All Articles

Filter

November 23, 2021

Analysis

Trade and Growth

Revisiting the effects of trade liberalization on economic growth

According to a survey on free trade from the University of Chicago, economists overwhelmingly agree that free trade’s net effects are good. A recent article by several  IMF economists affirms that, “perhaps more than on any other issue, there is…

November 20, 2021

Sources

In October, over 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike, 1,400 Kellogg's workers followed suit, and observers anticipated thousands more IATSE members and Kaiser Permanente workers to walk out. (After voting down two contracts, workers at Deere reached an agreement last week ending…

November 18, 2021

Analysis

The Wall Street Consensus at COP26

Finance Day at COP26 shows a ruthless dedication to voluntary decarbonization

Wednesday, November 3, was private finance day at COP26. For those who follow central banks closely, the event was a chance to gauge whether their recent turn to climate-conscious policy making would translate into ambitious decarbonization announcements. After all, private…

November 13, 2021

Sources

In recent decades, policy arenas which are resistant to national and international regulation have seen the flourishing of voluntary, self-regulatory, and private accountability mechanisms. Researchers have grouped these broadly as a system of Non-State-Market-Driven-Governance (NSMDG), characterized by the institutional role of markets and…

November 12, 2021

Analysis

Growth Towns

The Evergrande crisis, “common prosperity,” and the transformation of the Chinese growth model

The ongoing crisis for Chinese property developer Evergrande has made the giant company the focal point of global concern. Creditors, investors, contractors, customers, and employees of Evergrande within and outside China have watched anxiously to see whether the Chinese government would…

November 6, 2021

Sources

After two years of publishing, we are thrilled to launch a new website. Our new home—developed and designed by Partner & Partners—retains the style of our original blog layout, while creating new streams of longform and shortform content, gathering a series section, and collecting past PW Sources…

November 6, 2021

Analysis

Titans

Tracing the rise and the politics of asset manager capitalism

In mid October 2021, when BlackRock revealed its third quarter results, the asset management behemoth announced it was just shy of $10 trillion in assets under management. It’s a vast sum, “roughly equivalent to the entire global hedge fund, private…

November 4, 2021

Analysis

Negotiations

The Federation of German Industries’ agenda in the formation of the new German federal government

The new German government will be called upon, at a highly critical time for the global and European economy, to draw up a new economic and political strategy not only for Germany but also for the EU/Eurozone. The outcome will…

November 4, 2021

Analysis

Manufacturing Stagnation

Intellectual property, industrial organization, and economic growth

$5.3 trillion of US federal government stimulus and relief spending have returned the economy to its pre-Covid growth trajectory. But that growth trajectory was hardly robust—either before or after the 2008 financial crisis. Nor was the slow decay of GDP…

November 2, 2021

Analysis

The Diverging Gap

The history of the global infrastructure gap

On June 11, leaders at the G7 summit signed the Build Back Better World (B3W) Partnership, an agreement which commits signatories to meet the infrastructure needs of low- and middle-income countries. The deal is an explicit response to China’s Belt…

October 30, 2021

Analysis

Uneven Channels

Climate diplomacy and the global financial architecture

This year’s Conference of the Parties (COP), opening October 31, is hosted by the United Kingdom, whose agenda-setting privilege as host has made private finance a central focus of the 2021 meeting. The UK ambition to center the City of…

October 30, 2021

Sources

While a group of statisticians recently found the 2020 US Census to be free of major errors, many were concerned about the census' ability to accurately reflect the population given its coincidence with the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The debate shed light on the…

October 23, 2021

Sources

Since the mid-19th century, municipal debt has been responsible for funding some of the most significant investments in US infrastructure, schools, and social services. But rising risks of climate-related flooding threaten the value of municipal bonds, often in cities which…

October 19, 2021

Analysis

Gas and Labor

The UK‘s petrol shortage is also a labor shortage driven by worsening conditions of work

The United Kingdom is in the midst of a protracted crisis in the supply of petrol. In the face of a plummeting sterling and severe disruptions to essential public services, military tanker drivers have been deployed to transport fuel to…

October 16, 2021

Sources

Both consumers and businesses have felt the effects of ongoing backlogs in global supply chains. The world's largest retailers have been integral in shaping these supply chains, especially in the global South, where changing patterns of consumption have been met…

October 9, 2021

Sources

As the Fed moves towards tightening its post-pandemic monetary policy, developing countries around the world face growing risks of capital flight. The deep political constraints posed by this risk are not new, but their implications for contemporary policymaking are persistent.

October 2, 2021

Sources

A rise in deportations of Haitian immigrants at the US-Mexico border has brought another cycle of media attention to the US immigration system and border security apparatus.

September 25, 2021

Sources

The possible collapse of Evergrande, China's second largest property developer, has reverberated through global financial markets. With over $300 billion in outstanding debt, 3.8 million jobs on the line, and investments across consumer industries, the scale of the impact could…

September 18, 2021

Analysis

Developmentalisms

The forgotten ancestors of East Asian developmentalism

2021 marked the centenary of the creation of the Chinese Communist Party, born of the May Fourth Movement of 1919. History textbooks tend to claim that the Movement emerged out of a widespread realization that China’s rights as a victorious…

September 18, 2021

Sources

This week, millions in California voted in support of Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall election. California is one of 19 states that grants power to voters to recall a sitting governor, a law which was passed in 1911 as…

September 11, 2021

Sources

Long held to be essential for development, capital flows have come under increasing scrutiny for their impact on the financial stability and autonomy of low and middle income countries.

September 4, 2021

Sources

Haiti won independence from France in 1804, but in return for recognizing its formerly enslaved colony, France later forced Haiti to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs and give preferential treatment to French exports. The debt was equivalent to…


How Schools Lie

The deceptive financial aid system at America's colleges.

No matter how talented, hard working, and committed a student is, if financing falls through, the dream of obtaining higher education can be dashed. But much of the financial data that prospective students receive is misleading. In the cost information…

August 28, 2021

Sources

Earlier this year, global carbon markets were valued at a record breaking $277 billion. The number contrasts strikingly with this summer's wave of devastating fires, many of which proliferated precisely in protected forests designed to offset carbon emissions from other…

August 24, 2021

Analysis

Legitimacy Gap

A history of central bank independence.

We live in the age of the central bank. The financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 crash of 2020 have made visible the central role of the US Federal Reserve and its overseas counterparts in the international financial system.

August 21, 2021

Sources

Observers in the past decades have commented on increased urbanization in India, which has led to new challenges for development, housing, and labor. But the majority of India's population, and thus electoral power, remains in rural regions.

August 14, 2021

Sources

75 percent of US firms currently make use of non-disclosure agreements. Originally developed to protect trade secrets, today's agreements have expanded to include information on salaries, skills, client lists, and employment practices.

August 11, 2021

Analysis

Built Trades

Employer claims of unavailable labor are rooted in an unwillingness to raise wages and the long-term decline of the nation’s system of training and allocating labor

As the American economy reopened in the first half of 2021, reports of a “labor shortage” spread throughout US industries. But there was one sector where employer panic about hiring was old news: the massive and decentralized US construction industry.

August 7, 2021

Sources

This week, the Mexican government sued eleven major US arms manufacturers, alleging that they facilitated the illegal flow of guns into the country. The proliferation of US-manufactured guns in Mexico during recent years has been well-documented, but their presence precedes…

July 31, 2021

Sources

MICRO-STRATEGY Accounts of major historical shifts tend to treat states as unified actors responding to external incentives. In a new article, INGA RADEMACHER complicates this assumption. Drawing on archival documents from the German Federal Cabinet and Bundesbank Council from 1960-1981,…

July 24, 2021

Sources

Structures of unfree labor have always been at the edge of current and historical discourse on labor, mobility and caste in South Asia. This has been in focus during the COVID-led migrant crisis in India, where around 11.4 million migrant…

July 20, 2021

Analysis

Path Persistence

Global trade hierarchies across two eras of globalization

What is the legacy of the First Globalization of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries on the economic fortunes of countries during the Second Globalization? To what extent have countries’ positions in the international economic order been persistent across the…

July 17, 2021

Sources

Earlier this week, the EU published a series of proposals aimed at reducing its carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030. The legislation has revived debates on the economic models best suited to facilitating investment and decarbonization.

July 12, 2021

Interviews

Long Crises

An interview with Benjamin Holtzman

As New Yorkers grapple with an uncertain future, the fiscal crisis of the 1970s and its aftermath are often invoked by the press and politicians. Today, “New York in the 1970s” is shorthand for a city facing poverty and crime,…

July 10, 2021

Sources

Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated on Wednesday, plunging the country into greater political unrest following months of protests around Moïse's controversial decision to rule by decree.

July 8, 2021

Phenomenal Works

In his new book, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities, Davarian Baldwin identifies an “increasingly parasitic” relationship between universities and the cities they occupy.

July 3, 2021

Sources

The impending retreat of US troops from Afghanistan has brought renewed discussion on Pakistan amidst both US and Chinese alliances. Much of the scholarship on Pakistan centers around its military and foreign policy, but less attention has been given to…

July 2, 2021

Analysis

Repressing Labor, Empowering China

Cheap money will boost inequality and geopolitical tension but not inflation

Though the lockdown in 2020 threw many workers out of work, the big fiscal stimulus, fueled by government debt and an unprecedentedly large monetary expansion, offered stimulus checks and elevated unemployment benefits to millions of Americans.

June 26, 2021

Sources

Since the 2000 World Water Forum in The Hague, governance over water resources has gained salience in international development discourse. The allocation of rights (to technology and decisionmaking) and resources (both financial and natural) has shaped local economies in the…

June 24, 2021

Analysis

Preferred Shares

Inflation, wages, and the fifty-year crisis

In one of her first statements as Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen said that the United States faced “an economic crisis that has been building for fifty years.” The formulation is intriguing but enigmatic. The last half-century is piled so high…

June 19, 2021

Sources

Earlier this week, global leaders at the G7 summit signed a "green belt and road initiative," which offers funds to low income countries for sustainable investment.

