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  • 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: David L. Caprara, John Bridgeland, Harris Wofford
  • Publication Date: 07-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: As policy-makers search for ways to share the best of America with the world, they should start with our international volunteers, who embody this country's spirit of generosity, resourcefulness and hope. With the support of Congress and the Bush Administration, volunteers can become the first face of America to communities in many nations, while advancing concrete initiatives that lift up the lives of the poor throughout the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Will Wilkinson
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: “Happiness research” studies the correlates of subjective well-being, generally through survey methods. A number of psychologists and social scientists have drawn upon this work recently to argue that the American model of relatively limited government and a dynamic market economy corrodes happiness, whereas Western European and Scandinavian-style social democracies pro- mote it. This paper argues that happiness research in fact poses no threat to the relatively libertarian ideals embodied in the U.S. socioeconomic system. Happiness research is seriously hampered by confusion and disagreement about the definition of its subject as well as the limitations inherent in current measurement techniques. In its present state happiness research cannot be relied on as an authoritative source for empirical information about happiness, which, in any case, is not a simple empirical phenomenon but a cultural and historical moving target. Yet, even if we accept the data of happiness research at face value, few of the alleged redistributive policy implications actually follow from the evidence. The data show that neither higher rates of government redistribution nor lower levels of income inequality make us happier, whereas high levels of economic freedom and high average incomes are among the strongest correlates of subjective well- being. Even if we table the damning charges of questionable science and bad moral philosophy, the American model still comes off a glowing success in terms of happiness.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The American consumer is a very persistent spending machine. It is American consumption growth running at higher than 4 percent annualized— well above its long-term average—that has kept the economy comfortably out of recession for the past six months as the housing slowdown has subtracted more than a percentage point from growth. Even with a substantial additional drag on the U.S. economy from other areas—inventory liquidation, weakening net exports, and rapidly rising gasoline prices—the American consumer's spending surge has still been enough to keep GDP growth in positive territory.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Jeffrey Tebbs, Isabel V. Sawhill, William T. Dickens
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Many in Congress and the administration have called for new investments in education in order to make the United States more competitive, with President Bush stressing the importance of education in preparing young Americans to “fill the jobs of the 21st century.” Yet advocates of early childhood education have only recently stressed the economic benefits of preschool programs, and it has been difficult to win support for these short-term investments given the long-term nature of the benefits to the economy.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Paul A. Jargowsky, Isabel V. Sawhill
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Hurricane Katrina reminded the nation of the consequences of entrenched poverty, and Congress now faces complicated policy questions set against the backdrop of class and race. As America confronts these issues in cities and states beyond the Gulf Coast, it is important to realize that the number of poor people living in troubled neighborhoods—often described by journalists as the “underclass”—are actually fewer now than in the 1980s. Yet public policies that encourage education, work, and opportunity are urgently needed to keep that positive trend from reversing.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Roger F. Noriega
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: "America is addicted to oil," President George W. Bush told the nation in his January 31 State of the Union address, "which is often imported from unstable parts of the world." Spelling out a plan for using technology "to develop cleaner, cheaper, more reliable alternative energy sources," the president set a worthy goal to "make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past." Although the president's long-term vision is of a country less dependent on petroleum, a near-term solution for being less reliant on "unstable" sources of energy can be found in encouraging resource-rich nations in the Western Hemisphere to adopt sound policies for developing their oil and gas industries. Without a concerted effort right now engaging government and industry, however, we may witness some countries with vast potential embrace statist models that squander their natural resources and make them less reliable and less stable partners.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Environment
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: A weak housing sector has accompanied every American recession since 1965, but not every episode of housing weakness has accompanied a recession. An annual drop in the growth rate of residential investment (a good measure of homebuilding activity) of more than 10 percent has coincided with a recession five of the seven times it has occurred since 1965. (In 1967 and in 1995, declines in residential investment occurred without a recession.) A significant drop in residential investment therefore appears to be a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition, for a U.S. recession.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The U.S. economy has slowed to a level below its trend growth rate during the second half of 2006. Trend growth, the rate that can be sustained over time without rising inflation, is probably about 3 percent, having been reduced by a quarter of a percentage point by weaker productivity data. As has often been the case over the past five years, the slowdown itself has set into motion market adjustments that may mitigate or even reverse it. Since August, interest rates on benchmark tenyear treasuries have dropped by about 60 basis points. That reduction, coupled with a stock market that is rising in part because of lower interest rates, has caused an easing of financial conditions equal to nearly 100 basis points since late June on the Goldman Sachs Financial Conditions Index. Meanwhile, since August, the price of oil has dropped by about $18 per barrel—which, if sustained, would be enough to add about 0.7 percentage points to U.S. growth over the next year.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Charles Murray
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: This much is certain: the welfare state as we know it cannot survive. No serious student of entitlements thinks that we can let federal spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid rise from its current 9 percent of GDP to the 28 percent of GDP that it will consume in 2050 if past growth rates continue. The problems facing transfer programs for the poor are less dramatic but, in the long term, no less daunting; the falling value of a strong back and the rising value of brains will eventually create a class society making a mockery of America's ideals unless we come up with some- thing more creative than anything that the cur- rent welfare system has to offer. So major change is inevitable—and Congress seems utterly unwilling to face up to it. Witness the Social Security debate of last year, a case study in political timidity. Like it or not, we have several years to think before Congress can no longer postpone action. Let's use this time to start thinking outside the narrow proposals for benefit cuts and tax increases that will be Congress's path of least resistance.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: America