Connect with us

Economy

The Cryptocurrency Moment

Luis Durani

Published

on

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency has forever changed how the financial industry will operate. The finance industry currently requires a middle man in every transaction. The cryptocurrency innovation has helped revolutionize this practice by removing the bank from the process. Recently, Bitcoin reached another pivotal moment in its history; the fork. The recent interest in Bitcoin after the fork event has created more interest.

Unlike the status quo, transactions are carried out digitally and made P2P, peer to peer, in a method regulated by the blockchain technology. This is a decentralized database that records each transaction. When a transaction takes place, the process is validated by group of Bitcoin miners. Each one of them is competing to authenticate the transaction in the network because in return they are awarded in Bitcoins. The affirmed transaction is added to the blockchain database.

Bitcoin has been steadily going up with almost 550% gains in the past year. As a result of this exponential growth, Bitcoin’s network has become overwhelmed and the transaction began to languish. August 1st was the fork in the road for Bitcoin. A new potential solution was implemented, one that could quadruple the number of transactions Bitcoin can handle. The majority of miners have been signaling their support for the new approach to scaling. The addition of this solution will not only allow for more transactions per second but the path for further scaling is now possible. This would make Bitcoin and by extension other cryptocurrencies on par with major payment platforms such Visa and Paypal.

In addition to the transactional changes to Bitcoin, the cryptocurrencies have not only changed how banking works but contain with it the potential to change how the political, economic, and social landscapes of current societies function.

Politically, cryptocurrencies can help reset how political power is distributed in governments. The ability to control the printing press will go out and with it accountability will be returned to nations with cryptocurrencies as a national currency. Through the lack of being able to print currency at will, governments will be required to be more fiscal responsible. Furthermore, as cryptocurrencies become mainstream and receive more capital injection, their market valuation will stabilize. As a result, if adopted as a national reserve, countries will have more stable economic situations. Nations such as Venezuela, Zimbabwe and others can see to benefit from such cryptocurrency implementation. Socially, cryptocurrency will not only create more responsible governments but it can help restore power back to the people. The currency democratizes institutions, facets of governments, and means of monetary itself.

If the Bitcoin fork is successful, this could be the catalyst that makes the virtual currency go mainstream. Once the fickleness surrounding this change passes by, large scale investment can began to find its way towards Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies. Despite the exponential growth in the past year, cryptocurrencies can see even more growth in the next year as its popularity rises, but even more so with the changes it can bring to different societal aspects will fundamentally alter the way people live and view the world they are in.

Luis Durani is currently employed in the oil and gas industry. He previously worked in the nuclear energy industry. He has a M.A. in international affairs with a focus on Chinese foreign policy and the South China Sea, MBA, M.S. in nuclear engineering, B.S. in mechanical engineering and B.A. in political science. He is also author of "Afghanistan: It’s No Nebraska – How to do Deal with a Tribal State" and "China and the South China Sea: The Emergence of the Huaqing Doctrine." Follow him for other articles on Instagram: @Luis_Durani

Economy

Upswing in global growth won’t last forever: IMF says world must prepare now for leaner times ahead

MD Staff

Published

on

While the world economy continues to show broad-based momentum, a new report released Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is warning that there may be choppy seas ahead, caused by increasing protectionism or tit-for-tat trade wars.

“Global growth is projected to soften beyond the next couple of years,” said the report, explaining that: “Once their output gaps close, most advanced economies are poised to return to potential growth rates well below pre-crisis averages – held back by aging populations and lackluster productivity.”

Looking at the largest economies, the World Economic Outlook , the Fund’s semiannual report on the health of the international economy, shows growth projections at 2.4 per cent for the euro area, 1.2 per cent for Japan, 6.6 per cent for China and 2.9 per cent for the United States.

“Despite the good near-term news, longer-term prospects are more sobering,” said Maurice Obstfeld, Economic Counsellor and Director of Research at the IMF, the specialized United Nations agency working to ensure stability in the global financial system.

“Advanced economies – facing aging populations, falling rates of labor force participation, and low productivity growth – will likely not regain the per capita growth rates they enjoyed before the global financial crisis,” he continued.

Mr. Obstfeld painted a diverse picture for emerging and developing economies, saying that among non-commodity exporters, some countries can expect longer-term, pre-crisis type growth rates.

However, despite some improvement in the outlook for commodity prices, he pointed out that some exporters will need to diversify their economies to boost future growth and resilience.

The IMF, which is holding its annual Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C., with the World Bank, continued to echo its advice that the current cyclical upswing offers policymakers a good opportunity to make longer-term growth more resilient and inclusive.