June 18, 2021

Interviews

Investment and Decarbonization

A conversation on investment strategies for the green transition

In late March, the Biden administration announced the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan, with approximately half of the sum dedicated to fighting the climate crisis. While the legislation would mark a sea change in federal action to avert climate catastrophe,…

June 12, 2021

Sources

former congresswoman and daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori. The contest has revealed deep polarization in the country between social movements opposed to foreign investment and those who favored market liberalization that has defined Peruvian politics since the 1990s.


Hysteresis & Student Debt

How the Great Recession fueled the student debt crisis.

The geographic character of the Great Recession of 2008–2009 is, by this point, well-known. While everywhere in the United States experienced a sharp increase in unemployment, some areas suffered disproportionate exposure to subprime mortgages and the consequent bursting of the…

June 8, 2021

Analysis

The Crisis Canal

Trade, bond markets, Suez, and the Ever Given.

Why did the Ever Given capture our collective imaginations? At the end of its week in the spotlight, the poet Kamran Javadizadeh wrote: “I too am ‘partially refloated,’ I too remain stuck in the Suez Canal.” Two fluorescent yellow-vested construction…

June 5, 2021

Sources

This week marked the 640th anniversary of the 1381 Great Rising, a rebellion which swept across medieval England demanding an end to serfdom and an overhaul of the legal system and the aristocracy.

May 29, 2021

Sources

Though the US economy remains about 10 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic levels, employers and commentators have begun to express fears over a reduction in the labor supply, prompting debates over the possible causes of this shortage.

May 22, 2021

Sources

Recent events in Gaza and Colombia have led to calls for the conditioning of foreign aid—a controversial but longstanding element of the US foreign policy toolkit for pursuing economic and political aims abroad.

May 15, 2021

Sources

Use of the most recent government stimulus varied by income, with richer households saving the money and poorer ones using it to pay off debt.

May 13, 2021

Analysis

Investment and Decarbonization: Rating Green Finance

A proposal for a public ratings agency for green finance

The Biden administration has committed the United States to cutting its carbon emissions in half by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

May 8, 2021

Sources

In the late 2000s, the term "land grab" rose to prominence to describe large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

May 6, 2021

Interviews

Restructuring Sovereign Debt

An interview with Ken Shadlen

Ken Shadlen's research examines how international institutions can create unique challenges for developing countries and, in doing so exacerbate core-periphery inequalities.

May 4, 2021

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Laleh Khalili

On Winona LaDuke and Deborah Cowen's argument for decolonizing infrastructure.

“What if infrastructure is designed, financed and adopted into the habits of everyday lives of its users in such a way that it is not a harbinger of apocalypse?” In a recent essay, Laleh Khalili notes a key dilemma of…

May 1, 2021

Sources

Millions of workers in global supply chains have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

April 28, 2021

Analysis

Reconstruction Finance

Popular politics and reconstructing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

Like the world system as a whole, segregated cities in the United States have their own finance driven core-periphery dynamics.

April 24, 2021

Sources

The US government spends upwards of $20 billion annually on domestic agricultural support programs, but with over 20 percent of farm products exported, these programs interact with trade policies that have fluctuated in the last century between protectionism and liberalization.

April 17, 2021

Sources

In January 2021, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans to build ‘The Line’, a $/500bn futuristic 170km carbon-free city strip in Neom destined to be fully automated, fueled by clean energy, linked to neighboring Jordan and…

April 10, 2021

Sources

Amid the global Covid-19 vaccination campaign, a debate has emerged around intellectual property (IP) and stark inequalities in vaccine distribution. Wealthier nations have opposed a petition to waive the 1995 Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, which imposes…

April 6, 2021

Analysis

Risks and Crises

On market makers and risk managers post-2008.

For a long time, Bagehot’s rule, “lend freely, against good collateral, but at a high rate,” restored the Fed’s control over the money market and helped end banking panics and systemic banking crises. This control evaporated on September 15, 2008,…

April 3, 2021

Sources

Earlier this week, the blockage of the Suez Canal by the giant Ever Given container ship prompted renewed discussions on the weakness of our supply chain infrastructure, the future of globalization, and the region's colonial past.

April 2, 2021

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Ho-fung Hung

Rereading Imperialism for twenty-first century tensions

Ho-fung Hung investigates the role of economic development in state formation and global power, with a specific focus on China and East Asia.

March 27, 2021

Sources

Frequent mass shootings and recurring political struggle over gun control measures are uniquely American social phenomena.

March 20, 2021

Sources

Debates concerning the relative role of structure versus agency in explaining social phenomena has endured for decades. Drawing parallels between the teleology of nineteenth century approaches and more modern, variable-oriented research methods, historian WILLIAM SEWELL JR's 2005 book reflects on…

March 19, 2021

Interviews

Party Politics and Social Policy

A conversation between Lena Lavinas, André Singer, and Barbara Weinstein on three decades of party politics and social policy in Brazil.

In The Takeover of Social Policy by Financialization, Lena Lavinas names the “Brazilian Paradox”: the model of social inclusion implemented by the Workers’ Party under President Lula and President Rousseff promotes a logic of financial inclusion and market incorporation, and…

March 13, 2021

Sources

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought attention to the underfunding of US public health infrastructure over the last several decades. Alongside a fragmented system, a gap has emerged between public health and clinical care, with consequences for the public.

March 6, 2021

Sources

Deindustrialization is a key orienting point for research in political economy. But around the world, factory production remains significant, with employment in industry constituting between one-fifth and one-third of total employment in large economies.

February 27, 2021

Sources

Since November 2020, thousands of Indian farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and other states have protested the implementation of national market-based agricultural reforms. A look to a series of liberalization measures in the 1990s, which did not specifically address agriculture, reveals…

February 20, 2021

Analysis

Democracy or the Market

Third wayism and the problem of representation.

The problem of democratic representation has always turned on the question of the “have-nots”—that is, not only those without wealth and property, but also those marginalized on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, origin, religion and education. Even in a…

February 20, 2021

Analysis

Revolution, Reform, and Resignation

In the 1980s, the left abandoned its language of transformation. Can it be regained?

Some time in 1991 I was invited to give a talk to the Andalusian Confederation of the Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE). Afterwards, the secretary of the confederation walked me back to my hotel. I asked him why there was…

February 20, 2021

Analysis

François Mitterrand’s Austerity Turn

The rise and fall of the French Road to socialism.

The history of French socialism is filled with famous and heroic dates: 1789; 1848; 1871 1936; 1968. But less well remembered is another date of great significance: 1981. It was in May of that year that the French left achieved…

February 20, 2021

Interviews

Feminism in the Union

An interview with feminist activist and trade unionist Begoña San José.

Begoña San José is a feminist activist and trade union leader.

February 20, 2021

Interviews

New System, New Society

An interview with former Prime Minister of Spain Felipe González.

Felipe González was Prime Minister of Spain from 1982-1996.

February 20, 2021

Interviews

Revolution in the Long Run

An interview with Hector Maravall on the Communist Party of Spain, the decline of unions, and Felipe González's modernization program.

Hector Maravall is a long time member of the PCE, a labor lawyer, and a leader of the Comisiones Obreras, the largest trade union in Spain.

February 20, 2021

Analysis

Transitions

Four voices on Spain's transition from the Franco dictatorship to parliamentary monarchy — and what didn't change.

It’s been some time since the term “transition” was fully incorporated into day-to-day usage in contemporary Spanish. It refers to the process of political change that began during the second half of the 1970s, a process which transformed Spain from…

February 20, 2021

Sources

Earlier this week, millions of households lost power in the face of a powerful snowstorm. While these numbers are unusual, they are not new—the US suffers among the most frequent power outages of any industrialized country, concentrated especially in rural…

February 18, 2021

Interviews

Party Unity and Renewal

An interview with Roger Martelli on the decline of the French Communist Party.

Roger Martelli is a historian of the French Communist Party.

February 18, 2021

Interviews

Confronting Globalization

An interview with François Morin.

François Morin was technical adviser to Jean le Garrec at the State Secretary for Public Sector Expansion from 1981–1982 and an adviser to Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy.

February 18, 2021

Interviews

Objective Constraints

An interview with Anicet le Pors on the PCF, the Common Program, and the constraints on left governance.

Anicet le Pors is a French communist party politician who served as a member of the French Senate from 1977 to 1981, and Minister of Civil Service and Reforms from 1981 to 1984.

February 13, 2021

Sources

The proposed Covid-19 stimulus package in the US has reignited debate around inflation. Much contemporary concern and discussion on the topic still bears the mark of the 1970s, the Volcker disinflation, and the past consensus around the relationship between unemployment…

February 6, 2021

Sources

While the neoliberal era appears to be in crisis, we took on a project to investigate its historical foundations. The tensions of the current political moment are commonly traced to the financial deregulation and economic liberalization of the 1980s and…

February 5, 2021

Analysis

The Italian Left After Keynesianism

From stagflation to the transformation of Italian left parties.

In 1977, Eric Hobsbawm published a book of interviews with Giorgio Napolitano, a leading figure in the Italian Communist Party (PCI)’s gradualist wing, the miglioristi. Hobsbawm proclaimed himself a “spiritual member” of the PCI and intended this book to depict…


Party of the Future?

An interview with Giuliano Amato

Giuliano Amato was a member of the Italian Socialist Party and Italian Prime Minister from 1992–93 and 2000–2001, Treasury Minister in 1999–2000, and Minister of the Interior, 2006–2008.


Changing Bases

An interview with Emanuele Macaluso, Italian trade unionist and politician with the Italian Communist Party (PCI)

Emanuele Macaluso was an Italian trade unionist and politician with the Italian Communist Party (PCI).


Creative Destruction

An interview with Claudio Petruccioli

Claudio Petruccioli is an Italian politician who was president of the Italian national broadcast network RAI from 2005–2009.

