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Growth, trade, development, institutions, aid, oil, India, Africa, the WTO, intellectual property
Arvind Subramanian is a senior fellow (on leave) at the Center for Global Development. He is the chief economic advisor to the government of India.
Greenprint: A New Approach to Cooperation on Climate Change, written with Aaditya Mattoo, was published by CGD in 2012; Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China's Economic Dominance was published in September 2011. Foreign Policy named him one of the world's top 100 global thinkers in 2011. India Today magazine named him one of India’s top 35 “Masters of the Mind” over the last 35 years.
He has written on growth, trade, development, institutions, aid, oil, India, China, Africa, and the World Trade Organization. He has published widely in academic and other journals, including the American Economic Review (Papers and Proceedings), Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of International Economics, Journal of Monetary Economics, Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Economic Growth, Journal of Development Economics, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, International Monetary Fund Staff Papers, Foreign Affairs, World Economy, and Economic and Political Weekly. He is currently ranked among the top 2 percent of the world’s academic economists in terms of citations of academic research, according to the widely used REPEC rankings.
He has also published or been cited in leading magazines and newspapers, including the Economist, Financial Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and New York Review of Books. He contributes frequently to the Financial Times and is a columnist for India's leading financial daily, Business Standard.
He advises the Indian government in different capacities, including as a member of the Finance Minister's Expert Group on the G-20. Subramanian was assistant director in the Research Department of the International Monetary Fund. He served at the GATT (1988–92) during the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations and taught at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government (1999–2000) and at Johns Hopkins' School for Advanced International Studies (2008–10).
He obtained his undergraduate degree from St. Stephens College, Delhi; his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, India; and his M.Phil. and D.Phil. from the University of Oxford, UK.
“Does Aid Affect Governance?” American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings, (with Raghuram Rajan), May 2007.
“Africa’s Growth Prospects: Benchmarking the Constraints,” NBER Working Paper, 13120 (with Simon Johnson and Jonathan Ostry).
“Foreign Capital and Economic Development,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, March 2007, (with Eswar Prasad and Raghuram Rajan).
“How to Help Poor Countries,” Foreign Affairs, (with Nancy Birdsall and Dani Rodrik), 2005.
“Aid and Growth: What Does the Cross-Section Evidence Really Show?” National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper, No. 11513, (with Raghuram Rajan), 2005; forthcoming Review of Economics and Statistics.
“What Undermines Aid’s Impact on Growth,” NBER Working Paper, No. 11657, (with Raghuram Rajan), 2005.
“Institutions Rule: The Primacy of Institutions Over Geography and Integration in Economic Development,” Journal of Economic Growth, (with Dani Rodrik and Francesco Trebbi), 2004.
“Saving Iraq from its Oil,” Foreign Affairs, (with Nancy Birdsall), 2004.
“What Determines Long-Run Macroeconomic Stability? Democratic Institutions,” IMF Working Staff Papers, (with Shanker Satyanath), 2007.
“The Natural Resource Curse: An Illustration from Nigeria,” NBER Working Paper, with Xavier Sala-i-Martin), 2003.
“The Primacy of Institutions and What it does or does not Mean,” Finance and Development, (with Dani Rodrik), June 2003.
“Who can Explain the Mauritian Miracle: Meade, Romer, Sachs or Rodrik,” In Search of Prosperity, edited by Dani Rodrik, Princeton University Press, (with Devesh Roy), 2002.
“Policies, Enforcement, and Customs Evasion: Evidence from India,” IMF Working Paper, (with Prachi Mishra and Petia Topalova), forthcoming.
“The Intriguing Relationship between Growth and Institutions in India,” Oxford Review of Economic Policy, forthcoming.
“India’s Pattern of Development: What Happened, What Follows,” Journal of Monetary Economics, (with K. Kochhar, U. Kumar, R. Rajan, and I. Tokatlidis), 2006.
“From ‘Hindu Growth’ to Productivity Surge: The Mystery of the Indian Growth Transition,” IMF Staff Papers, (with Dani Rodrik), 2004.
“Why India can grow at 7 Percent a year or More?” Economic and Political Weekly, (with Dani Rodrik), 2004.
Trade and Intellectual Property
“The WTO promotes trade strongly, but unevenly,” Journal of International Economics, (with Shang-Jin Wei), 2007.
“Why Prospects for Doha Trade Talks are not Bright?” Finance and Development, (with Aaditya Mattoo), March 2005.
“Medicines, Patents and TRIPs,” Finance and Development, March 2004.
