On The Record Spotlight

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Free Lunch: Slice your cake and grow it too

"...The discussion, between Greg Mankiw, Justin Wolfers, Heather Boushey and Melissa Kearney, demonstrated the deep and lasting influence Okun's work had on the US economics profession - interested readers can watch it or read the transcript..."

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Chinese drivers pay for roads. Why can’t Americans?

'...A new paper from the Hamilton Project lays out several ways in which we could facilitate user fees in the U.S. The federal government could, for example, establish a single national standard for electronic toll collection, perhaps through a smartphone application that would function much like an E-ZPass. The authors also suggest a set of national guidelines for congestion pricing, with variable user fees that depend on traffic flows and so reduce demand on infrastructure at peak times..."


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Student debt 101: dearth of data fuels common misperceptions

"...Some researchers argue students can shoulder even more debt because the financial returns on education are so vast. From this perspective, we do not have a borrowing crisis – we have a repayment crisis, as argued by researchers at the Brookings' Hamilton Project. To fix it, policymakers should make repayment programs that are more responsive to students’ incomes..."


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Quality, not just quantity, of infrastructure needs attention

"...The Hamilton Project, a think tank, notes that federal spending per 1,000 miles traveled per vehicle varies from $12 in Georgia to $98 in Alaska. A similar number of miles were driven in Tennessee and New Jersey, but Tennessee received 42% more federal funding..."


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How the minimum wage debate moved from capitol hill to city halls

"...But there's a case for setting city-specific minimum wages nationwide. In a 2014 paper for the Hamilton Project, a part of the left-leaning think tank the Brookings Institution, MIT professor Arindrajit Dube agreed with this idea, arguing that "one-size-fits-all" minimum wages hurt people in cities with higher costs of living. His idea is to set local and state minimum wages at half the state or local median wage. That could cut the number of Americans in poverty by 2.2 million, he wrote. It's an argument city council members and mayors nationwide clearly have considered, and they certainly aren't going to wait for the federal government to act..."

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Larry Summers: Economic growth is ‘not inspiring’

"Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Wednesday he expects the U.S. economy to expand at a quicker pace than in the first quarter, but there are still hurdles. Summers, also a former Obama administration economic advisor, predicted growth in the low to mid 2 percent range for 2015. "That's not inspiring performance," he said, "but that's hardly reversion to recession."

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Why the U.S. needs to listen to China

"The relationship between the United States and China involves cooperation and competition, but recently the latter has received more attention. Much of the mistrust between the two countries has its roots in geopolitical tensions—China’s assertive behavior in the East and South China Seas, for instance, or U.S. naval surveillance off China’s coasts. But economic tensions have played a large role as well..."


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Why the teen birth rate keeps dropping

"...He also credits several TV shows. MTV programs like 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom show that becoming a mother before you’re ready is anything but glamorous. One 2014 study by economists Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine, from the University of Maryland and Wellesley College, respectively, concluded that these shows led to an average 5.7 decline in teen births in the 18 months after their debuts..." 


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Marijuana and school failure

"...Further, daily use of marijuana by adolescents increased their risk of dropping out of high school by 66 percent, according to a recent Lancet analysis – and that dropout risk is even higher for the most socioeconomically disadvantaged, according to a report by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project..."


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China’s great academic leap forward

"China is either at or near the so-called Lewis turning point, where it is no longer hugely productive to shift workers from agriculture to manufacturing. Now, growth will need to come increasingly from so-called total factor productivity, which itself is driven by technology and innovation, as Cai Fang, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, argues..." 


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New NEPC review examines report on education and inequality

"...The Hamilton Project report discusses three commonly held propositions about education’s economic power: (a) education is the critical factor in creating economic prosperity; (b) college and advanced degrees increase the earning power of individuals; and (c) a broad base of increased educational attainment will narrow income inequality. It asserts that the first proposition is true and that the second proposition is accurate, especially at the middle-income-and-below range. The report finds the third proposition inaccurate, concluding that a significant increase in educational attainment is not likely to significantly decrease wage inequality..."


