Washington Vol.1

cf. Manufacturing… @RentonTech #aerospace


UK Vol.68 (England Vol.1 – North East)

England NorthEast 1England NorthEast 2

Northumberland

Tyne and Wear


@bemcoelectrical

County Durham

Tees Valley Combined Authority


Texas Vol.1


Canada Vol.26 (Nova Scotia Vol.3)

Canada Vol.13   Canada Vol.1

cf. Canada Vol.19 (@DalEngineering Riley Griffen – distillery)   Boston’s Christmas Tree Tradition Rooted In A Canadian Thank You


Michigan Vol.1


Michigan matthewsdolan

cf.  Idaho Vol.1 (Michigan manufacturer’s plant)   Water Vol.9   Statistics Vol.1


LatAm Vol.5 (Guyana, Suriname & French Guiana)


Florida Vol.1


Baltic States and Finland


US Policy Changes Vol.63 (Deregulation/Reform/Inequality Vol.7)

Here are articles on inequality, financial reform, tax, et al. Excerpts are on our own.

America on the Brink of Oligarchy (8/23/2012) | Paul Starr (@WilsonSchool) @NewRepublic
The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy
By Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Henry E. Brady (Princeton University Press, 693 pp.)
Oligarchy
By Jeffrey A. Winters (Cambridge University Press, 323 pp.)
The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy
By David Karpf (Oxford University Press, 237 pp.)
… Americans in the top fifth in socioeconomic status (a combined measure of income and education) are “roughly twice as likely to go to the polls as those in the bottom quintile” but about eight times more likely to make a political donation. …
… In research cited by Schlozman and her co-authors, Martin Gilens of Princeton University analyzed nearly two thousand questions in public-opinion surveys about proposed national policies from 1981 to 2002. On issues where opinion varied by income, he found that the policies finally adopted were strongly related to the preferences of upper-income people, and not at all to what the poor or even middle-income Americans wanted.
…twelve thousand organizations listed in the Washington Representatives directory. Contrary to a widespread misunderstanding, only a small proportion of groups represented in Washington (12 percent) are associations made up of individuals. The majority are corporations, governmental bodies, and associations of institutions. By sheer numbers, “representation of business is dominant.” In contrast, most workers who are neither professionals nor managers have no group in Washington representing their occupational interests, unless they are unionized—and only 7 percent of private-sector workers are now unionized.
The Unheavenly Chorus estimates that union members accounted for 25 percent of political activity in 1967 but for only 18 percent in 1990, and for just 11 percent in 2006. Meanwhile, corporations and the wealthy have been busily converting “market resources into political advocacy.”
… When C. Wright Mills wrote about “the power elite” in the 1950s, he was specifically referring to decision-makers at the pinnacle of corporate, military, and civilian bureaucracies. Winters rejects elite theory as a “detour,” and reaches back to an older tradition of thought stressing the distinctive role of wealth as a foundation of power. He traces his theory of oligarchy to Aristotle (“whenever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy”) and to Machiavelli, who was concerned with the means by which a republic could limit the power of wealth. …
… If a Michael Bloomberg decides to run for office, Winters points out, it is not because he is trying to keep his wealth safe from rivals or necessarily to advance his material interests. In a civil oligarchy, rather than seeking out the spotlight, the superrich can use their money to exert political influence, and they can hire the busy “worker bees” of what Winters calls the “Income Defense Industry,” including banks, investment advisors, and law and accounting firms. …particularly to the creation of tax shelters so costly that they are available only to the ultra-rich. …oligarchs have an interest in pushing tax obligations down to the mass affluent through a lower threshold for the highest tax bracket, which deflects some of the burden and may win the super-rich more allies in opposing higher marginal rates.
…the “lion’s share” of recent gains in income and wealth have gone “to a sliver of the population,” the top “1/10th and even 1/100th of the top 1 percent of households.” If political participation were the key, economic gains should at least have been diffused more widely among the mass affluent. …market-generated returns have also diverged because of changes in technology and the global economy, and although aggressively egalitarian policies might have limited the breakaway gains at the top, those policies were blocked by a conservative ideological resurgence that cannot be reduced to the influence of big money.
… Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation pays a tax rate of only 9.8 percent (compared with the statutory rate of 35 percent), because 90 percent of its earnings come from hotels and casinos in Singapore and Macao. Obama has proposed ending the deductions and credits that enable Sands to shelter billions in revenue from taxes. Adelson is also facing a Justice Department investigation of potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in his Macao dealings. Another big GOP donor, the Texas financier Harold Simmons, has used political contributions to win favorable legislation in his own and other states advancing his nuclear-waste business…
…David Karpf’s The MoveOn Effect… …@dailykos @DFAaction @BoldProgressive…
… In recent decades, while conservatives developed into a strong and cohesive political force, the rise of specialized, issue-based progressive advocacy led to a proliferation of separate agendas. So the rise of politically oriented “issue generalists” on the liberal side is a welcome development. In addition, the new groups are cheap to run, and they easily scale up to large dimensions.
…to suggest that the Internet is a “weapon of the strong” is to miss a crucial point: online organization does not depend on patronage by the wealthy. The new low-cost methods of organizing are especially important at a time when one of the central threats to American democracy is the entrenchment of oligarchic power. …

