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Blog

Members of the PPI Student Group and students who receive funding from Penn Wharton PPI for Public Policy Internships regularly write on topics related to economics and public policy. The articles highlight the student perspective on topics at the intersection of economics, business, and public policy. The views expressed on the Student Blog are the author’s opinions and don’t necessarily represent the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative’s strategies, recommendations, or opinions.

  • (Image: Winnie Palmer Hospital in Orlando, FL (NOT AN ACO). Source: Wikimedia) December 13

    Healthcare spending accounts for just under one-fifth of the US economy, amounting to an enormous $3.4 trillion in 2016 [1]. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have tried their hand at passing cost containment measures to slow its growth, which has consistently outpaced GDP growth rates. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) attempted to cut costs by reshaping the way providers are paid to manage care. As a result, it began to recognize and reward a new hybrid structuring of providers: Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). As ACOs become more popular under new payment schemes, it is essential to track their ability to reduce costs and improve quality. The Trump administration’s policy changes stand to shape not only providers’ care coordination, but also the trajectory of the healthcare industry.

  • “Tech giants” or even the “Frightful Five,” the collective names given to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, ... December 8
    From checking the weather to reading the news, from interacting on social media to shopping for gifts, it is evident that technology plays an integral role in our daily lives. We can attribute the products that we use every day with just a few prominent technology companies. “Tech giants” or even the “Frightful Five,” the collective names given to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google (and by extension, its parent company Alphabet) underscore the idea that these technology companies significantly influence both our daily routines and the political and economic changes in our nation at large [1].
  • Hurricane Maria has brought light to how disaster relief has impacted Puerto Rico. December 5

    Since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, the island’s leaders have been asking the federal government for more emergency aid and long-term recovery funds.[1] Resident Commissioner for Puerto Rico Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon requested, “Congress [approve] an aid package that is commensurate with the level of devastation,” while Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo of Guam said she will, “Seek a firm commitment that the House provide fair and robust emergency assistance to U.S. territories devastated by natural disasters in any bills considered for the remainder of the Congress.” [2] The federal government must determine how much assistance is required to adequately respond to a natural disaster of this scale and how to balance the need for short-term relief and long-term recovery.

  • (Image: Soda bottles on the shelf. Source: Flickr) December 5

    Sugar sweetened beverage taxes, commonly referred to as soda taxes, have been on the rise in American municipal governments as a potential policy solution to both a public health crisis and a revenue shortage [1]. However, in cities like Philadelphia where these sugary beverage taxes have been implemented, they have become a target for the scrutiny of residents and economists alike. Governments that have implemented soda taxes commonly cite how the tax revenue and the tax itself could help tackle obesity, but this claim is still subject to debate.

  • (Image: President Obama & King Salman of Saudi Arabia (Sept. 2015). Source: Public Domain TV) November 30

    Since 1976, private citizens have been barred from introducing private lawsuits against foreign nations under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA). This law has been the basis for United States’ domestic legal engagement with other countries for decades, and has undergone significant revisions since its inception. Actions taken by the legislative branch over the past few decades have drastically changed the original FSIA and introduced new challenges regarding implementation and potential ramifications against the United States in legal systems abroad. This article explores how a recent amendment to the FSIA known as the Justice Against Sponsors of Terror Act (JASTA), as well as prior revisions, represent a significant reduction in the sovereign immunity laid out in FSIA, as well as a public policy and diplomatic challenge for the United States moving forward.

  • (Image: Narendra Modi. Source: Aadhar News) November 30

    First proposed in 2009, India’s Aadhaar biometric ID system represents a complete overhaul of India’s approach to identification. The Aadhaar ID links your fingerprint and iris to everything from tax filings to bank accounts. Despite criticism relating to privacy concerns, proponents argue that Aadhaar has the potential to propel the Indian economy towards business transparency and fraud reduction.