“The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and Its Rules of Origin: Generosity Undermined?” The World Economy, Vol. 26, No. 6, (with Aaditya Mattoo and Devesh Roy), 2003.
“The WTO and Poorest Countries: The Stark Reality,” World Trade Review, (with Aaditya Mattoo), 2003.
“Measuring Services Trade Liberalization and Its Impact on Economic Growth: An Illustration,” Journal of Economic Integration, (with Aaditya Mattoo and Randeep Rathindran), 2002.
“Dynamic Gains from Trade – Evidence from South Africa,” IMF Staff Papers Vol. 48 No. 1, (with Gunnar Jonsson), 2001.
“Can TRIPS Serve as An Enforcement Device in the WTO?” Journal of International Economic Law, (with J. Watal), 2000.
“Trade and the Environment: A Nearly Empty Box?” The World Economy, 1992.
“TRIPs and the Paradigm of the GATT: A Tropical, Temperate View,” World Economy, 1990.
“The International Economics of Intellectual Property Right Protection: A Welfare-Theoretic Trade Policy Analysis,” World Development, Vol. 19, No. 8.
“Regulatory Autonomy and Multilateral Disciplines: the Dilemma and a Possible Resolution,” Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 9 No. 2, (with Aaditya Mattoo.)
India: Trade and Intellectual Property
“India as User and Creator of Intellectual Property: The Challenges Post-Doha,” in India and the WTO, edited by A. Mattoo and R. Stern, World Bank), 2003.
“India and the Multilateral Trading System Post-Doha: Defensive or Proactive?” in India and the WTO, edited by A. Mattoo and R. Stern, World Bank, (with A. Mattoo), 2003.
“The Case for a US-India Free Trade Agreement,” Economic and Political Weekly, (with A. Mattoo), 2003.
“Putting Some Numbers on the TRIPS Pharmaceutical Debate,” International Journal of Technology Management, 1994.
Book, op-eds and other
“Efficiency, Equity, and Legitimacy: The Multilateral Trading System at the Millenium,” Brookings/Harvard University Press, (edited with Roger Porter and Pierre Sauvé), 2002.
Profile of Paul Krugman: “Economist as Crusader,” Finance and Development, June 2006.
“The Bangalore Bug,” op-ed in the Financial Times, (with Raghuram Rajan), 2006.
“China’s exchange rate,” op-ed in the Financial Times, (with Raghuram Rajan), 2005.
Profile of Jagdish Bhagwati: “The Globalization Guru,” Finance and Development, September 2005.
Few problems are as pressing and as existential for the world as climate change, and few have proven to be as intractable. Three decades of international negotiations on climate change have yielded little by way of action that would substantially slow, let alone reverse, human-caused climate change. Things can be different.
India’s prime minister says the Maoist conflict is the biggest internal security challenge in his country’s history. Does environmental degradation play role in the violence? Kishore Gawande and Devesh Kapur will present a paper that uses a novel data set on violent deaths and satellite images that capture “greenness” – a good measure of farm and forest resources – to explore this question. They find that degradation significantly increases the intensity of conflict. Following the presentation, Gopal Pillai, who until recently was a senior official dealing with the Maoist insurgency, will discuss the broader governance implications of the paper.
*This seminar series is organized by CGD's Understanding India initiative, which explores India's development challenges and experiences and the lessons they might offer for other developing countries.
Senior Fellow Arvind Subramanian writes an op-ed for the Financial Times on the next director-general of the World Trade Organization.
The following op-ed originally appeared in the Financial Times.
The list of candidates to succeed Pascal Lamy as director-general of the World Trade Organisation has just been finalised. Astonishingly, not one of the nine aspirants is from the world’s four big major trading entities – the US, Europe, Japan or China – that together account for more than 55 per cent of global merchandise exports. That is both a metaphor for what ails the supervisory body for global trade and a signal of its bleak prospects.
Over time the WTO has become an institution where smaller and poorer countries have acquired a stake and voice. This transformation may seem a welcome sign of legitimacy. But it has gone too far. For its future effectiveness, indeed survival, the WTO needs to be de-democratised, with the large countries reasserting themselves. Otherwise, trade will become more fragmented and friction-prone, undermining the very system from which the smaller countries stand to benefit and slowing global growth momentum.
The multilateral trading system faces an existential threat with liberalisation increasingly taking place outside the WTO, either through unilateral reform or via increasingly popular regional trade agreements.