January 30, 2021

Sources

Next week marks the launching of our first book-length Phenomenal World publication: Market Economy, Market Society: Interviews and Essays on the Decline of European Social Democracy. The book examines the fracturing of the social democratic consensus through the eyes of…

January 23, 2021

Sources

Outside of Brazil, the Bolsa Familia is known as the hallmark social policy of the former President Lula and remains the world's largest conditional cash transfer program. Less well known is the history of Brazil's social policy in the early…

January 22, 2021

Analysis

Inflation, Specific and General

The many causes and effects of inflation.

Concerns over a generalized “inflation” loom in the recovery. Yet the prices that most heavily factor into the cost of living for US workers—housing, health, and education—have already been rising for decades. The question we should be asking is whether…

January 16, 2021

Sources

The simultaneous integration of global markets and decentralization of government within nation states has been a hallmark of the age of globalization. In a 2004 article, NEIL BRENNER looks to Europe to argue that through processes of decentralization and localization,…

January 16, 2021

Analysis

Supercomputer

The Control Data Corporation and global value chains.

In March 1976, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense (DOD), William “Bill” Clements invited William “Bill” C. Norris, CEO and Chairman of the supercomputer producer Control Data Corporation (CDC) to a closed-door meeting at the Pentagon.

January 9, 2021

Sources

The deep divisions in American political and social life have long been thought to explain the unique weakness of America’s welfare infrastructure, and the absence of an integrated system of universal benefits. But on their own, demographic divisions need not…

January 9, 2021

Analysis

The Deflationary Bloc

Hyman Minsky and the politics of inflation.

An effective way to write the history of the last thirty years of the twentieth century,” economist Albert Hirschman wrote in 1985, “may well be to focus on the distinctive reactions of various countries to the identical issue of worldwide…

December 19, 2020

Sources

In the wake of recent financial convulsions, central banks have emerged yet again as the first responders to crisis. But to confront the crisis of anthropogenic climate change, there is growing acknowledgement that central banks should go further, beyond their…

December 12, 2020

Sources

Between 1940 and 1990, housing growth in the United States outpaced population growth by 173 to 88 percent, and the proportion of homeowners nearly doubled. The same trend is observable internationally, and scholarly debate weighs whether demographic shifts or policy…

December 5, 2020

Sources

This year's turbulent oil market, in combination with the Covid-19 pandemic, has threatened the financial outlook of several Latin American nations. With many governments dependent on oil revenues, the issues of public ownership of the oil sector and financial liberalization…

December 3, 2020

Reviews

Transition Theory

On Jairus Banaji’s "A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism."

Capitalism is either eternal or it isn’t. There are people who defend the first view, or something close to it—the multivolume 2014 Cambridge History of Capitalism opens in Babylonia, circa 1000 BCE—but it is much more plausible that capitalism, like…

November 25, 2020

Interviews

Development, Growth, Power

An interview with Amit Bhaduri.

Amit Bhaduri was internationally selected professor at Pavia University and visiting Professor at the Council for Social Development, Delhi University. His six books and more than sixty journal articles have consistently scrutinized the foundations of neoclassical economic theory and presented…

November 21, 2020

Sources

Recent studies estimate approximately 60% of the world's population earns their wages in the informal economy. Focusing on the prevalence of informal work across Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, analysts frequently advocate for a transition to the formal economy…


The Student Debt Crisis is a Crisis of Non-Repayment

Borrowers are increasingly unable to pay down their student loans, leading to mounting balances and an intensifying debt crisis.

Think of the student debt crisis as an overflowing bathtub. On the one hand, too much water is pouring in: more borrowers are taking on more debt. That is thanks to increased demand for higher education in the face of…

November 14, 2020

Sources

The conclusion of the United States election has prompted a resurgence of commentaries on the state's role in markets. By focusing on the state's capacity to shape and alter market structure, these discussions build on a longstanding academic tradition which…

November 7, 2020

Sources

With Covid-19 cases again rising around the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) has faced increased scrutiny from governments on its handling of the early pandemic. Today, the organization plays a key role in defining global public health and coordinating…

October 31, 2020

Sources

The confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has sparked ongoing debates over the institution's merits and relationship to American democracy. Among liberal democracies, the United States stands apart in the strength and autonomy of its judiciary. A…

October 24, 2020

Sources

India's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has dominated Indian politics in the past decade, upending the country's long-standing Congress Party rule at the national level and competing with regional and ethnic parties in state elections.…

October 17, 2020

Sources

Explanations for the absence of a universal healthcare program in the United States tend to focus on the obstructive role of the American Medical Association, which, via an extensive lobbying campaign, prevented the passage of a national health insurance plan…

October 16, 2020

Analysis

Data as Property?

On the problems of propertarian and dignitarian approaches to data governance.

Since the proliferation of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, critics of widely used internet communications services have warned of the misuse of personal data. Alongside familiar concerns regarding user privacy and state surveillance, a now-decades-long thread connects a…

October 10, 2020

Interviews

Change the Furniture

An interview with Mark Blyth.

Mark Blyth is William R. Rhodes Professor of International Political Economy at Brown University and a Faculty Fellow at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies. His research examines how the interests of states and economic actors shape ideological consensus and…

October 10, 2020

Sources

With millions facing housing insecurity, the economic downturn has sparked concerns of a new housing crisis. Where the subprime mortgage crisis thrust the centrality of unsustainable housing financing practices in the global economy into view, the Covid-19 recession has brought…

October 3, 2020

Sources

Recent weeks have seen proliferating analyses of the constitutional infrastructure of the US, and speculation over its ability to hinder the behaviors of a disruptive incumbent. New concerns reflect longstanding apprehension over the stability of presidential regimes.

October 1, 2020

Analysis

A Popular History of the Fed

n Populist programs and democratic central banking.

Since Lehman collapsed in 2008, central banks have broken free of historical norms, channelling trillions into the banking system to prop up global finance and the savings of depositors from Germany to Hong Kong. The corona crash has only accelerated…

September 28, 2020

Sources

It is well known that the share of the global labor force working in services has risen precipitously over the past several decades, with nearly half of all workers around the globe now counted in the service sector. Scholarly work…

September 25, 2020

Analysis

Direct Effects

How should we measure racial discrimination?

A 2018 National Academy of Sciences report on American policing begins its section on racial bias by noting the abundance of scholarship that records disparities in the criminal justice system. But shortly thereafter, the authors make a strange clarification: “In…

September 19, 2020

Sources

Since the first export processing zone was established in Puerto Rico during the 1940s, special economic zones (SEZs) have proliferated to number 5,400 across 147 countries and employ more than 100 million workers. While the zones have been lauded for…


Unceasing Debt, Disparate Burdens: Student Debt and Young America

JFI’s interactive map presents the geography of student debt.

Since the Great Recession, outstanding student loan debt in the United States has increased by 122% in 2019 dollars, reaching the staggering sum of $1.66 trillion in June of this year. Student loan debt has grown faster than other debt…

September 12, 2020

Sources

Land acquisitions have been on the rise since 2008, when rising oil prices and an international food crisis dramatically increased demand. Changing ownership patterns have the potential to influence not only the terms of agricultural supply chains, but the structure…

September 5, 2020

Sources

In addition to straining America's existing welfare infrastructure, the pandemic has fundamentally altered labor markets and generated a wide range of new social needs. Policy responses to these changing circumstances have the potential to shape the trajectory of US inequality…

September 5, 2020

Analysis

Hot Oil

Gardiner Means, administered prices, and why the Texas Railroad Commission should regulate oil production again.

Even at the depth of the Great Depression, oil producers were always paid a positive price for their product. But on April 20 of this year the price of West Texas Intermediate oil traded for negative prices, reaching a record…

August 31, 2020

Sources

The compound risks of climate catastrophe and Covid-19 have defined the year thus far. As the world continues to reel from the effects of the pandemic, and storms and wildfires dot the map, calls for marshaling a green recovery have…

August 26, 2020

Interviews

Banks, Bubbles, Profits

An interview with Richard Westra.

Richard Westra is University Professor at the Institute of Political Science, University of Opole, Poland and international Adjunct Professor of the Center for Macau Studies, University of Macau. His research focuses on the philosophical underpinnings of economic phenomena, with an…

August 25, 2020

Sources

Covid is accelerating the transition away from cash and encouraging the development of state-backed digital currencies. In the past two weeks, the People's Bank of China launched a trial run for digital renminbis in three major cities, and the Boston…

August 18, 2020

Sources

Standard postwar theories of class composition in the global north emphasized occupational differences between employers, blue collar, and white collar workers. But deindustrialization, and the army of underpaid service workers it generated, has increasingly muddied these categories.

August 15, 2020

Analysis

Another Lost Decade?

The systemic character of the global periphery debt crisis.

Contrary to common beliefs on fiscal fundamentals, the current debt crisis in the global periphery demonstrates that the solvency of sovereign states is determined by their monetary power. Crucially, liquidity has a cyclical character in the periphery of global capitalism…

August 13, 2020

Reviews

Geoeconomics and the Balance of Payments: A Reading List

Suggested readings on the savings glut, critical macrofinance, and the balance of payments.

Below is a rough reading list assembled by the panelists in the August 13, 2020 discussion on “Geoeconomics and the Balance of Payments.”

August 10, 2020

Sources

It's been over a week since Congress allowed the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation scheme to lapse, and negotiations over an extension have reached a gridlock. But even prior to its end, access to the enhanced benefit was far from equal…

August 8, 2020

Interviews

Economics, Bosses, and Interest

An interview with Stephen Marglin.

Stephen Marglin is Walter S. Barker Professor Economics at Harvard University, where he has taught since he received tenure in 1968.

August 3, 2020

Sources

Much research has documented the vast sums of "missing wealth" stored in tax havens, and detailed its implications for inequality, fiscal policy, and economic growth. Less present in the discussion is the institutional and political history of these offshore financial…

July 27, 2020

Sources

Catastrophic deficiencies in the federal response to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to renewed discussion over federalism and its discontents. The divergence among state responses to the crisis in the absence of federal guidance has produced analyses of Trump’s unique,…

July 27, 2020

Analysis

Essential Infrastructures

The case for sovereign investment in telecommunications infrastructure

How should the fabric of social life, especially as it is rewoven by the pandemic, relate to the private ownership of telecommunications?

