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  • Author: Mike Sweeney
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The strategic importance of the Middle East has declined, but Washington has so far inadequately adjusted. Diversification of energy sources and reduction in external threats to the region make the Middle East less important to U.S. interests.
  • Topic: Cold War, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Author: Nathan Nunn
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: In this brief, I discuss the current state of economic development policy, which tends to focus on interventions, usually funded with foreign aid, that are aimed at fixing deficiencies in developing countries. The general perception is that there are inherent problems with less-developed countries that can be fixed by with the help of the Western world. I discuss evidence that shows that the effects of such ‘help’ can be mixed. While foreign aid can improve things, it can also make things worse. In addition, at the same time that this ‘help’ is being offered, the developed West regularly undertakes actions that are harmful to developing countries. Examples include tariffs, antidumping duties, restrictions on international labor mobility, the use of international power and coercion, and tied-aid used for export promotion. Overall, it is unclear whether interactions with the West are, on the whole, helpful or detrimental to developing countries. We may have our largest and most positive effects on alleviating global poverty if we focus on restraining ourselves from actively harming less-developed countries rather than focusing our efforts on fixing them.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Political Economy, Developing World, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The U.S. is strong and safe—North Korea is weak, deterred by U.S. power, and desperate for economic relief.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, International Security, Sanctions, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Enea Gjoza, Benjamin H. Friedman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The Yemeni Civil War is in its fourth year, and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and their allies are not close to a victory over the Houthi rebels.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Military Spending, Military Intervention, Peace
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, North Africa
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman, Justin Logan
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The United States intervened in Syria’s civil war in two ways: (1) anti-Assad efforts—through aid to rebels to help foster regime change and with airpower, troops and support to a militia—and (2) anti-ISIS efforts—through aid to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to destroy the Islamic State’s territorial caliphate. The first mission was an ill-considered failure, the second a success.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Military Strategy, Peacekeeping, Military Affairs, Military Intervention, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Benjamin H. Friedman
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The war in Afghanistan—now America’s longest at nearly 18 years—quickly achieved its initial aims: (1) to destroy the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization and (2) to punish the Taliban government that gave it haven. However, Washington extended the mission to a long and futile effort of building up the Afghan state to defeat the subsequent Taliban insurgency.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War, Military Strategy, Peacekeeping, Military Affairs, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Enea Gjoza
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Defense Priorities
  • Abstract: The American economy, dollar, and banking system create unparalleled power for the U.S. in the global financial system. This power provides disproportionate influence over the world’s key economic and financial institutions, regulatory authority over major foreign companies and banks, and allows borrowing on favorable terms and in dollars, enabling long-term deficit spending.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Hegemony, Sanctions, Finance, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Sarah Kenny
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: The alt-right, an expression of far-right violent extremism, presents a security risk to citizens in the United States and around the world. As globalization, mass immigration, and multiculturalism flourish, various collectives of fearful individuals and populist politicians will continue to embrace ethnonationalist worldviews and employ violent means to enforce them. To combat this security risk, it is essential to acknowledge that women make significant contributions to the altright and violent extremism. Women can no longer be misrepresented and excluded from efforts to prevent and counter this form of violent extremism. Exclusion has proven both disingenuous and dangerous along the road to realizing a comprehensive threat analysis and strategy.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, Women, Domestic politics, Gender Based Violence , Far Right
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrik, Gabriel Zucman
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: We live in an age of astonishing inequality. Income and wealth disparities between the rich and the poor in the United States have risen to heights not seen since the gilded age in the early part of the 20th century, and are among the highest in the developed world. Median wages for American workers remain at 1970s levels. Fewer and fewer among newer generations can expect to do better than their parents. Organizational and technological changes and globalization have fueled great wealth accumulation among those able to take advantage of them, but have left large segments of the population behind. U.S. life expectancy has declined for the third year in a row in 2017, and the allocation of healthcare looks both inefficient and unfair. Advances in automation and digitization threaten even greater labor market disruptions in the years ahead. Climate change fueled disasters increasingly disrupt everyday life. Greater prosperity and inclusion both seem attainable, yet the joint target recedes ever further.