But these agreements did not jeopardise the WTO for the important reason that none of them was between the large trading nations themselves. Ominously, that now stands to change. The US has thrown its weight behind the trans-Pacific Partnership which could potentially include Japan. It is also seriously contemplating a transatlantic agreement with Europe.
Soon, there will be a scramble among other large nations to conclude deals with each other. Multilateral trade as we have known it will progressively become history. So too might the WTO’s importance and relevance because it was the institution where the US, Europe, Japan and China liberalised trade and settled disputes.
Leaving aside the experience of European integration, which had its unique post-second world war imperatives, it is the US that will bear history’s burden for these new developments. The US, which began the process of undermining the non-discriminatory trading system by negotiating regional agreements with Israel and Canada in the 1980s, will have effectively ensured its completion by embarking on these new agreements.
How can this be addressed? The effectiveness of the WTO as a forum for fostering further liberalisation has been undermined by at least two factors. The first is the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Launched in the aftermath of 9/11, the world has neither been able to conclude nor bury them successfully.
As a result, it has become impossible to move to a more relevant agenda that can expand market opportunities for the private sector and deal with the current concerns of governments. An example is food, where a decade ago subsidies and barriers to imports were the important issue. Today, high prices and barriers on exports are more important.
Similarly, currency manipulation is now a pressing issue – but is not on the Doha agenda. Emerging powers such as China and India must be more active in shaping this new agenda and constructive about liberalisation in the WTO or risk their trading partners seeking alternatives to it.
But interring Doha will not be enough to revitalise the WTO’s effectiveness. Unlike the IMF which has suffered from a democratic deficit and legitimacy problem, the WTO has suffered from too much democracy and associated blocking powers. A few small countries can effectively exercise their veto if, say, cotton subsidies – an issue of legitimate concern to them but not necessarily of systemic importance – are not addressed.
This veto must be taken away or future negotiations could be stymied by any of the WTO’s 157 members. This outcome can be achieved by allowing the larger countries to negotiate among themselves while offering assurances to the smaller countries that they would receive the benefits of such negotiations and be spared any burdens.
Unless this change occurs, the WTO cannot deliver on its key mandate of being a forum for further liberalisation. And if it cannot, it will be reduced to a body that settles trade disputes between countries based on rules that are increasingly overtaken by those negotiated under regional agreements.
Recently the legitimacy of the IMF and World Bank was under question because the procedure for selecting their leaders appeared rigged in favour of Europe and the US. It is perhaps ironic that, in the case of the other part of the Bretton Woods troika – the WTO – the absence of candidates from the most economically powerful countries would be seen as lamentable. But it is, as it signals that the world’s largest trading nations have relinquished responsibility in making it an effective and relevant multilateral institution. That is a situation that threatens to make everyone a loser.
Read it here.
CGD fellows Arvind Subramanian and Devesh Kapur will participate on this panel as part of the “20 Years of Transformation in South Asia” conference. The conference as a whole will examine developments within the region and in the role of South Asian states on the global scene. It will mark the official launch of the Carnegie South Asia Program.
You can view the agenda for the full conference here.
What do the stalled climate talks getting underway in Doha, Qatar, this week and the partisan jousting in Washington over the impending “fiscal cliff” have in common? Not much if you get your information from the mainstream media, which has mostly either ignored the idea or poured cold water on it. Below the surface, however, there is fresh interest in the United States in taxing carbon pollution, including from some unexpected quarters. Such a move can’t come soon enough.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. (November 20, 2012) – Key assumptions underpinning the UN climate negotiations have been overtaken by changes in the world economy requiring a new grand bargain, according to a new book from the Center for Global Development.
Media contact:Catherine AnMedia Relations Associate (202) firstname.lastname@example.org
The UN negotiations, which will enter their 18th round this month with a huge conference in Doha, Qatar, on November 26, have failed to produce a binding agreement on either emissions reductions or substantial funding to help poor countries cope with climate changes already underway.
“There is deep disagreement on who needs to act, how, and when,” says CGD senior fellow Arvind Subramanian, co-author of Greenprint: A New Approach to Cooperation on Climate Change. “The world urgently needs a new framework in which to approach these talks.”
Until now the focus has been on emissions reductions, with a strong expectation that any future deal would include some element of cash-for-cuts, that is, rich countries would compensate developing countries for cutting their emissions.
Subramanian and his co-author Aaditya Mattoo, a World Bank trade policy economist, argue that this model was flawed from the start and is now wildly unrealistic, since the high-income countries are saddled with heavy debt while the emerging powers are cash-rich.