July 22, 2020

Analysis

Laws of the Land

Property rights and extraction in the mineral frontier

“The Mining Law of 1872,” reported California Democrat Alan Lowenthal in May 2019, "is one of the most obsolete laws still on the books.”

July 20, 2020

Sources

Common wisdom around central bank independence (CBI) is increasingly a matter of debate. Before the Covid-19 crisis, a growing number of scholars and commentators have proposed means by which central banks can address looming climate catastrophe—either by integrating new risks…

July 16, 2020

Analysis

The Dollar and Empire

How the US dollar shapes geopolitical power

What does the US dollar’s continued dominance in the global monetary and financial systems mean for geo-economic and geo-political power?

July 13, 2020

Sources

Michael Mann's four volume magnum opus, The Sources of Social Power, analyzes the history of human societies from antiquity to the present. Theoretically, the work's major contribution is the so-called IEMP model, which examines historical shifts through the relations between…

July 10, 2020

Analysis

The Crisis and the Free Market

On crisis, partisanship, and public policy

Will the current crisis transform America’s politics and economic institutions? With unemployment higher than at any point since the Great Depression, rising food insecurity, and an increasingly muscular role for government—are we witnessing the beginning of the end of the…

July 6, 2020

Sources

Historically, the expansion of the American frontier symbolized a unity between political liberty and economic growth, at the same time as it justified the violent expropriation that continues to define the country's racial and distributional politics.

July 3, 2020

Analysis

Pandemic and Poverty

What the pandemic teaches us about poverty measurements

Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States, more than 40 million people have applied for unemployment benefits.

July 1, 2020

Reviews

On the conceptual and methodological stakes of Trade Wars Are Class Wars by Matthew C. Klein and Michael Pettis Good writing on international macroeconomics reads like a detective novel. There’s a suspicious event—hundreds of millions of dollars in phantom FX…

June 30, 2020

Sources

Brazil's Bolsa Familia is widely credited with lifting more than 20 million people out of extreme poverty, making it a global model for anti-poverty initiatives. Developed as part of a broader theory of equitable development, it serves as the basis…


Mapping concentration and prices in the US higher education industry During and after the Great Recession, public funding for higher education was slashed as part of state budget austerity. Staff and programs were cut and tuition rose; in many states,…

June 24, 2020

Sources

LABOR In her 2007 book, Against the Law: Labor Protests in China's Rustbelt and Sunbelt, sociologist CHING KWAN LEE paints an intricate portrait of the two segments of the Chinese working class that have most acutely experienced the country's changing…

June 18, 2020

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Mehrsa Baradaran

Banking between states and markets

Mehrsa Baradaran is a Professor of Law at UC Irvine. Her research situates the American banking system within a dense network of legal, historical, and political relationships.

June 15, 2020

Sources

As debate and discussion continues over reforms to US policing, attention has been drawn to the share of municipal and state budgets dedicated to police departments. While a useful proxy of governmental priorities, these budgets only tell part of the…

June 13, 2020

Interviews

Trade Wars Are Class Wars

A discussion between Adam Tooze, Michael Pettis, and Matthew Klein

Michael Pettis and Matthew Klein's new book "Trade Wars Are Class Wars" begins with an epigraph from John A. Hobson: "The struggle for markets, the greater eagerness of producers to sell than of consumers to buy, is the crowning proof…

June 8, 2020

Sources

As commentators and policymakers have scrambled to find explanations for and responses to the unprecedented uprisings against police brutality across the United States, interest in the role of police unions in local politics has soared. Recent research into the question…

June 2, 2020

Sources

This week has seen policymakers, scholars, and the public debate the meaning of collective violence. While political and media discourse often fails to examine the long-term effects of social unrest, a vast literature grapples with the mechanisms that link protests…

May 28, 2020

Analysis

Digital Scab, Digital Snitch

On automation and worker surveillance

Before Covid-19 hit, we'd become used to reports about Amazon's robotics innovations and the impending large-scale automation of warehouse jobs. But recent strikes and protests by Amazon's very human workers have exposed how far we are from robotic warehouses.

May 26, 2020

Sources

Analyses of variation in state-level responses to the coronavirus tend to focus on party determination: On the whole, states led by Democrats have been found to undertake more rapid and extensive responses to the crisis. The focus on immediate political…

May 22, 2020

Interviews

Municipal Bonds, Race, and the American City

An interview with Destin Jenkins

The rapid and expansive action taken by the Fed over the past two months in response to the coronavirus crisis has muddied the distinction between monetary and fiscal policy. In particular, its Municipal Liquidity Facility provides a path for financing…

May 19, 2020

Sources

Among the many corona-induced shocks rippling through the global economy is the crash in remittance payments to developing countries. The World Bank predicts that remittance flows will fall 20% this year—a decline of $100b—largely as a result of shutdowns and…

May 14, 2020

Interviews

The Postindustrial Welfare State

An interview with Gøsta Esping-Andersen

"The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism" is among the most influential works in the study of welfare states. Rather than conceiving of welfare and industrial policy on a single state-market axis, Three Worlds develops a typology to situate welfare states…

May 12, 2020

Sources

Covid is changing popular attitudes towards the public sector, prompting many commentators to anticipate a new period of welfare expansion. Others are more skeptical, noting that public opinion undergoes rapid fluctuations, which rarely resolve into a new equilibrium.

May 4, 2020

Sources

Following the comparative success of South Korea and Singapore to flatten the Covid-19 curve, governments around the world have been discussing the merits and feasibility of tech-aided contact tracing systems. (Whether these comparative public health successes are actually attributable to…

May 1, 2020

Analysis

The Class Politics of the Dollar System

Managing an international public good

The global dollar system has few national winners. The typical frame for understanding the US dollar is that of “exorbitant privilege.”

April 28, 2020

Sources

It's been a turbulent week for the US Postal Service. With revenues plummeting as mail volume drops, the Postal Worker's Union leader recently estimated that the service is likely to literally "run out of money" by October. The crisis has…

April 24, 2020

Interviews

The Weight of Movements

An interview with Frances Fox Piven

Few theorists of social movements have shaped the events that they analyze. Frances Fox Piven, Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the City University of New York and one of these few, has studied and agitated within American social…

April 21, 2020

Sources

Among the diverse local and national policy responses undertaken to combat the pandemic in recent months, Kerala's has been notable. Within the broader context of Indian economic development, Kerala's government has a tradition of successful redistributive development policies, sometimes referred…

April 17, 2020

Analysis

Inside Out

Shaping the base of a renewable economy

The transition to a post-carbon energy economy will require extraction.

April 13, 2020

Sources

Scholars of the global food system unravel a vast web linking trade policy, public health, economic development, labor issues, supply chain logistics, and so on. The pandemic has already prompted states to break with the implicit rules underpinning global food…

April 7, 2020

Sources

Comparisons of responses to the Covid-19 crisis across national lines yield as many questions as answers. Divergent histories of public health programs, differences in cultural norms, population density, age distributions, and internal migration patterns create a muddy picture for causal…

April 3, 2020

Analysis

Crisis and Recovery

The underlying problems in the US economy

Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report hardly registers the cataclysm in the US job market. The sharp 0.9 percent uptick in unemployment—itself newsworthy—only grasps the very beginnings of the shutdown of the American economy.

March 31, 2020

Sources

The need to formulate a unified COVID response has placed pressure on European integration in recent days, with Germany and the Netherlands resisting Southern European calls for the issuing of "coronabonds." A 2018 paper by John Ryan and John Loughlin…

March 25, 2020

Analysis

The First Services Recession

The shape of the Covid-19 recession

It is hard to see how the United States can avoid a recession. Unemployment insurance claims have already surged, and this week's numbers look to be in the millions.

March 25, 2020

Sources

This week, reports swirled regarding President Trump's invocation of the Defense Production Act—a 1950 law passed to manage production in the context of the Korean War—to meet the coming demand of crucial medical supplies to treat people with COVID-19. Much…

March 16, 2020

Sources

At present it's difficult to think of much else beyond the fragility of our global economic infrastructure. A 2012 discussion paper by RICHARD BALDWIN looks at global supply chains: their history, future, and policy implications.

March 9, 2020

Sources

The correlation between health, income, and wealth is widely recognized in contemporary research and policy circles. This broadly social understanding of public health outcomes has its origins in a theoretical tradition dating back to the 1970s and 80s, in which…

March 6, 2020

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Nathan Lane

History, empirics, and industrial policy

Nathan Lane is an economist working on political economy, development, and economic history.

March 2, 2020

Sources

Over the past two decades, "evidence-based policy" has come to define the common sense of research and policymakers around the world. But while attempts have been made to create formalization schemes for the ranking of evidence for policy, a gulf…

February 27, 2020

Analysis

The Economics of Race

On the neoclassical and stratification theories of race

Black America has had less wealth, less income, less education, and poorer health than white America for as long as records have been kept.

February 24, 2020

Sources

Of the various issues mired in severe and ongoing party polarization, climate crisis is among the most puzzling. Despite longstanding discussions of bipartisan market-based policy proposals like carbon taxes and cap and trade, large-scale government and industry action remains elusive.

