Convex Mirror


Growing the Green New Deal in the US and Europe

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 Economy Plan,” with several more similarly lengthy reports on the way. David Roberts, an energy commentator at Vox, had a representative reaction to Inslee’s policies: “Inslee’s campaign is systematically translating the Green New Deal’s lofty goals — to decarbonize the economy sector by sector, in a way that creates high-quality jobs and protects frontline communities — into policy proposals.”

The report includes policies on infrastructure, manufacturing, R&D, and policies for energy workers, including a “GI Bill” and 8 million new jobs over the next 10 years. But beyond its extremely detailed recommendations, a key point of interest is seeing how the GND’s idealistic goals are cashed out. The introduction emphasizes a restorative approach:

“Inherent throughout … is the urgent need to support frontline, low-income, and Indigenous communities, and communities of color. These communities are being impacted first and worst by the accelerating damages of climate change, and have endured a legacy of air, water, toxics and climate pollution, along with a deficit of public investment and support. Through an assertive agenda of reinvestment that is guided by strong local input, Governor Inslee’s plan seizes the opportunity to build a clean energy economy that provides inclusive prosperity — upon a foundation of economic, environmental, racial and social justice.”

Link to the report.

  • Leah Stokes, a climate and energy policy expert, contextualizes the expense on Twitter: “Spending $300 bn annually on climate is about 10% of the federal budget. Warren’s plan aggressively targets climate action by the military, which is about 20% of the federal budget. Hence, Inslee’s plan is about half the size of military spending. That’s BIG.” Link to the thread. – –
  • Noah Smith also takes up the cost question: “It’s probably less than 20 percent of what Ocasio-Cortez’s plan would cost, and only a quarter of the total would be paid by the government, so new budget deficits or taxes would be relatively modest. And because Inslee’s plan is more narrowly focused on value-generating investments like infrastructure rather than new entitlement spending, a higher percentage of the cost would be recouped down the road.” Link.
  • As the GND gains momentum in the US, some in Europe are taking similar steps. DiEM25 (a pan-European organization co-founded in 2015 by Yanis Varoufakis) and the European Spring have released a report on a Green New Deal for Europe. Link. (Their candidates fell short in last week’s elections.)
  • An article in the World Economic Forum on the Green New Deal for Europe explains some of the theoretical differences between the US and European plans. “Whereas the Americans are building on a century-old tradition of the original New Deal, we’re trying to marry that language with existing programs.” Link.


The collective costs of development initiatives

PhD candidate in sustainable development ALICE TIANBO ZHANG studies the distributional consequences of large scale infrastructure projects. Her job market paper examines the social costs of China’s Three Gorges Dam, which, for the purpose of development, displaced more than one million people during its construction between 1995 and 2010. Subsequent flooding imposed even greater burdens on the local economy, displacing up to 1.9 million people and prompting a 30-50% decline in employment in manufacturing and capital-intensive sectors.

“The stakes are high for understanding the social costs of infrastructure development projects. As the World Bank and other multilateral development banks are making a major push to fund mega-dams and other large energy infrastructure projects in developing countries, accurate assessment of their social and economic impact is vital for effective policymaking. To the extent that large-scale infrastructure project are integral to economic development and dams, in particular, are relied on as a clean energy source for mitigating climate change, institutions need to provide fair and adequate compensation for communities that bear the burdens of development.”

Link to the full paper, and to Zhang’s website.

Each week we highlight great work from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Have you read any excellent research recently that you’d like to see shared here? Send it our way:


  • New post on Phenomenal World: JFI fellow Gregory Keenan surveys the history of U.S. copyright law, critiques the critics, and offers thoughts on the future of copyright in the digital age. Link.
  • In a new paper, John Lynch, Aurélie Meunier, Rhiannon Pilkington, and Stefanie Schurer use the introduction of the Australian Baby Bonus (ABB) to examine the impact of unconditional cash transfers on child health. They find that “The ABB reduces the number of potentially preventable hospitalizations and emergency department presentations for respiratory problems in the first year of life.” Link.
  • In Nature, Iyad Rahwan et al argue (and outline a program) for the study of “machine behavior.” Link.
  • “‘Self-deportation’ is a concept to explain the removal strategy of making life so unbearable for a group that its members will leave a place. This article examines the mechanics of self-deportation and tracks the policy’s development through its application to groups unwanted as members of the American polity.” K-Sue Park in Harvard Law Review. Link.
  • A compilation of papers presented by INET at the University of Trento’s annual Economics festival. Among the papers: opioids and inequality, persistent deflation, the emergence of a dual economy. Link.
  • “We have found evidence of negative links between national advertising and national wellbeing.” By Chloé Michel, Michelle Sovinsky, Eugenio Proto, Andrew Oswald at VoxEU. Link.
  • In a forthcoming issue of the Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Bruce G. Carruthers and Melike Arslan offer a theoretical overview of the relationship between law, money, and power: “We examine research on different instances of legal control over official currency, monetary innovations, standards of monetary measurement and valuation, counterfeiting, terror financing, and money laundering to show how the relationship between money and law has evolved in response to changes in international law, national sovereignty, and global markets.” Link.
  • “There is no unbroken continuity of egalitarianism in Swedish history, and any potential pre-modern relative equality cannot explain twentieth-century social democratic equality.” Eric Bengtsson upturns the Swedish Sonderweg thesis, holding that Sweden’s relatively egalitarian society is rooted not in deep early modern cultural origins, but in the success of organized, broad-based social movements in the early decades of the twentieth century. Link.
  • Ryu Susato finds Humean influence in Rousseau’s Discourses. Link.
  • “The desperate hunger for these carbon credit plans appears to have blinded many of their advocates to the mounting pile of evidence that they haven’t—and won’t—deliver the climate benefit they promise.” Lisa Song’s in-depth look at the carbon credits industry. Link.
  • “Manufacturing Revolution”: economist Alice Evans and Nathan Lane (both of whom we’ve previously shared here) in conversation on Evans’ economics podcast, covering Lane’s work on industrial policy and development in South Korea. Link.
  • “Covert operations conducted by intelligence agencies were a key component of superpower foreign policy during the Cold War. For the United States, many of these operations had the expressed goal of replacing ‘unfriendly’ regimes—often ones that had expropriated multinational corporate property—and were planned under extreme secrecy. Since corporate property was always restored after a successful regime change, these operations were potentially profitable to nationalized companies. If foreknowledge of these operations was truly secret, then pre-coup asset prices should not have reflected the expected future gains. However, this article shows that not only were U.S.-supported coups valuable to partially nationalized multinationals, but in addition, asset traders arbitraged supposedly ‘top-secret’ information concerning plans to overthrow foreign governments. The average cumulative abnormal return to a coup authorization was 9% over 4 days for a fully nationalized company, rising to more than 13% over 16 days.” A 2011 paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics by Arindrajit Dube, Ethan Kaplan, and Suresh Naidu. Link.

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