A Wasted Crisis?: Why the Democrats did so little to change Wall Street (7/12/2013) | Paul Starr (@WilsonSchool) @NewRepublic
…political changes have undermined whatever dignity and respect members of Congress once had. …
… But financial reform posed a difficult test for several reasons—the political power of the industry, the complexity of the issues, and the complicity of leading Democrats in the policies that helped to bring about the crisis.
…@OpenSecretsDC, which tracks political donations, “the financial sector is far and away the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties.” Thanks in part to federal policy, finance has become the dominant sector of the economy, increasing its share of total domestic profits from 15 percent in the early 1980s to 41 percent in the early 2000s. The financialization of the economy promotes the financialization of politics, as money finds its way to power. …
… The ultimate basis of finance’s power is structural: if governments adopt policies that genuinely threaten financial markets, capital will migrate elsewhere, credit will tighten, and economic growth will suffer. But the more complicated the markets become, the more difficult it is to know where the danger point lies. Complexity amplifies the industry’s influence in discussions about alternatives, because its CEOs and lobbyists can make inflated claims of perilous repercussions from change that legislators do not know enough to discount. …
… Removing those barriers did exactly the opposite. …Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut…
… Robert Kaiser’s Act of Congress is a step-by-step, journalistic narrative of the legislative process from the eruption of the financial crisis in September 2008 through the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in July 2010. In Kaiser’s telling, Congress overcame special-interest pressures and partisan obstruction, worked through complex issues, and enacted substantial and intelligent legislation. In stark contrast, Jeff Connaughton’s The Payoff is a burn-all-bridges memoir of a longtime lobbyist who became a top aide to a liberal Democratic senator and says that Dodd-Frank was shot through with holes as a result of special-interest pressures and the connivance of both Dodd and the administration. And in the most weighty and analytical of the books, Political Bubbles, the political scientists Nolan McCarty, Keith T. Poole, and Howard Rosenthal argue that 2008 was a “wasted crisis” because American democracy failed not only in the run-up to the bailouts, but also in the aftermath. Dodd-Frank, they say, exemplifies a long historical pattern (except for the New Deal) of weak and often counterproductive governmental responses to breakdowns in the financial system.
… Frank and Dodd shared…the practical wisdom required to get things done. …
“Dodd’s personal attributes were even more important,” Kaiser writes. Not as brilliant as Frank but “bright enough,” Dodd was popular with other senators and shrewd in dealing with them, always looking for ways to address the “substantive concerns of his colleagues, especially Republicans.” In a memorable episode…
… Frank agreed to two concessions: a limit on the supervisory authority of the new agency that the law would establish to protect consumers, and a change in the formula for assessments paid to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which would shift more than $1 billion in annual fees from the community banks to the big banks. Wall Street would not like it, but by peeling off the hometown banks, Frank reduced local pressure on the Blue Dogs and other representatives to oppose the bill.
… Social scientists distinguish among three dimensions of power. Who wins and who loses in overt conflict is only the first dimension. The second dimension is control, often implicit, over what gets on the agenda and the issues and alternatives that never even come up for discussion. The third dimension involves the terms of debate, the ways of thinking about problems. …
… The industry opposed the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created under the law as well as other provisions, such as a watered-down version of the Volcker Rule…
…Jeff Connaughton…
… Dodd, whom Connaughton describes as “Machiavellian,” readily made concessions to Republicans who were not going to vote for the bill, while ignoring his own Democratic colleagues. …
In Political Bubbles, McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal… “We favor a strong set of simple rules rather than regulatory discretion,” they write. “The thirty-seven pages of Glass-Steagall are much to be preferred to the nearly three thousand pages of Dodd-Frank.”…
… “Washington rushed to bail out the commercial and investment banks and American International Group (AIG), but did little to relieve small debtors” and Congress passed Dodd-Frank, which “leaves ample opportunities for future bubbles.”
… Institutionally, the key development has been the increased use of the filibuster in the Senate. Together, the growth in ideological polarization in Congress and the exploitation of institutional choke points have led to gridlock, blocking legislative adjustment of policies as conditions change. And in the case of finance, that failure to update policy has effectively meant deregulation, because of the creation in recent decades of new financial products not envisioned under the New Deal regulatory regime. …
…a consumer coalition in 2009 announced it would raise $5 million to support financial reform; in comparison, the lobbying expenditures by the finance industry in 2009 and 2010 totaled around $750 million.
… Dodd-Frank’s establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the ACA’s insurance reforms and expansion of coverage. As a result of those provisions, I wouldn’t say that Dodd-Frank was a “waste” of a crisis or that the ACA was a mistake—but both laws leave key interests undisturbed and therefore do not deal with critical problems in either finance or health care. …
Yet the battles over financial reform and health care differed in at least one way. Financial reform never had the public’s attention the way health care did. According to McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal, “it was not because the public was divided, even along partisan lines, over the causes of the crisis or the need to reregulate the financial services industry.” In their view, skepticism about government’s ability to restrain Wall Street and confusion about what ought to be done dampened public engagement.
… During the debate over Dodd-Frank, neither Obama nor congressional leaders even tried to arouse public concern about Wall Street and build support for a stronger bill. Ironically, anger over Wall Street and the bailouts found its expression in the Tea Party in 2010. …
… Connaughton’s memoir is a reminder about such deceptions as Goldman Sachs’s sale of derivatives to customers who didn’t know that those derivatives had been designed to go bust, and Lehman’s shift of liabilities off its balance sheets before it went broke, and the tower of speculation built on liar loans and other subprime mortgages. Millions of people have lost their homes, whole communities have been devastated, but somehow the government does not have the ability or the will to prosecute the executives…
The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It, Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig… …the debts of the five biggest banks in the United States as of March 2012 totaled $8 trillion, a figure that they say would have been higher under European accounting standards. …

What Is Hillary Clinton’s Agenda?: She’s had so much to say on so many issues that voters may not know what she wants to accomplish. (6/20/2016) | Paul Starr (@WilsonSchool) @theprospect
… In 2010, congressional Democrats and the president prevented the extension of the tax cuts for the rich enacted under George W. Bush, increasing the top marginal income tax rate back to its level during the Clinton administration (39.6 percent) and reducing tax cuts on investment income and estates. When these changes went into effect in 2013, the top 0.1 percent paid $50 billion in taxes more than they would have paid under the previous rules. Partly as a result of a provision in the ACA, the tax rate on capital gains has gone from 15 percent to 23.8 percent. …


US Policy Changes Vol.62 (Energy Vol.4 – Free market, Electricity franchise, The environment)

Here are articles on energy, free market, electricity franchise, the environment, et al. Excerpts are on our own.

‘America First’ Energy Plan Challenges Free Market Realities (2/7/2017) | @jeffbradynpr
… “Drilling for oil and gas has picked up remarkably,” he says. In its Feb. 3 “rig count,” the oil field services company Baker Hughes reports the number of drilling rigs operating in the U.S. increased by 17 in just the last week.
“The pick-up is not explained by the current price level but, rather, by the expectation that any investment made now will be profitable because the administration will protect producers,” Verleger says. …

Trump’s Energy Policy Is Scary – To Multinational Petroleum Interests (1/24/2016) | @Atomicrod @Forbes
Abundant Supply Leads To Low Prices
Environmental Effects Of Abundant Energy Policies
Abundant Energy Can Preserve Remote, Pristine Areas

Making Sense of President Trump’s ‘Big League’ Changes to Energy Policy (Podcast; 2/6/2017) | @Stphn_Lacey @greentechmedia

NRG’s David Crane: Where Is the Amazon, Apple and Google of the Utility Sector? (3/27/2014) | @DCCleanEnergy @greentechmedia
… Now we are headed for the same goal, but in the opposite direction: down the path toward a distributed-generation-centric clean energy future featuring individual choice and the empowerment of the American energy consumer.
… As growing lack of confidence in the grid coincides with the introduction of new technologies, businesses and homeowners will realize that there is a better way. And, for them, that means generating most of the electricity they consume on the premises, from their own resources. In this new reality, our “mass” retail electricity franchise, consisting of Reliant, Green Mountain and NRG itself, becomes ever more important.
Our retail focus is on ensuring that we remain a first mover in bringing technological innovation aimed at the home energy consumer to our customers, on terms that they find attractive. Our marketing relationship with Nest, and their award-winning learning thermostat, is a case in point. But it is only the beginning. We expect to be soon to market with a robust platform offering rooftop solar to homes and businesses and other forms of sustainable and clean generation that will offer our customers the ability to dramatically reduce their dependence on system power from the centralized grid.
And for the customer, business or individual who simply wants nothing to do with the grid, the centralized control it represents and the inhibition of individual choice and restriction of personal freedom that is implicit in being “inter-tied” to the grid, there is the post-grid future — a future that is driven by renewables, incorporating both energy storage and sophisticated localized automation to balance production and load.
There will be systems that harness thermal and electric synergies and across not only clean energy, but also fresh water production, waste disposal and electrified transportation to create a virtuous circle of civil sustainability. We are just getting started in this area with, among other projects, our groundbreaking Necker Island announcement, but we expect to be a leader in the area of renewables-driven ecosystems. …

Another Clinton-Trump divide? Low-carbon vs. high-carbon America (12/15/2016) | @markmuro1 @BrookingsMetro
BrookingsInst carbon-emissions-by-state_map3
…@jimtankersley labeled “high-output” and “low-output” America.
…@RonBrownstein @TheAtlantic…
…the extremely tight alignment between states’ emissions and politics preferences. This alignment shows how very strongly economic self-interest shapes and reinforces ideology.
… The alignment is sharp: All 22 of the states that emitted the most energy-related carbon per capita voted for Trump over Clinton last month, including, in order, Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia, Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Kentucky, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa, Texas, and Alabama. Overall, Trump carried 27 of the 32 states that emit the most energy-related carbon per capita. …
… Hillary Clinton carried all eight of the states (plus the District of Columbia) that emit the least energy-related carbon and 16 of the lowest-emitting 19, with the exceptions of Florida, North Carolina, and Idaho. Along these lines, while Trump carried nearly all of the most fossil fuel oriented states, Clinton carried nearly all of the lowest-carbon states, ranging from New York, California, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Oregon to Maryland, Washington, and Virginia.
ZU… Notice that some of the states that are seeing emissions decline the fastest (darkest shades) include not just classic low-carbon blue states such as Massachusetts and New York but key Trump provinces such as Georgia and Tennessee, closely followed by other Trump states such as Alabama, Indiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. It’s also worth noting the strong growth of renewables in such Midwestern red states as Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Texas which also augurs for change.

