US Policy Changes Vol.38 (Infrastructure Vol.4 – Public investment, Sustainability, Megachanges, Cities)

Here are @BrookingsInst’s articles on infrastructure, public investment, sustainability, megachanges and cities. Excerpts are on our own.

The Hutchins Center Explains: Public investment (1/3/2017) | Anna Malinovskaya and @davidmwessel @BrookingsInst
WHAT IS INVESTMENT? HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER TYPES OF GOVERNMENT SPENDING?
Public spending can be divided into consumption and investment. Consumption spending goes for goods and services that produce benefits today, such as health care for the elderly or mowing the lawn on the Washington Mall. Investment is spending that will provide benefits in the future, such as scientific research or building a new highway or better educating children. …
…traditionally defined: local, state and federal government spending on physical infrastructure and research and development. Broader definitions of public investment include education, health care and other benefits for children that pay off in the future. …
WHERE DOES THE GOVERNMENT SPEND PUBLIC INVESTMENT DOLLARS?
WHAT ARE THE TRENDS IN INVESTMENT AT ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT?
In 2015, spending on structures, equipment, software and research and development at all levels of government was equivalent to about 3% of GDP. Net government investment — that is, government spending on infrastructure minus the deterioration of old infrastructure – was a small fraction of that: close to 0.5% of GDP…
…recent public discussion of government investment focuses on the non-defense activities that have a clearer link to private-sector productivity growth, profits and wages. Net…trending down…
…done at the state and local level, some financed by federal grants and some by local borrowing or taxes. …
WHY HAS INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING BEEN DECLINING?
… One possible explanation may be the lingering effects of the Great Recession; for example, a slow recovery in property tax receipts that many local governments rely on to finance infrastructure projects. Another possible explanation may be that the Great Recession made many state and local governments postpone capital projects due to worries about the debt…
… The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that by 2023, federal non-defense investment (including grants to state and local governments) will be less than two thirds of its average share of GDP from 1962 to 2012. These projections, however, are based on the assumption that discretionary spending caps…
HOW DOES PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING VARY ACROSS THE STATES?
State and local capital spending – on buying, building and renovating buildings as well as buying land, equipment and structures – declined in most states between 2000 and 2014…
WHAT’S THE CASE FOR SPENDING MORE ON INFRASTRUCTURE?
HOW DOES THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PAY FOR INFRASTRUCTURE?
Federal spending. … In 2015, federal capital grants accounted for about 22% of state and local gross investment. … The Highway Trust Fund, for instance, is largely funded from the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal tax on gasoline…
Public-Private Partnerships. … For example, a private company might borrow money to build a road, and then collect tolls to pay off the bonds. …
Tax subsidies for state and local borrowing. …issuing municipal bonds – obligations that entitle owners to interest plus repayment of principal at a specified date… …this federal subsidy allows states and localities to borrow more cheaply than corporations. …Build America Bonds program…
WHAT OTHER IDEAS FOR FINANCING INFRASTRUCTURE ARE BEING DISCUSSED?
Infrastructure bank. …direct loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit…
Tax credits for private investors. …Peter Navarro…Wilbur Ross…giving private contractors tax breaks for investing in infrastructure… …private contractors will concentrate their investments on the most profitable projects and shun projects that are needed but can’t produce a commercial return, such as repairs in public schools.

5G technologies will power a greener future for cities (11/30/2016) | @jtkarsten @BrookingsGov
… In a new paper, Darrell West outlines the ways in which cities can apply these technologies to use scarce natural resources more efficiently. …
… Poor water and air quality pose an immediate threat to public health in some cities, while a continued reliance on fossil fuel energy contributes to rising temperatures worldwide. For water, wirelessly connected sensors can detect contamination and identify ways to reduce waste. …water leaks in U.S. households waste 1 trillion gallons of water every year, enough to fill 1.5 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. … Agriculture alone accounts for 80 percent of water demand in the U.S…
5G technologies…smarter transportation management systems. … Drivers in Washington D.C. averaged 82 hours spent stuck in traffic each year, while drivers in China and India face even greater amounts of time burning fuel but going nowhere. …
…buildings also use large quantities of energy for lighting, heating, cooling, and other operations, accounting for as much as 42 percent of global energy consumption. … Meters installed in the Empire State Building measure energy use for each of 100 tenants, and slashed energy costs by 38 percent, saving $4.4 million each year.
…governments must allocate enough wireless spectrum to satisfy the demand of new technologies, and develop international standards for which frequencies will carry 5G signals. …
see
Achieving sustainability in a 5G world (w PDF; 11/30/2016) | @DarrWest @BrookingsGov

Five megachanges that could transform the world (10/5/2016) | @DarrWest @BrookingsGov
ROBOTS TAKE THE JOBS
LIFE IS ABUNDANT AROUND THE UNIVERSE
RISING SEAS FLOOD THE COASTS
EUROPE TURNS RIGHT AND UNDERMINES DEMOCRACY
IRAN GETS A NUCLEAR BOMB
THE IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVING GOVERNANCE

A driverless future for our cities (9/26/2016) | @bruce_katz @BrookingsMetro