  • (Image: Cannabis Cash, Source: North Bay Business Journal) November 20

    Over the span of recent decades, the federal legalization of marijuana has been a popular topic of discussion within the political arena. One aspect less frequently introduced is the financial impact legalization has within the banking sector. At the moment, most cannabis companies are unable to take out federal loans or establish any form of credit, since marijuana is federally illegal and therefore federally regulated banks are unable to work directly with marijuana businesses. A few states have legalized the use and distribution, of cannabis, both recreationally and medicinally, but this legal standing is insufficient for distributors to access services provided by national banks. All of this has led to volatility within the marijuana business structure and a business model built in violation of banking standards.

  • (Image: The Shippingport Nuclear Power Plant in Shippingport, PA, the first commercial nuclear plant in the United States.... November 20
    In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his landmark “Atoms for Peace” speech at the United Nations General Assembly. There, he charted the pivotal role nuclear energy would play in ensuring a bright future for mankind: “The United States knows that peaceful power from atomic energy is no dream of the future. The capability, already proved, is here today.” Four years later, the International Atomic Energy Agency was born, and by 1970, the United States could produce 100 gigawatts of nuclear energy. Hopes were so high that the Atomic Energy Commission projected the United States would construct over 1000 nuclear plants by 2000. [1]
  • Germany explores energy efficiency. November 14

    As Chancellor Merkel was continuing to forge a coalition government following the September elections, Germans overall remained strongly supportive of the goal of Energiewende, or energy transition. An August 2017 poll found “95 percent of Germans support further expanding renewable energy” [1]. Still, in Germany and abroad, Energiewende faces criticism for not delivering enough greenhouse gas emission reductions for the given level of investments [2].

  • A Cancer Information Service (CIS) staffer answers the phone and provides assistance to a caller. November 10

    President Trump’s “America First” plan places significant focus on the creation of job opportunities for the millions of currently unemployed Americans. The expansion of Apprenticeship programs, having received bipartisan support, is one strategy being used to meet this goal. Senators Tim Scott and Cory Booker introduced the “Leveraging and Energizing America’s Apprenticeship Programs Act”, or LEAP act, this February, providing tax credits to companies per apprentice hired [1]. In the summer, President Trump affirmed his commitment to create 5 million new apprenticeships by 2022. [2] He signed an executive order this past June doubling the money for apprenticeship grants to $200 million while cutting the Department of Labor’s (DOL) main job training vehicle, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), by 36%. [3]

PENN WHARTON PPI
RESOURCE SPOTLIGHT:

