Organization on the admission of guest workers. The complete report is also available in PDF.
The report includes a comparative analysis and individual chapters on each country, the EU, and relevant international arrangements. It provides a general overview of a variety of immigration systems, and addresses issues such as eligibility criteria for the admission of guest workers and their families, guest workers’ recruitment and sponsorship, and visa requirements. The report further discusses the tying of temporary workers to their employers in some countries; the duration and the conditions that apply to switching employers; the terms, including the renewability, of guest workers’ visas; and the availability of a path to permanent status.
Shock from Graying: Is the Demographic Shift Weakening Monetary Policy Effectiveness
Source: International Monetary Fund
Abstract Empirical evidence is mounting that, in advanced economies, changes in monetary policy have a more benign impact on the economy—given better anchored inflation expectations and inflation being less responsive to variation in unemployment—compared to the past. We examine another aspect that could explain this empirical finding, namely the demographic shift to an older society. The paper first clarifies potential transmission channels that could explain why monetary policy effectiveness may moderate in graying societies. It then uses Bayesian estimation techniques for the U.S., Canada, Japan, U.K., and Germany to confirm a weakening of monetary policy effectiveness over time with regards to unemployment and inflation. After proving the existence of a panel co-integration relationship between ageing and a weakening of monetary policy, the study uses dynamic panel OLS techniques to attribute this weakening of monetary policy effectiveness to demographic changes. The paper concludes with policy implications.
Explaining High Health Care Spending in the United States: An International Comparison of Supply, Utilization, Prices, and Quality
This analysis uses data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other sources to compare health care spending, supply, utilization, prices, and quality in 13 industrialized countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The U.S. spends far more on health care than any other country. However this high spending cannot be attributed to higher income, an older population, or greater supply or utilization of hospitals and doctors. Instead, the findings suggest the higher spending is more likely due to higher prices and perhaps more readily accessible technology and greater obesity. Health care quality in the U.S. varies and is not notably superior to the far less expensive systems in the other study countries. Of the countries studied, Japan has the lowest health spending, which it achieves primarily through aggressive price regulation.