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  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Japan experienced a disastrous decade of economic stagnation and deflation from 1991 to 2001 after bubbles in its stock market and land market collapsed. While some economic pain was unavoidable—given a 60 percent plunge in equity prices between late 1989 and August 1992, accompanied by the onset of what ultimately became a 70 percent drop in land values by 2001—the "lost decade" was not an inevitable outcome. It required a series of persistently wrong economic policy decisions that ignored the lessons learned in America's Great Depression of the 1930s and the subsequent research on the causes of that painful period.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Rights, Human Welfare, Humanitarian Aid, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, America, Asia
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In October 1907, J. P. Morgan stemmed a financial panic by coercing other banks to join him in providing credit to Wall Street brokerage firms teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.[1] This year, over the weekend including March 15—the ominous Ides of March—James Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, was the one to act. With the Federal Reserve squarely behind him and assuming the risk, he prevented a Bear Stearns bankruptcy by agreeing to purchase the firm, providing it with a decent burial, at a price of $2 per share. Bear Stearns's stock had been valued at over $160 per share just a year ago. The $2 price virtually wiped out the value of that stock, one-third of which is owned by its 14,000 employees. This was clearly not a bailout for Bear Stearns shareholders, and whether or not the steps taken by the Fed on March 16 were sufficient to arrest a further collapse of available credit and the economy remains to be seen. As long as house prices keep falling, the underlying problem for credit markets and the economy remains.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The desire to enhance and store wealth has been present ever since income rose above subsistence levels. In ancient times, prior to the creation of symbolic financial claims on wealth, wealth storage was, quite literally, the storage of intrinsically valuable articles in temples, pyramids, or other such formidable structures. Even today in Tibet, which was long a theocracy, a major repository of wealth can be seen in religious statues of solid gold resting in temples.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The bursting of every bubble is followed by statements suggesting that the worst is over and that the real economy will be unharmed. The weeks since mid-March have been such a period in the United States. The underlying problem—a bust in the residential real-estate market—has, however, grown worse, with peak-to-trough estimates of the drop in home prices having gone from 20 to 30 percent in the span of just two months. Meanwhile, the attendant damage to the housing sector and to the balance sheets tied to it has grown worse and spread beyond the subprime subsector.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 07-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Fed is in a bind, pulled toward easier monetary policy by a weak economy and fragile credit markets, while simultaneously needing to resist higher inflation. On Monday, June 9, after a weekend of headlines regarding a half-percentage-point rise in the unemployment rate, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke gave a pathbreaking speech entitled "Outstanding Issues in the Analysis of Inflation" at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's fifty-third Annual Economic Conference. In that speech, after suggesting that the risks of a substantial  economic downturn had diminished over the past month and citing further progress in the repair of financial and credit markets, he proceeded to address the problem of rising inflation. In two sentences, he contributed to a sharp, fifty-basis-point rise in two-year bond yields and boosted the market's assessment of the chance of a fifty-basis-point rise in the federal-funds target rate at the September 16 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) from virtually zero to nearly 70 percent.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ted Brennan, Robert "Bobby" Charles, Henry Cuellar, Roberta Jacobson, Armand Peschard-Sverdrup
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Drug abuse and related crime claim nearly thirty-five thousand American lives and sap $180 billion from our economy every year.1 Although the United States is understandably preoccupied with the threat of Islamic terrorism, it must never let down its guard against the well-financed, bloodthirsty, illicit drug cartels that exact a staggering price on our well-being and economy. President George W. Bush's fiscal year 2009 budget proposes to spend well over $14 billion for federal programs to suppress demand and attack supply. Because most cocaine and heroin find their way to the U.S. market through Mexico, it is essential that Mexican authorities confront the illegal drug syndicates whose cross-border crime threatens both countries. The Mérida Initiative—named for the Yucatan city where Bush, then-president of Guatemala Óscar Berger, and Mexican president Felipe Calderón met in March 2007—proposes to make a $1.4 billion multiyear U.S. contribution to support Mexican law enforcement and judicial reforms in their antidrug efforts. The challenges are formidable: Mexico's relatively weak judicial institutions are hard-pressed to take on these well-heeled gangsters on their own, and both sides are protective of their national sovereignty. Nevertheless, both countries have signaled their commitment to this cause: at a February 7, 2008, hearing, the Drug Enforcement Agency's chief of intelligence, Anthony Placido, praised the tangible measures being taken and sacrifices being made by Mexico today and urged skeptical U.S. lawmakers to seize the opportunity to cooperate with Mexican allies against a common foe. Despite heavy media focus on the counternarcotics elements of the initiative, when the specifics of the initiative are examined, it is clear that its aim is to strengthen Mexico's security institutions, enabling them to deal with the threat nonstate actors—be they terrorists, organized crime, criminal gangs, or domestic radical groups—pose to the country's security.