  • <h3>The Penn World Table</h3><p> The Penn World Table provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 189 countries/territories for some or all of the years 1950-2010.</p><p><a href="https://pwt.sas.upenn.edu/php_site/pwt71/pwt71_form.php" target="_blank">Quick link.</a> </p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>USDA Nutrition Assistance Data</h3><p><img width="180" height="124" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image485 lw_align_right" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1233" data-max-h="850"/>Data and research regarding the following <strong>USDA Nutrition Assistance</strong> programs are available through this site:</p><ul><li>Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) </li><li>Food Distribution Programs </li><li>School Meals </li><li>Women, Infants and Children </li></ul><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics" target="_blank">http://www.fns.usda.gov/data-and-statistics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>MapStats</h3><p> A feature of FedStats, MapStats allows users to search for <strong>state, county, city, congressional district, or Federal judicial district data</strong> (demographic, economic, and geographic).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/" target="_blank">http://www.fedstats.gov/mapstats/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED®)</h3><p><strong><img width="180" height="79" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/79/481_fred-logo.rev.1407788243.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image481 lw_align_right" data-max-w="222" data-max-h="97"/>An online database consisting of more than 72,000 economic data time series from 54 national, international, public, and private sources.</strong> FRED®, created and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, goes far beyond simply providing data: It combines data with a powerful mix of tools that help the user understand, interact with, display, and disseminate the data.</p><p> Quick link to data page: <a href="http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series" target="_blank">http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/tags/series</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Internal Revenue Service: Tax Statistics</h3><p><img width="155" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image486 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg 2x" data-max-w="463" data-max-h="596"/>Find statistics on business tax, individual tax, charitable and exempt organizations, IRS operations and budget, and income (SOI), as well as statistics by form, products, publications, papers, and other IRS data.</p><p> Quick link to <strong>Tax Statistics, where you will find a wide range of tables, articles, and data</strong> that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system: <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2" target="_blank">http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Stats-2</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The World Bank Data (U.S.)</h3><p><img width="130" height="118" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image484 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1406" data-max-h="1275"/>The <strong>World Bank</strong> provides World Development Indicators, Surveys, and data on Finances and Climate Change.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states" target="_blank">http://data.worldbank.org/country/united-states</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Congressional Budget Office</h3><p><img width="180" height="180" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/180/380_cbo-logo.rev.1406822035.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image380 lw_align_right" data-max-w="180" data-max-h="180"/>Since its founding in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.</p><p> The agency is strictly nonpartisan and conducts objective, impartial analysis, which is evident in each of the dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates that its economists and policy analysts produce each year. CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate discloses the agency’s assumptions and methodologies. <strong>CBO provides budgetary and economic information in a variety of ways and at various points in the legislative process.</strong> Products include baseline budget projections and economic forecasts, analysis of the President’s budget, cost estimates, analysis of federal mandates, working papers, and more.</p><p> Quick link to Products page: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/about/our-products</a></p><p> Quick link to Topics: <a href="http://www.cbo.gov/topics" target="_blank">http://www.cbo.gov/topics</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Aviation Administration: Accident & Incident Data</h3><p><img width="100" height="100" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image80 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 3x" data-max-w="550" data-max-h="550"/>The NTSB issues an accident report following each investigation. These reports are available online for reports issued since 1996, with older reports coming online soon. The reports listing is sortable by the event date, report date, city, and state.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/" target="_blank">http://www.faa.gov/data_research/accident_incident/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>HUD State of the Cities Data Systems</h3><p><strong><img width="200" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image482 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 3x" data-max-w="612" data-max-h="613"/>The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs.</strong> It is a portal for non-national data made available through a number of outside institutions (e.g. Census, BLS, FBI and others).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html" target="_blank">http://www.huduser.org/portal/datasets/socds.html</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Center for Education Statistics</h3><p><strong><img width="400" height="80" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/400/height/80/479_nces.rev.1407787656.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image479 lw_align_right" data-max-w="400" data-max-h="80"/>The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.</strong> NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES has an extensive Statistical Standards Program that consults and advises on methodological and statistical aspects involved in the design, collection, and analysis of data collections in the Center. To learn more about the NCES, <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/about/" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p><p> Quick link to NCES Data Tools: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/datatools/index.asp?DataToolSectionID=4</a></p><p> Quick link to Quick Tables and Figures: <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/quicktables/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCES Fast Facts (Note: The primary purpose of the Fast Facts website is to provide users with concise information on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning.): <a href="http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/" target="_blank">http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/#</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Bureau of Economic Research (Public Use Data Archive)</h3><p><img width="180" height="43" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/43/478_nber.rev.1407530465.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image478 lw_align_right" data-max-w="329" data-max-h="79"/>Founded in 1920, the <strong>National Bureau of Economic Research</strong> is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.</p><p> Quick Link to <strong>Public Use Data Archive</strong>: <a href="http://www.nber.org/data/" target="_blank">http://www.nber.org/data/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>NOAA National Climatic Data Center</h3><p><img width="200" height="198" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image483 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 3x" data-max-w="954" data-max-h="945"/>NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation’s treasure of <strong>climate and historical weather data and information</strong>.</p><p> Quick link to home page: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/</a></p><p> Quick link to NCDC’s climate and weather datasets, products, and various web pages and resources: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/data-access/quick-links</a></p><p> Quick link to Text & Map Search: <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/" target="_blank">http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/</a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>