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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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Autonomie et mondialisation

Le Québec et la Catalogne à l'heure du libre-échange et de la Communauté européenne

Les nationalismes catalan, québécois et canadien - Le Québec, ses régions et la décentralisation - Le libre-échange - Le droit international à l'information face aux technologies de communication - Le marketing au Québec - Politique culturelle et gestion de la culture - Autonomie politique et conflit linguistique - Sentiment national et langue - Perspective culturelle.

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Avoiding the Fall

China's Economic Restructuring

Michael Pettis

The days of rapid economic growth in China are over. Mounting debt and rising internal distortions mean that rebalancing is inevitable. Beijing has no choice but to take significant steps to restructure its economy. The only question is how to proceed.

Michael Pettis debunks the lingering bullish expectations for China's economic rise and details Beijing's options. The urgent task of shifting toward greater domestic consumption will come with political costs, but Beijing must increase household income and reduce its reliance on investment to avoid a fall.

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Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay

Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India

Pranab Bardhan

The recent economic rise of China and India has attracted a great deal of attention--and justifiably so. Together, the two countries account for one-fifth of the global economy and are projected to represent a full third of the world's income by 2025. Yet, many of the views regarding China and India's market reforms and high growth have been tendentious, exaggerated, or oversimplified. Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay scrutinizes the phenomenal rise of both nations, and demolishes the myths that have accumulated around the economic achievements of these two giants in the last quarter century. Exploring the challenges that both countries must overcome to become true leaders in the international economy, Pranab Bardhan looks beyond short-run macroeconomic issues to examine and compare China and India's major policy changes, political and economic structures, and current general performance.

Bardhan investigates the two countries' economic reforms, each nation's pattern and composition of growth, and the problems afflicting their agricultural, industrial, infrastructural, and financial sectors. He considers how these factors affect China and India's poverty, inequality, and environment, how political factors shape each country's pattern of burgeoning capitalism, and how significant poverty reduction in both countries is mainly due to domestic factors--not global integration, as most would believe. He shows how authoritarianism has distorted Chinese development while democratic governance in India has been marred by severe accountability failures.

Full of valuable insights, Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay provides a nuanced picture of China and India's complex political economy at a time of startling global reconfiguration and change.

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Award-Winning Economists Speak on Contemporary Economic Issues

Subtitle Here

Edited by Jean Kimmel

A group of award-winning economists discuss topics including microfinance, human capital, economic development, worker motivation, and economic regulation.

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Azerbaijan as a Regional Economic Driver

Opportunities and Challenges

Sehlare Makgetlaneng

The political economy of Azerbaijan has been interlinked in the internal and external relations of the country. This is exit for energy policy. It explains the qualitative socio-historical and political leap forward, referring to the efforts of President Heydar Aliyev, who signed the PSA with transnational energy corporations in 1994. According to this publication, the construction of multiple oil and gas pipelines represents the success of Azerbaijan�s independent energy policy. Azerbaijan as a Regional Economic Driver: Opportunities and Challenges emphasises leading sectors of Azerbaijan�s economy such as transport, construction, agriculture, information and communications technology, tourism and banking. It is noteworthy that the book refers to �Azerbaijan 2020� when explaining the country�s policy to transform itself from an energy-based economy to a knowledge-based one. This publication serves to recognise Azerbaijan as a reliable partner in international relations. It also scrutinises advantages and disadvantages of trade-off between strategic choices oriented to the European Union and/or the Eurasian Union.

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The Balance of Payments in a Monetary Economy

John F. Kyle

How can relative price and income approaches be reconciled with balance of payments analysis? John F. Kyle argues that a model is required which explicity includes a production sector and a complete monetary sectory.

The author demonstrates the inadequacy of the traditional method of extending macroeconomic models to deal with trade problems and proceeds to develop a properly specified open economy model adequate to the task. After extending the model to look at additional issues, he relates the principal results obtained in a macroeconomic setting to those produced using a Hahn-type monetary approach. The Hahn model is extended to incorporate an alternative financial asset and to allow for unemployment in the economy. His theory of the balance of payments takes into account both important monetary and aggregate demand features of macroeconomics and the relative prices and interdependencies of general equilibrium theory.

Originally published in 1976.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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