Professor Michael Knoll • November 3A wave of corporate inversions over the past several years has generated substantial debate in academic, business, and policy circles. The core of the debate hinges on a couple of key economic questions: Do US tax laws disadvantage US-domiciled companies relative to their foreign competitors? And, if so, does inversion reduce or eliminate that tax disadvantage, and increase the competitiveness of US multinational firms for making investments both abroad and at home? This seminar will address these questions and their implications for tax reform discussions, drawing insight from newly published research.left|tax
Professor Tom Baker • October 20Financial “robo advisors”—automated services that rank, or match consumers to, financial products on a personalized basis, sometimes in addition to selling or providing educational information about these products—have gained significant attention in the investment industry. But there has not yet been a consensus on how to regulate them. Robo advisors have the potential to equal or exceed the quality of human advisors, but they don’t fit into the category of fiduciary, and therefore are not currently held to the same regulatory standard that humans advisors are. Nonetheless, they are subject to systemic risks and the potential for abuses that can hurt consumers. This seminar will explore the regulatory challenges involved in fostering a market that promotes the development of more sophisticated robo advisor technology while also serving and protecting the heterogeneous interests of financial product consumers.finance|regulationView summary » In general, a robo advisor can be defined as an automated service that ranks, or matches, consumers to financial products on a personalized basis, sometimes in addition to providing related services such as educating consumers and selling products to them. Often associated with web-based financial investment services, a robo advisor can also include consumer financial product intermediaries such as automated mortgage brokers and insurance exchanges, as well as lead generation services such as Zillow, NerdWallet, and Mint.com. Although investment-focused robo advisors have received the most scrutiny from regulators, the same promises and regulatory concerns raised by investment robo advisors apply to their insurance and banking counterparts. The benefit of defining robo advisors as a general category of tools that span different financial services sectors is that an inclusive approach will encourage more cross-sharing and collaborative thinking to tackle similar challenges and opportunities, including regulatory questions.
Professor Scott Harrington • September 29Between the recent exits of several insurers from the health insurance exchanges, and the repeated attempts earlier this year to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, there has been much concern about the stability of the individual insurance market. This seminar will examine the sources and scope of individual market instability and review current proposals for market stabilization, while exploring how federal or state level subsidized reinsurance programs, including “invisible high risk pools,” might help.health insurance|insurance
Peter Cappelli • July 21This seminar, presented by Peter Cappelli, will examine various aspects of workforce development: why employer investments in worker training have declined, including the role that tax treatments have played; wage trends; and the value of higher education for the American worker. Some attention also will be given to assessing the effect of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit and other incentive programs.jobs|labor|left|podcast|taxView summary »
There has been much discussion in recent years about a skills gap in the U.S., driven largely by employer complaints over filling jobs. The term “skills gap” can mean different things. Usually, it refers to a belief that there is something fundamentally lacking in the labor force. In the typical telling of the skills gap story, schools are failing to educate students effectively and are graduating students who do not have the skills employers need, thus creating a basic skills shortfall in the labor force as a whole. Others who talk about a skills gap really are referring to a skills shortage, meaning that at the current market price for labor, employers cannot hire the people they are looking for. The third sense of a gap entails a skills mismatch, and describes parts of the U.S.—for instance, North Dakota, when energy production there skyrocketed—where labor demand is booming but where people in the region do not have matching job skills. A skills gap, skills shortage, and skills mismatch are all different and theoretically could be going on all at once.
Professor Howard Kunreuther • June 23
The reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) (set to expire in September) encompasses issues of risk transparency and fairness. There is general agreement that floodplain residents need to know their risk-based insurance premium–and with that information, how to make their homes safer and thus make flood insurance more affordable. This talk, by Professor Howard Kunreuther, will discuss the importance of accurate mapping of flood risk, how to encourage investment in cost effective mitigation measures, and ways to deal with fairness and affordability in designing a flood insurance program for the future. Your familiarity with these topics will be helpful as you review proposed legislation for the NFIP reauthorization.behavioral economics|insurance|podcast|right|risk management
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides federally administered flood insurance, is up for reauthorization in September. Since its inception in 1968, the NFIP has been amended several times. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 was written to address the insolvency of the NFIP by moving to a risk-based premium model for many homes in flood-prone areas, some of which were being charged a subsidized flood insurance premium. Implementation of Biggert-Waters was delayed, however, with the passage of the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. With the continued concern over the financial solvency of the NFIP, the reauthorization will need to address two core questions: (1) What does it mean to implement a risk- based premium? And (2) What does it mean to deal with issues of fairness and affordability?
Professor Kevin Werbach • May 19
At a time when public confidence in major societal institutions seems to be under siege, the blockchain offers an intriguing new paradigm for establishing trust in human transactions. The blockchain, through its use of secure cryptography and reliance on distributed consensus networks, is the basis for “trustless trust”—that is, it makes it possible for people to trust the output of the blockchain system without trusting any actor within it. The blockchain will need governance mechanisms, however, in order to realize its enormous potential. In this seminar, Professor Kevin Werbach will discuss in more detail how the respective roles of blockchain platforms and more traditional legal mechanisms can be made to work together.blockchain|podcast|regulation|right