Five charts that show why Trump can’t deliver on his coal promises (12/6/2016) | Devashree Saha @BrookingsMetro
… Coal production has plummeted to levels not seen since the early 1980s. The average number of employees at coal mines has decreased 12 percent to 66,000 employees, the fewest since 1978. And, the industry has been plagued by a series of bankruptcies. …
… The utility industry, motivated by profit and a desire to keep costs low, has been shifting significantly from coal to natural gas. In 2000, coal accounted for 51.7 percent of electricity generation, compared with just 15.8 percent for natural gas. By 2015, coal’s share had dropped to 33.2 percent, while natural gas rose to 32.7 percent of total generation. The Energy Information Administration predicted in March that natural gas’ share of the electricity market would surpass coal for the first time in 2016…
… The cost to build a utility-scale solar photovoltaic plant has fallen by about 80 percent since 2009, while wind project costs have dropped by 60 percent. As a result, large solar and wind farms can compete in the power market even with low natural gas prices. The entry of renewable energy projects into the market is leading to a reduction in coal-fired generation in many places, including deep red states. For instance, Iowa and Kansas get 30 percent and 21 percent of their electricity from wind, respectively, and Texas has added more wind-based generating capacity than any other state. …
… Coal exports fell for the third consecutive year in 2015, ending the year…more than 50 MMst less than the record volume exported in 2012. …

Could America’s smallest state lead the way toward the next energy age? (10/13/2016) | @timmonsroberts @BrookingsInst #PlanetPolicy


US Policy Changes Vol.61 (Employment/Economy/Inequality Vol.7)

Here are articles on economy, corporations, middle class, inequality, et al. Excerpts are on our own.

Inflation, Interest Rates and ‘the Politics of Rage’ (12/22/2016) | @whartonknows
… The Fed is targeting an inflation rate of 2% — it’s currently about 1.7% and has been even lower in recent years. This month, the Commerce Department revised up GDP numbers for the third quarter – from 3.2% to 3.5% (annualized) — pointing to faster-than-expected growth.
The Fed’s hawkish stance is a sea change from only a few months ago, when there was much wringing of hands about growth and inflation being too low…
Politics and Inflation
…higher inflation and interest rates, more government debt and slower economic growth…
“Both the Trump and Brexit campaigns evoked fear and anger at immigration, free trade, and globalization and multi-cultureness more generally,” says Dan Kselman @IEuniversity… …but rather rejection of the status quo political elite from both major parties, seen as corrupt and disconnected.”
… Wharton professor Kent Smetters has said that Trump has talked of reducing tax rates, especially for higher-income people — but also for businesses – that would stimulate the economy in the short run. …
…traditional trickle-down economic policies, such as…the increasing marginalization of the American industrial working class.” …
Protectionism Backlash
…Victory Capital…“The possibility of massive deficit spending has the potential to devalue the dollar and re-price inflation expectations.”
…the key risks facing global equity markets are threats of greater protectionism, including unilateral tariffs and re­writing of trade agreements. These actions could boost inflation…
The Benefits of Government Spending
…worries about inflation are overdone and that any rate below 4% is probably tolerable. …
…Jeremy Siegel… …inflation can go to 3% without causing much harm…
Higher inflation typically comes hand in hand with higher interest rates, and yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note have already gone to about 2.6% from 1.6% last summer. …
…debt, currently near $20 trillion, could grow by another $10 trillion in a decade or so. But the U.S. could handle that…
…tax cuts and reduced regulation. …
…bond yields have gone up in anticipation of greater government borrowing… Higher borrowing costs from rising interest rates could damage corporate earnings, hurting stock prices.

Corporations and Politics: Shunning the Middle Road to Go Left or Right (7/7/2016) | @whartonknows
…Daniel Korschun @DrexelUniv @LeBow.
Taking a Stand: Consumer Responses to Corporate Political Activism (w PDF; 7/7/2016) | Daniel Korschun, Anubhav Aggarwal, Hoori Rafieian
… Unsurprisingly, services are popping up to help consumers sort through corporations based on their political leanings. …2ndVote… …BuyPartisan…
… “If we just keep going about our business and ringing the Starbucks register every day and ignoring this (the race issue), then I think we are, in a sense, part of the problem.” …

Why most economists are so worried about Donald Trump (1/12/2017) | Justin Wolfers @nytimes @smh
… Most of my fellow economists remain convinced that university-trained economists can offer useful insight to the new administration. …
…his agenda stands as a rejection of the advice that mainstream economists have typically offered.
Partly this reflects his appointments. Few of his key economic advisers have economics training. …
… The optimists were those who thought he would not have the energy to actually implement his agenda…
… Of the 31 respondents to the University of Chicago’s IGM Economic Experts Panel, 28 disagreed with the claim that the “seven actions to protect American workers” in Trump’s 100-day plan would improve the economic prospects of middle-class Americans. …
…the latest survey from December shows that the optimists now outnumber the pessimists by 50 percentage points. …”stratospheric”.
… Trump remains something of an unknown, and each group is filling in the blanks differently.
… Trump’s anti-regulatory zeal may help businesses but hurt workers; his anti-trade agenda could help sellers but hurt buyers; and his instincts to protect existing jobs may help existing businesses at the expense of new entrepreneurs.
Or perhaps the optimism of small-business owners is about what they think is most likely to happen, particularly in the short run.

Tony Atkinson is the economist who had the measure of inequality (1/3/2017) | @ALeighMP @canberratimes
…died on January 1, aged 72, contributed as much as any modern economist to the study of poverty and inequality.
…like Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes, he recognised the importance of economics being grounded in history and politics. He was generous to intellectual predecessors such as his Cambridge teachers James Meade and Joan Robinson. …Timothy Coghlan and Colin Clark.
… He created his own inequality measure (the Atkinson Index), devised a novel technique for estimating wealth inequality from inheritance data, and shook up public finance through his work on optimal taxation with Joseph Stiglitz…
…surprised the Thatcher Government by helping the Labour Opposition to estimate the distributional impact of a proposed tax cut before the Chancellor had finished speaking.
… After Thomas Piketty showed how taxation statistics could be used to produce long-run inequality estimates for France, Tony did the same for Britain. Tony eventually produced top incomes estimates for nearly 20 other nations…
… In each of these nations, inequality was at its low-point in the late-1970s. Since then, the share of the top 1 per cent has approximately doubled.
… Inequality: What Can be Done?, it focused on policy solutions to the rising gap between rich and poor. These included guaranteed public employment at the minimum wage, encouraging innovation that improves employability, stronger union power, and more foreign aid. Atkinson also proposed that competition policy should explicitly take account of inequality…

Trump’s Planned Economic Policies: What Could Work, and What Won’t? (w Podcast; 11/14/2016) | @whartonknows
…Kent Smetters, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy… …the Penn Wharton Budget Model…
Infrastructure Investments in Sight:…incidents involving hacking of digital networks occur often because companies have failed to adequately protect their systems. …
Tax Cuts ? Gains Now, Pains Later:… Such debt will compete with private capital for household savings and international capital flows. …
Social Security Shock:…the Social Security trust fund will run out of money in 14 years…
Bringing Back Corporate Taxes:… Trump’s plan to introduce a destination-based tax system would deter “a lot of the income shifting” to foreign tax havens… …similar to the Republican Party’s proposal of a destination-based tax to replace the current corporate tax regime and make it less attractive for U.S. companies to do “international tax planning and profit shifting…
Trade, Jobs and GDP growth:… “When you have less trade, and less capital flows, the impact of debt that would be created under his tax plans would be even bigger than it otherwise would have been.” … “Over a long period of time, the growth rate is pinned down by the rate of technological change, and that is closer to 1% to 1.5% annually after inflation.” …

Top Insights of 2016 (12/29/2016) | @YaleInsights
Why Is Healthcare So Expensive?
What Comes Next for Europe?
What Makes a Museum Successful?
Is Government the Key To Prosperity?
What Happens When the Same Investors Own Everything?
Is Obamacare in Trouble?
Does Taking Photos Make Experiences More Enjoyable?
Do We Benefit From Trade?
What’s the Real Jobs Picture?
What Are the Consequences of India’s Currency Reform?