February 20, 2020

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Mark Blyth

On growth models, supply chains, and dollar hegemony

Mark Blyth is William R. Rhodes Professor of International Political Economy at Brown University and a Faculty Fellow at Brown’s Watson Institute for International Studies. His research examines how the interests of state level economic actors shape ideological consensus and…

February 18, 2020

Sources

In an employer-sponsored healthcare system like that of the United States, deteriorating labor market protections have immediate consequences for access to healthcare. Democratic primary candidates have presented a number of proposals to address declining rates of insurance, ranging in degrees…

February 13, 2020

Interviews

Austerity and Ideology

An interview with Kim Phillips-Fein

Kim Phillips-Fein is an associate professor of history at New York University and the author of the books "Invisible Hands: the Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal" and "Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics",…

February 10, 2020

Sources

Standard theories of development have been predicated on the goal of an industrialized economy with the potential for full and regularized employment. Such a view necessitates a host of statistical categories to define and measure labor markets. In a 2000…

February 6, 2020

Analysis

Decision Making in a Dynamic World

Exploring the limits of Expected Utility

I once wrote a post criticizing modern microeconomic models as both overly complex and unrealistic, leading their practitioners into theoretical dead ends without much corresponding increase in explanatory power. I suggested the entire enterprise of Expected Utility (EU) was a…

February 3, 2020

Sources

Sample size does more than determine the sort of methodology appropriate for a given study; theorists of social science have long pointed out that the number of case studies considered determines the sorts of questions researchers can analyze and the…

January 30, 2020

Analysis

The Long History of Algorithmic Fairness

Fair algorithms from the seventeenth century to the present

As national and regional governments form expert commissions to regulate “automated decision-making,” a new corporate-sponsored field of research proposes to formalize the elusive ideal of “fairness” as a mathematical property of algorithms and especially of their outputs.

January 29, 2020

Interviews

Historicizing the Self-Evident

An interview with Lorraine Daston

Lorraine Daston has published widely in the history of science, including on probability and statistics, scientific objectivity and observation, game theory, monsters, and much else. Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science since 1995 (emeritus as…

January 27, 2020

Sources

Deindustrialization is a global phenomenon taking place more rapidly in middle- income countries than in high-income ones. Despite the global decline of manufacturing employment, "industrial policy" is increasingly salient in research and policy debates. But deindustrialization poses significant challenges for…

January 23, 2020

Analysis

What Would a UBI Fund?

Lessons from the 1970s experiments in guaranteed income

One of the questions at the heart of contemporary debates over the merits of UBI is ‘what would it fund?’ In other words, what type of activities would it encourage? There are of course the widely debunked quibbles about guaranteed…

January 21, 2020

Sources

Despite contributing towards a series of crises (from the third world debt crisis of the 80s to the Euro-crisis of 2010), sovereign debt is rising across low-, middle-, and high-income economies, leading to renewed discussions around the macroeconomic consequences of…

January 17, 2020

Analysis

UBI & the City

A new working paper models the effects of a basic income in New York City

Skeptics of guaranteed income tend to worry about the policy’s inflationary effects; absent rent regulation, for instance, one might expect housing costs to rise in proportion to the increase in disposable income generated by the policy.

January 16, 2020

Analysis

Macro Modeling in the Age of Inequality

On incorporating distributional concerns into macroeconomic models

Recent years have seen the revival of academic conversation around rising wealth inequality and its distributional consequences. But while applied, microeconomics-oriented fields like public and labor economics have long engaged with questions around inequality, macroeconomics has historically paid less attention…

January 13, 2020

Sources

Researchers of policy history have long deliberated over explanatory frameworks: institutionalist accounts tend to focus on inherited conditions and path dependency in political development, while others stress the importance of social movements in shaping policy. Among the more dynamic analytical…

January 9, 2020

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Alice Evans

Four books and papers on the 'despondency trap'

Alice Evans is a Lecturer in the Social Science of International Development at King's College London, and a Faculty Associate at Harvard's Kennedy School. She is writing a book on “The Great Gender Divergence”, which explores why European countries rapidly…

January 6, 2020

Sources

Foundational to the discipline of international relations, historian E. H. Carr's path-breaking book Twenty Years' Crisis was the first to systematically assess the (then-emerging) field as consisting of 'realist' and 'idealist' approaches. Published in 1939, the book carefully outlines the…

December 23, 2019

Sources

Thank you for reading the JFI letter this year. As we prepare for another year of research and link sharing, here's some of what we sent in 2019. We'll see you in 2020. OVER ILLUMINATION Highlights from a year of…

December 20, 2019

Reviews

Renegotiating Education

Caitlin Zaloom's ethnography of the American higher ed crisis

Indebted is anthropologist and NYU Professor Caitlin Zaloom’s deep dive into the middle-class American family’s struggle to solve the college cost puzzle. Its animating question: How can middle-class families maintain their status and provide their children with as much opportunity…


Mapping market concentration in the higher education industry In much of the existing higher education literature, “college access” is understood in terms of pre-college educational attainment, social and informational networks, and financial capacity, both for tuition and living expenses. The…

December 16, 2019

Sources

The recent boom in identifying and measuring monopsony in labor markets has brought the question of employers' wage-setting power to the fore of various academic and policy debates. (For an overview, see our blog post by Owen Davis from earlier…

December 9, 2019

Sources

Like many systems of social provision—from housing to pensions—American education has become increasingly financialized. In a recent paper, Charlie Eaton, Jacob Habinek, Adam Goldstein, Cyrus Dioun, Daniela García Santibáñez Godoy, and Robert Osley-Thomas consider the scope and consequences of financialization…

November 28, 2019

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Alexander Hertel-Fernandez

On unions, advocacy, and influence

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez is a political scientist who studies the mechanisms of influence. Focusing on the strategies of organized interests, including both business and labor, Hertel-Fernandez's helps illuminate crucial and poorly understood levers of American political economy.

November 25, 2019

Sources

In recent decades, policy approaches to housing provision have focused on increasing the incomes of subsidy recipients and, due to declining federal investment, promoting tenant mobility both between subsidized housing units and out of the public housing system altogether. But…

November 22, 2019

Analysis

Development and Displacement

The effects of big development initiatives

Infrastructure lies at the heart of development. From transportation and telecommunication networks to electrical grids and water pipelines, large-scale infrastructure projects play a pivotal role in the global development landscape.

November 18, 2019

Sources

Major accounts of the role of the state in economic development have held that the state is essential for ensuring private property rights—that democratic checks and balances encourage investment and therefore economic growth. Other schools of development stress the importance…

November 14, 2019

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Beth Popp Berman

On knowledge, institutions, and social policy

Beth Popp Berman is sociologist whose research focuses on the history of knowledge, organizations and public policy making.

November 12, 2019

Sources

In addition to lagging behind many European economies in the breadth, amount, and quality of welfare provision, the United States also exhibits relatively low rates of take-up among the benefits it does make available. Non-take-up rates can be accounted for—at…

November 7, 2019

Analysis

Collective Ownership in the Green New Deal

What rural electrification can teach us about a just transition

This year, we once again shattered the record for atmospheric carbon concentration, and witnessed a series of devastating setbacks in US climate policy—from attempts to waive state protections against pipelines to wholesale attacks on climate science.

October 31, 2019

Phenomenal Works

Phenomenal Works: Leah Stokes

Networks of climate denial

Leah Stokes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Santa Barbara. Her research spans representation and public opinion, voting behavior, and environmental and energy politics. ways forward in the climate crisis. Below, her…

October 28, 2019

Sources

Tax reform is at the forefront of contemporary policy debate. US citizens pay taxes at lower rates than their European counterparts, and a growing number of researchers agree that progressive taxes on wealth and income have the potential to rectify…

October 24, 2019

Interviews

Throughout his career, John Roemer's work has been uniquely situated between the fields of microeconomics, game theory, philosophy, and political science. His research makes use of the tools of classical economics to analyze dynamics typically thought to be outside the…

October 21, 2019

Sources

Of the many justifications for introducing a universal basic income, automation is among the most popular. Over the past years, a slew of reports and endless media coverage has raised the specter of mass "technological unemployment"—a possible future that has…

October 17, 2019

Analysis

Disparate Causes, pt. II

On the hunt for the correct counterfactual

An accurate understanding of the nature of race in our society is a prerequisite for an adequate normative theory of discrimination.

October 15, 2019

Sources

As student debt grows and the labor market stagnates, a growing body of research seeks to answer questions about the worthiness of college. What characterizes the schools and populations for whom college is worth it? What does worthiness mean—financial, intellectual,…

October 11, 2019

Analysis

Disparate Causes, pt. I

The shortcomings of causal and counterfactual thinking about racial discrimination

Legal claims of disparate impact discrimination go something like this: A company uses some system (e.g., hiring test, performance review, risk assessment tool) in a way that impacts people. Somebody sues, arguing that it has a disproportionate adverse effect on…

October 7, 2019

Sources

Breathless media coverage of machine learning tools and their applications often obscures the processes that allow them to function. Time and again, services billed or understood by users as automatic are revealed to rely on undervalued, deskilled human labor.

September 30, 2019

Sources

In his 1990 book, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (TWWC), sociologist Gosta Esping-Andersen identified three categories of European welfare regimes: liberal, conservative, and social democratic. In Esping-Andersen's account, these welfare regimes developed according to the sorts of coalitions formed…

September 26, 2019

Interviews

Optimizing the Crisis

An interview with Seda Gürses and Bekah Overdorf

Software that structures increasingly detailed aspects of contemporary life is built for optimization. These programs require a mapping of the world in a way that is computationally legible, and translating the messy world into one that makes sense to a…

September 23, 2019

Sources

Recent years have seen a surge in scholarship that critically evaluates the origins and impact of the law and economics movement. Out of the many theoretical bedrocks of the movement, the Coase Theorem is one of the most significant. Stemming…

September 16, 2019

Sources

Two weeks ago today marked the passing of the great Immanual Wallerstein. His work has had resounding influence across fields: from literature, to legal theory, education, development studies, and international relations. Among his foremost contributions is the four volume Modern…

September 12, 2019

Analysis

Money Parables

Three competing theories of money

In the past year, Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) has shifted the policy debate in a way that few heterodox schools of economic thought have in recent memory.