  • Topic: Crime, War on Drugs
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America, Mexico
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: One step ahead of the devil himself, Fidel Castro is proposing to pass the baton to his revolutionary partner and younger brother, Raúl. With characteristic audacity, the old dictator is hoping that he can bamboozle a gullible international community into recognizing such a succession as a fait accompli. Of course, there is no reason that the successor regime will be able to consummate this arrangement as long as the rest of the world gives the welfare of the Cuban people a second thought. Fidel's disintegration makes way for an extraordinarily expectant time in Cuba's history. Men and women of good will on the island may yet snatch their future from a decrepit and discredited regime, and outsiders' only role should be to help them in every way possible. We should bear in mind at this critical hour that one false move—by the United States, in particular—could confer legitimacy on a “new” Cuban dictator and consign 11 million Cubans to prolonged desperation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Communism
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Megan Davy
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) economies, usually susceptible to international financial turmoil, are especially vulnerable to even minor tremors in U.S. markets. Regional policymakers and entrepreneurs, therefore, have been closely watching the current U.S. subprime credit crisis. Here is the good news: all signs point to relatively minor symptoms in LAC countries—despite a rocky financial history during the 1980s and 1990s—thanks in large part to reforms undertaken in response to previous financial crises, as well as continued high commodity prices that will likely buoy export markets. Although the economic downturn in the United States and other global markets will likely expose lingering weaknesses in the region's economy, this latest crisis can provide an impetus to complete the unfinished business of building more modern, resilient economies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Nicholas Eberstadt
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: With a newly elected South Korean president willing to join the United States in standing up to North Korea, the Bush administration now has a unique opportunity to put pressure on Kim Jong Il to abandon his country's nuclear program and desist from its human rights abuses. In this article, AEI's Nicholas Eberstadt asks whether the administration will seize the opportunity.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, South Korea, North Korea
  • Author: Douglas J. Besharov
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Finding that an op-ed by Michael Gerson poorly defined the conservative approach to social problems, Douglas J. Besharov outlined six principles that underlie the conservative position on government social programs. Besharov notes that being cautious about the possible ill effects of government intervention is not unique to conservatives. It is simply realistic to be skeptical about the federal government's ability to mitigate serious social welfare problems.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Amity Shlaes
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Democratic presidential candidates are invoking the New Deal as a model for addressing infrastructure, economic, and employment problems in the United States. But a careful look at New Deal spending suggests, in the words of Amity Shlaes, "not how much the public works achieved . . . [but] how little." Advocates for new federal government spending on highways, buildings, and roads should carefully weigh the need against the damage that comes from projects and jobs created for political reasons.
  • Topic: Government, Industrial Policy, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Henry Olsen
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's pro-faith, pro-government message is similar to the platforms of conservative political parties on the European continent. But is the Christian Democratic party model one that the GOP should consider emulating?