The Next Four Years: Key Issues and Important Lessons of the 2016 Presidential Campaign (11/1/2016) | @WilsonSchool

POST-ELECTION 2016: WHAT’S NEXT (w Video; 12/6/2016) | @ColumbiaSIPA

What to Watch in Europe in 2017 (1/4/2017) | @whartonknows


US Policy Changes Vol.60 (Infrastructure Vol.6 – Transportation)

Here are articles on transportation, et al. Excerpts are on our own.

Transportation and the Cost of Convenience (w Podcast; 1/12/2016) | @whartonknows
…Edward Humes…Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation…
Humes:… …every time traffic delays the average UPS route a minute, that minute costs the company $12.5 million. …
…the delivery companies around the world are lusting after drones, but not little ones — big ones, 747-sized drones. That’s where they see unmanned aircraft as the next disruption and provider of efficiency, lower costs — obviously, because they’re eliminating humans — and also more safety.
…$1.4 billion was spent to add a lane onto a 10-mile stretch… …just inviting more cars to come to the party. Adding capacity without changing the driving behavior, without providing some kind of incentive or disincentive to drive at peak times doesn’t work. …
… We lost about $160 billion to the economy in 2015 just from traffic delays and congestion and the wasted fuel they cause. … If even 10% of the commuting population in a large city defers their commute by half an hour, it could reduce congestion almost magically.
… You could replace the gasoline tax…with congestion pricing. …it eliminates that 50% of rush hour drivers who don’t really need to be there.
…the rise of the smartphone has also empowered ride-sharing, which is a huge disruptor. And when you combine that with the evolving technology of driverless vehicles, that’s a new paradigm for how we use and deploy cars — and whether or not we even want to own them in the future. We may just buy car time like…
…tunnels that are 100 years old. … There’s a $3.6 trillion backlog in repairs to our transportation infrastructure. …
…60,000 bridges… Every day that was closed, it cost the trucking and goods-moving industry $2.5 million. …
… We can’t forsake the people who are at the heart of our goods movement industry now whose jobs would be at risk from driverless technology. …
… Solve the inconvenience of getting to the train station. The driverless car comes and drops you off. …
… It’s not just big cities. … But yes, those are the places where traffic and a lot of the negative issues associated with it are most intense. …

How four macro forces will shape Elaine Chao’s tenure as Transportation Secretary (1/10/2016) | @AdieTomer @BrookingsMetro
… The next Secretary will have a chance to craft their own digital legacy, including revised street designs to accommodate autonomous and shared vehicles, standardize infrastructure sensor technologies, finalize drone regulations, and respond to products not even yet invented. …
… Infrastructure jobs are one of the few areas of the economy where workers can earn a living wage or more without advanced education. Yet some of those same jobs are among those most threatened by automation, including long-distance truck driving and many other positions involved in logistics and warehousing. The fact that many transportation workers are nearing retirement is simultaneously putting new demands on workforce training programs to prepare the next wave of vital infrastructure employees. …
… Emphasizing that electrified transportation is the industry’s future while downplaying the carbon reduction benefits.
…a 55,000-person agency with a $75 billion annual budget. …TIGER…

Why Better Urban Planning Won’t Reduce Traffic — but Taxes Will (w Video; 2/9/2016) | @whartonknows
… But new research co-authored by Wharton real estate professor Gilles Duranton finds that such policies may not have as great an effect as planners believe. In “Urban Form and Driving: Evidence from U.S. Cities,” Duranton and Brown University professor Matthew A. Turner find that increases in density cause only minimal decreases in aggregate driving, meaning it is unlikely to be a cost-effective policy for responding to traffic congestion or automobile-related pollution. …
Urban Form and Traffic
… One is greenhouse gas emissions — i.e., carbon that fosters climate change, global warming and all of that. And the second one is much more localized: small particulates, which could affect people’s health.
Key Takeaways
…if you bring up density by about 10%, it leads to reduction in traveling of about 1%.
Surprising Conclusions
…there’s one major characteristic of cities that matters: the density around you.
‘Everything Else Will Not Do Much’
… To go after local pollution, you need a tax for congestion — i.e., the concentration of traffic in some areas of a city — so you need to make drivers pay for that. And you need to tax carbon emissions. For instance, the province of British Columbia does this in Canada — it’s a resounding success. …
Global Problems, Global Solutions
…they require federal interventions. …
What Sets the Research Apart
…a big survey done by the Department of Transportation with nearly a million trips. …
What’s Next
…congestion…

How Federal Policy Is Paving the Way for Driverless Cars (w Podcast; 9/28/2016) | @whartonknows
A proactive regulatory regime and a cooperative approach from auto makers are the key backdrops of the U.S. government’s policy for automated vehicles Federal Automated Vehicles Policy – Message from Secretary of Transportation Anthony R. Foxx https://www.transportation.gov/AV… …automated vehicles, such as self-driving cars, could potentially save thousands of lives, especially when 94% of crashes on U.S. roadways are caused by human choice or error…
“Tradeoffs and design choices are being made,” says Wharton management professor John Paul MacDuffie, who is also director of Program on Vehicle and Mobility Innovation at the School’s @MackInstitute. Safety in self-driving vehicles hinges on two critical aspects – “good object recognition and good distance estimation,” he adds. “It may only be that when we have got camera, radar and Lidar (distance estimation using laser illumination) all operating that we may get the accuracy that we need.”
Technology Pulls Ahead: Ride-hailing services provider Uber is piloting driverless cars in Pittsburgh, Penn.; Tesla has launched new software for self-driving cars; and auto component suppliers are realigning themselves…
…breakups, such as that between Tesla and its supplier Mobileye… Mobileye has since teamed up with component supplier Delphi to develop fully autonomous driving technology.
Ahead of the Curve:… Federal policy could also be adopted as the regulatory template by various U.S. states…
Cooperative Stance from Automakers:…in the case of automated vehicles, it is “different and potentially more cooperative,” …auto companies and industry interest groups feel that this time “the government got it right in terms of guidelines…
Preparing for 2021:…the much-anticipated year when the auto industry expects to have a full fledged launch of self-driving vehicles…
…Level 3…the stage where the responsibility for driving is handed back and forth between the artificial intelligence software and the driver. Levels 1 and 2 deal with features like cruise control and alerts when cars stray off lanes. Level 4, where there will be no human intervention in driving at all is much further away…
Perfecting the Technology:…designed to learn from experience, so all the data from testing goes back to help identify different situations that come up… …when vehicles could communicate with each other, such as with transponders and some agreed-upon standards…
…a mix of human drivers and early adopters of automated vehicles… …Uber driverless taxis in Pittsburgh always have one or two Uber employees in them to collect data…

Railroads Present A Bipartisan Case For Regulatory Reform (1/21/2017) | Edward R. Hamberger (@AAR_FreightRail) @Forbes
… Too often, for instance, regulators propose new rules in response to news events without thoroughly examining their effectiveness or how they add to the cumulative burden of existing red tape. Regulators also seek to sidestep legal challenges to rules unsupported by data or evidence by issuing “guidance” which typically has the same effect as regulations. …
Meanwhile the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the economic regulator of the sector, is still mulling a mandate for railroads to use their private infrastructure and equipment for the benefit of competitors. …

Mercury, other toxins drained into Columbia-area creeks as sewage systems failed (11/16/2016) | @sfretwell83 @thestate


US Policy Changes Vol.59 (Foreign Policy Vol.9 – psychology and decision-making)

Here is an academic paper: Psychology and Foreign Policy Decision-Making (PDF; Sep 2014) | Jack S. Levy @RutgersPoliSci @SurreyPolitics. Excerpt is on our own.