Instead, the authors of Greenprint call for a role reversal with the emerging powers, acting in their own best interest, sharing the mantle of leadership, and looking for ways to encourage the United States and other rich countries to take action.
“Developing countries have been waiting for rich countries to act to prevent climate change,” says Mattoo. “But now countries like China and India must also lead, because while rich countries have the resources to adapt to climate change, developing countries don’t.”
The proposal also takes into account that insisting now on emissions cuts from developing countries, which have much lower per capita emissions than the rich countries, would make it impossible for them to meet basic needs, like transport and energy.
The Greenprint calls for rich countries to price carbon — through emissions taxes or cap-and-trade — highly enough to sharply reduce emissions and spark a technology revolution in cheap renewable energy. For Europe and the United States, an important side benefit would be new revenue to address their debt and deficit woes.
In exchange, the cash-rich emerging powers would end their fossil fuel subsidies and contribute to a global clean tech fund to support development and deployment of new energy technologies. They would also agree to accept limited tariffs on carbon-intensive products, such as steel and cement, to help make higher carbon prices in the rich world politically acceptable.
Finally, the emerging powers would also promise to make substantial emissions cuts of their own in the future, once renewable energy technology that is cheaper than coal and oil becomes available.
“All major emitters, the rich and dynamic poor alike, must make contributions calibrated in magnitude and form to their development levels and prospects,” says Subramanian.
While the idea would mark a radical departure, it has attracted warm endorsements from several climate policy leaders, including:
“This important book sets a sensible and specific way forward. It should be read by all involved in economic development and international action on climate change.”
— Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Review
“Greenprint presents a fresh out-of-the-box approach to climate cooperation and proposes a concrete menu of options. It should be seriously considered by political leaders and the armies of climate negotiators.”
Jairam Ramesh, India’s minister for rural development and former minister for the environment
“Mattoo and Subramanian are the masters at rethinking global compacts in a way that is free of the wishfulness, abstraction, and process-obsession that sometimes bedevil the debate.”
— Sebastian Mallaby, Center for Geo-Economic Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Global negotiations on climate change have been hampered as much by a neglect of scientific facts as a lack of objective analysis. Greenprint fills a large gap and provides a useful departure from standard literature on the subject.”
— R. K. Pachauri, Nobel Prize–winning Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The overview chapter of the book is available online together with a video of the authors explaining the key concepts.
The Center for Global Development: CGD works to reduce global poverty and inequality through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community to make the world a more prosperous, just, and safe place for all people. As a nimble, independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit think tank, focused on improving the policies and practices of the rich and powerful, the Center combines world-class scholarly research with policy analysis and innovative outreach and communications to turn ideas into action.
In this working paper, the authors shed light on systemic problems of variability and valuation in the Penn World Table GDP estimates that distort cross-country comparisons of the data. They propose creating a new chained series that values all data at PPP prices and makes better use of disaggregated data for different benchmark years to overcome the limitations.
The Economist features a book review of Senior Fellow Arvind Subramanian's latest book, Greenprint.
From the review:
Greenprint: A New Approach to Cooperation on Climate Change. By Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian. Brookings Institution Press; 150 pages; $17.99. Buy from Amazon.com
MOST books about the environment take the West as their starting point. This is understandable. For decades America was the world’s biggest polluter, contributing more to the problem than any other country, whereas Europe—at least in its politicians’ minds—has model environmental laws and holds plenty of righteous talks to negotiate new solutions.
But Europe and America are becoming supporting actors in the world’s climate-change drama. The lead players are China and India. China is the world’s largest emitter, contributing nearly a quarter of current global emissions. With India it accounted for 83% of the worldwide increase in carbon emissions in 2000-11. Though global warming began with industrialised countries it must end—if it is to end—through actions in developing ones. All the more reason to welcome “Greenprint”, the first book on climate change to concentrate on this growing part of the problem. Written by Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian, two Indian economists based in Washington, DC, the book offers an unflinching look at what one might realistically expect emerging markets to do.
The West, the authors argue, has failed to mitigate global warming, so developing countries will have to take over. This is necessary, they say, because global warming will affect developing countries more than rich ones, partly because tropical and subtropical lands are more sensitive to warming than cold or temperate ones, and partly because rich people can afford better flood controls and drought-resistant seeds than poor ones.
Read it here.
Is the world making progress on climate change? Recently, the OECD struck a hopeful note, reporting that emissions were growing more slowly than GDP in both the high-income and developing countries, including China. This decoupling of emissions and growth, if true, would be good news indeed, since it would suggest that the world can cut emissions without hurting the economic growth needed to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.