  • Topic: Economics, Capitalism, Inequality, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anat R. Admati
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: The financial system is fragile and distorted because current rules fail to counter the distorted incentives by banking institutions to borrow excessively and to remain opaque. Better-designed rules to reduce the reliance on debt and ensure that institutions use significantly more equity would enable the financial system to serve society better. Revising counterproductive tax and bankruptcy codes that, together with the extensive safety net offered to the financial system currently encourage dangerous conduct, would also be beneficial.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Finance, Economic Policy, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Sandra E. Black, Jesse Rothstein
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: While private provision of goods often yields the efficient outcome, there are a number of goods that are not efficiently provided in the private market. Here, we outline two such situations: investments in child care and education, and insurance against risks created by business cycles, poor health, and old age. Because private markets work poorly for these goods, and the costs of market failure are large, standard economic reasoning implies a significant role for government provision. The reduction in economic insecurity that this would bring could help to improve political stability as well, by reducing the stakes that people perceive in discussions of trade, immigration, technological change, and countercyclical policy (Inglehart and Norris, 2016). Many observers (e.g, Hacker, 2018) have pointed to economic anxiety as a potential contributor to populist reactions in the U.S. and many European countries; a public sector that acts to reduce the risk that households face could ameliorate this, generating political spillovers and improving the state of the country more broadly.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Health, Health Care Policy, Children, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Ethan Kaplan
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: In sum, political institutions in the United States favor higher income individuals over lower income individuals and ethnic majorities over ethnic minorities. This is accomplished through a myriad of policies which impact who votes, allow for differential influence and access by the wealthy, structure voting districts to dilute the impacts of under-represented voters, and allow for oversized influence of pro-business owner ideas through media and membership organizations.
  • Topic: Economics, Law, Elections, Democracy, Economic Policy, Voting
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anton Korinek
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: As technology advanced in recent decades, it increasingly left workers behind and led to sharp increases in inequality. The current wave of progress in artificial intelligence is likely to accelerate these trends. This note lays out three complementary approaches to countering these developments. Firstly, since technological progress generates net gains for society as a whole, the winners could in principle compensate the losers and still be better off. Secondly, progress should be steered to minimize the losses of workers. Thirdly, there is an important role for government intervention in information technology to thwart the rise of monopolies that extract rents from society. The note concludes with some speculations on the impact of artificial intelligence increasingly rivaling human labor.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Labor Issues, Economic Policy, Macroeconomics, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Atif Mian
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: There has been a major structural shift in financial markets since the 1980s. The world is awash in credit, and credit is cheaper than ever before. I discuss how increasing financial surpluses within parts of the economy have resulted in an expansion in the supply of credit, which has largely financed the demand-side of the real economy. This increasing reliance on “credit as demand” raises some serious policy questions going forward. I discuss the importance of equitable and inclusive growth, fair taxation system and risk-sharing in creating a financial system that promotes prosperity and stability.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Finance, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Private sector union density in the United States has fallen below 7%, but new historical evidence shows high union density played an important role in compressing the US income distribution at mid-century and lowering intergenerational income persistence. Other recent evidence on pervasive labor market power suggests that unions may be able raise wages without severe dis-employment effects, and may alleviate inefficient contracting problems. Despite substantial survey evidence indicating latent demand for unions, employers have successfully fought unionization efforts in rising service sectors, and a combination of legal restrictions and economic transformations have impaired the ability of US unions to solve collective action problems at the appropriate scale – an issue that economics may be able to help ameliorate.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Income Inequality, Labor Policies
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jonathan B. Baker, Fiona Scott Morton
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Rising market power in the U.S. economy is not just a microeconomic problem, as the textbook analysis shows, creating allocative efficiency losses and transferring wealth away from victimized participants in the affected markets. Rising market power also undermines inclusive prosperity by contributing to inequality and slowed economic growth. Modern economic research points to multiple ways to attack market power and enhance competition, including ways of strengthening antitrust enforcement, improving antitrust rules and institutions, and deploying regulation to enhance competition.