Political psychology occupies an uncertain space in the study of international relations and foreign policy. …
At the same time, however, explanations of many consequential historical events give considerable causal weight to the role of individual political leaders. …
These different perspectives reflect a tension between the goals of constructing parsimonious and generalizable theoretical explanations of international behavior and of providing nuanced and descriptively accurate explanations of individual historical episodes. …
…the impact of psychology on judgment and decision-making on foreign policy issues by political leaders. …

1. Conceptual Issues
… First, individual-level psychological variables cannot by themselves provide a logically complete explanation of foreign policy, which is a state-level dependent variable. …
…individual level psychological variables…cannot by themselves provide a logically complete explanation for war or for other international patterns. …
… The psychological theories from which foreign policy analysts draw are based on carefully controlled experimental studies with extensive replication. …
One problem is that individuals selected into political leadership roles differ from the college students that typically serve as subjects in many experiments. …
Another limitation on the generalizability of typical experiments in social psychology to foreign policy behavior is that most of these experiments ignore the political and strategic context of decisions. …
International relations scholars have attempted to get around the limitations of experiments through the use of historical case studies. …

2. The Evolution of the Study of Psychology and Foreign Policy
… Prior to the 1960s, foreign policy analysis…was more descriptive and prescriptive than theoretical. …
… Scholars were more interested in describing the foreign policies of states, and providing general interpretations based on different conceptions of policy goals and strategies for advancing those goals, than in looking inside the “black box” of decision-making and analyzing the processes through which foreign policy is actually made. …
Many scholars implicitly adopted a rationalist framework in which states have certain “national interests” that political leaders attempt to maximize through a careful weighing of costs and benefits. …
It was social psychologists and personality theorists, rather than political scientists, who demonstrated the greatest initial interest in the psychological dimensions of international relations. …
…scholars continued to show an interest in more general (and more easily testable) models of personality and foreign policy…
Meanwhile, by the 1950s and 1960s social psychologists had begun to move away from a reductionist perspective that traced causality in international affairs exclusively to individual needs, motivations, and tendencies, and toward a view that recognized the political and international context of foreign policy behavior. …
… Scholars incorporated political leaders’ world views but generally treated them as exogenous and made little attempt to explain the social, intellectual, and psychological processes that generated them. …
… Overturning the conventional wisdom that the primary source of intelligence failure was the lack of adequate information, Wohlstetter argued that the real problem in 1941 was not the lack of information but the excess of information and the inability to distinguish signals from noise. …
… One influential research program was the Stanford project on International Conflict and Integration. This “1914 project” was novel both in its application of mediated stimulus-response models to international politics and in its use of formal content analyses of diplomatic documents to examine decision-makers’ perceptions and the discrepancy between perceptions and reality…
…Perception and Misperception in International Politics. Jervis provided a comprehensive survey of theory and experimental evidence from many diverse areas of cognitive and social psychology bearing on questions of perception and misperception in international relations, illustrated by a wide range of historical examples. …
Jervis also provided a framework for thinking about the role of psychological variables in a way that avoided the “over-psychologizing” of earlier social-psychological approaches. …
…“cognitive paradigm”… The basic premises of the cognitive approach are that the world is extraordinarily complex, incoherent, and changing, but that people are limited in their capacities to process information and fully satisfy standards of ideal rationality in their attempts to maximize their interests. …
…perception is more theory-driven than data driven…
…lead to “motivated biases,”… driven by people’s emotional needs, by their need to maintain self-esteem, and by their interests – diplomatic, political, organizational, or personal. The result is “wishful thinking”…
Motivated biases are most likely to manifest themselves in decisions involving high stakes and consequential actions that might affect important values or tradeoffs among important values. …
…focus on a number of specific research areas: learning, including both the updating of beliefs and learning from historical analogies; the application of the Rubicon model of action phases to overconfidence in judgments about war; prospect theory; poliheuristic theory; and time horizons, including applications of discounting models and of construal-level theory.

3. Some Specific Research Programs
3.1 Learning and Foreign Policy
… The leading interpretation of that failure emphasizes that Israeli political and military leaders and the intelligence community shared the belief that (1) Egypt would not go to war unless it was able to mount air strikes deep into Israel in order to neutralize Israel’s air force, and that (2) Syria would not go to war without Egypt. …
… Beliefs can change if information deviating from prior beliefs is strong and salient, if it arrives all at once, if there are relatively objective indicators to provide a baseline for the evaluation of the accuracy of beliefs, if decision-makers operate in “multiple advocacy” decision-making units, and if they are self-critical in their styles of thinking…
…“lessons of the past”… …“Munich analogy,”… …“Vietnam analogy,”…
… As Jervis (1976, p.228) argued, “People pay more attention to what has happened than to why it has happened. Thus learning is superficial, overgeneralized…. Lessons learned will be applied to a wide variety of situations without a careful effort to determine whether the cases are similar on crucial dimensions.”
…instead of learning from history, political leaders may use history to gain political support for their preexisting policy preferences, reversing the causal arrows. … In the strategic use of history, leaders deliberately select certain historical analogies and interpret them in a way to influence others to support the leader’s preferred policy. Alternatively, motivated biases may subconsciously lead an individual to search for historical analogies that reinforce his/her preexisting policy preferences. …

3.2 The Rubicon Model of War
… In fact, many scholars have pointed to the overconfidence of political and military leaders on the eve of war, their exaggerated confidence not only in victory but in a relatively quick victory with tolerable costs… …a puzzle, especially if we have reason to believe that information about relative capabilities is relatively constant. …
… In the pre-decision phase, people tend to adopt a “deliberative” mind-set, where alternative options and their possible consequences are carefully compared. In the post-decisional or implementation phase of decision-making people shift from making a decision to thinking about how to implement it. In this latter phase they are more vulnerable to psychological biases, including diminished receptivity to incoming information, and increased vulnerability to selective attention, tunnel vision, cognitive dissonance, self-serving illusions, and illusion of control. …
The Rubicon model…
… A number of IR scholars have emphasized that a sense of the loss of control as war approaches is common and consequential because it can lead decision-makers to abandonment attempts to manage the crisis to avoid war and instead to prepare for war, which generates a momentum of its own. …

3.3 Prospect Theory
… In political science, prospect theory has been particularly influential in international relations, in part because the choices of individual leaders have a greater impact than in domestic policy. …
… People “frame” choice problems around a reference point (“reference dependence”), give more weight to losses from that reference point than to comparable gains (“loss aversion”), and make risk-averse choices when possible outcomes are positive and risk-acceptant choices where possible outcomes are negative (the “domain of losses”). Their strong aversion to losses, particularly to “dead” losses that are perceived as certain (as opposed to those that are perceived as probabilistic), lead them to take significant risks… …“endowment effect”…
Because value is defined in terms of gains and losses relative to a reference point, how people identify their reference points is critical. A change in reference point can lead to a change in preference (“preference reversal”) even if the values and probabilities associated with possible outcomes remain unchanged. …
…people “renormalize” their reference points after making gains faster than they do after incurring losses. …
… (1) Because decision-makers usually take the status quo as their reference point, and because the costs of moving away from it are treated as losses and overweighted relative to the benefits (gains) of doing so, states have a greater-than-expected tendency to remain at the status quo (the “status quo bias”). …
… (6) if one state makes gains at another’s expense, the winner generally renormalizes its reference point and takes excessive risks to defend the new status quo against subsequent losses. … (8) Reaching a negotiated settlement is more difficult than expected utility theory predicts because people overweight what they concede in bargaining relative to what they get in return. …
… The key variables of interest in international relations – relative power, reputation, and the external security of states and the internal security of political elites, among others – are extraordinarily difficult to measure on an interval scale. …

