EconoGraphics

In July, France’s parliament ratified a new law to tax big digital tech firms making it the first country to pass a tax law of this manner. Paris’ new tax scheme triggered criticism from the Trump Administration and is further complicating the transatlantic relationship. This edition of the EconoGraphic explains the motivation behind taxing digital technology firms more aggressively, the way that the French tax will work, and the potential impacts and response to the tax.

On July 22, President Trump met with a group of major tech CEOs to discuss the easing of some restrictions on US companies supplying high-tech parts to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei. In May, the US Commerce Department banned US companies from selling any products to Huawei. The Chinese company’s position as the world’s leading provider of 5G technology has made it a focal point of the escalating great power competition between China and the United States. This edition of the EconoGraphic explains the US government’s move to blacklist Huawei, outlines the ban’s potential costs, and describes why US allies are conflicted about banning Huawei.

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Escalating trade tensions between the world’s major economies are widely considered the greatest threat to the global economy’s health. Following the White House’s cancellation of its threatened tariffs on all Mexican imports on June 7, attention swiftly turned back to the brewing US-China trade war. This edition of the EconoGraphic, however, puts the focus on how US tariffs on cars and car parts might disrupt transatlantic trade flows. The graphic highlights the importance of the transatlantic auto trade for the EU and US economies, outlines the role of European car manufacturers and suppliers in the US auto supply chain, and previews the potential impact of US car tariffs on both economies.

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On April 17 2019, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo announced an important change in the United States’ policy toward Cuba: Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democracy Solidarity Act of 1996 (LIBERTAD Act) would no longer be suspended. As a result of this decision, US claimants can now seek compensation for property confiscated by the Castro government. The move has important implications for US and foreign companies doing business in Cuba. This edition of the EconoGraphic explains the history and purpose of the LIBERTAD Act, evaluates the policy’s potential impact on US allies’ economic interests in Cuba, and highlights its implications for the pressure campaign against the Maduro regime in Venezuela.

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On April 26, following stronger than expected US economic growth numbers, the White House’s National Economic Council director, Larry Kudlow, urged the Federal Reserve (Fed) to cut interest rates by 50 basis points.

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On January 16, a US Senate resolution to maintain US sanctions on the Russian aluminum giant RUSAL and its holding company EN+ failed to garner the necessary 60 votes to pass. As a result, the Trump administration lifted its economic sanctions on RUSAL and EN+ on January 27.

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At this year’s G20 summit in Buenos Aires, the trade dispute between China and the United States took center stage. Chinese President Xi and his US counterpart President Donald Trump agreed to avoid further escalations of the ongoing bilateral trade war for the next 90 days. The temporary deal does not assuage the escalatory measures already taken, leaving the existing tariffs in place. This edition of the EconoGraphic explores how the brewing trade conflict is impacting manufacturing supply chains, soybean cargo routes, and trade flows of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) among the United States, China, and the rest of the world.

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With the snapback of significant US sanctions against Iran fast approaching on November 5th, speculation is mounting over how the Trump Administration will enforce the sanctions, and how its European allies might attempt to bypass them. The previous EconoGraphic outlined how a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) may facilitate trade between European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and Iran after US sanctions go back into effect. This edition of the EconoGraphic provides a primer on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) and explains why sanctioning the financial messaging service would likely cause more harm than good. 

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The European Union’s (EU) foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, recently announced that the EU will set-up a special purpose vehicle (SPV) “to facilitate legitimate financial transactions with Iran and allow European companies to continue to trade with Iran.” In response, our visiting senior fellow, Samantha Sultoon, argued that this SPV will not provide a reliable path around US sanctions, and may undermine the effectiveness of US and EU sanctions in the long-run. This edition of the EconoGraphic explains how the SPV would work in practice and outlines why this mechanism is unlikely to offer Iran enough economic upside to keep the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) alive. 

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With the strengthening of the US dollar in the wake of continued interest rate increases by the US Federal Reserve and brewing pressures in a number of emerging market (EM), portfolio flows into EM countries slowed from $13.7 billion in July to just $2.2 billion in August. Companies and banks in both Argentina and Turkey borrowed heavily in dollar denominated debt while interest rates were low and are now faced with mounting debt burdens, which, if not backed by sufficient reserves puts them at risk for default if investors lose confidence. The Turkish lira has fallen over 40 percent in 2018. Its sharp decline in August raised concern of contagion to other markets, as the Indonesian rupiah, the South African rand, and the Indian rupee have also come under pressure. This edition of the Econographic compares situation in Turkey with the Asian financial crisis in 1997, analyzes root causes of the current pressures in Turkey, and assesses the broader implications for EM economies.

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