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  • Author: Mauricio Cá¡rdenas, Joshua Meltzer
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: A trio of trade agreements now pending before Congress would benefit the United States both economically and strategically. Carefully developed accords with South Korea, Colombia and Panama will boost U.S. exports significantly, especially in the key automotive, agricultural and commercial services sectors. Among the other benefits are: increased U.S. competitiveness enhancement of U.S. diplomatic and economic postures in East Asia and Latin America new investment opportunities better enforcement of labor regulation and improved transparency in these trading partners' regulatory systems.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Kenya, United States, Israel, Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: William A. Galston
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: When experts and pundits are asked what the president and Congress should do to promote economic growth, they typically respond with a list of policies, often mixed with stylistic and political suggestions. Few focus on institutional change, which is too easy to conflate with yawn-inducing “governmental reorganization.”
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Grover J. (Russ) Whitehurst
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: A nation's education system is a pillar of its economic strength and international competitiveness. The National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed data from 146 countries, collected between 1950 and 2010, and found that each year of additional average schooling attained by a population translates into at least a two percent increase in economic output. A 2007 World Bank policy research working paper reported similar results. Based on these findings, if the United States increased the average years of schooling completed by its adult population from the current 12 years to 13 years—that is, added one year of postsecondary education—our gross domestic product would rise by more than $280 billion.
  • Topic: Economics, Education
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Martin Neil Baily, Karen Dynan, Douglas J. Elliott
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: As the nation strives to recover from the “Great Recession,” job creation remains one of the biggest challenges to renewed prosperity. Small businesses have been among the most powerful generators of new jobs historically, suggesting the value of a stronger focus on supporting small businesses— especially high-growth firms—and encouraging entrepreneurship. Choosing the right policies will require public and private decision-makers to establish clear goals, such as increasing employment, raising the overall return on investment, and generating innovations with broader benefits for society. Good mechanisms will also be needed for gauging their progress and ultimate success. This brief examines policy recommendations to strengthen the small business sector and provide a platform for effective programs. These recommendations draw heavily from ideas discussed at a conference held at the Brookings Institution with academic experts, successful private-sector entrepreneurs, and government policymakers, including leaders from the Small Business Administration. The gathering was intended to spur the development of creative solutions in the private and public sectors to foster lasting economic growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: R. Kent Weaver
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Efforts by President George W. Bush to promote major reforms in the Social Security retirement program have not led to policy change, but rather to increased polarization between the two parties. And the longer we wait to address Social Security's long-term funding problem, the bigger and more painful the changes will need to be.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Anthony Downs
  • Publication Date: 10-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: U.S. stock markets are gyrating on news of an apparent credit crunch generated by defaults among subprime home mortgage loans. Such frenzy has spurred Wall Street to cry capital crisis. However, there is no shortage of capital – only a shortage of confidence in some of the instruments Wall Street has invented. Much financial capital is still out there looking for a home.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • 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: David de Ferranti, Anthony J. Ody
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), typically employing between 10 and 250 workers, form the backbone of modern economies and can be crucial engines of development through their role as seedbeds of innovation. In much of the developing world, though, SMEs are under-represented, stifled by perverse regulatory climates and poor access to inputs. A critical missing ingredient is often capital.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Martha Ross, Kathy Patrick
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Low-income residents of Washington, DC are in poorer health and have less access to regular medical care than more affluent residents. A citywide community health worker program could increase primary care visits among low-income residents, improve their health and reduce potentially avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Community health workers (CHWs) are well-trained community members whose backgrounds are similar to those they serve, and who provide health education, links to health services, and support in managing health conditions. CHWs serve communities with cultural, linguistic, or economic barriers to health care services. A growing body of research suggests that CHW programs improve access to primary and preventive care, reduce emergency department overcrowding, and are cost-effective.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Martha Ross, Nicole Lurie
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Low-income residents of Washington, DC have poorer health outcomes and less access to primary care than more affluent residents of the city. Residents in low-income areas of the city are less likely to have insurance and a regular doctor, are more likely to have chronic health problems, and are more likely to be hospitalized for conditions that should not result in hospitalization if treated early and effectively in a primary care setting.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Washington