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Andrew G. Biggs
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Until recently, Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was surprisingly responsible regarding Social Security, noting the urgency of reform and saying all options should be on the table. But having cornered himself with Democratic activists whose attitudes toward Social Security reform range from demagoguery to denial, his solution to the system's problems has veered leftward. He now plans to fix Social Security exclusively with higher taxes. The new Obama plan would not only fail to resolve the system's long-term problems, but would also impose significant costs on the economy as a whole.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott Gottlieb
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Although John Edwards is no longer a presidential candidate, his attacks on the U.S. health care system will continue to resonate. As a candidate, he used the tragic case of Nataline Sarkisyan, who died while awaiting a liver transplant, as an indictment of the U.S. medical system and an argument for a European-style single-payer system. But AEI's Scott Gottlieb, M.D., argues that there is little support for Edwards's argument that a single-payer system would be better for people who need transplants. The data show, he says, that organ access in the United States, our willingness to transplant the sickest patients, and U.S. medical outcomes are among the best in the world.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Amity Shlaes, Vincent R. Reinhart, Allan H. Meltzer, John L. Chapman
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: How fragile is our financial system? What are the implications of the Fed's actions on Bear Stearns? Do we need new ways of thinking about the risks the system entails? In recent articles, four AEI scholars have looked closely at the evidence of what went wrong and what is ahead.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Walter Berns
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Debate over whether to keep the Electoral College or move to a system of direct popular election of the president is a hardy perennial of the presidential election season. In this article, the eminent constitutional scholar Walter Berns reminds us of the arguments in favor of the Electoral College and dissects the proposals of those who would nullify it without having to abolish it.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Alan D. Viard
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Buried in the 227-page Social Security trustees' report are some dramatic numbers about Social Security's future promises. AEI resident scholar Alan D. Viard tells us that "a typical worker retiring in 2050 has been promised 47 percent more than today's retirees, and one retiring in 2080 has been promised more than double today's benefits." To address the program's financial problems, he says, the rules need to be changed to link future retirees' benefits to inflation. That move, he says, would go a long way toward solving the system's problems.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James Q. Wilson
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In an article in the Los Angeles Times on March 30, 2008, James Q. Wilson dissected a new report that suggests the United States incarcerates too many people. Wilson acknowledges that there are problems with U.S. imprisonment policy, but he maintains that an argument about the cost of prisons needs to take into account their benefits.
  • Topic: Civil Society
  • Political Geography: United States, California
  • Author: Danielle Pletka
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On April 8, Iran announced that it was expanding its plans to enrich uranium, despite demands from the United Nations (UN) Security Council that it halt the program. Iran will start installing six thousand more centrifuges in addition to its three thousand existing ones. In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, AEI vice president Danielle Pletka reviewed recent U.S. and UN policy toward Iran; examined the evidence on sanctions, arguing that they are taking a toll on Iran's economy; and looked at what other options we now have for dealing with Iran.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The name Fethullah Gülen is virtually unknown in the United States. Self-exiled here for more than a decade, this prominent Turkish theological and political thinker is the leader of a movement estimated conservatively to have more than a million followers in Turkey. The movement controls a business empire of charities, real estate, companies, and schools. Thousands of Gülen's followers populate Turkey's bureaucracies. AEI's Michael Rubin believes that, just as many people remained clueless or belittled concerns about Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's intentions in Iran thirty years ago, many may be making the same mistake today about Gülen, who professes to want to weld Islam with tolerance and a pro-European outlook. Rubin introduces us to a man who could play a prominent role in Turkey's future at a time when Turkey's "secular order and constitutionalism have never been so shaky."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Democratization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: N. Gregory Mankiw
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Income inequality is rising, and in this article, AEI visiting scholar N. Gregory Mankiw looks at the statistical evidence and causes. Government policy, he says, is unlikely to be the culprit because inequality has risen in Democratic and Republican administrations--we need to look instead at skills-based technological change and educational attainment. Education, Mankiw says, is key to understanding the broader trends, but it cannot fully explain the incomes of the super-rich.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John R. Bolton
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: On April 14, 2008, AEI senior fellow John R. Bolton gave the keynote address at the inauguration of the Global Governance Watch (GGW), a joint project of AEI and the Federalist Society. GGW is a web-based resource that addresses issues of transparency and accountability in the United Nations (UN), NGOs, and related international organizations. Edited excerpts from Bolton's remarks follow.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Law, International Organization, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Norman J. Ornstein
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: AEI's election watcher Norman J. Ornstein follows the fortunes of the presidential and congressional candidates, commenting daily on campaign strategies and policies. But he also writes and speaks regularly about an issue that many members of Congress have chosen to ignore: the possibility of disruption of our election process through a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. Ornstein believes the United States is wholly unprepared for any such scenario, and he has urged Congress to focus its attention on the potential problems. Muddling through has worked thus far, he notes in this article, but it is "flat-out irresponsible" to continue to pay so little attention to the issue.