“Sound policies can extend the upswing while reducing the risks of a disruptive unwinding,” Mr. Obstfeld stated. “Countries need to rebuild fiscal buffers, enact structural reforms and steer monetary policy cautiously in an environment that is already complex and challenging.”

Trade tensions

While some governments are pursuing substantial economic reforms, trade disputes risk diverting others from the constructive steps they would currently need to take to improve and secure growth prospects, Mr. Obstfeld warned.

Despite widespread economic growth, public optimism has been eroding over time by job and wage polarization trends, raising the threat of political developments that could destabilize various economic policies – even beyond those of trade.

“Governments need to rise to the challenges of strengthening growth, spreading its benefits more widely, broadening economic opportunity through investments in people […] that could radically transform the nature of work,” underscored Mr. Obstfeld. “Fights over trade distract from this vital agenda, rather than advancing it.”

Trade tensions started in early March when the US announced it would levy steel and aluminum tariffs for national security reasons, provoking China’s announcement of retaliatory tariffs on US imports.

In the present environment, excessive global imbalances should be reduced multilaterally.

“Plurilateral arrangements, if consistent with multilateral rules, can also provide a useful springboard to more open trade,” stated Mr. Obstfeld.

While each Government can do much on its own to promote stronger, resilient and inclusive growth, multilateral cooperation remains essential to address a range of challenges – including climate change, infectious diseases, cyber-security, corporate taxation and corruption.

“Global interdependence will only continue to grow and unless countries face it in a spirit of collaboration, not conflict, the world economy cannot prosper,” Mr. Obstfeld underscored.

Continue Reading

Economy

Why Trade, Investment, and Competition Reforms Matter for Argentina

MD Staff

Published

on

A loaf of bread. A gallon of milk. Eggs, cheese, and chicken. Most people would not link these everyday staples with a country’s integration in the global economy. But in Argentina, where customers pay 49% more, on average, for these groceries than people would have to under similar conditions in OECD countries, higher food prices are a symptom of deeper economic issues.

The country faces challenges in three policy areas that reinforce each other in fostering further integration in the global economy: trade, investment, and competition. Argentina’s trade flows have fallen by almost half over the past fifteen years, and while most countries participate in about 14 free trade agreements each, Argentina is only party to one, Mercosur. Foreign direct investment levels are low in Argentina, amounting to just two percent of GDP between 2000 and 2015. Further, state-owned enterprises in 17 different sectors are not competing on a level playing field with private investors or delivering services less efficiently than the private sector could.

A report from The World Bank Group, Strengthening Argentina’s Integration in the Global Economy: Policy Proposals for Trade, Investment and Competition, analyzes the current state of affairs in these three policy areas and proposes reforms designed to boost integration with the global markets which would then provide opportunities to grow, create welfare for consumers, and generate better employment opportunities. The reforms suggested in the report cover a wide range and include recommendations such as lowering tariffs, removing bureaucratic hurdles that make private sector investments difficult, and strengthening anti-cartel enforcement, among others. Enacting these reforms would allow firms to be more competitive and better integrated into the global economy, the report finds.

Implementing economy-wide reforms will pay off in a variety of ways. For instance, with all else being equal, a more integrated Mercosur- with lower external tariffs and streamlined internal non-tariff measures – would expand Argentina’s GDP by at least 1%over baseline projections for 2030. Increasing competition in the manufacturing sector would add 7 percent to annual growth labor productivity. Reducing the restrictiveness of market regulation in Argentinian services sectors (such as energy, transport, professional services, and telecommunications) would translate into an additional 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent growth in annual GDP.

Argentina’s government recognizes these opportunities and is taking active steps to open its markets. The Macri administration, which took office in 2015, has already reduced export taxes, replaced the import licensing system, approved reductions in energy and transport subsidies, pushed for a new Competition Law and facilitated $102 billion in new future investments in just 24 months.

“We are convinced that to defeat poverty, Argentina needs a profound productive transformation to become a developed country,” said Miguel Braun, Secretario de Comercio de la Nación, at an event in December 2017.

To reap the benefits of an open economy and increase prosperity in Argentina, the World Bank Group suggests tackling reforms across all three policy areas simultaneously, prioritizing those that can offer short-term wins and tangible benefits.

“No one policy alone ensures that firms can integrate into the global economy,” explains Martha Martinez-Licetti, Lead Economist in the World Bank Group’s Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment Global Practice and Lead Author of the report. “More must be done to ensure that everyone shares fully in the benefits of trade. Policies that help all people benefit from the opportunities that come with trade include investment and competition policies. It is only when implemented in a coherent way that reforms to trade, investment and competition can bring positive effects for the economy as a whole, better jobs for Argentine people, and more variety of goods and services at lower prices for consumers.”