3.4 Poliheuristic Theory
… If decision-makers value one dimension so highly that they refuse to consider any strategy that falls below an acceptable level on that dimension, regardless of the benefits along another dimension, they have “lexicographic” preferences and follow a non-compensatory decision rule…
Poliheuristic theory posits a two-stage decision making process. In the first stage the actor eliminates all strategies that are expected to lead to unacceptable outcomes on a particular dimension. In the second stage s/he selects the strategy with the highest expected utility. …
… The two-stage character of the model…is intriguing. It captures a basic intuition about the unwillingness of political leaders to do anything that might significantly threaten their domestic political positions. …

3.5 Time Horizons
… Just like individuals in their personal lives, political leaders must make choices involving tradeoffs between current benefits and future costs (or current sacrifices for future benefits), both for the country and for their own political fortunes. …
… One important exception is Axelrod’s (1984) influential model of cooperation in iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma games. …
… Scholars have spent a fair amount of effort trying to explain the systematic underestimation of long-term costs and the absence of planning – by the United States in Iraq, the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and numerous other cases. …
…those actors with long time horizons think about the future in abstract terms and tend to emphasize the desirability of future goals while neglecting their feasibility and the details of implementation, just as construal level theory predicts. …
… Actors are more focused on the desirability of distant outcomes than on their feasibility, which generates greater optimism about the future, less concern about the future enforcement of current bargains, and a greater willingness to reach a negotiated settlement.

4. Conclusions
… A leader’s willingness to take risks has undeniable importance in decisions for war, but IR scholars have given relatively little attention to this critical variable. Formal decision and game-theoretic models recognize that risk propensities are important but treat them exogenously, and often assume either risk neutrality or risk aversion. Prospect theory provides…
In addition, whereas prospect theory, like expected utility theory, assumes that probabilities are known, decision-makers make choices in a world in which probabilities are unknown, which introduces an additional level of complication. …
… People are more risk averse in response to “unknown unknowns” than they are to “known unknowns.” …
… Most discussions of threat perception focus primarily how one state perceives adversary intentions and/or capabilities while ignoring how the adversary attempts to influence the way it is perceived by others by strategically manipulating the images it projects. …“signaling”… It ignores the psychology of threat perception and the substantial evidence that the way signals are perceived and interpreted are significantly shaped and distorted by the receiver’s prior belief system, emotional needs, political interests…
… If ideas change in response to changing international structures, those ideas do not have an autonomous causal impact on policy outcomes. …
… The emphasis on the social construction of meanings, identities, and worldviews gives priority to the social and cultural sources of identity formation while minimizing the role of psychology. …
…foreign economic policy and international political economy. This field has been dominated by structural approaches that basically ignore individual-level sources of behavior and indeed the decision-making process itself. …
… Psychological models alone do not provide complete explanations for international relations because they fail to explain how international and domestic conditions shape preferences and beliefs, or how the policy process aggregates individual preferences and beliefs into policy outputs for the state. …


US Policy Changes Vol.58 (Trade Vol.6 – Manufacturing)

Here are articles on trade and manufacturing. Excerpts are on our own.

Can Wilbur Ross Engineer a Turnaround at Commerce? (1/18/2017) | Daniel R. Pearson @thehill @CatoInstitute
… China’s expansionary steel policies have made it the world’s largest producer and exporter, leading to depressed global prices. In response, U.S. steel mills have sought more than 160 anti-dumping and countervailing duty measures to restrict imports of a wide variety of steel products.
Those extra import duties are intended to offset unfair trade, and there’s little doubt that Chinese exports are unfair. …
…since the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 was being unwound. The United States has become, in essence, a high-priced island in an ocean of low-priced steel.
The problem is that an increase in revenues for steel mills means an increase in costs for the many companies that use steel as an input. …
…value added to the economy by iron and steel mills amounted to $36 billion in 2015. Manufacturers that utilize steel as an input generated value added of $1.04 trillion, almost 29 times larger.
The disparity in employment is even greater. Iron and steel mills employed140,000 workers in 2015, but manufacturers utilizing steel as an input employed 6.5 million, or 46 times more. …
…he bought Bethlehem Steel, Weirton Steel and LTV Steel to create International Steel Group (ISG). He later sold ISG to Arcelor-Mittal. ISG appears to have benefited from steel import restrictions, so Ross knows that protection can be convenient for U.S. firms. …
However, he also has owned multinational businesses, including International Automotive Components Group (IAC), with 20 facilities in nine countries. …

Automakers Are Global Companies, Not National (1/3/2017) | @snlester @thehill @CatoInstitute
… What if other governments begin pressuring their companies to not open factories in the U.S.? Will U.S. companies be at a disadvantage against their foreign competitors that have greater flexibility to produce wherever is most efficient? …
… Total U.S. employment for Ford is about 43,000 in the manufacturing sector, but Ford employs 123,000 people worldwide in 51 different production facilities.
As for Toyota, while there are 16 Japanese production facilities and about 70,000 Japanese employees, Toyota has overseas employment of about 166,000. …
… A 35 percent tariff on Mexican imports, a 10 percent across-the-board tariff, or tariffs on specific U.S. companies that produce abroad would bring legal and political chaos to a globalized system that provides enormous benefits to people around the world. …

Will Dollar Strength Trigger Intervention in 2017? (12/30/2016) | CARMEN REINHART @ProSyn
… In the first half of the 1980s, following the Federal Reserve’s record interest-rate hikes, the dollar appreciated by almost 45% against other major currencies. As a result of the strong dollar, the US lost international competitiveness and the trade balance sank to record lows in 1985.
…the Plaza Accord, which my colleague Jeffrey Frankel has described as probably the most dramatic policy initiative in the foreign-exchange market since President Richard M Nixon floated the dollar in 1973. …
…unlike 1985, in a scenario where the euro survives its current challenges, it will not be the Bundesbank that sits at the table in 2017. From the vantage point of the European Central Bank, which is coping with another round of distress in the periphery…

Global economic forces conspire to stymie U.S. manufacturing (12/29/2016) | @davidrdollar @thehill @BrookingsEcon
An obvious one would be a steep carbon tax used partly to fund infrastructure and partly to reduce the fiscal deficit. Reducing the deficit, other things equal, would reduce interest rates, lower the value of the dollar, and support tradable sectors, such as manufacturing.
Third… It is one of the curious laws of economics, however, that an import tax is equivalent to an export tax. Protecting the import-competing industries will indirectly disadvantage our export industries, many of which are manufacturing industries, such as aircraft.
… Assuming that we want more investment, the trade deficit can only decline if there is an even larger increase in national savings. …
In summary, it is extremely unlikely that any set of U.S. policies could reverse the long-term trend for manufacturing employment to fall as a share of the labor force…