  • Topic: Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott Gottlieb
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In this article, AEI resident fellow Scott Gottlieb, M.D., describes how information about a new use of the breast cancer drug Herceptin was slow in reaching oncologists. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) delayed approving the new indication for almost two years, and during that period, the drug's sponsor could not distribute its findings about the new use. Proposed FDA guidelines on dissemination of information on unapproved uses of medical products, Gottlieb says, will establish a more appropriate standard for what kind of information should be shared.
  • Topic: Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Danielle Pletka, John R. Bolton
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In these two articles, AEI's Danielle Pletka and John R. Bolton bring us up to date and discuss the larger implications of developments since Kim Jong Il pledged to give up his nuclear ambitions in exchange for diplomatic recognition and foreign aid. Pletka reminds readers that since North Korea signed the 1994 accord, it has detonated a nuclear weapon, exported a reactor to Syria, aided Libya's incipient (and since dismantled) nuclear program, aided Hezbollah, provided sophisticated missiles to Iran, masterminded the counterfeiting of U.S. dollar bills, laundered development aid, and allowed hundreds of thousands of its citizens to starve. Yet the Bush administration "appears intent on the rehabilitation of North Korea and a broad lifting of sanctions," she says. Bolton argues that North Korea's proliferation is "quite likely more than a series of one-time transactions." The underlying reality of the North's activities, he says, "will haunt Bush's successor and threaten international peace."
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea
  • Author: Joseph Antos, Mark V. Pauly
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Medicare is in perilous financial shape. The number of seniors receiving benefits will double over the next two decades as baby boomers head to retirement, and each new beneficiary will spend substantially more health care dollars, on average, than today's seniors. Unless we can get costs under control, Medicare will need an additional $36 trillion to stay in business over the next seventy-five years.
  • Topic: Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Kevin A. Hassett, Scott Ganz
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: When pundits discuss the influence of sports on American culture, they often emphasize the negatives: Michael Vick and dog fighting, the steroids scandals in baseball, lewd fan behavior in football, or doping incidents in cycling and track. But below the radar of popular athletic culture is something that has profoundly shaped the lives of millions of Americans for the better: youth sports. A growing body of research is showing the social and economic benefits of participation in youth sports to be surprisingly large and overwhelmingly positive. Other things being equal, if a kid plays sports, he will earn more money, stay in school longer, and be more engaged in civic life.