September 9, 2019

Sources

While the thorny ethical questions dogging the development and implementation of algorithmic decision systems touch on all manner of social phenomena, arguably the most widely discussed is that of racial discrimination. The watershed moment for the algorithmic ethics conversation was…

September 3, 2019

Sources

Last week, we considered how social and political standards can pressure climate scientists to under-report their findings, introducing an underestimation bias into published climate research. In a recent thread, Nicholas Loubere examines the development buzz around mobile money, showing how…

August 26, 2019

Sources

Without any “evidence of fraud, malfeasance or deliberate deception or manipulation,” or any promotion of inaccurate views, how can bias enter a scientific assessment? In their new book, Discerning Experts, Michael Oppenheimer, Naomi Oreskes, Dale Jamieson, et al explore the…

August 23, 2019

Analysis

Statistical prediction is increasingly pervasive in our lives. Can it be fair? The Allegheny Family Screening Tool is a computer program that predicts whether a child will later have to be placed into foster care. It's been used in Allegheny…

August 19, 2019

Sources

The role of labor (with some notable exceptions) has been relatively marginal in debates over how to decarbonize the economy. But given the growing number of clean energy jobs (and some recent labor news), it is reasonable to predict that…

August 12, 2019

Sources

The emergence of companies like Uber and Taskrabbit has prompted commentators across legal, economic, and policy research spheres to pronounce the beginning of a new era of work, marked by the prevalence of technologically mediated casual work arrangements.

August 8, 2019

Interviews

Networks, Weak Ties, and Thresholds

An Interview with Mark Granovetter

Few living scholars have had the influence of Mark Granovetter. In a career spanning almost 50 years, his seminal contributions to his own field of sociology have spread to shape research in economics, computer science, and even epidemiology.

August 5, 2019

Sources

Technology companies are coming under increased scrutiny for the ethical consequences of their work, and some have formed advisory boards or hired ethicists on staff. (Google's AI ethics board quickly disintegrated.) Another approach is to train computer scientists in ethics…

August 1, 2019

Analysis

Decentralize What?

Can you fix political problems with new web infrastructures?

The internet's early proliferation was steeped in cyber-utopian ideals. The circumvention of censorship and gatekeeping, digital public squares, direct democracy, revitalized civic engagement, the “global village”—these were all anticipated characteristics of the internet age, premised on the notion that digital…

July 29, 2019

Sources

Many recent policy proposals are variations on European programs implemented throughout the twentieth century. Despite their marked diversity, European welfare states share a foundation of social protections largely responsible for their lower rates of inequality. Theories on the development of…

July 22, 2019

Sources

At the Phenomenal World, we have been publishing pieces covering a wide-range of topics, many of which are common ground in this newsletter. Below, in no particular order, is a round-up of some recent work in case you missed it.

July 18, 2019

Analysis

Student Debt & Racial Wealth Inequality

How student debt cancellation affects the racial wealth gap

The effect of cancelling student debt on various measures of individual and group-level inequality has been a matter of controversy, especially given presidential candidates’ recent and high-profile proposals to eliminate outstanding student debt.

July 15, 2019

Sources

Beyond growing calls for welfare expansion and a more progressive tax system, recent policy debates have begun to consider alternative models of firm ownership. Last year, the UK Labour party published a report outlining a path towards a more diverse…

July 11, 2019

Reviews

Keynes versus the Keynesians

A new book by James Crotty reexamines the career of John Maynard Keynes

What drives economic growth and stagnation? What types of methodologies and tools do we need to accurately explain economic epochs in the past and present? What models and policy approaches can lead to prosperity for all?

July 8, 2019

Sources

Higher education is widely understood to be a major driver of intergenerational mobility in the United States. Despite the clear (and growing) inequalities between and within colleges, it remains the case that higher education reduces the impact that parental class…

July 3, 2019

Analysis

The Politics of Machine Learning, pt. II

The uses of algorithms discussed in the first part of this article vary widely: from hiring decisions to bail assignment, to political campaigns and military intelligence.

Across all these applications of machine learning methods, there is a common thread: Data on individuals is used to treat different individuals differently. In the past, broadly speaking, such commercial and government activities used to target everyone in a given…

July 1, 2019

Sources

How can evidence inform the decisions of policymakers? What value do policymakers ascribe to academic research? In January, we highlighted Yale's Evidence in Practice project, which emphasizes the divergence between policymakers' needs and researchers' goals. Other work describes the complexity…

June 27, 2019

Analysis

The Politics of Machine Learning, pt. I

On prediction, profits, votes, and militarism.

Terminology like "machine learning," "artificial intelligence," "deep learning," and "neural nets" is pervasive: business, universities, intelligence agencies, and political parties are all anxious to maintain an edge over the use of these technologies.

June 24, 2019

Sources

In past newsletters, we have highlighted research and policy proposals relating to the Green New Deal and the literature surrounding "degrowth"—the idea that the growth imperative is at odds with human flourishing. In a recent exchange, economist Robert Pollin debates…

June 17, 2019

Sources

Debates over the relevance of indicators like GDP for assessing the health of domestic economies are persistent and growing. Critics of such measures point to the failures of such measures to holistically capture societal wellbeing, and argue in favor of…

June 13, 2019

Interviews

Elections, Social Democracy, and the Neoliberal Shift

An interview with Adam Przeworski

Throughout the 20th century, radical social movements were plagued by their relationship to existing state institutions. Across Western Europe, labor movements found political expression in parties like the Swedish Social Democrats, the German SPD, and the French Socialist Party.

June 10, 2019

Sources

Debates over the political impacts of Central Bank Independence (CBI) reached their peak in the late 90s and early 2000s, due to rising inequality and the volatility of financial markets. Initiated with the 1977 Federal Reserve Act and Paul Volcker’s…

June 3, 2019

Sources

Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington State and Democratic presidential candidate, has made climate policy the center of his longer-than-long-shot campaign. On May 3rd, he released 8 pages of goals, and on May 16th, he released the 35-page, 28-policy “Evergreen…

May 31, 2019

Analysis

Copyright Humanism

It's by now common wisdom that American copyright law is burdensome, excessive, and failing to promote the ideals that protection ought to.

It's by now common wisdom that American copyright law is burdensome, excessive, and failing to promote the ideals that protection ought to. Too many things, critics argue, are subject to copyright protections, and the result is an inefficient legal morass…

May 28, 2019

Sources

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is the country's largest anti-poverty program. In 2018, over 20 million filers received $63 billion in EITC refunds. Because of its bipartisan popularity and its secure position in the tax code, with no distinct…

May 20, 2019

Sources

Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 permits certain postsecondary institutions to be eligible for federal financial aid funds. A wide variety of programs are Title IV eligible: public, private, for-profit, vocational. Yet there are also a vast…

May 16, 2019

Interviews

Feminist Theory, Gender Inequity, and Basic Income

An interview with Almaz Zelleke

Feminist and women's movements in the mid-20th century developed demands for an unconditional basic income that emerged out of concrete experiences with the welfare state. What can the current discussion around UBI learn from examining this largely sidelined history?

May 13, 2019

Sources

As economies across Europe and in the United States have become more knowledge-based, urban-centered, and tech-driven, people in manufacturing reliant regions have seen declining life expectancies, stagnating real incomes, and minimal job growth.

May 6, 2019

Sources

May 3, 2019

Interviews

How Do States Pay for Wars?

An interview with Rosella Cappella Zielinski

Academic study of war in the social sciences is as old as historiography itself, and political economists have considered the economic logic of war and peace for centuries. Yet social scientists have left several questions on the financing of conflict…

April 29, 2019

Sources

In nearly every major urban center, housing affordability is in crisis. Since the 1960s, median home value has risen by 112% across the country, while median owner incomes rose just 50%. For renters, especially since 2008, the problem is increasingly…

April 20, 2019

Sources

April 13, 2019

Sources

Current UBI discussions emerged out of concerns over the role of human beings in a machine-dominated labor market. In 2013, a paper by Oxford University professors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne claimed that 47% of US jobs were at…

April 6, 2019

Sources

The most visible discourse on universal basic income focuses squarely on the labor market. Unconditional cash transfers are understood above all as a potential policy solution to wage stagnation, rising inequality, and labor displacement. This framework, which responds to rising…

March 30, 2019

Sources

Public research universities have long been understood as engines of meritocratic social mobility. Relative to other higher ed institutions, public universities remain those with the highest mobility rates. But research over the past decade has shown that these institutions are…

March 28, 2019

Analysis

Experiments for Policy Choice

If we wish to pick good policies, we should run experiments adaptively

Randomized experiments have become part of the standard toolkit for policy evaluation, and are usually designed to give precise estimates of causal effects. But, in practice, their actual goal is to pick good policies. These two goals are not the…

March 23, 2019

Sources

There is renewed debate around the merits of protectionism and free trade, spurred by political rhetoric from the left and right in the US, and in Europe and Latin America. Active disagreements over the consequences of free trade date back…

March 22, 2019

Analysis

The Emerging Monopsony Consensus

On the theory of monopsony

Early on in The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith asked who had the edge in negotiations between bosses and wage laborers. His answer: the bosses. In the case of a stalemate, landlords and manufacturers “could generally live a year or…

March 19, 2019

Analysis

Ideology in AP Economics

Uncovering the ideology embedded in economics

When the media talks about ideological indoctrination in education, it is usually assumed to refer to liberal arts professors pushing their liberal agenda. Less discussed is the very different strain of ideology found in economics.

