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Noel Maurer
Interests: My current research asks whether foreign governments or international institutions can improve economic governance. Is it possible to alter a country’s property rights system from the outside? This research has two prongs. The first is a historical work, tentatively entitled Imperial Experiments: Intervention, Economic Growth, and Property Rights, which tests various hypotheses about the success and failure of American attempts to improve economic governance outside the United States and protect the property rights of U.S. investors before World War II. The second is a series of contemporary case studies about attempts to alter nations’ internal economic governance from the outside: bilateral investment treaties, investor protection clauses in trade agreements, conditional loans, the “mortgaging” of export revenues, vulture funds, and military intervention. I also watch a lot of baseball, enjoy very bad music, and do a lot of travelling. The travel tends to be either in total luxury, or to places where I need to wear body armor and live in constant fear of, well, death.
Recent Activity
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Kevin Drum announces with much certainty that Donald Trump has nothing to do with the peso’s fall! Is he right? No. He’s not. It is true that the Mexican peso weakened in November 2014, when oil prices dropped from around... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Power and the Money
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With the U.K. on its way out of the European Union, now seems like the time to ask! I am not talking about 1989. Rather, I am talking about 1871. Did the emergence of a unified German nation state owe... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Power and the Money
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The 25th amendment has been getting a lot of attention lately. Most of that attention is undeserved, unless you expect President Trump to suffer a debilitating stroke. The amendment was written to avoid, in the words of Doug Muir, “The... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Power and the Money
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In April of 2016, I posted about a European initiative to reform investment tribunals. I thought it an excellent idea. The idea would be to make the tribunals more like real honest-to-goodness courts, with due process and precedent and all.... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Power and the Money
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Market access can have a big impact even when the numbers are small. For example, extending normal trading relations to China did not dramatically increase access to the U.S. market. But it did increase certainty: previously, China’s access was subject... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Power and the Money
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The Trump administration may or may not be seriously considering mobilizing the National Guard to deport illegal immigrants. (The link goes to the draft memo, not a secondary source.) The reason why the administration would need state governors to agree... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Political events over the past few years in North Carolina have been quite depressing. Extreme gerrymandering diluted representation. In 2012, the Democrats won the popular vote for the federal House but lost most of the seats. In 2016, a 53%... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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In 2011, France was wracked by corruption scandals in which African leaders, from Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon in particular, passed off millions of dollars in cash to the Jacques Chirac and Dominique de Villepin. It was the flip side an... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Back during the Obama administration, critics always used to say that there was too much “uncertainty.” Business executives being fragile flowers and all, they could not be expected to make tough decisions without absolute 100% certainty about everything. That argument... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I am opposed to a 20% tariff aimed at Mexican manufactured goods. I am more ambivalent about the 20% border adjustment tax (BAT) floated by the Trump administration. In fact, I may support it. The basic idea is simple. U.S.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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It is true that President Trump has made threatening noises. And it is true that he has appointed people with protectionist bents to run Commerce and the USTR office. But said Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, founded a major Mexican... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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In the previous post, some readers questioned how the Argentine government could unilaterally offer the Falkland Islands access to Mercosur. The answer is easy: Mercosur recognizes Argentine sovereignty over the islands. The Mercosur parliament ratified the previous declaration in stronger... Continue reading
Posted Feb 11, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I have been involved in urban real estate markets, in addition to my own house. (Details to come.) As a potential owner, what was my response to a declaration that an eight-story building was going up that would block part... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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In our last installment, we commented on the Argentine Republic’s recent immigration reforms. That rather anodyne change prompted the Argentine security minister to have to deny that a wall with Bolivia was in the cards. Now it seems that the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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So the Trudeau government just gave supporters their first big disappointment: no election reform in this parliament. The stated reason is twofold. First, the Liberals feared that proportional representation might lead to the rise of fringe alt-right parties. Second, the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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By now, most of you have heard of the tragic fiasco in Yemen. An attempted U.S.-Emirati raid went badly wrong, resulting in unnecessary loss of military and civilian lives. On one hand, the fault lies with the U.S. military, which... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Power is the ability to get people to obey of their own volition. In liberal democracies, executive officials are obeyed because their underlings believe that the only legitimate course of action is to obey them. In the background, there is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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On the phone yesterday, my boy said this to me, verbatim: “God bless Donald Trump to make good decisions and God bless bad guys to not be bad guys and do good things instead.” I am fairly sure that he... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2017 at The Power and the Money
Many of you may know that the Argentine Republic has a remarkably liberal immigration policy. But it does have an immigration policy; Argentine borders are not open. And now the Macri administration wants to tighten them a little bit. What... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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It now looks like the administration won’t (for now) be using its Economic Powers Act authority to impose a tariff on Mexican goods. Instead, he is going to ask Congress to create a border adjustment tax, which would stop American... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I have no idea if the Trump administration plans to impose a 20% tariff on Mexico. It seems now that the surprise announcement had to do with plans for a border adjustment tax, which is a different thing. But who... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Now the Trump administration is floating the imposition of a 20% tax on Mexican imports to pay for the wall. Obviously, this would violate NAFTA, but the U.S. President likely has the unilateral authority to impose such a tax. The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Over the past week, it seems to have sunk in to the Mexican commentariat that Trump is serious about building a wall and renegotiating NAFTA. Newspaper articles have gone from “Hey, maybe there is an upside here, we can modernize... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Here I am, in Mexico, as the 45th presidency of the United States begins. The talk among the intelligentsia is about NAFTA and, weirdly, the prospects of a war between the United States and China. So I am going to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Mexico has been beset by widespread looting and demonstrations over the past five days. So far, there have been 987 arrests and two deaths. The incidents devolved into outright riots in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, and Monterrey, N.L.; but stores have been... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2017 at The Power and the Money