  • Topic: Demographics, Education
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Claude Barfield
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: While the waning months of an administration is normally not a time for new foreign policy initiatives, President Bush should break precedent and begin formal negotiations with Taiwan for an FTA. Such a move would send a powerful signal to our allies in East Asia that America—despite great sympathy for the humanitarian efforts of the authoritarian Chinese government after the earthquake and thus far foregoing intervention against the military thugs in Burma—still stands by its determination to foster and support democratic regimes in the region.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Taiwan, Asia, Burma
  • Author: Vincent R. Reinhart
  • Publication Date: 05-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The Senate Banking Committee approved legislation on May 20 that would empower the Federal Housing Administration to provide relief to mortgage borrowers teetering on the brink of default. The House has already passed similar legislation. Only two months ago, mortgage aid was viewed as unlikely, but the odds now favor it becoming law. For this change of fortune, the legislation's chief sponsors, Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.), should thank one person in particular: Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence B. Lindsey
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: America has not had a nationwide housing crash since the 1930s. At one point during that calamity, an estimated 60 percent of all mortgages were in technical default. The rather primitive housing credit system of the time, which relied on five-year balloon mortgages, certainly exacerbated the problem, but the bulk of the problem was related to the general economic downturn. There have been some regional housing crashes that were short and relatively mild, most notably in California, Texas, and New England in the late 1980s and early1990s. Most of those were caused by declines in key local industries: oil in Texas, aerospace and defense in Southern California and Massachusett.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, California, England
  • Author: John E. Calfee, Paul H. Rubin
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Senator Kennedy is expected to recover from his brain tumor surgery without any serious side effects, thankfully. And while the spotlight is on his recovery, the news of his malignant brain tumor should also shed some light on drug approval policies.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Frederick W. Kagan
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: More than five years after the war on terror began, the strains it has placed on the U.S. military are beginning to show. Some observers have noticed increasing signs of tension between the Pentagon and our commanders in the field. Inter service rivalries have started to kick up again as the U.S. Marines talk about getting back to their boats; the U.S. Navy talks about recapitalizing parts of its fleet; and the U.S. Air Force takes up the case of the F-22, the Joint Strike Fighter, and so on, with reference to more-or-less distant threat.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas P. Miller
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The periodic ritual of announcing the mounting size of the fiscal problem posed by Medicare has never been, and will never be, enough to generate productive reform. Most of us got the memo that we are overcommitted and underfunded. Merely pointing to the size of the problem—in terms of Medicare's massive unfunded long-term liabilities, near-term budget imbalances, future rates of taxation that will be needed to sustain the program, or Medicare's preemption of national resources that crowds out funding for other important public pro-grams and private activities—has had little effect.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Lawrence B. Lindsey
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Two AEI scholars have recently assessed the merits of Senator Barack Obama's approach to fixing the Social Security system's problems. In a March On the Issues, Andrew G. Biggs argued that the senator's plan would not fix the system's long-term problems and would impose significant costs on the economy as a whole. To read Biggs's article, visit www.aei.org/publication27704/. In June, Lawrence B. Lindsey wrote that requiring higher-end workers to pay additional taxes without getting additional benefits linked to their extra contributions would be “a big step toward turning Social Security from a contributory pension scheme into just another welfare program.” Below, Lindsey spells out the details.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The good news about the problems in the financial sector and the larger economy in the United States emanating from the persistent drop in house prices is that they will eventually end, and the underlying resiliency of the U.S. economy will reemerge. The bad news about these problems is that they are going to continue for some time and get worse before they improve. Efforts to address them so far have been ineffective because they have been aimed at containing a subprime credit crisis, not at containing a rapidly spreading primecredit, solvency crisis that is leading the U.S. economy into recession.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael Rubin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The State Department is counseling Turkey to make political concessions to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the terrorist organization that launched an attack in Turkey in October. Michael Rubin argues that this would be a mistake and urges the United States to stand by its long-time NATO ally in its fight against terrorism.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Douglas Besharov
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Finding that an op-ed by Michael Gerson poorly defined the conservative approach to social problems, Douglas J. Besharov outlined six principles that underlie the conservative position on government social programs. Besharov notes that being cautious about the possible ill effects of government intervention is not unique to conservatives. It is simply realistic to be skeptical about the federal government's ability to mitigate serious social welfare problems.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Amity Shlaes