  • Author: Britany Affolter-Caine, Justin Austin
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The Great Lakes region of the United States is a unique economic, social, and cultural area made up of all or part of 12 states, including the western portions of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; northern Kentucky; all of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin; and eastern Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Home to 97 million people, this region is defined by a shared geography and natural resources, a dynamic political and economic history, and strong principles of social organization that together have shaped its growth and development. One of the largest industrial production centers and consumer marketplaces in the world, this highly urbanized “mega-region” is a vital global hub of economic activity and growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, North America, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, West Virginia, North Kentucky, East Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri
  • Author: William H. Frey, Alan Berube, Audrey Singer, Jill H. Wilson
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Beyond the suburbs, at the far edges of metropolitan areas, communities both new and old are developing the capacity to house large flows of incoming residents.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: For all its challenges Maine stands within reach of a new prosperity—if it takes bold action and focuses its limited resources on a few critical investments. The moment is urgent. After decades of industrial restructuring and drift, the pace of transformation is quickening, and the slow replacement of the old order is yielding a new one that may bring better lives for Mainers. New population growth is bringing new people and new wealth to the state.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Bruce Katz
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The relationship between the federal government and American cities is intricate and complex. Majoy federal policies on tax, trade, transportation, and immigration have a substantial influence on the health and vitality of city economies and the shape of metropolitan growth and development. Other federal policies on education, job training, wages, financial services, health care, and housing help shape the life opportunities of urban residents, particularly those who earn low or moderate incomes. Each of these policies influences and is influenced by the nation's changing demographic and economic reality, which in turn has significant implications for cities.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: David de Ferranti, Anthony J. Ody, Nick Warren, Justin Jacinto, Charles Griffin
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The struggle against global poverty may be about to get an important boost from an unexpected quarter. All too often, wellintentioned development programs have been undermined in the past by inefficiency, wrongheaded priorities, and outright graft. It is crucial to enhance the effectiveness of developing countries' public spending on social goals. The public sector, however, cannot, in general, be relied upon to reform itself in isolation. The pressure of informed domestic public opinion is a crucial stimulus.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, Poverty
  • Author: Lily L. Batchelder, Jr. Fred T. Goldberg, Peter R. Orszag
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The federal tax code provides about $500 billion each year in incentives intended to encourage socially-valued activities, including homeownership, charitable contributions, health insurance, and education. The vast majority of these incentives operate through deductions or other approaches that link the size of the tax break to a household's marginal tax bracket, which means that higher-income taxpayers receive larger incentives than lower-income taxpayers. Such an approach is often appropriate for provisions, such as deductions for business expenses, designed to measure income or ability to pay. But such an approach for incentives intended to promote socially-valued activities excludes more than a third of America, and misses an important opportunity to increase efficiency and economic growth.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Erica Downs, Peter C. Evans
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The efforts of China's national oil companies to secure upstream oil assets abroad have attracted attention from U.S. officials and policymakers. Congress has taken notice, as indicated by the request of the Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Resources Committee Richard W. Pombo—triggered by the bid made by China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd. for Unocal in 2005—for a study by the Department of Energy of the economic and national security implications of China's energy demand. The report, released in February 2006, concludes that the foreign investments of China's national oil companies do not pose an economic challenge to the U.S. However, one issue the report mentions only in passing that merits further attention is how the Chinese government's financial support for some of these investments can undermine an open and competitive world oil market.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • 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: Daniel T. Lichter, Andrea Kane
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Most social scientists acknowledge that, on balance, single parents, stepparents, or cohabiting couples are no substitute for childrearing by two married parents. Yet, new data from the federal government show that a record number of babies—nearly 1.5 million—were born to unmarried women in the United States in 2004. Empirical evidence of this sort has leveraged political support for the Bush administration's “Healthy Marriage Initiative.” Congress recently approved major funding for this initiative as part of welfare reform reauthorization. Approximately $100 million per year will be available for research, demonstration, and technical assistance projects to promote healthy marriage through such activities as public advertising campaigns, relationship and marriage education in high schools, and relationship and marriage skills for both unmarried and married couples. In addition, about $50 million per year will be available to promote responsible fatherhood.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: James C. Capretta
