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Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

New Agenda in Its Third Decade

Ippei Yamazawa

Ippei Yamazawa is one of the fathers to the study of Asia-Pacific regional cooperation in Japan and has contributed hugely to the development and work of APEC over many years. APEC is a crucial trans-regional arrangement that draws the United States into constructive economic engagement with East Asia. This book makes it clear why APEC remains such a crucial element of regional economic architecture and defines an agenda going forward to which regional leaders should aspire. Here is a first rate exposition of the priorities for regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific. --Peter Drysdale, Professor Emeritus, Australian National University

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Asian Development Experience Vol. 2

The Role of Governance in Asia

Yasutani Shimomura

This volume investigates the “missing link”, the complicated realities of the relations between governance and development through case studies of ASEAN countries. Its main objective is to explore a theoretical framework to overcoming the limitations of mainstream approaches by employing case studies on decentralization, crisis management, corporate governance and foreign aid management of both public and private entities. From the beginning of the 1990s onwards, the international aid community has increasingly stressed that “good governance”, together with democracy and protection of basic human rights, is indispensable for sustainable economic development. The terms, however, are complex, broad, and arguable. They largely refer to discipline of government institutions and the capacity of the public sector. While a wide variety of empirical studies has been done on the relations between good governance and development, it is still unclear how the differences in governance influence development performance in a real world.

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Asian Perspectives on Financial Sector Reforms and Regulation

edited by Masahiro Kawai and Eswar S. Prasad

Although emerging economies as a group performed well during the global recession, weathering the recession better than advanced economies, there were sharp differences among them and across regions. The emerging economies of Asia had the most favorable outcomes, surviving the ravages of the global financial crisis with relatively modest declines in growth rates in most cases. China and India maintained strong growth during the crisis and played an important role in facilitating global economic recovery.

In this informative volume, the second in a series on emerging markets, editors Masahiro Kawai and Eswar Prasad and the contributors analyze the major domestic macroeconomic and financial policy issues that could limit the growth potential of Asian emerging markets, such as rising inflation and surging capital inflows, with the accompanying risks of asset and credit market bubbles and of rapid currency appreciation. The book examines strategies to promote financial stability, including reforms for financial market development and macroprudential supervision and regulation.

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Asking About Prices

A New Approach to Understanding Price Stickiness

Why do consumer prices and wages adjust so slowly to changes in market conditions? The rigidity or stickiness of price setting in business is central to Keynesian economic theory and a key to understanding how monetary policy works, yet economists have made little headway in determining why it occurs. Asking About Prices offers a groundbreaking empirical approach to a puzzle for which theories abound but facts are scarce. Leading economist Alan Blinder, along with co-authors Elie Canetti, David Lebow, and Jeremy B. Rudd, interviewed a national, multi-industry sample of 200 CEOs, company heads, and other corporate price setters to test the validity of twelve prominent theories of price stickiness. Using everyday language and pertinent scenarios, the carefully designed survey asked decisionmakers how prominently these theoretical concerns entered into their own attitudes and thought processes. Do businesses tend to view the costs of changing prices as prohibitive? Do they worry that lower prices will be equated with poorer quality goods? Are firms more likely to try alternate strategies to changing prices, such as warehousing excess inventory or improving their quality of service? To what extent are prices held in place by contractual agreements, or by invisible handshakes? Asking About Prices offers a gold mine of previously unavailable information. It affirms the widespread presence of price stickiness in American industry, and offers the only available guide to such business details as what fraction of goods are sold by fixed price contract, how often transactions involve repeat customers, and how and when firms review their prices. Some results are surprising: contrary to popular wisdom, prices do not increase more easily than they decrease, and firms do not appear to practice anticipatory pricing, even when they can foresee cost increases. Asking About Prices also offers a chapter-by-chapter review of the survey findings for each of the twelve theories of price stickiness. The authors determine which theories are most popular with actual price setters, how practices vary within different business sectors, across firms of different sizes, and so on. They also direct economists' attention toward a rationale for price stickiness that does not stem from conventional theory, namely a strong reluctance by firms to antagonize or inconvenience their customers. By illuminating how company executives actually think about price setting, Asking About Prices provides an elegant model of a valuable new approach to conducting economic research.

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Assessing China's Impact on Poverty in the Greater Mekong Subregion

edited by Hossein Jalilian

Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and the ushering in of an era of global economic relations, the United States and Europe have been the core poles of economic power. However, China along with India are increasingly challenging the traditional economic hegemony. An issue of great importance is how this shift in the global economic balance of power will affect developing economies and the transition economies of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), which are located in China's backyard and deeply integrated into its economy through regional supply chains. This volume examines the relationship between transition economies and the rise of China through presenting empirical case studies from the GMS. In doing so, it offers insights into the effect of China on developing countries in general, and offers practical policy directions for the place-specific economies of the GMS.

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Asset Price Dynamics, Volatility, and Prediction

Stephen J. Taylor

This book shows how current and recent market prices convey information about the probability distributions that govern future prices. Moving beyond purely theoretical models, Stephen Taylor applies methods supported by empirical research of equity and foreign exchange markets to show how daily and more frequent asset prices, and the prices of option contracts, can be used to construct and assess predictions about future prices, their volatility, and their probability distributions.

Stephen Taylor provides a comprehensive introduction to the dynamic behavior of asset prices, relying on finance theory and statistical evidence. He uses stochastic processes to define mathematical models for price dynamics, but with less mathematics than in alternative texts. The key topics covered include random walk tests, trading rules, ARCH models, stochastic volatility models, high-frequency datasets, and the information that option prices imply about volatility and distributions.

