Publications by Author: Frankel, Jeffrey

Frankel, Jeffrey. “National Security and Domestic Oil Depletion.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, {USA}: Harvard Environmental Economics Program, 2014.Abstract

American politicians often take it for granted that national security would be enhanced by accelerating domestic oil production, through policies such as subsidies, tax advantages, opening up federal lands for drilling at artificially low charges, and relaxing environmental regulation. This note argues that such policies actually hurt national security in the long term, by depleting domestic reserves. It proposes saving some of the deposits located offshore and under shale beds for a future emergency, by withholding federal permits for now, by reversing current artificial subsidies to production, and by a tax to encourage conservation.

Frankel, Jeffrey. “The Natural Resource Curse: A Survey.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, {USA}: Harvard Environmental Economics Program, 2010.Abstract

It is striking how often countries with oil or other natural resource wealth have failed to grow more rapidly than those without. This is the phenomenon known as the Natural Resource Curse. The principle is not confined to individual anecdotes or case studies, but has been borne out in some econometric tests of the determinants of economic performance across a comprehensive sample of countries. This paper considers seven aspects of commodity wealth, each of interest in its own right, but each also a channel that some have suggested could lead to sub-standard economic performance. They are: long-term trends in world commodity prices, volatility, permanent crowding out of manufacturing, poor institutions, unsustainability, war, and cyclical Dutch Disease. Skeptics have questioned the Natural Resource Curse, pointing to examples of commodity exporting countries that have done well and arguing that resource exports and booms are not exogenous. Clearly the relevant policy question for a country with natural resources is how to make the best of them. The paper concludes with a consideration of ideas for institutions that could help a country that is endowed with, for example, oil overcome the pitfalls of the Curse and achieve good economic performance. The most promising ideas include indexation of oil contracts, hedging of export proceeds, denomination of debt in terms of oil, Chilestyle fiscal rules, a monetary target that emphasizes product prices, transparent commodity funds, and lump-sum distribution.

Frankel, Jeffrey. “An Elaborated Proposal for Global Climate Policy Architecture: Specific Formulas and Emission Targets for All Countries in All Decades.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, {USA}: Harvard Environmental Economics Program, 2009.Abstract

This paper offers a detailed plan to set quantitative national limits on emissions of greenhouse gases, building on the foundation of the Kyoto Protocol. It attempts to fill in the most serious gaps: the absence of targets extending as far as 2100, the absence of participation by the United States and developing countries, and the absence of reason to think that countries will abide by commitments. The plan elaborates on the idea of a framework of formulas that can assign quantitative limits across countries, one budget period at a time. Unlike other proposals for century-long paths of emission targets that are based purely on science (concentration goals) or economics (cost-benefit optimization), this plan is based partly on politics. Three political constraints are particularly important. (1) Developing countries are not asked to bear any cost in the early years. (2) Thereafter, they are not asked to make any sacrifice that is different in kind or degree than was made by those countries that went before them, with due allowance for differences in incomes. (3) No country will accept an ex ante target that costs it more than 1% of GDP in present value, or more than 5% of {GDP} in any single budget period, or will abide by it ex post. An announced target path that implies a future violation of these constraints will not be credible, and thus will not provide the necessary signals to firms today. Thus paper tries out specific values for the parameters in the formulas (parameters that govern the extent of progressivity and equity, and the speed with which latecomers must eventually catch up). The resulting target paths for emissions are run through the WITCH model. The outcome is reasonable, in terms of both carbon abatement and economic cost, even though the targets obey the political constraints.

Frankel, Jeffrey. “Global Environmental Policy and Global Trade Policy.” Cambridge, Massachusetts, {USA}: Harvard Environmental Economics Program, 2009.Abstract

The global climate regime and the global trade policy regime are on a collision course. National efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) instill among environmentalists fears of leakage and among businesspeople fears of lost competitiveness. Policy-makers respond to these fears. In 2008, legislative attempts in both Washington, DC, and Brussels to enact long-term targets for reduced emission of GHGs included provisions for possible penalties against imports from countries perceived as non-participating. Trade measures, if well designed, could in theory be WTO-compatible, in light of the precedent of the shrimp-turtle case, in particular. But the actual provisions emerging from the political process are likely to violate the rules of the WTO, which poses the scenario of a WTO panel rejecting a major country’s climate change legislation. That would be a nightmare for the supporters of the WTO and free trade as much as for the supporters of the Kyoto Protocol and environmental protection. The issue is just the latest and largest instance of fears among many environmentalists that the WTO is an obstacle to their goals in general. For many critics, the WTO is a symbol of globalization, which they fear. The first part of this paper discusses the broader issue of whether environmental goals in general are threatened by the global free trade system. The paper then focuses exclusively on the narrower question of trade measures in the effort to implement climate change policy and whether they are likely to be successful. It concludes with specific recommendations for how border measures could be designed so that they were more likely to be true to the goal of reducing leakage and yet consistent with the WTO.