Five ways the Maker Movement can help catalyze a manufacturing renaissance (1/4/2017) | @markmuro1 and Peter Hirshberg @BrookingsInst
…“new industrial revolution“…
That approach would embrace the Maker Movement as a deeply American source of decentralized creativity for rebuilding America’s thinning manufacturing ecosystems.
…as a new generation of designers and entrepreneurs has employed online tools, 3-D printing, and other new technologies to “democratize” manufacturing and reinvigorate small-batch production and sales.
Two years ago, 100 mayors signed a Mayors Maker Challenge to bolster making in their communities, and now, the just-published book “Maker City: A Practical Guide to Reinventing Our Cities” reports how these strategies are working across the nation. Long to short, the story here is that the Maker Movement isn’t just about reviving manufacturing in cities (though it is doing that). In addition, the movement is proving that anyone can be a maker and that genuine progress on the nation’s most pressing problems can be made from the bottom up by do-it-yourselfers, entrepreneurs, committed artisans, students, and civic leaders through what our colleague Bruce Katz calls “new localism.” That’s both empowering and a quintessentially American story, one that de Tocqueville would immediately recognize, and that Donald Trump might even like. …
Start organically
…Urban Manufacturing Alliance…
Make space for makers
…to organize a Maker Faire that convenes a region’s enthusiasts to celebrate the ingenuity and creativity of local makers. … Such spaces do not just provide space and equipment like 3-D printers and CNC machines; they also provide workshops and courses, and function the way social clubs did for previous generations, by bringing together people with shared purpose and values. And there’s more: If done right and situated well, a makerspace can anchor a local innovation district or other such neighborhood redevelopment. …
Engage community colleges, universities, and national laboratories
… Arizona State and Case Western Reserve universities have each opened up their impressive maker spaces to the broader public, for example. Institutions as diverse as Northern Illinois University and Lorain County Community College near Cleveland have created publicly accessible incubators and accelerators to promote manufacturing. And for its part, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee operates its Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, which helps companies adopt crucial technologies like additive manufacturing even as the lab supports many of the region’s maker activities. …
Pull in the private sector
… Chevron, for example, has pledged significant funding to create Fab Lab maker spaces to support STEM education in regions where it operates. Autodesk provides free access to its CAD software tools to educators and makerspace partners. And in Louisville, GE has played a lead role in energizing the entire maker ecosystem in the area. There, the global conglomerate opened FirstBuild, a makerspace micro-factory and co-creation community for household appliances that has wound up stimulating the local maker community and establishing new educational links throughout the region. …Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM)…
Experiment with new forms of education and training
… Pittsburgh, for example, started out by placing a single maker space inside a single school. From this evolved the Dream Factory at the Elizabeth Forward Middle School: A set of integrated classrooms where middle-schoolers learn how to use computers, 3-D printers, and CNC tools to create robots, drones, or whatever else they want. As a result, drop-out rates have fallen drastically at the school. … Houston Community College just opened a massive $26 million maker facility, for example, while the California Council on Science and Technology recommended the state create a network of 10 makerspaces linked to community colleges as a tool for preparing students for the innovation economy. … The Detroit luxury goods manufacturer Shinola, for example, has been reinventing the traditional apprenticeship by bringing in long-retired master artisans to help teach relevant crafts to younger, less experienced makers. …

Do We Benefit from Trade? (10/20/2016) | PETER K. SCHOTT @YaleInsights
… Q: What was the scale of the change in manufacturing employment?
Well, to give perspective, the highest number of manufacturing workers the U.S. ever had was 19.5 million in 1979. It had already fallen in the 1980s and 1990s, but not so dramatically. Then about 3 million manufacturing jobs are lost in about in a year and half, roughly speaking, after the change in U.S. trade policy. That occurs around the time of the 2001 recession, but that recession was not severe enough to explain the swift decline in manufacturing employment. There was another big decline in manufacturing employment during the Great Recession, but that makes sense in terms of the severity of that recession. …

How Did Volkswagen Go Wrong? (w Video; 12/14/2015) | DAVID BACH, PAUL BRACKEN, DAVID CAMERON @YaleInsights

How Will the Trans-Pacific Partnership Affect Global Business? (10/7/2015) | @YaleInsights
Keith Head, HSBC Professor in Asian Commerce, Sauder School of Business
Raúl Francisco Montalvo, Professor of Economics and International Business and Director EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Guadalajara.
Julia von Maltzan Pacheco, Professor and Associate Dean for International Relations, FGV Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo

The Canada-U.S. economic playbook is on the verge of a rewrite (11/19/2016) | @bhaggart @GlobeBusiness
… Since the end of that war, Canada and the United States have become increasingly integrated against a global backdrop of economic liberalism. Over this period, we developed an informal system that “limited opportunities for linkage among issues and emphasized the virtues of responsiveness and conciliation,” as political scientists Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye wrote in 1977. …
…“domestic concerns trump regional issues.” …


US Policy Changes Vol.57 (National Security Vol.4 – nuclear ideas)

Here is a report: 10 Big Nuclear Ideas (PDF; Nov 2016) | @TomCollina & @GeoffTWilson @plough_shares. Excerpt is on our own.

@SenMarkey – Reduce, Reform, and Restrain: a Nuclear Agenda for the 21st Century
The diverse perspectives in this report are united around a common vision, one that Ploughshares Fund has embodied and promoted with exceptional clarity — if we want future generations to inherit a safer world, we must end our misguided approach to nuclear armament.
If we want other countries to reduce their nuclear arsenals and restrain their nuclear war plans, the United States must take the lead.

@TomCollina – Big Ideas for Big Challenges
Nuclear weapons are still vastly overvalued in U.S. defense policy, with missions they cannot achieve and budgets they do not deserve.

@ValeriePlame – Break with Cold War Thinking
Dear 45th President, welcome to the White House. You now have an opportunity to make a lasting impact on national and international policy. But whatever your priorities may be — national security, education, immigration, the deficit or the environment — one issue can trump them all: nuclear weapons. Unless you make a definitive break with Cold War thinking, you may undermine everything else you and so many others are striving to accomplish.

@Gen_Jcartwright – Reduce the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal, with or without Russia
Speaking in Berlin in 2013, President Barack Obama offered to reduce U.S. deployed strategic nuclear forces to about 1,000 warheads, or one-third below the limits of the 2010 New START Treaty. This is sound policy, as the U.S. military has determined that it can ensure the security of the United States and its allies at this lower level. But the president made the offer contingent on gaining agreement from Russia to follow suit. Moscow balked, and no agreement was reached.

@SecDef19 – Phase Out America’s ICBMs
Russia and the United States have started rebuilding their Cold War nuclear arsenals, putting us on the threshold of a new and dangerous arms race. But we don’t have to replay this drama. The U.S. plan to rebuild and maintain its nuclear force is needlessly oversized and expensive, expected to cost about $1 trillion over the next three decades. This will crowd out the funding needed to sustain the competitive edge of our conventional forces, and to build the capabilities needed to deal with terrorism and cyber attacks.
As we learned the hard way, there is only one way to win an arms race. Refuse to run.

@SenFeinstein and @RepAdamSmith – Cancel the New Nuclear Cruise Missile
The Defense Department has proposed to build a new, powerful nuclear cruise missile called the Long-Range Standoff weapon (LRSO). In our opinion, this weapon is unnecessary, incredibly expensive and would move the United States closer to actually using a nuclear weapon — an unthinkable action.

@KennetteBene – Add Democracy to Nuclear Policy
The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign has, among other things, reminded the public that the president has the sole authority to launch a nuclear attack. While public discussion focused on the temperament, judgment and character of the person occupying the office of the presidency, it has also raised the larger question about the democratic legitimacy of a single person being able to launch a nuclear war. As William Broad and David Sanger of The New York Times put it, “is there any check on a president’s power to launch nuclear arms that could destroy entire cities or nations?” Their answer is no, not really.
When it comes to nuclear weapons then, the conduct of war lies wholly outside the social contract between citizens and their government.

