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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.

  • Image: Household Unbanked Rates by State. Source: FDIC. June 2

    One out of every 13 households in the United States lives without a checking or saving account. The lack of access to traditional banking services makes millions of households turn to alternative financial services that charge exorbitant fees, leaving the unbanked and underbanked trapped in a cycle of poverty. Improved financial literacy among low-income consumers and the introduction of affordable products from private banks are necessary to increase banking participation and democratize access to basic banking services.

  • New York Stock Exchange May 26
    During the 2016 election and the following months, the Dodd-Frank Act received a lot of attention from Republicans and Democrats alike. While the parties disagree over the necessity of the Dodd-Frank Act, there is no doubt that it has strongly impacted the banking and financial services industry. As the act comes under fire from President Trump and Congressional Republicans, the main question now is whether this transformation is permanent, or as many current Republicans have promised, just a temporary blip in the history of banking regulations.
  • Leaders of Australia, New Zealand and a dozen Pacific Island Countries pose for a picture after reaching an agreement duri... May 17
    The Pacific Agreement for Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus revisits an original PACER agreement signed in 2001. This original PACER agreement existed as Australia and New Zealand’s response to the Pacific Island exclusive Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA), also signed in 2001, in an effort to include themselves in a free trade agreement with the region. Since April 20th of this year, Fiji and Papua New Guinea have refused to sign the finalized agreement, indicating that regional interests have not been equally represented.
  • Graduation ceremony May 9
    Graduation for the Class of 2017 is upon us and the staff at Penn Wharton PPI would like to take this opportunity to recognize the graduating seniors who have made significant contributions to the success of the Penn Wharton PPI Student Group.
  • April 28
    The advent of the Internet has led to the proliferation of technology startups in the United States, be it Uber, AirBnb or Snap. With buzzwords like “block chain”, “sharing economy”, “3D-printing”, “artificial intelligence”, “gene therapy” and more, it appears we live in an age of perpetual innovation and entrepreneurship. However, the pace of innovation in the United States, by some metrics, has stagnated over the last decade.
  • Source April 24
    Since the conclusion of World War II, the United States has maintained largely unquestioned global hegemony, in part due to the vast technological and organizational superiority of its armed forces. The specter of American military might has long cast a protective shadow over the United States and its allies, limiting the inclination of foreign governments and agents to provoke the ire of American weaponry. Military innovation, however, hasn’t been a chance occurrence; whenever potential foes develop advanced military capabilities, defense leaders have pursued “offset strategies” to foster innovation and secure U.S. superiority.
  • Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are tightening their grips on the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. April 21
    Undocumented immigration and the state of border control have always been politically relevant topics. However, given U.S. President Trump’s campaign focus on border security, the issue has garnered special national attention this past election cycle. The population of undocumented immigrants has risen steadily over recent years, remaining the same from 2009 to 2014 at 11.1 million and accounting for roughly 3.5% of the total US population. [1]
  • April 20
    Donald Trump has made no secret of his intentions to shake up American relations with the world. Verbal exchanges, including a tweet from the President’s first week in office that prompted Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to cancel their first meeting as heads of state, have brought the historically strong relationship to a tremendous low. [1] However, proposals from the Trump administration have officials from both states concerned about more than just words. Trump’s executive order for “the immediate construction of a physical wall on the southern border” and a proposed 20 percent tariff on all imports from Mexico will have serious effects on production and trade in North America.[2]
  • (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) April 19
    During his recent presidential campaign, Donald Trump showed support for what he calls “auditing the fed,” which shined a new spotlight on a contentious bill proposed in 2015 by Senator Rand Paul known as “Audit the Fed.” Now, with Trump in the White House and Republicans in control of the House and Senate, the bill and the question of the Fed’s independence have returned to the forefront of national discussion. Here we investigate the arguments supporting the Audit the Fed bill, the current state of the Fed’s independence, how the bill could affect that independence, and the resulting economic consequences.
  • April 18

     “The United States must treat cybersecurity as one of the most important national security challenges it faces.” This was the central finding of a 2008 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies Commission on Cybersecurity, prepared to inform the cybersecurity policy of the 44th presidency. [1] Almost a decade later, the integrity of public and private sector network infrastructure is even more crucial to national security.



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.