March 16, 2019

Sources

Research surrounding student debt and the labor market value of postsecondary degrees focuses primarily on students obtaining a 4-year degree, secondarily on students receiving a 2-year degree, and only rarely considers students in certificate programs—non-degree awards that are cheaper and…

March 9, 2019

Sources

In the digital ethics literature, there's a consistent back-and-forth between attempts at designing algorithmic tools that promote fair outcomes in decision-making processes, and critiques that enumerate the limits of such attempts. A December paper by ANDREW SELBST, dana boyd, SORELLE…

March 2, 2019

Sources

Household debt has proliferated in the past decade. In the final quarter of 2018, it reached $13.54 trillion—an $869 billion increase since the previous peak in 2008 and a 21.4% increase since the post-crisis trough. While it is now widely…

March 1, 2019

Analysis

The Case for an Unconditional Safety Net

The 'magic bucket' of universal cash transfers

Imagine a system where everyone had a right to basic material safety, and could say “no” to abuse and exploitation. Sounds utopian? I argue that it would be quite feasible to get there, and that it would make eminent economic,…

February 23, 2019

Sources

More than a decade after the financial crisis of 2008, median household incomes have stagnated at their pre-2008 levels, and global economic growth is expected to decline further from what is already a historic low. While the unemployment rate has…

February 16, 2019

Sources

In recent weeks, a familiar debate over how we understand the global poverty rate across time reappeared in mainstream op-ed pages. Sparked initially by Bill Gates tweeting out an infographic produced by Our World in Data—which visualizes massive decreases (94%…

February 9, 2019

Sources

This week, we delve into the persisting inequalities of our higher education system. Since Winston, Hill, and Boyd found that only 10% of students at elite universities came from families who fell within the bottom 40% of the income distribution…

February 4, 2019

Reviews

What happens when you give people cash? How do they use the money, and how does it change their lives? Every cash study on this list is different: the studies vary in intervention type, research design, location, size, disbursement amount,…

February 2, 2019

Sources

In the ever expanding digital ethics literature, a number of researchers have been advocating a turn away from enticing technical questions—how to mathematically define fairness, for example—and towards a more expansive, foundational approach to the ethics of designing digital decision…

January 26, 2019

Sources

A new paper from the Center for Effective Global Action at Berkeley surveys a topic important to our researchers here at JFI: the question of long-run effects of interventions. In our literature review of cash transfer studies, we identified the…

January 24, 2019

Analysis

Why Rational People Polarize

Explanations of political polarization

U.S. politics is beset by increasing polarization. Ideological clustering is common; partisan antipathy is increasing; extremity is becoming the norm (Dimock et al. 2014). This poses a serious collective problem. Why is it happening?

January 19, 2019

Sources

In a recent newsletter, we noted a spate of reporting drawing attention to the authoritarianism of China's growing Social Credit System. This week, we are sharing a paper by YU-JIE CHEN, CHING-FU LIN, AND HAN-WEI LIU that casts light on…

January 12, 2019

Sources

In a report for the Berkman Klein center, Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier identify a gap in current approaches to cybersecurity. National cybersecurity officials still base their thinking on Cold War-type threats, where technologists focus on hackers. Combining both approaches,…

January 5, 2019

Sources

We’re beginning with a report from Evidence in Practice, a project from the Yale School of Management. The report focuses on how to integrate rigorously researched evidence with policy and practice, with an emphasis on international development. The needs numerous…

December 22, 2018

Sources

The JFI Letter has grown and morphed over the past twelve months; thank you to our readers for opening, skimming, clicking, and writing us every week. We'll be offline until January 5. In the meantime, here's a list of our…

December 15, 2018

Sources

SCIENTIFIC RETURNS A new book examines the economic and social impacts of R&D Last May, we highlighted a report on workforce training and technological competitiveness which outlined trends in research and development investment. The report found that despite "total U.S.…

December 14, 2018

Interviews

Cash Transfer, Knowledge Transfer

An interview with Johannes Haushofer

Johannes Haushofer is assistant professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. His work includes development economics, behavioral economics, psychology, and neurobiology.

December 1, 2018

Sources

GREEN INFLUENCE A discussion of different approaches to climate policy Last week, the U.S. government released the Fourth National Climate Assessmentwhich outlined the dire economic and environmental consequences of climate change. Instead of highlighting key findings of the report—two good…

November 17, 2018

Sources

PLACE-BASED SUBSIDIES | UBERLAND | HISTORY OF QUANTIFICATION STAGNANT INFLUENCE The inefficiency of lobbying A few weeks ago, we spotlighted work by Elliott Ash et. al. on the startling influence of the Manne economics seminars in shaping judicial decision-making. This…

November 10, 2018

Sources

NEW UBI REPORTS | ELECTORAL VIOLENCE | BEYOND GDP DISCRETION DIFFERENTIAL On the varying modes of conceiving of privacy (and its violation) in the law In a 2004 YALE LAW JOURNAL article, comparative legal scholar JAMES Q. WHITMAN explores differing…

November 9, 2018

Analysis

Banking with Imprecision

How medieval financiers lent in the age of uncertainty

​In 1596, Spanish troops under the leadership of the Duke of Medina-Sidonia set fire to their own ships in the waters near Cadiz. The sinking of these thirty-two vessels was a tactical necessity: a joint Anglo-Dutch navy had annihilated the…

November 3, 2018

Sources

FUTURE OF WORK | MEDIEVAL FLOOD INSURANCE | GENDERED EMPLOYMENT POLITICAL TURBULENCE How do we meaningfully compare regime change? In last week’s newsletter, we spotlighted work by Elliott Ash, Daniel Chen, and Suresh Naidu that provided quantitative analysis of the…

October 27, 2018

Sources

EFFICIENT DISPERSION Applying quantitative methods to examine the spread of ideology in judicial opinion In a recent paper, co-authors ELLIOTT ASH, DANIEL L. CHEN, and SURESH NAIDU provide a quantitative analysis of the judicial effects of the law and economics…

October 25, 2018

Uncategorized

The Urban Commonwealth

On social wealth funds and urban wealth funds

As the federal government continues to abdicate responsibility for urban investment, cities face a depressing modern calculus.

October 20, 2018

Sources

WHAT IS A FAMILY? Competing definitons of the term have vast policy implications The formal definition of family is “blood, marriage, or adoption,” but that leaves out many possible arrangements, including families of unmarried people, foster children, co-ops, and, until…

October 18, 2018

Analysis

Machine Ethics, Part One: An Introduction and a Case Study

Artificial intelligence, ethics, and public health social work

The past few years have made abundantly clear that the artificially intelligent systems that organizations increasingly rely on to make important decisions can exhibit morally problematic behavior if not properly designed.

October 13, 2018

Sources

CLAIMS THAT CAN'T BE TESTED What policy lessons can we derive from UBI experiments? Political philosopher KARL WIDERQUIST of Georgetown has published a 92-page book examining historical and current basic income pilots, the difficulties of extrapolating from policy research to…

October 10, 2018

Uncategorized

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua. At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita kasd gubergren,…

October 10, 2018

Analysis

Who cares about stopping rules?

Can you bias a coin?

Take a coin out of your pocket. Unless you own some exotic currency, your coin is fair: it's equally likely to land heads as tails when flipped.

October 6, 2018

Sources

HARD CAPS Economic growth vs. natural resources A recent Foreign Policy op-ed by JASON HICKEL examines “green growth,” a policy that calls for the absolute decoupling of GDP from the total use of natural resources. Hickel synthesizes three studies and…

October 2, 2018

Analysis

The “Next Big Thing” is a Room

New realities in Dynamicland

If you don’t look up, Dynamicland seems like a normal room on the second floor of an ordinary building in downtown Oakland. There are tables and chairs, couches and carpets, scattered office supplies, and pictures taped up on the walls.…

October 1, 2018

Analysis

Phenomenal World is a new publication that distributes research, analysis, and commentary on applied social science. We chose this name for our blog because we hope to publish work that addresses the social world in all its apparent complexity. Our…

September 29, 2018

Sources

MIDDLE WAGE Questioning the great transition into a "global middle class" Economist STEVE KNAUSS, in a new paper published by the CANADIAN JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES, examines the "myth" of the global middle class and the claim that the $2/day…

September 22, 2018

Sources

MATERIAL UNDERSTANDING The full resource stack needed for Amazon's Echo to "turn on the lights" In a novel new project, KATE CRAWFORD and VLADAN JOLER present an "anatomical case study" of the human labor, data, and planetary resources necessary for…

September 15, 2018

Sources

THE JANUS FACE The paradoxical outcomes of university-centered economic growth A recent paper by RICHARD FLORIDA and RUBEN GAETANI takes an empirical look at the role of research universities in anchoring local economies and driving economic growth. The paper examines…

September 8, 2018

Sources

WEALTH BEGETS WEALTH Matt Bruenig's Social Wealth Fund proposal, and responses Last week, MATT BRUENIG of the PEOPLE’S POLICY PROJECT published the most detailed version of a bold policy he’s been writing about for a long time: a Social Wealth…

September 8, 2018

Sources

Example table test County, State Participation Rate 2016 Population DeSoto County, Florida 74.0 35800 Hardee County, Florida 72.5 27360 Stewart County, Georgia 72.0 5705 Taliaferro County, Georgia 78.0 1593 Telfair County, Georgia 74.5 15965 Wheeler County, Georgia 77.7 7978 Holmes…

September 1, 2018

Sources

CONSTRAINED POSSIBILITIES On the relationship between academic economics and public policy In a recent working paper, ELIZABETH POPP BERMAN discusses the interconnected fields of academic economics and public policy. The paper conceptualizes the translation of certain academic ideas into public…

August 25, 2018

Sources

SPATIAL PARAMETERS On place-based and adaptable public policy A recent report published by BROOKINGS INSTITUTE discusses the potential effectiveness of place-based policies for strengthening the economies of depressed areas. Co-authored by Harvard’s BENJAMIN AUSTIN, EDWARD GLAESER, and LAWRENCE H. SUMMERS,…

August 18, 2018

Sources

COMPENSATION TREATMENT In Iran, cash transfers don't reduce labor supply A new study examines the effects of Iran's changeover from energy subsidies to cash transfers. From the abstract, by DJAVAD SALEHI-ISFAHANI and MOHAMMED H. MOSTAFAVI-DEHZOOEI of the ECONOMIC RESEARCH FORUM:…

August 11, 2018

Sources

ALCHEMIST STOCK Automation, employment, and capital investment At his blog STUMBLING AND MUMBLING, CHRIS DILLOW discusses recent reporting on rapid automation fears in the United Kingdom: "'More than six million workers are worried their jobs could be replaced by machines…

August 4, 2018

Sources

ENERGY BOOM A new carbon tax proposal and a big new carbon tax research report Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) introduced a carbon tax bill to the House last week (though it is “sure to fail” with the current government, it's…

July 28, 2018

Sources

BANKING AS ART On the history of economists in central banks  A recent paper by FRANÇOIS CLAVEAU and JÉRÉMIE DION applies quantitative methods to the historical study of central banks, demonstrating the transition of central banking from an "esoteric art"…