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An afternoon with Peter Orszag and Jim Nussle

"The discussion revolved around evidence-based and data-driven policymaking. The two panelists, Jim Nussle, President and CEO of the Credit Union National Association, and Peter Orszag, Vice Chairman of Citigroup, had just the right background to incite the stimulating discussion that the audience sought. Orszag and Nussle co-edited Moneyball for Government. Following the style of Michael Lewis' best-seller, Moneyball, they suggested ways on how governments can leverage big data analytics. "This is not a cook book, however," Nussle insisted, "it's more like a travel book"; it is a framework for thinking about how to do evidence-based and data driven budgeting and programming..."


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The new economics of having it all

"...Brookings organized a panel discussion to mark the occasion and I was interested to see that my reverence for the book was not universally shared. (The video is well worth watching.) Brookings' Melissa Kearney spoke eloquently on behalf of all admirers, saying what I would have wanted to say about the enduring centrality of the Okun's trade-off. Harvard's Greg Mankiw in the main agreed. But Brookings' Justin Wolfers and Heather Boushey of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth seem to see Okun's book as not much more than a historical curiosity. Trade-offs, they think, are so 20th century..."


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NewsConference: Steyer, A Democratic Mover and a Shaker

"California Democrats convene in Anaheim this weekend. Top names dems from the state and throughout nation get together to unite their voices. The man to watch here is Tom Steyer, Bay area billionaire and environmentalist. He has bankrolled many democratic campaigns and ballot measures. He talks with NBC4’s Conan Nolan about his recent campaign against the oil industry, his analysis of Hillary Clinton and Senator boxer’s seat."


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Reform-minded Ukraine merits debt reduction

"Ukraine, the international community and its creditors will soon have to reach a conclusion about how to handle the country’s debt. The case for debt reduction is as strong as any that I have encountered over the past quarter century. How the issue is resolved will say much about the extent of international commitment to Ukraine and to resisting Russian aggression. Failure to achieve debt reduction would also confirm the view of those who believe that private financial interests disproportionately influence public policy..."

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Lifelong learning is a key

"...In another example, this study and another from the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project found annual and lifetime earnings can vary widely within specific majors. Top students in any field can far exceed the average expected income of that field, and low performers can lag badly. The same wide variation can be found when graduates choose paths within a field, such as private industry over a less-lucrative government job..."


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Why higher gas taxes would have been best way to save fuel

"...The second article, on the Brookings Brief blog, is adapted from Senate testimony on energy efficiency given by Ted Gayer, director of the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution, a D.C.-based policy think tank..."


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Spectacular death in Michigan no bar to success in Washington

"...The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, in a ‘discussion paper’ entitled “Financing US Transportation Infrastructure in the 21st Century”, is promoting a close copy of Governor Snyder’s ratcheting gas tax. Others on the left want to boost the fuel tax by up to $ 0.15 per gallon, with various types of annual ratchets..."


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Would graduating more college students reduce wage inequality?

"After making these informal comments, Summers –together with Melissa Kearney and Brad Hershbein, both of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution– produced a more formal analysis of how much increasing the share of college-educated workers could aid in reducing inequality. Their more formal analysis concluded “Increasing educational attainment will not significantly change overall earnings inequality” but would “reduce inequality in the bottom half of the earnings distribution, largely by pulling up the earnings of those near the 25th percentile.”..."


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Two Ways to Limit Medicare Costs

Medicare costs are rising a bit faster than they have during the past few years.  But by reinforcing some the changes that are already occurring, we can nip this increase in the bud -- and two developments show the way.


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Structuring infrastructure

"...To help the United States accelerate repairs and upgrades to roads, bridges and transit systems, Altman along with Princeton economist Alan Krueger and Aaron Klein, from the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank, published a new policy paper this week. They push for a 10-fold increase in appropriations for a federal infrastructure program, to $10 billion, which would back $400 billion in additional loans. More liberal accounting assumptions also would help, the trio write in their paper. And they have some good ideas about how to restructure user fees to make them fairer and fatter..."

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Noted for your evening procrastination for May 12, 2015

"New Hamilton Project blog post, "Six Economic Facts About Transportation Infrastructure in the United States," listed as a "Must Read" by Brad DeLong..."


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The Left Coast rocks on job growth | Jon Talton

"Still, the Hamilton Project noted that the nation still faced a jobs gap of 3.9 million — job growth that was lost because of the Great Recession..."


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Timeline compromise emerges as policy expiration looms — Shuster’s donor connections raise questions

"...The secretary then heads to Brookings this afternoon to speak about infrastructure financing alongside former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. After that panel, Rep. John Delaney and Alan Krueger take the stage.."


