Negotiations toward a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change have come to a critical point, and domestic climate policies are being developed, as the world seeks to recover from the deepest economic crisis for decades and looks for new sources of sustainable growth. This position paper considers the challenge posed by these two policy imperatives: how to exit from the crisis while developing an effective response to climate change. Blending the objectives of a sustained recovery and effective climate policies presents both challenges and opportunities. Although there are potential “win-win” spending measures conducive to both, the more fundamental linkages and synergies lie in the broader strategies adopted toward each other. Greater climate resilience can promote macroeconomic stability and alleviate poverty; and carbon pricing, essential for mitigation, can contribute to the strengthening of fiscal positions that is expected to be needed in many countries. There are, nevertheless, also difficult trade-offs to face, notably in the somewhat greater caution now warranted in moving to more aggressive emissions pricing. However, the simple policy guidelines for addressing climate issues remain fundamentally unchanged; the need to deploy a range of regulatory, spending, and emissions pricing measures.
Home foreclosure rates have risen in the United States to the highest levels since the Great Depression. With house prices falling, lending standards tightening, unemployment rising, and interest rate resets in the pipeline, foreclosures are projected to go even higher. While most of the time a foreclosure is a suboptimal resolution of a distressed mortgage, a number of features of the mortgage finance system often prevent loan modifications. This paper reviews the impediments to successful mortgage restructuring and proposes a number of ways to improve the situation. The proposals build on the recognition that the key problem is a combination of negative housing equity and unaffordable debt service, and a successful loan modification scheme should address both issues. Given the key role foreclosures play in the adverse housing market dynamics, and several market failures that the paper identifies, the burden of mortgage debt restructuring should be shared by the taxpayer.