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Wonk Tank

Wonk Tank is a student blog written by members of the PPI Student Group. Articles cover topics on a range of issues at the intersection of business, economics, and public policy. Check back regularly for new articles.

Wonk Tank Articles

  • Image: A U.S. Marine with a Marine special operations team walks through a field near a security ... October 27
    The longest war in United States history has dragged on for more than 17 years with no end in sight. As the Taliban only increases in strength in Afghanistan using funds from drug trafficking, U.S. counterterrorism and counternarcotics efforts in the region still undermine one another and remain unsuccessful. Even with a peak of 100,000 troops deployed in Afghanistan and upwards of 2 trillion dollars spent including some future cost obligations since 2001, one of the world’s greatest superpowers has been continually defeated by a small flower - the opium poppy.[1]
  • Image: High speed rail train June 4
    In their Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC, released in October of 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that time is running out to avoid a global climate disaster. Specifically, to avoid a net temperature increase of 2ºC, we have until the year 2030 to reach net zero global carbon emissions.[1] In 2017, President Trump announced that the US would pull out of the Paris Agreement, and since then, there has been no national policy in place to address climate change.
  • Image: China remains in the process of building regional hubs for innovation, attracti... May 12
    In 2018, Chinese firms secured more than $30.9 billion in venture capital funding, surpassing for the first time that received by their U.S. counterparts in the same year, by $3.7 billion.[1] The technology-led revolution that China has undergone has spurred major innovations in the sphere of mobile payments, Financial Technology (FinTech), and transport. Nine of the world’s one-hundred largest technology companies, home-grown giants such as Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu, have thrived on the global stage. Simultaneously, venture capital funds are beginning to search for opportunities that exist beyond the mature and competitive markets in North America and Europe, markets in which there exist many established incumbents and a lack of new entrants. China, with its 700 million internet users (more than twice the population of the United States) and strong tax and loan incentives from the central government, is looking to be a more attractive destination for venture capital firms. In addition, the “Made in China 2025” plan looks to increase investment even further in the Chinese technology sector. However, despite the upside, foreign investors are reluctant due to navigating a digital, economic, cultural, and political climate entirely different from the one they are familiar with.
  • Image: Payment processing. Source: Pxhere May 10

    If your friend owes you money for putting the dinner tab on his card, all it takes is a few clicks in the Venmo app and within minutes the money is in your account. It is one of the easiest ways to transfer money between people. Yet the backbone of Venmo and the entire American financial system—the main payment processing system the United States—still runs on the same schedule as when it was launched in 1974. This is the reason why when you get a paycheck on a Friday, the funds are not available until the following Monday or Tuesday. In October, the Federal Reserve put out a notice seeking comments on how the central bank could “support faster payments in the United States.” While this upgrade is still in its early stages, the Federal Reserve needs to make a massive change in how payments are processed in the United States. The Fed should correct some of the system’s regressive components and make the system quicker and more consumer-friendly.

  • Image: US troops in Syria. Source: Wikimedia Commons May 2
    For nearly eight years, civil war has been raging in Syria. Pro-democracy forces, Islamist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and Kurdish separatists form separate factions in the struggle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The United States military has also played an active role in the conflict, both engaging in firefights with and conducting air strikes against enemy targets.[1] However, on December 19th 2018, President Donald Trump claimed victory over ISIS and announced that a withdrawal of American ground troops was imminent.[2]

Editorial Teams


The Public Policy Initiative Student Group is housed under the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative (PPI). Penn Wharton PPI and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania do not provide any endorsement, either implied or explicit, in research or activities produced by the Public Policy Initiative Student Group or for the student blog Wonk Tank.