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It’s Infrastructure Week: More potholes than tax dollars to fill them

"...The Obama administration's preferred approach for transportation funding would tax U.S. companies' overseas profits. But it hasn't gained much traction either. How about Build America Bonds? That's a proposal in a new paper from The Hamilton Project, which suggests the bonds could be a short-term solution to the nation's infrastructure funding needs. More likely, Congress will come up with another short-term fix, kicking the proverbial can down the road..."


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Policymakers, financiers agree on infrastructure crisis, but no on funding mechanisms

"...The two were among nearly a dozen transportation and finance experts who discussed the country’s infrastructure crisis at a forum sponsored by the think tank, The Hamilton Project within the Brookings Institution. The forum was held at Brookings headquarters.The forum was opened by a Hamilton Project founder, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who was co-chairman of the investment giant Goldman Sachs before joining the administration of President Clinton in 1993."

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Brookings recommends US gax tax hikes

"The Brookings Institution, a think tank, has recommended indexing federal gas taxes so that they respond to retail gasoline price changes, as part of a solution to the lack of funding for the Highway Trust Fund. Short-term funding for the HTF, which will run out this month, was agreed in July last year to avoid cutbacks in transportation projects, and to provide time for the new Congress to work on an alternative longer-term solution. However, to date, there has been no sign of such a solution being agreed..."

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Employment is up. Why aren’t wages?

"...The [Hamilton Project at] Brookings Institution reports that median earnings (the level in the middle of the wage distribution) of working men aged 30 to 45 without a high school diploma, fell in inflation-adjusted terms by 20% between 1990 and 2013, to $25,500 from $31,900 (in 2013 dollars). For similarly uneducated women the decline was not as steep, but still a significant 12%..." 


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New jobs skyrocket in April while unemployment remains relatively unchanged

"...The Hamilton Project at Brookings still shows a 3.9 million job gap to bring employment to pre-recession levels of December 2007. The project reported that the economy needs to generate 249,000 jobs-per-month, a rate that will bring unemployment back to 2007 levels by January 2017..."


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As unemployment falls, Americans wait for paychecks to grow

"I think we're all expecting and really eager to see more pressure on wages," said Melissa Kearney director of Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project policy group. "There's still slack in the labor market."


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Brookings pitches gas tax ideas for infrastructure funding

"...Legislators (cough, Rep. Bill Shuster, cough) may be hating on raising the gas tax and using the proceeds to fund infrastructure and transportation, but The [Hamilton Project at] Brookings Institution sees value in the plan. Brookings proposed indexing the federal gas tax to inflation and linking it to changes in the price of oil as part of a larger report on funding infrastructure and transportation it plans to present next week. Under the Brookings proposal, the tax would rise when the price of gasoline falls — and vice versa — in order to limit the economic consequences of fluctuations in the after-tax retail price of gasoline..."


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Brookings pitches indexing gas tax to inflation

"In an infrastructure funding report released Thursday, the [Hamilton Project at] Brookings Institution proposes indexing the federal gas tax to inflation and linking it to changes in the price of oil. Pro’s Katy O'Donnell reports that, under the proposal, “the tax would rise when the price of gasoline falls — and vice versa — in order to limit the economic consequences of fluctuations in the after-tax retail price of gasoline. The authors suggest setting a floor and ceiling on the variations.”


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Report: Gas tax changes needed

"Washington should make changes to the gas tax and rely more on municipal bonds to help fill the gap in the Highway Trust Fund, the Brookings Institution says in a new paper...The think tank proposes linking the gas tax to gas prices, which it says would reduce price fluctuations at the pump. Under the plan, the gas tax would fall when gas prices rise, and then increase when prices are lower." 

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Paper proposes reviving BAB program reforming the Gas Tax

"The authors of a new paper from The Hamilton Project at Brookings propose four short-term and three long-term ways to address the need for infrastructure investment in the United States, including a revival of the Build America Bond program..."


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Raise the Gas Tax? Proposals for highway spending go outside the lines

"...A new report from the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project highlights falling spending on the country’s infrastructure and recommends a series of measures to improve roads, bridges, ports and other transportation nodes..."