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Although Social Security reform appears to be off of the national agenda for now, real funding problems remain for America's popular retirement program that policymakers need to address. The payroll taxes that support Social Security's “pay–as-you-go” system will begin to fall short of outlays in 2017 and will be sufficient to finance only 74 percent of scheduled annual benefits by 2041, when the Social Security trust fund is projected to be exhausted.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Germany, Sweden
  • Author: Robert E. Litan
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: While policymakers and leaders continue to debate the rebuilding of Gulf areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, a much greater loss looms on the horizon. Katrina exposed more than problems with poverty, emergency management, and infrastructure. The storm also illustrated the inability of private insurance markets to handle large-scale losses. “Mega-catastrophes” are catastrophic events, like Katrina, whose costs are so large and unpredictable that private insurers either are unwilling to insure against them, or charge premiums so high that significant numbers of customers do not want or cannot afford the insurance.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Politics
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Autism spectrum disorders have become among the most common and severe developmental disabilities facing children—and thus future generations of adults—in the United States today. More than in 200 young children may now be affected by a neurological condition on the spectrum (which includes autism, pervasive development disorder, and Asperger's syndrome or disorder). This fact has become increasingly well reported in recent months.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Margy Waller
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Research suggests that having a car is a worthwhile investment in better outcomes for low-income families. Recent reports quantify the additional money required to own and operate personal vehicles, as compared to the lower cost of traveling on public transit. However, this method of accounting fails to consider the fact that poor workers without a car may not be able to search for or accept a better-paying job because public transit doesn't take them there, causing these workers to lose income or benefits as a result. This report outlines opportunity costs experienced by transit-dependent poor households, and concludes that when all costs are considered along with benefits of private vehicles, it makes sense to press for more assistance and policies that reduce car ownership costs for poor workers.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Author: Henry J. Aaron
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Providing all beneficial care to those who need it is rapidly becoming unaffordable, even for a nation as rich as the United States. The highly decentralized U.S. payment system is unique in its lack of effective levers for limiting health care spending, and managed care has largely been ineffective. A different solution, considered extreme by many in the United States, is rationing.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Henry J. Aaron
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The United States spends more on health care than any other nation. In 2003, medical spending made up more than 15 percent of U.S. GDP, and if historical trends persist, this share will climb to more than one-third of GDP by 2040. With medical technology advancing at an ever-increasing rate, the potential for spending on procedures not worth their costs is growing. But there are few good ideas for reining in medical costs without hurting patients.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Margy Waller
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Since the 1940s, federal officials, commissions, and scholars all have suggested that local governments receive their federal funds in the form of so-called block grants. Supporters say block grant sallow local governments more freedom to design programs, simplify administration of funds, and improve consumer access to social services. The biggest challenge to wholesale support for block grants is simple: How can we ensure accountability for spending and outcomes? Policymakers face a dilemma: keep block grant funding flexible to ensure its success or protect programs from potential cuts that threaten the stability of services. This policy brief reviews the history of federal block grants for social services, the academic literature examining block grant outcomes, and recent federal proposals.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is seriously wounded. Unveiled by President Bush in March 2002 as a promising new bilateral aid instrument for tackling global poverty, the most prominent sign of the MCC's distress was the mid-summer resignation of Paul Applegarth, its first CEO. More disturbing are the cuts imposed by the Congressional committees marking up next year's budget. The MCC's original concept was to award $5 billion annually to low-income countries based on objective criteria measuring their performance in ruling justly, investing in people, and promoting economic freedom. Appropriations for the MCC in its third year of funding, however, appear to be stuck below $2 billion. Criticism of the MCC for getting off to a slow start misses the point. Creating a new agency takes time and the original concept remains valid. To enable the MCC to live up to its potential, its newly nominated CEO will have to sell the MCC vision to a skeptical Congress and gain the flexibility required to avoid drifting toward "more of the same."
