Robert Kahn

Macro and Markets

Robert Kahn analyzes economic policies for an integrated world.

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Ukraine and IMF: Step Forward Now

by Robert Kahn

The IMF announced today that it has reached an agreement in principle on a two-year program (stand-by arrangement) with Ukraine. The headline numbers are $14-18 billion of IMF money and overall financing of $27 billion, which is lower than some had hoped, but don’t be fooled. This is a three-to-six month program, designed to meet Ukraine’s critical near-term financing needs and to get reforms going. Both are essential tasks, and rightfully the focus. The program will be revised (and likely boosted) after elections. It will be at that point that thorny issues like debt restructuring will be addressed.

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Ukraine: Economy Matters

by Robert Kahn
Value of the Ukrainian hryvnia against the dollar—closely watched by Ukrainians as an economic signal—has sharply depreciated due to recent turmoil in Kiev. (Source: Oanda.com) Value of the Ukrainian hryvnia against the dollar—closely watched by Ukrainians as an economic signal—has sharply depreciated due to recent turmoil in Kiev. (Source: Oanda.com)

A deal that would end the violence in Ukraine appears to be holding. It would produce early elections, a return to the 2004 constitution, and a national unity government. It would also set the stage for an urgent western effort to provide financing supported by an IMF program. Good news on the politics, though, does not equate to good news on the economy.

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Five Financial Questions for Ukraine

by Robert Kahn

There is an interesting debate going on in Western capitals over financial support for Ukraine.  The possibility of political change, coupled with Russia’s decision to suspend disbursements on its $12 billion financial package, has created an opening for meaningful economic reforms and renewed ties with global financial bodies.  There are compelling political arguments for the West to respond with a financing program that makes it economically viable for Ukraine to choose the EU Association Agreement that it rejected last year.  But the economics make a deal hard to put together.  For now, the ball is in Ukraine’s court—tensions remain high and Western aid will require at a minimum a technocratic and reform oriented government be put in place.  But should that happen, here are five economic questions on the table. Read more »

Obama’s Modest Proposals for Growth

by Robert Kahn

As signaled in recent days, President Obama’s State of the Union address puts the spotlight firmly on domestic policy. Creating economic opportunity was a major theme. In addition to a hike in the minimum wage for government contract employees, the president called for a economy-wide minimum wage increase, an extension of unemployment benefits, immigration reform, and other measures to attack income inequality. The only surprise was a new Treasury instrument, MyRA, to encourage retirement savings.

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The Federal Reserve Tapers: In Search of Calmer Waters

by Robert Kahn

Yesterday’s decision by the Federal Reserve’s policy committee to modestly reduce (“taper”) its purchases of U.S. Treasury and mortgage-backed securities was a turning point in a number of respects.  After a long period of public debate that roiled markets, the Federal Reserve has at last begun what is likely to be a gradual and well-telegraphed exit from its period of extraordinary stimulus.  Together, last week’s fiscal deal and the Federal Reserve’s taper decision appears to have marked the start of a period of relative calm where U.S. macro policy uncertainty will be far less of a driver of markets. That’s good news for the global economy.

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Guest Post: The Year of Womenomics

by Heidi Crebo-Rediker
IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde (L) is greeted by U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton (R) at the State Department on December 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Courtesy IMF Staff Photograph/Stephen Jaffe). IMF's Managing Director Christine Lagarde (L) is greeted by U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton (R) at the State Department on December 15, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Courtesy IMF Staff Photograph/Stephen Jaffe).

Today we are please to have the following guest post written by Heidi Crebo-Rediker, a CFR Senior Fellow. Prior to joining CFR, Heidi served as the State Department’s first chief economist. 

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What’s So Special About November 1?

by Robert Kahn

It is starting to sink in that October 17 is not a hard deadline for default by the U.S. government on its obligations.  Senator Corker for instance says “I think the real date is around the first of November.” Some of the talk of later dates is posturing by the president’s opponents seeking leverage in the negotiations, and their willingness to go so close to the edge of the cliff is disturbing. But it also reflects the real uncertainty about when the debt limit will cause serious economic and political distress.  It is worth examining whether November 1 is a drop dead date for negotiations.

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