Policy Issues


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  • Image previewMay 27Obama Visits Hiroshima, US GDP Growth Revised Higher As Consumer Sentiment, Oil Prices Peak

    Obama is first sitting president to visit Hiroshima, calls for ‘Moral Revolution’; U.S. First-Quarter GDP Growth Revised Higher; U.S. Consumer Sentiment Index at Highest Level in 11 Months; Oil Prices Rise Above $50 a barrel. 

  • Image previewMay 26Volatile Labor, Optimistic Consumer Economic Outlook

    Initial unemployment claims continued retreat from near-concerning levels in the May 21 week as labor has been volatile over a month that witnessed a decades-old low and a multiyear high for claims; American durable goods orders jumped 3.4% in April, much higher than the market-anticipated 0.3%; The pending home sales index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings in the residential real estate market, reached its highest level since February 2006 in April, as consumers appear confident in their future ability to make mortgage payments and express optimism in the economy.

  • Image previewMay 25Lump Sum Payments Can Save Social Security

    As questions rise about Social Security’s solvency, Faculty Affiliate Olivia S. Mitchell and her team have found a possible solution: Add a lump-sum cash payment as an optional benefit for delaying Social Security filing.

    Not only would this encourage more people would work longer, which would improve their retirement security, but In addition, their earnings would keep generating payroll taxes, thereby bolstering Social Security’s troubled finances. “I think the delayed claiming option is really something we need to talk about,” Mitchell says.

    Read more in her Issue Brief: http://bit.ly/IssueBriefV3N9

  • Image previewMay 25House Passes Chemical Safety Bill, New Home Sales Highest Since Financial Crisis

    The House passes a sweeping bipartisan chemical safety bill on Tuesday designed to overhaul federal regulation covering thousands of chemicals in daily use; New home sales accelerated to an annualized rate of 619,000 units in April in the indicator’s strongest reading since January 2008—prior to the financial crisis; The Census Bureau’s advance report on the nation’s current account balance shows widening goods deficit, though other indicators show broader strength in the global macroeconomy following significant volatility in the initial part of 2016. 

  • Image previewMay 24What Happens To Puerto Rico’s Debt If It Defaults?

    Members of the U.S. House of Representatives announced they have crafted a bipartisan agreement on legislation that would allow Puerto Rico to essentially declare bankruptcy and get relief from the more than $70 billion the U.S. territory owes bondholders.

    Will the bondholders lose their shirts, take a haircut, or somehow be made whole? And when it’s all over, who will be in charge of rebuilding the island’s economy? Faculty Affiliate Professor David Skeel explains how Puerto Rico wound up in such a deep economic pit in the first place, discusses the options on the table for digging it out, and considers what changes need to be made so that a similar crisis doesn’t crop up in the future.

    Read more in Skeel’s Issue Brief “After Debt: A Path Forward for Puerto Rico”: http://bit.ly/IssueBriefV4N3

  • Image previewMay 24Walls or Welcome Mats? Immigration and the Public Treasury

    Advocates of restrictive immigration policies often claim that immigrants impose a net burden on the public treasury. The most comprehensive and authoritative study of the fiscal effects of immigration in the U.S. finds, however, that there is a net positive effect. If policymakers are concerned that less skilled immigrants may pose some risk of a fiscal burden, then restricting immigrant access to means-tested public benefits would be a better response than denying them admission. A path to citizenship for these immigrants need not entail a fiscal burden as long as their access to these public benefits and citizenship is sufficiently delayed.


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