  • Topic: International Relations, Debt, Economics, Poverty
  • Author: Bruce D. Meyer, James X. Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Trends in income and consumption tell very different stories about the well-being of single mothers and their children in recent years. On the one hand, data suggest that income fell noticeably for single mothers well below the poverty line, while income grew significantly for single mothers with higher incomes. On the other hand, data on how much these two groups of mothers and children consumed suggest that the material circumstances of both groups improved during the 1990s. We argue that the consumption data better reflect well-being for several reasons. First, consumption is probably measured with less error than income for poor families, and is more strongly associated with other measures of well-being such as health and housing conditions. Second, there is overwhelming evidence that income is underreported by these mothers and that the underreporting, especially of income from welfare and other transfer programs, has increased in recent years.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Author: Robert E. Litan, Nicholas Warren, Lael Brainard
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: With a new wave of white-collar offshoring coming fast on the heels of accelerated job losses in manufacturing, an ever-broader pool of American workers is finding that the nation's safety net has more holes than netting. The nation can and must do more to help insure the livelihoods of American workers in the face of structural shifts of whatever form, while preserving the benefits of an open and innovative economy. With technological change and offshoring accelerating job turnover and the pace at which workers' job-specific skills lose value, the time has come for the federal government to strengthen the existing safety net.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Robert E. Litan, Nicholas Warren, Lael Brainard
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: With a new wave of white-collar offshoring coming fast on the heels of accelerated job losses in manufacturing, an ever-broader pool of American workers is finding that the nation's safety net has more holes than netting. The nation can and must do more to help insure the livelihoods of American workers in the face of structural shifts of whatever form, while preserving the benefits of an open and innovative economy. With technological change and offshoring accelerating job turnover and the pace at which workers' job-specific skills lose value, the time has come for the federal government to strengthen the existing safety net.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Allen Schick
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: When George W. Bush leaves office in 2009, the federal government will owe at least $15,000 more for every American than it did when he became president eight years earlier. This unprecedented build-up of public debt will result from budget deficits projected to average more than $250 billion a year during the Bush presidency, plus more than one trillion dollars borrowed from social security trust funds. Although this budget projection may be high, there is far greater risk that actual deficits will exceed current estimates than that they will be lower.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Ray Boshara
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Individual Development Accounts (IDAs)—matched savings accounts for low-income households—are a relatively new means of improving the lives of the poor. Advocates of IDAs argue that those with assets are more economically secure, have more options in life, and can pass on status and opportunities to future generations. They further argue that assets have positive social, psychological, and civic effects that are independent of the effects of income. Over the last decade, research and demonstration projects have been initiated to address these claims; some of the key findings are that IDAs do lead the poor to save or acquire assets, but do not necessarily increase their net worth (assets minus debt). While costs are declining, IDAs are expensive to administer and are often used by the poor as checking and savings accounts as well as a means to accumulate wealth, reflecting in part the dearth of savings products aimed at the poor.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Economics, Government
  • Author: Pietro S. Nivola
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: American politics are said to have become bitterly polarized. Journalistic accounts speak frequently of culture wars, and of a chasm between "red" and "blue" states. The defining issue in last November's tightly contested election was reported to be a deep divide over something called "moral values." Senator John F. Kerry's defeat was imputed to his party's alleged deficit in moralists. George W. Bush's victory was attributed to a mobilization of religious zealots. The passions and polemics of maximalists, we are told, are crowding out the preferences of moderates. The country's traditions of pragmatic accommodation and centrist policymaking are supposedly at risk in this hardened political landscape.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Government, Politics
  • Author: LaDonna Pavetti
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Efforts to reform the welfare system over the last two decades have largely focused on reducing welfare dependency by getting welfare recipients to work. By the time the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was created by the welfare reform law of 1996, there was widespread agreement in the states that welfare recipients should be required to look for work and to do so shortly after (or even before) they began receiving cash assistance. Once TANF was implemented, work became a central focus of local welfare offices. However, as shown by the recent debates on the reauthorization, consensus on work requirements remains elusive.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Author: Audrey Singer, Anna Paulson
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Policymakers and academics are now catching up to financial institutions in their desire to understand how and why immigrants use U.S. financial markets. “Financial Access for Immigrants: Learning from Diverse Perspectives,” a conference co-sponsored by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program formerly the Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy) and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, was held at the Chicago Fed on April 15-16, 2004. It included presentations from scholars and practitioners who discussed recent research on the financial practices of immigrants as well as the practical experiences of for-profit and nonprofit institutions working to provide financial services to the immigrant community.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, Chicago
  • Author: David B. Sandalow
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The United States has vital interests in the oceans. U.S. national security depends on naval mobility. U.S. prosperity depends on underwater energy resources. Ocean fisheries help feed the United States and much of the world. On February 25, 2004, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously recommended that the United States accede to the Law of the Sea Convention, which sets forth a comprehensive framework of rules for governing the oceans. The recommendation followed two hearings in which the committee heard testimony supporting the Convention from the Bush administration, the armed services, ocean industries, and environmental groups, among others. Following the favorable report from Foreign Relations, other congressional committees held hearings at which several lawmakers raised concerns about the treaty. The United States should promptly join the Law of the Sea Convention. Doing so would help protect U.S. national security, advance U.S. economic interests, and protect the marine environment. Prompt action is needed to ensure that the United States is a party by November 2004, when the Convention is open to amendment for the first time.