  • Topic: Economics, Economic Policy, Economic Theory, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: José Azar, Ioana Marinescu, Marshall Steinbaum
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Starting with the Chicago School’s influence in the late 1970s and 1980s, antitrust enforcement has been weakened under the assumption that market power is justified by economic efficiency. While consumers are the main focus of antitrust enforcement, the weakening of antitrust enforcement has likely also adversely impacted workers, thus contributing to increasing inequality.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Economic Policy, Economic Theory, Antitrust Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Daron Acemoglu
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Progressive policy proposals that would have appeared radical just a few years ago, including high marginal tax rates, wealth taxes, universal basic income, single-payer health insurance, and free college for all, are now on the agenda. The recognition that we can do more to create shared prosperity — that is, economic growth benefiting society at large, not just corporations and the very well-educated — is a welcome development. But are we targeting the right policies? We are at a critical juncture both economically and politically. We do not have much time left to reverse the trend towards greater inequality and worsening economic prospects for less educated Americans before its social consequences become more deeply ingrained. And the 2020 presidential election may provide a unique opportunity to adopt fundamentally different economic policies. Failing to identify the right policy priorities would not only squander this critical juncture; it could also deepen the rift between the different wings of US politics.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Employment, Labor Policies, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ilyana Kuziemko
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: My read of the evidence (and my own social welfare weights, which place great weight on the un- and under-insured as well as middle-class workers who are implicitly taxed via expensive health plans) lead me to conclude that Medicare for All would increase welfare in the US. However, I also want to highlight what I consider the biggest risks of such a policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Health Care Policy, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Deming
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: Despite growing public concern about the cost of college, higher education is still the best investment a young person can make. The American public understands that college is both increasingly necessary and increasingly unaffordable. This dynamic explains the growing public conversation around the idea of “free college”.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Economic Policy, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Klenert, Linus Mattauch
  • Publication Date: 08-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: It is common knowledge among economists that the most efficient instrument to mitigate climate change is a price on carbon. However, current carbon prices around the world are too low to reach global climate targets. This essay assesses the difficulties in designing successful carbon pricing reforms. It discusses how to overcome these difficulties by combining traditional public economics lessons with findings from behavioral and political science. We stress insights from public finance about the “second-best” nature of pricing carbon reforms. Further, we highlight how framing a carbon tax reform around tangible benefits can enhance political support. Finally, we explain how certain countries were successful at introducing high carbon prices and what can be learned from these cases for making progress with climate change mitigation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Science and Technology, Natural Resources, Global Warming, Green Technology, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Şebnem Kalemli-Özcan
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: There has been a large increase in corporate leverage in many countries since the early 2000s. Figure 1 plots corporate debt to GDP since 2002 for different groups of countries. With the exception of the U.S., both advanced economies and emerging markets have corporate debt exceeding GDP since 2005. U.S. corporate debt is also on an increasing trend. The fastest growth in corporate debt has been observed in emerging markets. A closer look will reveal that China and other fast growing emerging countries in Asia drive most of the increase in corporate debt for the emerging markets.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Markets, Regulation, Multinational Corporations, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Chas W. Freeman Jr.
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: The Trump administration has declared economic war on China. The United States has raised taxes on Chinese imports to levels not seen since the Smoot–Hawley tariffs of the Great Depression. Over the course of this year, Chinese imports of American goods have decreased by 26.4 percent, while China’s exports to the United States are down 10.7 percent. Washington has embargoed exports to China of a constantly expanding list of high-tech manufactures. It seeks to block Chinese telecommunications companies from third-country markets. The United States has mounted a vigorous campaign to persuade other countries to reject Chinese investments in their infrastructure, notably in the case of 5G telecommunications networks.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Global Political Economy, Trade Wars, International Community, Exports
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Nikhil Pal Singh
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: I teach college students at New York University’s campus on Washington Square in Manhattan and in its prison program in upstate New York. My students have never lived in a time when the United States was not at war. Growing up after the Vietnam War, when the United States had converted to an all-volunteer military, the great majority of my N.Y.U. students have not served in uniform, although the military is more likely to be a stop on the itinerary, or part of family experience, for those who end up in prison. For most of them, the wars in which U.S. soldiers and support personnel have been engaged on three continents for the past two decades retain a hazy, distant, and amorphous character; this perception is also typical now among civilian noncombatants. That the consequences of war-fighting remain seemingly remote ironically reinforces war as a natural and unchanging backdrop to social life in the United States today. We are overdue for a major cost accounting and reappraisal of these permanent wars.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Strategy, Military Affairs, Domestic politics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jessica J. Lee
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
  • Abstract: President Trump contends that “very rich and wealthy countries” like the Republic of Korea should pay more for American troops stationed in their countries. While a more balanced burden-sharing arrangement is necessary, the U.S.’s demand for a five-fold increase in South Korea’s contribution, from $924 million to $5 billion, threatens to tear apart the bilateral relationship and undermines U.S. interests on the Korean Peninsula. The issue demanding attention is not who pays how much, but whether the existing terms of the U.S.–ROK security relationship remain pertinent or must be revised. The long-term goal of U.S. grand strategy should be to facilitate the creation of a peaceful global order consisting of fully sovereign, law-abiding states capable of providing for their own security. Any state that hosts foreign forces and relies on those forces for its defense is not fully sovereign: It is dependent upon others to ensure its security. This describes the Republic of Korea today.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Nuclear Weapons, Liberal Order, Alliance
  • Political Geography: United States, Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Soraya Kamali-Nafar
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: For over 30 years, Women In International Security (WIIS) has worked to advance the role of women in national and international security. While much progress has been made, the number of women occupying prominent positions in foreign and defense policy remains limited. As a result, the role of women in decision making in foreign and defense policies is under-developed. Indeed, while women constitute 40 percent of the Foreign Service officer corps, they hold only one-third of the chief of mission positions.1 Women make up 33 percent of the Department of Defense civilian staff and 18 percent of the DOD active duty officer corps, and they remain grossly under-represented at the highest ranks—less than 8 percent have the rank of general or flag officer.2 Women also remain under-represented as expert commentators in the media. Women accounted for just 24 percent of foreign affairs and national security experts invited to speak on major political talk shows.3 Manels— that is, event panels with only men—remain common in the United States, including in Washington, DC.4
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Intelligence, National Security, Women, Think Tanks
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Luisa Ryan, Shannon Zimmerman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: At the UN Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial Conference, Canada announced the launch of the Elsie Initiative on Women in Peace Operations. Through tailored technical support, the initiative aims to help troop-contributing countries recruit and retain female soldiers. It is one of the first initiatives to directly address the lack of female personnel at the deploying country level. As one of the co-hosts of the 2017 UN Peacekeeping ministerial, the United States is in a strong position to partner in the work of the Elsie Initiative. By so doing, it can entrench the concept of gender parity in its current UN peacekeeping training programs and deployments and better lead knowledge-sharing efforts with partner militaries. The Elsie Initiative also gives the United States an opportunity to reinforce partnerships that enhance global security while bolstering its leadership in gender parity and UN reform. Efforts such as the Elsie initiative to improve the effectiveness of peace operations will directly benefit US national interests by strengthening alliances and enabling recipient countries to take an increasing role in providing for collective and regional security.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Women
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Arindrajit Dube
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: During the past 40 years, the United States has experienced a sharp and sustained rise in wage and income inequality. The high level of inequality in the United States reflects both a disconnect between (1) average wages and productivity, and (2) top and bottom wages.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Income Inequality, Labor Policies, Wage Subsidies, Economic Policy, Economic Theory
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Jeannette Gaudry
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: As the idea that women can and should play pivotal roles in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) gains greater traction, decision makers and scholars must keep striving toward a more nuanced understanding of the historical, cultural, and gendered contexts that enable extremist movements and organizations to grow. Without study, research, discussion, and stronger links with local actors and scholars to gain contextual understanding, U.S. analysts and policymakers risk creating a catalog of programs and policies internationally that include and empower women but fail to stem the tide of extremism and violence. Increasing women’s empowerment and strengthening their roles in community life, peace, and security are important steps, but even these can fail or backfire without deep cultural understanding.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Violent Extremism, Women, Violence
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Ellen Haring
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: In July 2016 at Fort Benning, Georgia, US women for the first time began training to become Army infantry and armor officers. This first cohort of women has neither been issued women-specific equipment to accommodate smaller physical frames. In addition, while some equipment challenges can be addressed through modifications in training, others require equipment modifications and new procurement. To optimize women's performance in this uncharted terrain, the Army must ensure they receive appropriate training and equipment also collect, monitor, and evaluate data on the performance of all its soldiers.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Armed Forces, Women