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Democratic presidential candidates are invoking the New Deal as a model for addressing infrastructure, economic, and employment problems in the United States. But a careful look at New Deal spending suggests, in the words of Amity Shlaes, “not how much the public works achieved . . . [but] how little.” Advocates for new federal government spending on highways, buildings, and roads should carefully weigh the need against the damage that comes from projects and jobs created for political reasons.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 08-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The annual report of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS)—the central bankers' central bank—which appeared in late June, was somewhat schizophrenic. On the one hand, the BIS called for world interest rates to rise in order to deal with a “clear and present threat” from global inflation while, on the other hand, it warned that the global economy may be close to a “tipping point” into a “slowdown severe enough to transform the current period of rising inflation into a period of falling prices.” The simultaneous rise in oil prices and the fall in yields in government securities occurring as the BIS released this ambivalent statement captured well the tensions inherent in the stagflationary crosscurrents facing the global economy. Against this ominous background, the release of the BIS report coincided with the onset of a global bear market in equities.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Oil, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 10-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Over the past several months as central banks and treasuries have struggled to manage a financial panic and avoid or diminish its soon-to-appear devastating impact on the global economy, I have often thought about the efforts of two great economists to understand the lessons of the Great Depression. John Maynard Keynes's monumental General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936, showed how a failure to understand the nature of the demand for money contributed to the Great Depression. “The importance of money essentially flows from being a link between the present and the future,” Keynes said.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 12-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: President-elect Barack Obama faces the most difficult economic challenge confronting an incoming American president since the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt seventy-six years ago in 1932. When he assumes office on January 20, Obama will need to act decisively with heretofore unprecedented fiscal policy steps, in conjunction with measures by the Federal Reserve to increase the money supply and lower long-term interest rates. All of this must be done to help contain and reverse the accelerating global slowdown by halting the rapidly deepening American recession. We can only hope that other national leaders and central banks will follow suit.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean always seems to inspire criticism: Too much, too little, too late. Back off. Get in the game. Don't just stand there, do something. Don't do something, just stand there. Our geographic closeness has meant a rich, natural partnership, but this proximity easily stirs concerns over sovereignty. When the United States is preoccupied with events in other parts of the world, regional pundits accuse Washington of indifference. If we speak clearly on the issues in Latin America, we are excoriated for poking our nose “where it doesn't belong.” So where does this leave U.S. foreign policy in the region? It could be that what we do may not be as important as how we do it. The first step in developing a new paradigm for engaging the Americas is using the 2008 election cycle here at home to develop a serious domestic constituency for our policy. Then we should shape that policy through a conscientious dialogue with stakeholders in the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, South America, Latin America, Central America
  • Author: Aparna Mathur, Kevin A. Hassett
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Every year the Census Bureau reports data on income inequality and poverty, based on income estimates derived from the Current Population Survey. Our analysis suggests that the data may not be presenting an accurate picture. By under-reporting incomes, leaving out certain sources of income, and not making equivalence adjustments that are now standard among researchers, the reports present an imperfect picture of overall welfare. We develop an alternative that relies on data from the National Income and Product Accounts. Our data reveal that real median incomes have been increasing in the recent period, albeit at a slower rate than the long-term average. Using the same methodology for consumption, we find that consumption for all income groups, including the middle, has been growing robustly in recent times. This is in contrast to statistics reported by the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the most often cited data for all consumption analysis, which show middle class consumption declining.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Roger Noriega
  • Publication Date: 08-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean always seems to inspire criticism: Too much, too little, too late. Back off. Get in the game. Don't just stand there, do something. Don't do something, just stand there. Our geographic closeness has meant a rich, natural partnership, but this proximity easily stirs concerns over sovereignty. When the United States is preoccupied with events in other parts of the world, regional pundits accuse Washington of indifference. If we speak clearly on the issues in Latin America, we are excoriated for poking our nose “where it doesn't belong.” So where does this leave U.S. foreign policy in the region? It could be that what we do may not be as important as how we do it. The first step in developing a new paradigm for engaging the Americas is using the 2008 election cycle here at home to develop a serious domestic constituency for our policy. Then we should shape that policy through a conscientious dialogue with stakeholders in the region.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Moscow, Latin America