  • Topic: Economics, International Law
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Charles L. Schultze
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Until the end of 2003, the United States had been experiencing a “jobless” recovery, with employment stagnating at levels well below those in 2000. A widespread perception has arisen that a major culprit behind the dearth of jobs was the growing practice of U.S. firms to relocate part of their domestic operations to lower-wage countries abroad. “Offshoring” presumably caused a reduction in U.S. output and a corresponding loss of jobs.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William G. Gale, Peter R. Orszag
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: For decades, the U.S. private pension system has provided preferential tax treatment to employer-provided pensions, 401(k) plans, and individual retirement accounts relative to other forms of saving. The effectiveness of this system of subsidies is controversial. Despite the accumulation of vast amounts of wealth in pension accounts, concerns persist about the ability of the pension system to raise private and national saving, and in particular to improve saving outcomes among those households most in danger of inadequately preparing for retirement.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Thomas J. Kane, Peter R. Orszag
  • Publication Date: 09-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In recent years, many public colleges and universities around the country have announced double-digit increases in tuition. The recession and the resulting squeeze on state revenues are the immediate causes. However, the short-term crisis should not be allowed to obscure a longer-term shift in state financing of higher education, which began more than a decade ago. As states have struggled to respond to other demands on their budgets-primarily due to rising state Medicaid obligations-parents and students have been asked to pay an increasingly large share of the costs in public higher education.
  • Topic: Economics, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: William Gale, Megan McNally, Janet Rothenberg Pack
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Participants in the annual symposium on The Brookings-Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs—convened by Brookings and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School—present research on issues unique to urban areas as well as on broader economic and policy topics that can apply to urban settings. This year's participants focused on urban education and presented findings on the results of an experiment designed to detect cheating on standardized tests, the impact of school reform in an urban setting, the effect of school quality on housing values, and the determinants of improved academic performance. Two other studies addressed other urban economic issues: the increase in economic inequality across and within geographic regions, and local variation in land use regulations. This year's Brookings-Wharton symposium took place at Brookings in October 2002. The resulting bound volume is due out this month from the Brookings Institution Press.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: United States, Pennsylvania
  • Author: Robert Litan, Richard Herring
  • Publication Date: 04-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In 1999, after nearly twenty years of debate, the U.S. Congress finally passed legislation permitting bank affiliations with all sorts of other financial enterprises, and vice versa. In this step, the United States joined many other countries — especially in Europe and, more recently, Japan — in allowing the operation of financial conglomerates. But are financial conglomerates the wave of the future in finance? And if so, how are they to be regulated? These were the two central questions addressed in the fifth annual conference of the Brookings-Wharton Papers on Financial Services, an annual volume published by the Brookings Institution Press. The conference, held in October 2002 in Washington, D.C., convened financial services experts from around the world. The papers presented at the conference suggest, generally, that while the future may see more financial conglomerate activity than it has in the past, there still will be a role for specialist, or "monoline" financial companies. As for regulation, there is no settled model: some nations will pursue consolidated supervision, with authority over entire conglomerates vested in a single authority (often the central bank), while others will still regulate the pieces of diversified financial enterprises along structural lines.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Washington
  • Author: Robert Litan, Michael Pomerleano, V. Sundararajan