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Chantal de Jonge Oudraat, Jeannette Gaudry
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Women In International Security (WIIS)
  • Abstract: In recent years, policymakers and international actors have begun to recognize the important role of women and women’s organizations in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE). In October 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2242, which linked the women, peace and security (WPS) and the P/CVE agendas and called for synergies between efforts aimed at countering violent extremism and those furthering the WPS agenda. In 2016, the US government incorporated P/CVE in its National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. The idea that women can be powerful allies in the fight against violent extremism is based primarily on two interrelated observations. First, women often function at the heart of their communities and are thus best placed to recognize early warning signs of radicalization. Effective P/CVE programs will capitalize on this. Second, a community that hopes to address extremism effectively must include the broadest possible range of perspectives in its programming. Because society, economies, and war affect them in gender-specific ways, women bring different perspectives to discussions and plans affecting security. That said, women-centric P/CVE programming is in its infancy. An initial review of these programs points to five main problems, which are explored in this policy brief.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Terrorism, United Nations, Counter-terrorism, Women
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: David S. Mitchell, Jeremy Smith
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: On November 18, 2015, the Obama Administration's Department of Labor (DOL) published two important legal opinions that propose to give states new options for expanding retirement coverage for private-sector workers. These opinions open the door for states to move forward along one of two distinct paths: a payroll deduction plan that avoids ERISA, or a more traditional model that would fall under ERISA. This issue brief summarizes these rules and highlights the tradeoffs state policymakers will face when deciding which of these new avenues to pursue. The brief will be updated once the proposals are finalized.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare, Labor Issues, Governance, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Marek Wasinski
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In a communication of 12 April, the European Commission assessed the potential political and economic consequences of suspending visa exemption for U.S. citizens. Lacking pressure from individual EU Member States, the Commission discouraged such a move and gave the EU Council and European Parliament three months to take an official position. It seems almost certain that the measure of applying pressure on a non-EU country will not be used to help Poland and four other Member States obtain visa-free travel to the United States or other countries with a similar restriction. However, if current trends continue, Poland should join the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme in five years.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, European Union, Citizenship
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Cordella Buchanan Ponczek
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Traditionally, there is a partisan split on foreign policy in the United States: Republican candidates and voters worry more about terrorism, defense and national security than Democratic candidates and voters, thereby putting more stock in foreign policy issues, which manifests itself in the aggressiveness—of lack thereof—of each party’s foreign policy platform. But the candidates in the 2016 U.S. presidential election can be categorised by more than just party: a line can also be drawn between conventional candidates—Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, and Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Republicans—and unconventional candidates—Donald Trump, a Republican, and Bernie Sanders, a Democrat. Should a conventional candidate be elected president, U.S. foreign policy would be based on predictable adaptation to the changing international environment. An unconventional candidate, however, would be a wild card, whose actions would be difficult to predict.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Fiona S. Cunningham, M. Taylor Fravel
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Whether China will abandon its long-standing nuclear strategy of assured retaliation for a first-use posture will be a critical factor in U.S.-China strategic stability. In recent years, the United States has been developing strategic capabilities such as missile defenses and conventional long-range strike capabilities that could reduce the effectiveness of China's deterrent. Writings by Chinese strategists and analysts, however, indicate that China is unlikely to abandon its current nuclear strategy.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Military Strategy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, East Asia
  • Author: Lindsay Oldenski
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Reshoring—when firms shift manufacturing production back to the United States—has been getting a great deal of publicity lately. Oldenski examines the most recent data on the global operations of US firms and concludes that although some companies have reversed their previous offshoring decisions, there is no evidence of a widespread reshoring trend. But this should not be considered a defeat for US competitiveness. US multinationals continue to move operations offshore, but they also continue to grow stronger, producing more in their US operations and adding more to total US exports. The structure of US manufacturing has changed, but the ability to adapt to the changing nature of global business has been and will continue to be crucial to the continued growth of US manufacturing.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Theodore Moran