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Subject choices drive grad earnings

“When people see a median, they think it’s destiny,” Mr Carnevale said. “It’s not. There are people above and people below.” Similarly, the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project found that lifetime earnings for economics majors at the 90th percentile are nearly triple those at the 10th, reflecting the range of destinations for such experts in government and the private sector. Some US states are trying to encourage students to pursue certain degree programs and steer clear of ones that may lead to lower-paying jobs or higher unemployment rates..."


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The State of the U.S. Job Market: Pre-May 2015 Jobs Release

"During the economic expansion of the 1990s, the economy added at least 250,000 jobs per month 47 times. During the current expansion—which has now lasted roughly half as long—we have seen only 13 months of job growth greater than 250,000, which includes abnormal hiring involved with conducting the decennial census. Meanwhile, at the average rate of job growth over the past three years, The Hamilton Project estimates that the United States may not reach its former level of employment, when factoring in new labor-force entrants, until as late as mid-2017."


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Retirement confidence is on the mend

"...Lack of education has become a big problem for many Americans. According to research from the Hamilton Project, the median, inflation-adjusted earnings of men without a high school degree fell by 20 percent between 1990 and 2013, and for women they fell by 12 percent. In contrast, both men and women with a bachelor's degree saw their earnings rise between 1990 and 2013, by 7 and 16 percent respectively..."


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This is no bubble, but get ready for a ‘correction,’ top investment banker warns

"No, we’re not living in an economic bubble. That’s what former Treasury Department official and investment banker Roger Altman told a venture capitalist conference Wednesday in San Francisco. However, Altman predicted there will be a “correction.”... “But I don’t think we’re going to see a repeat of the dotcom” bust, Altman said Wednesday at the annual meeting of the National Venture Capital Association. “That was a broad correction across the tech sector..."

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Congress’s Budget Game Gets Uglier

"The budget resolution before the Senate this week is either dishonest or deeply problematic. Consider, as just one example, the way it treats non-defense discretionary spending..."


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Lawrence H. Summer’s Keynote Remarks

The following are opening remarks written and prepared by Lawrence Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor of Harvard University for a Brookings even held on May 4, 2015: 40 Years Later—The Relevance of Okun’s “Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff. In Dr. Summers’ absence his remarks were read aloud by Ted Gayer, Vice President and Director of Economic Studies and Joseph A. Pechman Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution.


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Singapore wants kids to skip college: Good luck with that

"...Lifetime earnings for a typical U.S. bachelor’s degree holder is twice that of someone with a high-school diploma, according to a study by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project released in September. In Singapore, the median starting salary for graduates with a four-year electrical engineering degree was S$3,135 ($2,370) in 2013, compared with S$1,750 for those who studied the same subject at a technical institute, according to data from the Ministry of Manpower..."
 


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Beyond Silicon Valley

"Once again, California’s Silicon Valley is confirming its status as a mecca of high-tech entrepreneurship and wealth creation. But it is not a model for job creation and inclusive growth that policymakers and entrepreneurs elsewhere can emulate – at least not without making some fundamental adjustments. To be sure, what is happening in Silicon Valley today is nothing short of dazzling. Venture capital (VC) investment has reached near-record highs. Overnight millionaires – even billionaires – are proliferating. Twenty-something software coders are commanding six-figure salaries..."

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Maverick Democrat Alice Rivlin on Real Fiscal Reforms

"Few Washington economists have a more distinguished CV than Alice Rivlin. After serving as founding director of the Congressional Budget Office from 1975 to 1983, she later became White House budget chief and vice chair of the Federal Reserve under President Clinton. More recently, she was a member of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission and co-chair of a separate debt panel convened by the Bipartisan Policy Center..."


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One thing that is needlessly holding some students back from making more money

"More and more, researchers are finding the impact of college has been misconstrued. While the mass media narrative has trended away from the importance of a degree, studies are finding that a college education might be more useful now than at any time in recent memory. As I wrote last week, a study by The Hamilton Project has found that a college degree may be the best way for workers to combat the low-paying service jobs that are quickly overtaking the jobs market..."


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My statement on the new Congressional Budget Agreement

"The budget conference agreement, if adopted by Congress, will represent one of the most radical budget plans that lawmakers have adopted since they created the modern budget process in 1974. That's no exaggeration. If they follow this plan, lawmakers would eviscerate substantial parts of the federal government -- including parts that have previously enjoyed bipartisan support -- and they also would violate the clear intent of the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA)..."