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Policymakers and analysts are still sifting through the wreckage of the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the subsequent crises in Russia, Turkey, and Argentina to discern key lessons so that similar crises will not recur. Some lessons are by now well understood. Pegged exchange rates can encourage excessive borrowing and expose countries to financial collapse when foreign exchange reserves run dry. Inadequate disclosures by both private companies and public bodies can lead to similar dangers. Although many factors undoubtedly contributed to these crises, it is now widely recognized that each suffered from a failure in “governance,” and in particular a failure in governance in their financial sectors. Accordingly, the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Brookings Institution devoted their fourth annual Financial Markets and Development Conference, held in New York from April 17-19, 2002, to the subject of financial sector governance in emerging markets. This conference report summarizes some of the highlights of the conference, whose full proceedings will be published as a Brookings book in the fall of 2002.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Russia, New York, Turkey, Asia, Argentina
  • Author: Michael Kremer, Seema Jayachandran
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: When the international community wants to put pressure on a government that suppresses democracy and human rights, a common approach is to impose economic sanctions. Traditional sanctions, however, are often criticized as either ineffective or inhumane. The targeted government can find ways to evade them, and the sanctions may hurt rather than help the people in the country. For example, when trade sanctions are deployed, smugglers and even some national governments will likely flout them, enticed by profits boosted by the sanction itself. When trade sanctions are not evaded, the loss of national income can impoverish citizens. This policy brief proposes a new form of sanction that avoids these shortcomings and hence could be a valuable addition to the toolkit of sanctions available to the international community and national governments.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Political Economy
  • Author: Edward J. Lincoln
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The Japanese economy has undergone a decade of sluggish growth marked by three recessions, including the current one. This time, recession is accompanied by general price deflation, a situation unprecedented among industrialized nations since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Meanwhile, the financial sector sits on a rising mountain of bad loans. A serious financial crisis and deeper recession are real possibilities.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, East Asia
  • Author: Philip H. Gordon, Henri Barkey
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The resumption of negotiations between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders has led to renewed hopes that the divided island of Cyprus can be reunified ahead of its likely invitation to join the European Union (EU) in December 2002. In fact, however, there is no guarantee that the renewed talks will produce a deal. Americans and other interested observers should support the process and encourage the leaders to compromise. But they should also be prepared for a scenario in which the parties cannot overcome their differences and the EU extends an invitation to join that would only apply to the Greek portion of the island.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: America, Europe, Island
  • Author: Shang-Jin Wei
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: At least since the Asian financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has, from time to time, included transparency and anti-corruption measures as part of the conditions for countries to borrow its funds. Because of this, it has been criticized as having overstepped its mandate, or even having made crises worse in countries the IMF is supposed to help.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, Third World
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: William T. Dickens, George A. Akerlof, George L. Perry
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: One of the most important choices any president-elect must make is how to organize and staff the National Security Council (NSC). Chief executives from John Fitzgerald Kennedy to William Jefferson Clinton have found their foreign policy held hostage to the management choices they made between election and inauguration.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jeffrey A. Frankel
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The recent financial crises in many emerging market economies have raised anew questions about the appropriate exchange-rate regime and the use of capital controls as policy instruments. The use of both mechanisms should be tailored to each country's unique circumstances. Fixed exchange-rate mechanisms, such as dollarization (adopting the dollar as legal tender in place of the national currency), are suited to small open economies or those desperate to import monetary stability. Larger economies, such as the European Union (EU) and the United States, should allow their currencies to float. Intermediate regimes that fall between fixed- and floating-rate regimes—such as bands, baskets, and crawls (See Figure 1 for definitions)—are still appropriate for some countries. Certain well-targeted restrictions on the composition of capital flows might be appropriate for some emerging-market countries as temporary measures when inflows are particularly high.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe