Fintech: Overview of Innovative Financial Technology and Selected Policy Issues

Fintech: Overview of Innovative Financial Technology and Selected Policy Issues. Congressional Research Service. David W. Perkins. April 28, 2020

Advances in technology allow for innovation in the ways businesses and individuals perform financial activities. The development of financial technology—commonly referred to as fintech—is the subject of great interest for the public and policymakers. Fintech innovations could potentially improve the efficiency of the financial system and financial outcomes for businesses and consumers. However, the new technology could pose certain risks, potentially leading to unanticipated financial losses or other harmful outcomes. Policymakers designed many of the financial laws and regulations intended to foster innovation and mitigate risks before the most recent technological changes. This raises questions concerning whether the existing legal and regulatory frameworks, when applied to fintech, effectively protect against harm without unduly hindering beneficial technologies’ development.

[PDF format, 44 pages].

Tax Incentives for Retirement Savings

Tax Incentives for Retirement Savings. Urban Institute. Eric Toder, Surachai Khitatrakun, and Aravind Boddupalli. May 11, 2020

Federal tax law provides substantial tax incentives for retirement saving. These include the deferral of taxes on contributions to retirement savings accounts by employers, employees, and self-employed taxpayers and the earnings on these contributions until the funds are withdrawn in retirement for traditional retirement accounts; the exemption of investment income accrued within retirement accounts for Roth retirement accounts; and a retirement savings tax credit for low-income taxpayers. This chartbook explores the implications of current-law income tax incentives for retirement savings, illustrates alternative ways of measuring the tax benefits they generate, and analyzes the distributional impacts of alternative tax proposals to encourage retirement saving. We find that tax incentives for retirement saving provide the largest benefits as a share of income to upper-middle-income taxpayers. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 24 pages].

The Effect Of COVID-19 and Disease Suppression Policies on Labor Markets: A Preliminary Analysis Of The Data

The Effect Of COVID-19 and Disease Suppression Policies on Labor Markets: A Preliminary Analysis Of The Data. Brookings Institution. Jonathan Rothwell and Hannah Van Drie. April 27, 2020

World leaders are deliberating when and how to re-open business operations amidst considerable uncertainty as to the economic consequences of the coronavirus. One pressing question is whether or not countries that have remained relatively open have managed to escape at least some of the economic harm, and whether that harm is related to the spread of the disease. A related issue is what forms of relief are most effective at preserving the employer-employee relationship and securing the foundations for a robust recovery once the economy re-opens. Some countries have leaned heavily on their unemployment insurance system, whereas others have prioritized business relief, which mandates the preservation of employee relationships.
To shed some light on these issues, we compiled data on unemployment and related benefit claims from 20 wealthy countries. Given the unusual circumstances of the pandemic and the variation across countries in novel policy responses—including the introduction of business relief programs designed to prevent unemployment, these measures should not be regarded as fully capturing the scale of economic disruption in a comparable way. Nonetheless, these data offer a useful preliminary look at what is happening across countries as we wait for more complete data from statistical offices. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Tax Cuts and Economic Stimulus: How Effective Are the Alternatives?

Tax Cuts and Economic Stimulus: How Effective Are the Alternatives? Congressional Research Service. Jane G. Gravelle. Updated May 14, 2020

The economic effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has led Congress to enact general fiscal stimulus in the form of tax cuts and spending increases. Further stimulus may be considered. This report discusses tax cuts enacted during the Great Recession, as well as those recently enacted and those under consideration.
In response to the Great Recession several types of tax cuts were debated as possible fiscal stimulus—with fiscal stimulus legislation enacted in February 2008 (P.L. 110-185) and a much larger one in February 2009 (P.L. 111-5). Both bills included individual tax cuts aimed at lowerand middle-income individuals, along with business tax cuts. In December 2010, along with an extension of expiring tax cuts, a temporary payroll tax cut was adopted. Many, but not all, tax cuts that were expiring after 2012 were extended permanently.

[PDF format, 12 pages].

Coronavirus Has Shown Us a World Without Traffic. Can We Sustain It?

Coronavirus Has Shown Us a World Without Traffic. Can We Sustain It? Brookings Institution. Adie Tomer and Lara Fishbane. Friday, May 1, 2020

There are few silver linings to the COVID-19 pandemic, but free-flowing traffic is certainly one of them. For the essential workers who still must commute each day, driving to work has suddenly become much easier. The same applies to the trucks delivering our surging e-commerce orders. Removing so many cars from the roads has even led to cleaner air, clearer views, and more room for outdoor recreation, even in major cities.
Yet, stay-at-home orders are far from an ideal way to eliminate traffic. If the choice is between brutal congestion or full employment, we’ll take full employment every time. Nor were governments prepared for the loss in gas tax revenue, which leaves their transportation budgets in tatters.
Now, with many states considering lifting their stay-at-home orders, the question is whether the country can resume economic activity without bringing back the worst effects of our driving. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Understanding Value in Media: Perspectives from Consumers and Industry

Understanding Value in Media: Perspectives from Consumers and Industry. World Economic Forum. April 2, 2020.

