Staffing Federal Agencies: Lessons from 1981-2016

Staffing Federal Agencies: Lessons from 1981-2016. Brookings Institution. Anne Joseph O’Connell. April 17, 2017

Agency leaders make critical decisions in our modern bureaucracy. Top officials issue significant binding regulations and influential guidance documents. They make the final calls in major adjudications among private parties (including between employers and workers as well as between competing corporations). Officials regulate the rates for mail, natural gas distribution, and other key items. Some run embassies or independent investigations, while others keep the books. In the last administration, agency officials, not the White House, released regulations on open internet access and carbon pollution, deferred deportation for many individuals without documentation whose parents had brought them to this country as children, and launched investigations connected to each major presidential candidate. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The Payoff to America from Globalization: A Fresh Look with a Focus on Costs to Workers

The Payoff to America from Globalization: A Fresh Look with a Focus on Costs to Workers. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Policy Brief, 17-16. Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Zhiyao (Lucy) Lu. May 2017

Hufbauer and Lu, updating a landmark PIIE study made in 2005, calculate the payoff to the United States from trade expansion from 1950 to 2016 at $2.1 trillion. The payoff has stemmed from trade expansion resulting from policy liberalization and improved transportation and communications technology. The sum translates into an increase of $7,014 in GDP per capita and $18,131 in GDP per household. The potential gains from future policy liberalization could be as large as $540 billion for the United States by the year 2025, or an increase of $1,670 in GDP per capita and $4,400 in GDP per household. On the other hand, 156,250 manufacturing sector jobs were lost annually over the past 13 years, representing less than a percent of the number of people involuntary separated from their jobs each year. A more generous unemployment insurance program and expanded tax credits would help displaced workers adjust, the authors argue, while preserving the large gains resulting from trade expansion. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Paying For College: What Is Affordable?

Paying For College: What Is Affordable? Urban Institute. Sandy Baum, Victoria Lee. April 7, 2017

Rising concerns over college prices and student debt suggest that college is unaffordable for many people. But a more meaningful question is whether particular college options are worth it for individual students. This brief, along with a new Urban Institute website, outlines the many factors that shed light on the issue of college affordability, including prices of different college paths and the resources that institutions, governments, and students from different backgrounds draw on to cover their expenses. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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A Dangerous ‘Game’: The Pushback of Migrants, Including Refugees, at Europe’s Borders

A Dangerous ‘Game’: The Pushback of Migrants, Including Refugees, at Europe’s Borders. Oxfam America. April 7, 2017.

People who are trying to access the EU in search of safety and dignity are being routinely abused by abuseofficials in countries in the Western Balkans. State agents responsible for upholding fundamental rights are instead subjecting people to violence and intimidation and denying access to asylum procedures to those seeking international protection. Governments in the region must immediately end these violations and initiate processes to ensure safety and dignity for people on the move in their territories. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Does Greece Need More Official Debt Relief? If So, How Much?

Does Greece Need More Official Debt Relief? If So, How Much? Peterson Institute for International Economics. Working Paper, 17-6. Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Eike Kreplin and Ugo Panizza. April 2017

Creditor countries and international organizations continue to disagree whether Greece should receive additional official debt relief, and if so how much. This paper first shows that these disagreements can be attributed to competing assumptions about Greece’s future capacity to repay, particularly about economic growth and the fiscal primary balance. It next evaluates the plausibility of alternative primary balance assumptions using international evidence about fiscal adjustment experiences. It concludes that primary balance paths required to make Greece’s debt sustainable are not plausible and that Greece will therefore require additional debt relief. Finally, the paper shows that the debt relief measures suggested by the Eurogroup in May 2016 (albeit with significant caveats on whether they will in fact be granted or not) could be sufficient to address Greece’s sustainability problem, provided the Eurogroup is prepared to accept both very long maturity extensions on European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) debt (to 2080 and beyond) and interest deferrals that could lead to a large rise in EFSF exposure to Greece before it begins to decline. If the Eurogroup wishes to avoid the latter, it will become necessary to either (1) extend the scope of the debt restructuring, (2) lower the interest rates charged by the EFSF significantly below current predictions, or (3) extend European Stability Mechanism (ESM) financing beyond 2018 and delay Greece’s return to capital markets for a protracted period. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Aid inside Syria: Time to Go Small in a Bigger Way

Aid inside Syria: Time to Go Small in a Bigger Way. Refugees International. Daryl Grisgraber. March 15, 2017

Many of the Syrian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based in Turkey and providing humanitarian aid inside Syria have reached a high level of organizational and operational capacity that was previously absent. The capacity-building initiatives of multiple donors, United Nations agencies, and international non-governmental organization (INGO) partners have helped a number of these groups develop their ability to provide humanitarian responses in accordance with international standards and to be effectively involved in the international coordination structure that was previously out of reach to them. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Race to the Top: The Case for the Financial Stability Board

Race to the Top: The Case for the Financial Stability Board. Peterson Institute for International Economics. Policy Brief 17-12. Nathan Sheets. April 2017

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has helped strengthen international financial regulatory standards, and as a result, the global economy—and hence the US economy—is more resilient and better able to support strong, sustainable, and balanced growth. The FSB has provided a framework to encourage other jurisdictions to toughen their regulatory regimes in line with steps taken in the United States. The FSB, however, does not have a perfect track record. Sheets suggests several areas where the governance, transparency, and the work program of the FSB could be improved. Supporters of the FSB’s work need to do a better job of presenting the case for international cooperation and showcasing the FSB’s accomplishments. The United States has played a leadership role in the FSB since the group’s inception, and important benefits have flowed to the US economy as a result. If it fails to maintain its leadership position, other countries will step in to fill the vacuum, resulting in rules and practices in the global economy and financial system that evolve in directions that are inconsistent with US national interests. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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