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Policy Issues


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  • Image previewMay 28Judge Rules State Dept Must Release Clinton Emails

    District of Columbia Judge Rudolph Contreras has ruled that the State Department must release former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails in 30 day intervals.

  • Image previewMay 22The Federal Funds Rate

    The federal funds rate, or fed funds rate, is the interest rate that banks can borrow from each other at the Federal Reserve with overnight loans used to cover their individual reserve requirements. However, since the two banks exchanging money negotiate their own interest rate, the federal funds effective rate is the weighted average of all the rates across these transactions. How does the Fed determine the fed funds rate, and how do targets change based on both the business cycle and the desires of the Fed’s policymakers themselves? Read on for Wonk Tank’s take. 


  • Image previewMay 21The Deep Roots of America’s Housing Affordability Crisis

    The Atlantic turns to Faculty Affiliate Todd Sinai and an issue brief that he wrote to understand the current housing affordability crisis.

  • Image previewMay 21Corporate bond funds + illiquidity = risk

    Bond markets are particularly susceptible to downturns, and Reuters consults Faculty Affiliate Itay Goldstein on the risk that this poses for investors.

  • Image previewMay 18Public Policy Interns By The Numbers

    For the second year in a row, Penn Wharton PPI is pleased to offer funding to a large cohort of Penn students who will serve as public policy interns in DC. The students, chosen through a competitive application process, represent both undergraduate and graduate programs in seven different Penn Schools – Wharton, Arts and Sciences, Law, Social Policy and Practice, Medicine, Design and Engineering and Applied Science. 

  • Meet a Student

    Lexin Cai

    Taking courses from different schools at Penn with students from diverse backgrounds has greatly furthered my knowledge base and broadened my perspectives on policy issues. 

    Lexin, a Master’s student from Jiangxi Province, attended Renmin University of China in Beijing before coming to Penn for graduate study at the School of Social Policy & Practice. She first became interested in public policy when she served as a volunteer teacher in a migrant school during her freshman year of college. That teaching experience helped her reach out to a young generation affected by massive rural-to-urban migration in China. Her migrant students lived on the margins of urban society without equal access to education, health care and other social benefits, and she was shocked by the way that bad public policy contributed to inequality. Her desire for social justice and greater equality inspired her pursuit public policy studies, and she believed that Penn would open the door to a wide variety of paths in public policy, both at national and international levels.

    About her experience at Penn thus far, she says, “Taking courses from different schools at Penn with students from diverse backgrounds has greatly furthered my knowledge base and broadened my perspectives on policy issues. What I like most about the Social Policy program in SP2 is that the program really prioritizes work with vulnerable populations. My classmates are committed to careers in public or nonprofit services.” With interests in social policy and international policy, Lexin hopes to work for a think tank as a policy analyst to promote equality and sustainable development after graduation. But with China taking a greater role in international affairs, she has not ruled out a career in international relations.

    Currently, Lexin is working on the World Wildlife Fund’s Brazil-China Soybean and Meat Trade research project as a research assistant. China is importing a large amount of soybeans from Brazil as animal feed and the growing production of soybeans is imposing threats on the Amazon rainforest. This research project is looking at the possibility of China importing meat from Brazil instead of soybeans, as a way to boost local economies and mitigate environmental footprints of the soybean trade. Lexin’s major responsibility is to analyze China’s livestock and meat production, consumption, international trade and government policies. Different from traditional regulatory approaches, this project focuses on the economic incentives to address environmental issues.

    Additionally, when the opportunity arose to start a student-run think tank at Penn, she immediately noticed that it was a great opportunity to make an impact on the campus community. As a student of policy, her passion motivated her to take a lead role in creating Wonk Tank. “Wonk Tank is a group of students who are passionate about conducting policy research and making a change. Leading the International and Foreign Policy team has been one of my most rewarding experiences at Penn. I really enjoy engaging in collaborative policy research and policy discussion with my peers. Within the group, everyone brings something different in terms of experience and expertise. It’s a great community for students fascinated by public policy to learn and grow in,” Lexin said. This semester, Wonk Tank has been posting policy blogs on a wide range of issues and collaborating with other organizations on campus. Under her leadership and that of the rest of the team, Wonk Tank will continue to advocate for good, data-driven policy change, as well as foster policy dialogue on Penn’s campus and worldwide.

    This summer, she will be working with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) as an intern with the Nutrition Assistance Policy team. CBPP is one of the nation’s premier policy organizations working to alleviate poverty at the federal and state levels by focusing on fiscal policy and public programs that affect low- and moderate-income families and individuals. The Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative is proud to support Lexin as she conducts this important research this summer in Washington, D.C.


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