July 21, 2018

Sources

ALTERNATIVE ACTUARY History of risk assessment, and some proposed alternate methods  A 2002 paper by ERIC SILVER and LISA L. MILLER on actuarial risk assessment tools provides a history of statistical prediction in the criminal justice context, and issues cautions…

July 14, 2018

Sources

DATA IS NONRIVAL Considerations on data sharing and data markets  CHARLES I. JONES and CHRISTOPHER TONETTI contribute to the “new but rapidly-growing field” known as the economics of data: “We are particularly interested in how different property rights for data…

July 7, 2018

Sources

EVIDENCE PUZZLES The history and politics of RCTs  ⤷ Guaranteed Income In a 2016 working paper, JUDITH GUERON recounts and evaluates the history of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the US, through her own experience in the development of welfare experiments…

June 30, 2018

Sources

CLIMATE PREDICTION MARKET How to link a carbon tax to climate forecasting A 2011 paper by SHI-LING HSU suggests a way of using a carbon tax to generate more accurate predictions of future climate conditions: “The market for tradable permits…

June 23, 2018

Sources

VISIBLE CONSTRAINT Including protected variables can make algorithmic decision-making more fair  ⤷ Digital Ethics A recent paper co-authored by JON KLEINBERG, JENS LUDWIG, SENDHIL MULLAINATHAN, and ASHESH RAMBACHAN addresses algorithmic bias, countering the "large literature that tries to 'blind' the algorithm…

June 16, 2018

Sources

ROLL CALL  A new report from Fordham CLIP sheds light on the market for student list data from higher education institutions From the paper authored by N. CAMERON RUSSELL, JOEL R. REIDENBERG, ELIZABETH MARTIN, and THOMAS NORTON of the FORDHAM…

June 9, 2018

Sources

Ego

PAVEMENT, NURSING, MISSILES Algorithm Tips, a compilation of "potentially newsworthy algorithms" for journalists and researchers DANIEL TRIELLI, JENNIFER STARK, and NICK DIAKOPOLOUS and Northwestern’s Computational Journalism Lab created this searchable, non-comprehensive list of algorithms in use at the federal, state,…

June 2, 2018

Sources

ARTIFICIAL INFERENCE Causal reasoning and machine learning  In a recent paper titled "The Seven Pillars of Causal Reasoning with Reflections on Machine Learning", JUDEA PEARL, professor of computer science at UCLA and author of Causality popup: yes, writes: “Current machine…

May 26, 2018

Sources

SHOCK-LEVEL-ZERO Jobs guarantees vs. basic income In a characteristically lengthy and thorough post, SCOTT ALEXANDER of SLATE STAR CODEX argues for a basic income over a jobs guarantee, in dialogue with a post by SIMON SARRIS. Here's how Alexander addresses the…

May 19, 2018

Sources

EACH POINT ON THE CHAIN Arguments for Value-Added Tax in the US, and using VAT to fund basic income VAT The Wall Street Journal lays out the basics popup: yes: “Unlike a traditional sales tax, a VAT is a levy…

May 12, 2018

Sources

LABOR-LEISURE TRADE-OFF A new paper on the labor effects of cash transfers SARAH BAIRD, DAVID MCKENZIE, and BERK OZLER of the WORLD BANK review a variety of cash transfer studies, both governmental and non-governmental, in low- and middle-income countries. Cash…

May 5, 2018

Sources

POSTAL OPTION  Renewed interest in an old model  Last week we linked to the widely publicized news popup: yes that SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND would be pushing legislation to reintroduce government-run commercial banking through the United States Postal Service. Link popup: yes…

April 28, 2018

Sources

ONTARIO FOR ALL Canada calculates expanding Ontario's guaranteed income to the entire nation Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office looks at the cost of expanding the Ontario pilot nationwide. Full report here popup: yes. ht Lauren ANDREW COYNE of the NATIONAL POST summarizes…

April 21, 2018

Sources

NON-ZERO PRICE "Digital goods have created large gains in well-being that are missed by conventional measures of GDP and productivity" A new paper by ERIK BRYNJOLFSSON et al. suggests using massive online choice experiments as a method to find the…

April 14, 2018

Sources

METARESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT Changes in R & D funding and allocation In a new report on workforce training and technological competitiveness, a task force led by former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker describes recent trends in research and development investment. Despite…

April 7, 2018

Sources

TARGET VARIABLE Big data's effect on the credit-scoring industry A lengthy 2016 article from the Yale Journal of Law and Technology delves into credit-scoring then suggests a new legislative framework. Since 2008, lenders have only intensified their use of big-data…

March 31, 2018

Sources

URBAN WEALTH FUNDS | OWNERSHIP OF SOVEREIGN WEALTH | FILTER BUBBLE EFFECTS URBAN WEALTH FUNDS Social wealth funds on the municipal level Matt Bruenig, Roger Farmer and Miles Kimball, and Sam Altman have all pushed for versions of a US…

March 24, 2018

Sources

FAIRNESS IN MACHINE LEARNING | METARESEARCH | MICROSTRUCTURE OF VIOLENCE DISTINCT FUSION Tracking the convergence of terms across disciplines In a new paper, CHRISTIAN VINCENOT looks at the process by which two synonymous concepts developed independently in separate disciplines, and…

March 17, 2018

Sources

STATE SCHOOL RECRUITMENT | JOB GUARANTEE | BLOCKCHAIN DEPENDENCE EXTERIOR State universities' reliance on out-of-state enrollment Research on enrollment patterns finds that shrinking state funds leads admissions departments to look for out-of-state tuition financing. "Fixed effects panel models revealed a…

March 10, 2018

Sources

CRIMINALIZATION OF DEBT | INTERNET CENSORSHIP | EQUALITY BRUTAL ATTACHMENTS A new report on the criminalization of debt Last week, the ACLU published a report entitled "A Pound of Flesh: The Criminalization of Private Debt." It details the widespread use…

March 3, 2018

Sources

IVORY MECHANICS Regional parochialism and the production of knowledge in universities "Scholarly understanding of how universities transform money and intellect into knowledge remains limited. At present we have only rudimentary measures of knowledge production's inputs: tuition and fees, government subsidies,…

February 24, 2018

Sources

DEFERRED ACTION On the effects of DACA Last week we linked to a paper that outlines the effects of DACA status on educational attainment and productivity: "High school graduation rates increased by 15 percent while teenage births declined by 45…

February 17, 2018

Sources

BASIC OPPORTUNITY Considerations on funding UBI in Britain The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) published a discussion paper on UBI. ANTHONY PAINTER outlines some key points here, including some thoughts on funding: “To fund…

February 10, 2018

Sources

AUTOMATIC PRECISION Translating randomized controlled trials into policy action "A randomized experiment is performed,a statistically significant comparison is found, and then story time begins, and continues and continues—as if the rigor from the randomized experiment somehow suffuses through the entire…

February 3, 2018

Sources

MASS PRIVACY The inadequacy of individual informed consent This week, an Australian college student noticed how data from Strava, a fitness-tracking app, can be used to discover the locations of military bases. Many outlets covered the news and its implications,…

January 27, 2018

Sources

DISCONTINUOUS ADVANCE A flurry of articles in December and January assess the state of artificial intelligence From Erik Brynjolfsson et al, optimism about productivity growth: “Economic value lags technological advances. “To be clear, we are optimistic about the ultimate productivity…

January 20, 2018

Sources

PERVERSE CONSEQUENCES Does banning the box increase hiring discrimination? “Our results support the concern that BTB [Ban the Box] policies encourage racial discrimination: the black-white gap in callbacks grew dramatically at companies that removed the box after the policy went…

January 13, 2018

Sources

THE WAGE EFFECT Higher minimum wages and the EITC may reduce recidivism “Using administrative prison release records from nearly six million offenders released between 2000 and 2014, we use a difference-in-differences strategy to identify the effect of over two hundred…

January 6, 2018

Sources

THE YEAR IN ECONOMICS Nominations from top economists, including selections by Raj Chetty, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Angus Deaton One favorite from this excellent round-up is by Hulten and Nakamura on metrics, selected by Diane Coyle (we previously sent her Indigo…

December 23, 2017

Sources

INCOME SHARE AGREEMENTS Purdue, BFF, the national conversation “Long discussed in college policy and financing circles, income share agreements, or ISAs, are poised to become more mainstream.” That’s from a September Wall Street Journal article. 2017 saw new pilots and…

December 16, 2017

Sources

HOW TO HANDLE BAD CONTENT Two articles illustrate the state of thought on moderating user-generated content Ben Thompson of Stratechery rounds up recent news on content moderation on Twitter/Facebook/Youtube and makes a recommendation: “Taking political sides always sounds good to…

December 9, 2017

Sources

THE FUTURE OF UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION A new report argues that quality, not access, is the pivotal challenge for colleges and universities From the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 112-page report with "practical and actionable recommendations to improve the…

December 2, 2017

Sources

ARTIFICIAL AGENCY AND EXPLANATION The gray box of XAI A recent longform piece in the New York Times identifies the problem of explaining artificial intelligence. The stakes are high because of the European Union’s controversial and unclear “right-to-explanation” law, which…

November 18, 2017

Sources

PREDICTIVE JUSTICE How to build justice into algorithmic actuarial tools Key notions of fairness contradict each other—something of an Arrow’s Theorem for criminal justice applications of machine learning. "Recent discussion in the public sphere about algorithmic classification has involved tension…

November 11, 2017

Sources

"A DOLL POSSESSED BY A DEMON" Recommender systems power YouTube's controversial kids' videos Familiar cartoon characters are placed in bizarre scenarios, sometimes by human content creators, sometimes by automated systems, for the purpose of attracting views and ad money. First,…

November 4, 2017

Sources

FEED FEEDBACK Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci engages with Adam Mosseri, who runs the Facebook News Feed Tufekci: “…Facebook does not ask people what they want, in the moment or any other way. It sets up structures, incentives, metrics & runs with…