Do Governments Drive Global Trade Imbalances?

Do Governments Drive Global Trade Imbalances? Peterson Institute for International Economics. Working Paper 17-15. Joseph E. Gagnon. December 2017

This paper examines the extent to which government policies are responsible for the pattern of current account (trade) imbalances and, by implication, the extent to which such policies might be used to achieve the G-20 goal of reducing imbalances. Fiscal balances and foreign exchange intervention are the most important observable factors behind differences in current account balances across countries and over time. This finding is robust to alternative equation specifications, estimation techniques, and sample selections. The empirical results in this paper strongly suggest that G-20 countries (and others) have the necessary tools to achieve their stated goal of narrowing current account imbalances. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 26 pages].


The Federal Tax System for the 2017 Tax Year

The Federal Tax System for the 2017 Tax Year. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Molly F. Sherlock,  Donald J. Marples. December 26, 2017

 The 115th Congress has passed legislation that substantially changes the U.S. federal tax system (H.R. 1). This report describes the federal tax structure, provides some statistics on the tax system as a whole, as of 2017.  

[PDF format, 29 pages].

Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life

Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life. RAND Corporation.   Jennifer Kavanagh, Michael D. Rich. January 16, 2018.

 Over the past two decades, national political and civil discourse in the United States has been characterized by “Truth Decay,” defined as a set of four interrelated trends: an increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data; a blurring of the line between opinion and fact; an increase in the relative volume, and resulting influence, of opinion and personal experience over fact; and lowered trust in formerly respected sources of factual information. These trends have many causes, but this report focuses on four: characteristics of human cognitive processing, such as cognitive bias; changes in the information system, including social media and the 24-hour news cycle; competing demands on the education system that diminish time spent on media literacy and critical thinking; and polarization, both political and demographic. The most damaging consequences of Truth Decay include the erosion of civil discourse, political paralysis, alienation and disengagement of individuals from political and civic institutions, and uncertainty over national policy.

This report explores the causes and consequences of Truth Decay and how they are interrelated, and examines past eras of U.S. history to identify evidence of Truth Decay’s four trends and observe similarities with and differences from the current period. It also outlines a research agenda, a strategy for investigating the causes of Truth Decay and determining what can be done to address its causes and consequences. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 324 pages, 2.6 MB].


State and Local Policy: A Critical Concern for CDFIs

State and Local Policy: A Critical Concern for CDFIs. Urban Institute. Brett Theodos et al. December 19, 2017

 Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are financial institutions with a mission of serving low- and moderate-income people and communities. CDFIs are increasingly involved in state and local policy and programs in addition to more traditional federal policy work. This brief discusses the types of state and local policy issues that CDFIs interact with and how well-designed policies can further CDFI impacts. The brief introduces the types state and local policy that are important for CDFIs, provides some concrete examples, and concludes with a discussion of strategies and techniques for successful engagement. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 17 pages, 318.2 KB].


The Long-Term Impact of Aging on the Federal Budget

The Long-Term Impact of Aging on the Federal Budget. Brookings Institution. Louise Sheiner. January 11, 2018

 The United States is in the midst of a demographic transition. Just 10 years ago, the share of the population that was 65 or older was only 12½ percent. Today, it is 15 percent, and in just 20 years, it is projected to reach 21 percent. These demographic changes have aroused considerable concern about our fiscal future, as much of the budget of the federal government is allocated to old-age entitlement programs. In particular, Social Security, which provides public pensions, and Medicare, which provides health insurance to the aged, will rise as a share of GDP as the baby boom generation enters retirement. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 25 pages].


Leveraging the Links between Migration and Development: US Government Policy, Practice, and Potential

Leveraging the Links between Migration and Development: US Government Policy, Practice, and Potential. Center for Global Development. Kathleen Newland. November 20, 2017. 

 This paper reviews the positions and activities of the US government that have linked international migration with social, political and, above all, economic development in migrants’ countries of origin, through 2016. It specifies major opportunities for the government to do more for its overseas development policy goals by shaping the terms on which migration occurs, including in times of restricted immigration. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 23 pages, 399.57 KB].


Spending on Children Ages 8 and Younger

Spending on Children Ages 8 and Younger. Urban Institute. Heather Hahn et al. December 7, 2017

 Investments in young children can positively influence childhood well-being and long-term social and economic outcomes.

To provide a better understanding of public spending on young children, this report tackles questions about federal, state, and local investments. We provide information on how much the federal government spent on children ages 8 and younger in 2006 and 2016 and estimate projected spending in 2026. We also address where and how those funds are used. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

 [PDF format, 39 pages, 1.30 MB].