The disruption of the media industry, with the rise of social media, the digitization of content and the increase in mobile consumption has changed traditional funding models beyond recognition.
The role of media historically has been central to the making of society and the construction of identity. At this dark moment for humanity, threatened by COVID-19 with many people physically isolated, this role is vital in the search for information, stories and art to feed the human spirit and ignite the imagination to overcome the challenges ahead.
This report considers how different stakeholders in media – content creators, advertisers, marketing agencies and individual consumers – each value media content. By analysing this dynamic, the industry – and consumers – can make informed decisions about the future. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 40 pages].

State Policies to Promote Shared Prosperity in Cities

State Policies to Promote Shared Prosperity in Cities. Brookings Institution. Solomon Greene et al. March 26, 2020

This framing paper connects three briefs in the State Policies to Promote Shared Prosperity in Cities series created by the Shared Prosperity Partnership. For additional insights, read the full briefs: How States Can Support Shared Prosperity by Promoting Human Capital Development; How States Can Support Shared Prosperity by Promoting Quality Jobs; and How States Can Support Shared Prosperity by Promoting Affordable Rental Housing. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Mapping Public Water Management: Proof of Concept

Mapping Public Water Management: Proof of Concept. World Resources Institute. Cristina Logg et al. April 2020

What cannot be measured cannot be managed. Poor water management poses major risks to agriculture, industry and local communities. However, there is a critical lack of information available about local water conditions — making better management difficult. WRI’s Water Program studies local water data and governance and shares best practices in order to advance context-driven, meaningful water management.
WRI and the Pacific Institute are currently working to map public water risk by harmonizing and sharing water risk information among industrial water users on the following criteria:
• Access to information on water quantity and quality
• State of infrastructure
• Existence and enforcement of allocations and caps
• Local pricing systems
This Technical Note documents the results of a pilot with 6 companies and 41 facilities, and creates an updated question set to better understand conditions of public water management. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 28 pages].

Life After Coronavirus: Strengthening Labor Markets Through Active Policy

Life After Coronavirus: Strengthening Labor Markets Through Active Policy. Brookings Institution. Eduardo Levy Yeyati, Martín Montané, and Luca Sartorio. April 20, 2020

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the growing consensus was that the central challenge to achieving inclusive economic prosperity was the creation of good jobs that bring more workers closer to a true “middle-class” lifestyle (Rodrik, 2019). This simple goal will be hard to meet. The lingering effects of the coronavirus crisis will add to the structural changes that were already shifting labor demand and skill content of traditional occupations—exposing workers to displacement, income cuts, or inactivity. This crisis will have persistent effects on economic activity, as the affected, mostly labor-intensive sectors, will need months to come back to speed—if those sectors recover at all. To meet this uphill challenge, it is essential to understand what works in terms of off-the-shelf labor market policies and to learn how to calibrate them to the particular time and space context faced by individual countries and regions—and, last but not least, to put fiscal resources to work to that end. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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How States Can Support Shared Prosperity in Cities through Quality Jobs

How States Can Support Shared Prosperity in Cities through Quality Jobs. Urban Institute. Donnie Charleston. March 26, 2020

New technologies, economic shifts, changing demographics and continued racial biases are widening income inequalities and racial disparities in cities across the United States. As a result, economic opportunities are increasingly concentrated among a small share of the population and in a limited number of places. To combat increased economic and geographic inequality within cities, local leaders are launching new efforts to enable women, people of color and other underrepresented groups to contribute to and benefit from economic growth. But local leaders cannot address these issues on their own. In an era of federal withdrawal from investments in communities and the social safety net, state and local leaders must work together to advance shared prosperity. In this series of briefs, we articulate why the issues of affordable housing, job growth and upskilling workers matter to statewide shared prosperity. In addition, we explore how state and local governments can forge more effective partnerships, and we profile states that are leading the way.
In this brief, the authors discuss how state and local governments can more effectively partner to grow quality jobs in cities. They acknowledge that the complexity of the challenges requires more integrated and complimentary workforce development and job growth strategies. In an accompanying brief, they address more directly the human capital development strategies that should work in tandem with job growth and economic development approaches examined in this brief. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 20 pages].