  • Author: Roger Noriega
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Not long ago, the governments of the Americas recognized the value of working together to consolidate the historic, promising trend toward democracy. Now, with democracy being dismantled in several nations and being assailed by authoritarian Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez Frías, Latin American countries seem to have abandoned the fraternal ideal of inter-American solidarity. The United States and the Organization of American States (OAS) can both do more to salvage the regional commitment to democracy, but unless Latin American and Caribbean governments are willing to stand together to defend their principles, the end of democratic solidarity is in sight.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Latin America, Caribbean, Venezuela
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega, Megan Davy
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The thorny issue of immigration may yet prove to be a winner for President George W. Bush, but he has to gamble that leaders from both parties are more interested in solving this problem than in saving the debate for the 2008 campaign. The Bush administration can be faulted for failing to put more security resources at our borders after the terrorist attacks of September 11 and for not advancing the president's comprehensive immigration reform before the debate was dominated by shrill voices. President Bush's approach on immigration, however, remains a sound one, and his declarations during his March visit to Mexico indicate a dogged desire to tackle this issue. A Democratic Congress may find that it needs to demonstrate its ability to find practical, bipartisan solutions to even the toughest of problems.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, Central America, Mexico
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 12-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: It is important at the outset to define the terms “financial firms” and “too much risk.” By “financial firms,” I mean commercial banks, investment banks, brokerages, and insurance companies that solicit and manage funds for the public. By “too much risk,” I mean actions undertaken by managers of financial firms that result in substantial losses for the shareholders (owners) of such firms. On an aggregate level, I call “systemic risks” those that emerge when regulators and policymakers are forced to choose between either reinforcing (with bailouts) the venturesome investing that created the problem or allowing substantial damage to depositors and shareholders in financial firms, and possibly to the economy as a whole.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 11-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Just as Wall Street was celebrating the presumed end of the latest financial crisis by pushing stocks to record highs, proclaiming continued strong earnings growth, and continuing to recite the mantra “slowdown, but no recession,” Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson provided a vivid reminder that the housing and mortgage crisis is not over. On Monday, October 15, while Citibank was reporting that compared with last year's results its third-quarter earnings had fallen by 57 percent, the Treasury's “super-SIV” plan was revealed. It seems that the Goldman Sachs alumni at Treasury—Paulson and his under secretary for domestic finance, Robert Steel—had become concerned that the offbalance- sheet special investment vehicles (SIVs) held by commercial banks might not be financeable. That would mean that not enough investors could be found to provide the short-term financing necessary to sustain SIVs, the repositories of hardto- value securitized mortgages that continue to plague bank balance sheets.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The global economic and financial picture is changing rapidly. A review of some of the key elements is in order, as the U.S. economy has slowed rapidly and the Federal Reserve has responded aggressively with rate cuts, while the Bank of England's tough policies pushed one of the United Kingdom's largest mortgage lenders, Northern Rock, to the brink of collapse as a bank run on that suddenly beleaguered institution ensued. Meanwhile, Japan, still the world's second-largest economy—though perhaps the least dynamic of the major ones—slipped into negative growth at a 1.2 percent annual rate in the second quarter after having initially reported growth over 2 percent. The rate-boost-obsessed Bank of Japan finally decided to stop raising rates, and, to add to the complexity of the picture, Japan's relatively new prime minister Shinzo Abe resigned, unable to provide the leadership sorely needed in a nation lacking economic and political direction.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, England
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 09-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: During a 10:00 a.m. conference call on August 17, 2007, Federal Reserve vice chairman Donald Kohn and New York Federal Reserve president Timothy Geithner were urging Citicorp chief executive Chuck Prince and his fellow big bank CEOs to use the Fed's discount window, which is set up to alleviate liquidity pressures on individual banks or on the banking system as a whole. Prince, the head of the world's largest bank (Or is it the second largest? No one really knows since bank balance sheets are so full of securities that cannot be priced.) may have been wishing that he had not chosen to offer a chillingly clear characterization of the global financial system a little more than five weeks earlier in a Financial Times interview on July 9, three weeks before the global credit markets began to seize up.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States