Steve Andreasen (@NTI_WMD) and @isabelle_nti – Bring Home U.S. Tactical Nuclear Weapons from Europe
In the United States, anything nuclear is inherently presidential. Any change in nuclear policy requires presidential leadership and sustained engagement. Moreover, decisions to pursue new initiatives must be made early in a new administration, and then executed over a number of years. Coming late to the nuclear policy party — or just stopping by — is usually a recipe for frustration and inaction.

@TyttiE – Press Pause on Missile Defense in Europe
The Iran nuclear accord, concluded in July 2015, has fundamentally improved the outlook for European security. Iran is now much less likely to obtain nuclear warheads, and its missile programs are proceeding more slowly than expected. As a result, current U.S. plans to build additional interceptor missiles in Poland should be placed on hold.

@suzannedimaggio – Learn from Iran, Engage North Korea
Since official relations between Washington and Tehran were severed in 1980, five American presidents spanning a period of three decades — from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush — have struggled to figure out how to deal with Iran. As a candidate for the presidency in 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama indicated that if elected he would take a different approach from his predecessors and “engage in aggressive personal diplomacy” with Iran. “For us not to be in a conversation with them doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Principled and pragmatic diplomacy in the absence of trust is hard, but it’s not impossible.

@frankvonhippel – Ban Production of Highly Enriched Uranium
The continued production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) for any purpose poses a significant threat to international security. Nations that want to acquire nuclear weapons could seek to do so under the cover of HEU production for civilian research or naval propulsion. While it is essential to strengthen ongoing efforts to secure existing stocks, the next U.S. administration also should make it a priority to ban the production of HEU worldwide. Such a ban would greatly reduce the risks of nuclear terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to new states.

@BeaFihn – Support a Global Ban on Nuclear Weapons
Nuclear weapons continue to be one of the most serious threats to international peace and security around the world. They are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created. Both in the scale of the devastation they cause, and in their uniquely persistent and hazardous radioactive fallout, they are unlike any other weapons. A single nuclear bomb detonated over a large city could kill millions of people. The use of tens or hundreds of nuclear bombs would disrupt the Earth’s climate worldwide and cause widespread famine.


US Policy Changes Vol.56 (Employment Vol.6 – incentive travel)

Here is an academic paper: The Motivational Power of Incentive Travel: The Participant’s Perspective (PDF; 2014) | Scott A. Jeffrey (@monmouthu) @IBAMConference. Excerpt is on our own. 

Abstract
…travel is highly motivating to employees and creates positive feelings towards the company by recipients of the incentive… there are limited negative feelings towards the company expressed by non-recipients…

Introduction
… The incentive travel market was $13.4 Billion US in 2006 and when motivational meetings and special events are included, this number rises to $77.1B… travel is a more effective motivator than cash and merchandise but this research fails to examine the specific elements of travel that make it motivating. …this is the first article that actually asks the recipients of travel incentives what makes a travel incentive motivating. …
…both academics and practitioners need to understand if firms should continue to invest in incentive travel and how best to design and deliver this type of incentive. …
…it addresses the viewpoint of recipients of incentive travel rather than the opinions of those who provide these incentives in order to explore why travel motivates (rather than whether or not it does)…

Literature review
What Motivates Employees
…whether or not employees believed they could achieve the required level of performance to become eligible for a reward… …instrumentality, the belief that if an employee did actually perform at the requisite level, company management would actually deliver the rewards… …valence, the amount the employee valued the reward…
…specific difficult goals drive better performance provided they were accepted and committed to. …commitment was more likely to goals that were viewed as fair and clear…
…beyond being more motivating in the valence-instrumentality-expectancy framework, high valence items improve employees moods, making them choose higher goals, perform better, and maintain a more positive view of their employers…
How Does Travel Motivate
Travel incentives accomplish motivation predominantly through valence. The travel event itself is frequently a unique event which an employee would find difficult to duplicate on their own. …
…Incentive awards in general provide a signal of recognition of good performance from employees which leads to more of the same behavior in the future… Higher levels of organizational commitment then lead to better task performance as well as an increase in the incidence of organizational citizenship behaviors…
Finally, the uniqueness of travel increases motivation through three additional mechanisms: justifiability, social reinforcement, and separability…
…it is difficult for people to purchase is using their own funds, as they have difficulty clearing a “justifiability” hurdle.
… This physical reminder of the incentive reinforces the feeling of being valued by the company…
… A separate “mental account” is set up for non-cash incentives which means they tend to be viewed in isolation and therefore less susceptible to these negative effects…
Past Research on Incentive Travel
…sales people and asked for pairwise comparisons of their preferences between pay raises, promotion opportunities, fringe benefits, recognition, and incentive awards … sales people had a strong preference for pay raises over all of the other potential rewards. Incentive awards came in fourth in the list of five. …
Drawing the conclusion that travel is not as motivational as cash would be premature, as past research has shown that what employees say they want is not necessarily that for which they will exert the most effort. In a laboratory study among university staff members, a strong preference for a cash incentive was found yet the performance uplift was stronger for a non-cash tangible incentive. …
…travel is still widely used as an incentive for salespeople. If it were not effective, then companies would most likely have stopped using it a long time ago. …the additional value that comes from rewards that provide a tangible reminder of the performance that led to their receipt. …travel incentives can increase organizational commitment it can contribute to job commitment and thereby improve performance. The provision of recognition through the use of different types of incentives, particularly travel, can increase commitment through an increase in perceived organizational support. …
… To the extent that travel incentives can increase organizational commitment it can contribute to job commitment and thereby improve performance. The provision of recognition through the use of different types of incentives, particularly travel, can increase commitment through an increase in perceived organizational support.

Method

Results
Sample Description
Overall Motivational Power
Motivational Power of Elements of Incentive Travel
Attitudes of Participants
Motivational Power of Travel vs. Other Alternatives
Implementation Issues

Discussion
The most important finding reported in this article is the high levels of motivation reported by participants with respect to travel. This was true for both sales employees (the standard group of subjects) and non-sales employees, although sales people did report being more motivated. …
…people feel personal responsibility for not earning the award rather than any ill will towards the firm offering the rewards. …
…reported envy was uncorrelated with the willingness to work hard for the incentive in the future. Employees also did not seem to believe that the same people were earning the travel incentive every year. …
…the recognition aspect of travel is the most motivating element. Also motivating to employees was the ability to experience something unique, and the ability to develop closer relationships with peers. …
…the elements that employees said could make travel more motivating to them. High on the list was an increase in destination choices, but at the top of that list was an increase in leisure activities and more free time. …

Conclusion
This article reports the results of a survey conducted on 1003 workers who had been eligible to earn travel incentives. Seven hundred and fourteen qualified for the travel, while 289 respondents did not earn the travel. This article is a unique contribution to the literature on travel incentives because it explores the perspective of recipients rather than the opinions of those who design or sell incentive travel programs. In addition, this article is unique because it addresses the opinions of non-sales employees in addition to sales employees who tend to be the focus of most research in this area.
The results reported in this article show that travel incentives still deserve a place in a firm’s motivational portfolio, even though there is often a stated preference for gift cards and cash. Incentive travel motivates employees by making them feel valued and giving them the opportunity to enjoy a unique experience that they would have a hard time replicating on their own.
Finally, the provision of incentive travel increases positive feelings in those who earn the incentive towards an employee’s firm without discouraging those who don’t qualify for travel. Because these positive feelings can increase organizational commitment, this provides another positive reason to keep incentive travel in the firm’s motivational tool kit.
The findings from this article increase the knowledge of both academics and practitioners. For academics, it begins to open up the black box of motivation by examining the elements of travel that increase the valence of the incentive. For practitioners, this article provides information on how to improve the motivational power of travel through both the design and implementation of incentive programs.