The reforms suggested by the World Bank Group aim to address four particular challenges that firms in Argentina face.

  • Opportunities to enter and/or invest;
  • Access to efficient market inputs;
  • Ability to compete on a level playing field;
  • Capacity to thrive in global markets.

In the past, government interventions prevented investment from expanding or thriving. But today, Argentina is looking to the future and building policies that will help it reintegrate into the world economy.

“Even in this turbulence that we are experiencing, there is an opportunity to intelligently join the world,” said Argentina’s Minister of Production, Francisco Cabrera. “This report is an analytical anchor to understand where we are standing and to be able to make decisions.”

World Bank

Continue Reading

Economy

Growth Expected to Rebound in Middle East and North Africa

MD Staff

Published

on

The World Bank Group’s latest Middle East and North Africa Economic Monitor projects regional growth to increase to 3.1% in 2018, up from 2% in 2017. The increase in growth is expected to be broad based, driven by a favorable global economic environment, stability in the oil market at slightly higher prices, and the resumption of post-conflict reconstruction.

“There are grounds for optimism,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region. “Now is the time to focus on creating more jobs and economic opportunities for youth. The positive outlook is an opportunity to speed up reforms for a renewed private sector as an engine of growth and job creation.”

On the back of a good performance by Gulf Cooperation Council countries, oil exporters could see growth reach 3% in 2018, double the rate in 2017. Growth among oil importers is expected to increase to 4% on average from 2018 to 2020, driven by a sharp rebound in Egypt and a rise in remittances, tourism and exports. Almost all countries in the region have embarked on major reforms to reduce or eliminate energy subsidies, identify new sources of non-oil revenues, and expand social safety nets to shield the poor from adverse effects of change.

“While stabilization policies have helped economies adjust in recent years, we need much faster growth to absorb the hundreds of millions of young people who will enter the labor market in the coming decades,” said Rabah Arezki, World Bank Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa Region, “In this report, we study ways for transforming rather than adjusting the region’s economies, to achieve the growth needed.”

Low oil prices and a global shift toward renewable energy to meet climate goals poses risks and opportunities. With its abundant sunshine, the region can leverage the power of solar technology. Turning risks into opportunities will require innovation and the adoption of new technologies. Along with helping the region adapt to the new reality of low oil prices, leveraging new technologies could be a new engine of growth and jobs for the regions. A focus on corporate governance will need to accompany efforts to improve the business environment, to create a new system of incentives at the firm level that encourages the bold and creative thinking required for economic transformation.

Adopting new technologies will require significant investments in infrastructure, which will require greater leveraging of private finance. This can be achieved through public-private partnerships, which Jordan has used to build the Queen Alia airport, and Egypt to attract sizeable private investments in its energy sector. Public-Private partnerships have the added advantage of drawing on the innovation and efficiency of the private sector, and are a step toward changing the role of the state from the main provider of employment to an enabler of private sector activity.

Continue Reading

Latest

Newsdesk2 hours ago

New Solar Project to Restore Electricity to Over One Million Yemenis

The World Bank announced today a new project to finance off-grid solar systems in Yemen to power vital basic services,...

Tech4 hours ago

The Artificial Intelligence Race: U.S. China and Russia

Artificial intelligence (AI), a subset of machine learning, has the potential to drastically impact a nation’s national security in various...

Economy5 hours ago

Upswing in global growth won’t last forever: IMF says world must prepare now for leaner times ahead

While the world economy continues to show broad-based momentum, a new report released Tuesday by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is...

Newsdesk7 hours ago

Japan works with UNIDO to boost employment in Lebanon

The Government of Japan has announced that it will fund a project to create jobs in the carpentry and construction...

Middle East7 hours ago

The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism in the Era of MbS – an Update

There has long been debate about the longevity of the Saudi ruling family. One major reason for doubts about the...

Americas8 hours ago

Poll Shows Americans Support the Invasion of Syria – What they Misunderstand About that War

The first even marginally trustworthy poll of American “registered voters” regarding the April 14th U.S.-and-allied missiles-invasion of Syria, shows an...

Intelligence10 hours ago

ISIS and the Continuing Threat of Islamist Jihad: The Need for the Centrality of PSYOP

Defining the Problem The National Security Strategy of the United States (NSS) calls for direct military action against ISIS in...

Newsletter

Trending

Copyright © 2018 Modern Diplomacy