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: For more than a decade, China has complained about what it maintains has been a pattern of erratic and politicized treatment of Chinese investors when they attempt to acquire US companies. The Chinese want the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to be more open and transparent in its rulings and to not discriminate against Chinese firms. The United States is not likely to accede to these demands in any formal or legal manner. Moran proposes practical steps to address the concerns of Chinese investors without diluting CFIUS procedures. He provides a national security threat assessment filter, which allows Chinese investors—like investors of all nationalities—to determine when their proposed acquisitions might pose a genuine threat and when any such threat is simply not plausible. He also suggests that first-time Chinese investors seek expert counsel to overcome the secrecy surrounding CFIUS objections to figure out how to proceed with problematic acquisitions.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey Schott, Eujiin Jung, Cathleen Cimino-Isaacs
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Of all the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by Korea with its major trading partners since the turn of the century, the Korea-China FTA may be the largest in trade terms. It is, however, far from the best in terms of the depth of liberalization and the scope of obligations on trade and investment policies. Korea and China agreed to liberalize a large share of bilateral trade within 20 years, but both sides incorporated extensive exceptions to basic tariff reforms and deferred important market access negotiations on services and investment for several years. Political interests trumped economic objectives, and the negotiated outcome cut too many corners to achieve such a comprehensive result. The limited outcome in the Korea-China talks has two clear implications for economic integration among the northeast Asian countries. First, prospects for the ongoing China-Japan-Korea talks will be limited and unlikely to exceed the Korea-China outcome. Second, Korea and Japan need to strengthen their bilateral leg of the northeast Asian trilateral and the best way is by negotiating a deal in the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Korea
  • Author: William R. Cline
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The latest semiannual fundamental equilibrium exchange rate (FEER) estimates find that the US dollar is now overvalued by about 10 percent, comparable to levels in 2008 through early 2010 and again in 2011. Unlike then, the current strong dollar does not reflect a weak renminbi kept undervalued by major exchange rate intervention by China. Instead, China's current account surplus has fallen sharply relative to GDP, and its recent intervention has been to prevent excessive depreciation rather than to prevent appreciation. Additionally, declines in the real effective exchange rates (REERs) for major emerging-market economies and resource-based advanced economies, driven by falling commodity prices in recent months, have strengthened the dollar. Recent increases in the REERs for the euro area and Japan have removed their modest undervaluation identified in the last FEERs estimates in May, and the Chinese renminbi remains consistent with its FEER. The dollar's rise by nearly 15 percent in real effective terms over the past two years could impose a drag of nearly one-half percent annually on US demand growth over the next five years. As the Federal Reserve moves to normalize US monetary policy, it may need to consider a gentler rise in interest rates than it might otherwise have pursued, both to temper possible further strengthening of the dollar in response to higher interest rates and to help offset the demand compression from falling net export
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, GDP
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Andrew J. Tabler
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Washington's nascent policy of "uncoordinated deconfliction" with Bashar al-Assad's regime in the fight against the "Islamic State"/ISIS may not be a formal alliance, but it does have the potential to foster serious problems. The regime's tacit agreement to avoid firing on coalition strike aircraft -- juxtaposed with long delays in the Obama administration's train-and-equip program for the Syrian opposition and the president's October 2014 letter to Iran's Supreme Leader on cooperation against ISIS -- is creating widespread perceptions that the United States is heading into a de facto alliance with Assad and Tehran regarding the jihadists. If Washington continues this policy as is, it will merely contain ISIS, not "defeat" or "destroy" the group as called for by President Obama. Worse, it could lead to a deadly extremist stalemate in Syria between Iranian-backed/Hezbollah forces and jihadists, amplifying threats to U.S. national security interests.
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Syria
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After two rounds of peace talks in Geneva failed to resolve the Syrian crisis, Moscow proposed in December 2014 its own peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition. Earlier this month, Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed that the talks would take place January 26-29, according to Russian press reports. Bogdanov has described the talks as "consultative" and "preparatory," without any preconditions or set agenda. They could, he said, lead to more concrete discussions. Although the United States is not participating in the Moscow talks, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry expressed hope on January 14 in Geneva that they "could be helpful."
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Moscow
  • Author: David Pollock, Robert Satloff, Andrew J. Tabler, James F. Jeffrey
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In last night's State of the Union speech, President Obama had the opportunity to educate the American people on the unique challenges posed by the "Islamic State"/ISIS, as well as the tough choices the United States and others will have to make as they deal with this phenomenon. Instead, he cited the issue only in passing, reiterating his "degrade and ultimately destroy" commitment without giving any idea what the next steps are beyond mentioning the increasingly risible effort to arm a Syrian opposition on slow simmer (see PolicyWatch 2357, "Train and Equip Not Enough for U.S.-Backed Syrian Rebels"), and the passing of a Congressional resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIS. This was in contrast to the extensive airtime he dedicated to touting his initiative on Cuba, which -- regardless of one's views on that decision -- is an almost irrelevant issue given the various crises occurring around the globe.
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the prospect of the ICC actually prosecuting Israeli officials is uncertain at best, the PA has torpedoed any chances for near-term diplomacy merely by opening that door, and perhaps invited U.S. financial countermeasures as well.
