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Views from the Center

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Learning to Live With China’s Economic Dominance

Arvind Subramanian is a joint senior fellow at the CGD and the Peterson Institute. This post appeared originally on the Peterson Institute’s China Economic Watch blog.

Is China poised to take over from the United States as the world’s most economically dominant power?

This is an essential question, and yet it has not yet been taken seriously enough in the United States, where, this central conceit still reigns: the United States’ economic preeminence cannot be seriously threatened because it is the United States’ to lose, and sooner or later, the United States will rise to the challenge of not losing it. China may be on its way to becoming an economic superpower, and the United States may have to share the global stage with it in the future. But, the argument goes, the threat from China is not so imminent, so great, or so multifaceted that it can push the United States out of the driver’s seat.

Development’s Next Top “Model”: China? India? Rwanda? Ghana?

In a recent piece published in Foreign Affairs, Francis Fukuyama and I argue that, post global economic crisis, we are witnessing a shift away from the Western free-market or neo-liberal economic model in the developing world.  In an essay in our forthcoming book (New Ideas on Development after the Financial Crisis), I suggest that developing country political leaders, particularly in low-income countries, co

New Chinese Regulations Reflect Growing G-20 Appetite for Anticorruption

The G-20 is not ordinarily considered a major player in the drive against corruption in international business transactions, but that may be changing.

The Toronto Summit in June 2010 established a working group “to make comprehensive recommendations on how the G-20 can take practical steps to combat corruption.” During the Seoul Summit in November, a coalition of emerging market members of the working group (including Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, and Mexico) quietly joined with the United States to urge China to adopt an anti–foreign bribery law.

Mubarak Is Out: What Lessons for China, Africa, and Western Donors?

Mubarak has resigned.  Next steps in Egypt are uncertain, but it’s certain that authoritarian rulers around the world are watching these events with great trepidation.

What’s the lesson that China and the 102 of 160 developing countries around the world that are “partly free” or “unfree” (see Freedom House) are taking from Egypt and Tunisia? And is there a lesson for Western donors?

Restoring U.S. Financial Markets in a Credible Way: Comments on Feldstein and Yellen

From January 6-9, I participated in the annual ASSA (Allied Social Science Associations) conference in Denver, Colorado.  I was part of a high-level panel discussion with a number of distinguished economists including Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve’s Vice-Chair; Martin Feldstein, of Harvard University; Andrew Brimmer, former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board; and Alan Krueger, former Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, among others.

Africa Opposed to Chinese-Western Aid Cooperation—Wikileaks

This is a joint post with Lawrence MacDonald.

Browsing through Wikileaks to try to understand what the fuss was all about, Alan came on an interesting cable (10Beijing367) about African views on possible cooperation between China and Western donors on aid to Africa. According the summary of a cable from the U.S. embassy in Beijing, reporting on the views of African diplomats stationed there:

America Cannot Win the Currency Wars Alone

This piece originally appeared in the Financial Times.

How ironic that the world’s reserve currency issuer (the US) and its long-term rival to that status (China) are competing to nearly debauch their own currencies? America’s behaviour – more effect than intent – takes the form of quantitative easing. China’s takes the form of not letting its currency strengthen (which makes the recent monetary tightening deflationary for others).

But unilateral American action against China cannot be the basis for resolving the currency wars. Effective and legitimate multilateral action to induce Chinese co-operation is necessary. Mobilising a broader coalition of the “affected but as yet unwilling” countries before the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Seoul should be America’s priority.

Multilateralism on Currency Issues

This article also appeared in the Business Standard.

Back in 1971, the then US Treasury Secretary, John Connolly, told his European counterparts that the dollar was “our currency, but your problem”. Today, it seems that China has returned that favour. Its currency has become a problem for the US. Not just the politics but the intellectual climate has become charged with even Nobel laureate Paul Krugman urging strong trade action against China. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has a damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don’t choice facing him in mid-April, when he is required by law to pronounce on whether China is a currency manipulator.

A Development Perspective on China’s Currency—And a Fresh WTO Solution

My colleage Arvind Subramanian published an intriguing Op-Ed in the Financial Times this week. In “The Weak Renminbi is Not Just America’s Problem” Arvind notes that the undervalued Chinese currency is a global problem that requires a multilateral response. He then argues persuasively that neither the United States nor the IMF can be expected to persuade China to revalue its currency. Instead, he says, such action should come from the WTO.

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