Asset Price Dynamics, Volatility, and Prediction is ideal for students of economics, finance, and mathematics who are studying financial econometrics, and will enable researchers to identify and apply appropriate models and methods. It will likewise be a valuable resource for quantitative analysts, fund managers, risk managers, and investors who seek realistic expectations about future asset prices and the risks to which they are exposed.

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Assets for the Poor

The Benefits of Spreading Asset Ownership

Over the past three decades, average household wealth in the United States has declined among all but the richest families, with a near 80 percent drop among the nation's poorest families. Although the national debate about inequality has focused on income, it is wealth—the private assets amassed and passed on within families—that provides the extra economic cushion needed to move beyond mere day-to-day survival. Assets for the Poor is the first full-scale investigation into the importance of family wealth and the need for policies to encourage asset-building among the poor.

Assets for the Poor shows how institutional mechanisms designed to encourage acquisition of capital and property favor middle-class and high-income families. For example, the aggregate value of home mortgage tax deductions far outweighs the dollar amount of the subsidies provided by Section 8 rental vouchers and public housing. Banking definitions of creditworthiness largely exclude minorities, and welfare rules have made it nearly impossible for single mothers to accumulate savings, let alone stocks or real estate. Due to persistent residential segregation, even those minority families who do own homes are often denied equal access to better schools and public services.

The research in this volume shows that the poor do make use of the assets they have. Cash gifts—although small in size—are frequent within families and often lead to such positive results as homebuying and debt reduction, while tangible assets such as tools and cars help increase employment prospects. Assets for the Poor examines policies such as Individual Development Account tax subsidies to reward financial savings among the poor, and more liberal credit rules to make borrowing easier and less costly. The contributors also offer thoughtful advice for bringing the poor into mainstream savings institutions and warn against developing asset building policies at the expense of existing safety net programs.

Asset-building for low-income families is a powerful idea that offers hope to families searching for a way out of poverty. Assets for the Poor challenges current thinking regarding poverty reduction policies and proposes a major shift in the way we think about families and how they make a better life.

A Volume in the Ford Foundation Series on Asset Building

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At Home and Abroad

U.S. Labor Market Performance in International Perspective

Throughout the latter part of the 20th century, the U.S. labor market performed differently than the labor markets of the world's other advanced industrialized societies. In the early 1970s, the United States had higher unemployment rates than its Western European counterparts. But after two oil crises, rapid technological change, and globalization rocked the world's economies, unemployment fell in the United States, while increasing dramatically in other nations. At the same time, wage inequality widened more in the United States than in Europe. In At Home and Abroad, Cornell University economists Francine D. Blau and Lawrence M. Kahn examine the reasons for these striking dissimilarities between the United States and its economic allies.

Comparing countries, the authors find that governments and unions play a far greater role in the labor market in Europe than they do in the United States. It is much more difficult to lay off workers in Europe than in the United States, unemployment insurance is more generous in Europe, and many fewer Americans than Europeans are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Interventionist labor market institutions in Europe compress wages, thus contributing to the lower levels of wage inequality in the European Union than in the United States.

Using a unique blend of microeconomic and microeconomic analyses, the authors assess how these differences affect wage and unemployment levels. In a lucid narrative, they present ample evidence that, as upheavals shook the global economy, the flexible U.S. market let wages adjust so that jobs could be maintained, while more rigid European economies maintained wages at the cost of losing jobs.

By helping readers understand the relationship between different economic responses and outcomes, At Home and Abroad makes an invaluable contribution to the continuing debate about the role institutions can and should play in creating jobs and maintaining living standards.

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Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (ANZCERTA) and Regional Integration

Robert Scollay, Christopher Findlay and Uwe Kaufmann

The origins, evolution and impact of the Australia New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement are examined in this book. ANZCERTA is often referred to as a benchmark for trade agreements. Not only does the book examine the agreement and how it evolved, but it also provides lessons for others, particularly in ASEAN, as they work on regional on bilateral economic relations. The special features of the Agreement are identified, and its evolution is charted. Current debates are reviewed, and assessments of its impact are discussed. Ten lessons for the designers of other agreements are presented.

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Automatic

Changing the Way America Saves

William G. Gale, J. Mark Iwry, David C. John, and Lina Walker

Automatic offers an innovative new way to think about how Americans can save for retirement.

Over the past quarter century, America's pension system has shifted away from defined benefit plans and toward defined contribution savings programs such as 401(k)s and IRAs. There is much to be done to improve the defined contribution system. Many workers fail to participate and those who do often contribute too little, invest the funds poorly, and are not adequately prepared to manage funds while in retirement.

To resolve these problems, the authors propose that employees should be automatically enrolled into a 401(k) plan when they are hired, with the right to opt out, change the amount that they contribute, or change investment choices if they choose. If the employer does not sponsor a 401(k) or similar retirement plan, they would be enrolled in a payroll deduction Automatic IRA. This vision of a transformed defined contribution system incorporates key positive features of defined benefit plans to improve retirement security. Employess contributions would increase over time, their investments would benefit from professional management and rebalancing, and they would receive lifetime income upon retirement. These automatic features will make the 401(k) and similar plans a more effective tool for retirement saving, and they can be extended to the many workers who do not currently have access to an employer plan.

In Automatic, the authors present proposals to implement automatic features in all phases of the 401(k) and in IRAs for workers with no employer plan. They also draw from the experience of countries that have implemented automatic saving structures.

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