  • Political Geography: United States, Palestine
  • Author: Jonathan Rynhold
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 23, Jonathan Rynhold and Elliott Abrams addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Rynhold is a senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA), director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People, and author of the just-released book The Arab-Israel Conflict in American Political Culture (Cambridge University Press). Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights, Phillip Smyth, P.J. Dermer
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 6, 2015, Michael Knights, Phillip Smyth, and P.J. Dermer addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. Knights is an Institute Lafer Fellow and author of the Institute study The Long Haul: Rebooting U.S. Security Cooperation in Iraq. Smyth is a researcher at the University of Maryland and author of the Institute study The Shiite Jihad in Syria and Its Regional Effects. Dermer is a retired U.S. Army colonel who served multiple tours in the Middle East, including two in Iraq. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew Engel
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier this month, Aref Ali Nayed -- Libya's ambassador to the UAE and former lead coordinator of the Libya Stabilization Team -- visited Washington to address the "Islamic State"/ISIS presence in his country. In his view, the group is rapidly expanding and may threaten Europe, though the U.S. government assessment is less certain -- some American intelligence officials believe Nayed may be overstating his case, but U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones asked in a February 4 tweet whether "a divided Libya" can withstand ISIS. Indeed, the group has dramatically increased its physical and media presence in Libya since the Islamic Youth Shura Council (IYSC) of Darnah pledged allegiance to it last October, after which ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recognized the Libyan "provinces" of Barqa (Cyrenaica), Tripolitania, and Fezzan as belonging to his self-styled "caliphate." At the same time, the group's supporters online have been aggressively recruiting while making the case for ISIS expansion in Libya and a new strategy in North Africa.
  • Political Geography: United States, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Ali Jalali
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's presidential election was resolved in a U.S.-brokered deal that created a national unity government (NUG). New president Ashraf Ghani, by decree, created the post of chief executive officer (CEO), filled by Abdullah Abdullah. This has resulted in a power-sharing arrangement between two teams, the legal parameters of which will not be decided for another two years. In addition to its internal tensions, the NUG faces a challenging political, security, and economic situation in the country at large—one that threatens to be exacerbated as international assistance and U.S. military forces draw down. The formation of the NUG, however, also presents an opportunity for Afghanistan's leaders to redefine the role of government and institute reforms that can strengthen public support and improve the chances of obtaining further international assistance. To take advantage of these opportunities, leaders in the NUG could make a serious unified commitment to reforms and fully integrate the governing body both politically and professionally, despite the power-sharing arrangement that has been created.
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Maral Noori, Daniel Jasper, Jason Tower
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In 2011, U.S. president Barack Obama announced plans to "pivot" toward Asia. In 2012, Chinese president Xi Jinping expressed his hope for "a new type of relationship" with the United States. A lack of strategic trust between the two countries, however, prevents critically needed productive cooperation. This Peace Brief addresses the misunderstandings behind this mistrust and a possible way to move beyond them.
  • Topic: International Relations, Communism, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Vickie Choltz, Maureen Conway
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The Future of Work for Low-Income Workers and Families is a policy brief aimed at state policy advocates and policymakers seeking to help low-income workers and their families secure healthy economic livelihoods as the nature of work evolves in the United States. Published by the Working Poor Families Project in December 2015, the brief was written by Vickie Choitz, associate director of the Economic Opportunities Program, with Maureen Conway, vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of the Economic Opportunities Program. This brief reviews the major forces shaping the future of work, including changes in labor and employment practices, business models, access to income and benefits, worker rights and voice, education and training, and technology. Across these areas, we are seeing disruptive change in our economy and society resulting in increasing risk and challenges for low-income workers, in particular.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Human Welfare, Social Stratification, Employment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Annie Kim
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The 2015 Financial Security Summit, titled Reimagining Financial Security: Managing Risk and Building Wealth in an Era of Inequality, took place July 15–17 in Aspen, Colorado. The Summit agenda built on FSP's core themes of expanding retirement security and children’s savings accounts for low- and moderate-income families, and began to explore a broader vision of how to improve short- and long-term dimensions of financial wellbeing in a rapidly changing economy. Participant contributions helped shape new areas of focus for FSP going forward. This report incorporates those insights and provides an outline for future policy dialogue and directions.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Human Welfare, Social Stratification, Employment
  • Political Geography: United States