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Wells Capital’s Paulsen: Economic policy should be focused on supply instead of demand

"Meanwhile, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has suggested for more than a year that the U.S. economy might be suffering from "secular stagnation" — a prolonged period of weakness marked by a surplus of savings over investment...But former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in his blog, recently took issue with Summers' view, offering a more positive take on the economy..."


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The John Bates Clark Medal goes to Roland Fryer

"On April 24th the American Economic Association (AEA) announced that it would award this year's John Bates Clark Medal to Roland Fryer (pictured) of Harvard University. The professional body for academic economists gives out the prize each year to the "American economist under the age of forty who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge". This year's prize was given to Mr Fryer, a 37-year-old, for his innovative work on economics, education and racial inequality..."


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CA drought impact more complex—Ag grains nearing crossroads

"...The Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project sheds light on users that takes some pressure off consumers as major users noting that per capita usage has declined since 2005 due to pricing incentives and mandatory water-saving toilets and showerheads.  Outdoor usage emerges as the largest user.  Even the so called clean energy doesn’t escape..."


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Why college matters more today than 20 years ago

"...It might be easy to believe these days that a college education simply isn't worth the time, or the money, but new research by The Hamilton Project — an initiative by The Brookings Institution that aims to "inject innovative and pragmatic policy options into the national debate" — paints a different picture..."

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Charted: More than ever, Americans need a college degree to get by

"...Men who don’t have a high school degree are earning 20% less than they were two decades ago, according to an analysis from the Hamilton Project, a group at the Brookings Institution, a Washington DC-based think tank focused on making economic growth more broadly based. (All the data in the report covers people in what are usually their prime earning years, 30-45.)..."


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American needs a new economic plan to stop leaving workers behind

"...So states Melissa S. Kearney in the New York Times. Kearney is the director of the Hamilton Project at the centrist think tank Brookings Institution. She is part of a team studying the changes in the labor market for less educated workers. The results of the study are quite dramatic... For example, from 1990 to 2013, the median earnings of working men aged 30 to 45 without a high school diploma fell 20%..."


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The 401(k) millionaire: When is it realistic?

"...For wages, we'll use two projections of lifetime salary expectations, both expressed in today's dollars. The source is the Hamilton Project, a wing of the Brookings Institution. The first, more conservative projection is Hamilton's estimate of the year-by-year salary curve for the average college grad, assuming all majors. The second, more aggressive projection is Hamilton's estimate for economics grads--economics being a relatively lucrative major, although not the highest (trailing several engineering majors, for example)..."


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An outdated tax penalty for some married couples

"...But there is another story here: The tax system is much kinder to “traditional” couples–ones that have a sole breadwinner–than couples in which wives and husbands share responsibility for bringing home the bacon...As economist Melissa Kearney–a Brookings Institution colleague of mine–put it: “the tax and transfer system has an inherent secondary-earner penalty.”..."

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Happy days are not here for all boomtowners

"...New research from the Hamilton Project shows that workers with high-school diplomas or less are doing particularly badly. Working men aged 30 to 45 have seen their median earnings adjusted for inflation decline 20 percent from 1990 to 2013. Median earnings fall 13 percent for men with some college..."


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The fight against 15

"...One scholar who has been particularly thoughtful as to why this matters is Dube himself, who has argued against a one-size-fits-all approach to the minimum wage. In a paper for the Hamilton Project, Dube observed that “states as dissimilar as Massachusetts and Mississippi have different capacities to absorb a minimum wage of, say, $11.00 per hour, and a single minimum wage has to balance the needs of states at both ends of the spectrum.”..."


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Why lack of education is crushing workers

“Perhaps the single most shocking number in a new review of employment and earnings data by researchers at the Hamilton Project, a research group within the Brookings Institution, is this one: The median earnings of working men aged 30 to 45 without a high school diploma fell 20 percent from 1990 to 2013 when adjusted for inflation. A group of people not earning much to begin with, in other words, has seen earnings plummet to $25,500 in 2013 from $31,900 in 1990 (both numbers are in 2013 dollars).


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Happy days are not here for all boomtowners

"...New research from the Hamilton Project shows that workers with high-school diplomas or less are doing particularly badly. Working men aged 30 to 45 have seen their median earnings adjusted for inflation decline 20 percent from 1990 to 2013. Median earnings fall 13 percent for men with some college..."


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Larry Summers on why government matters

"Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers gives a candid conversation about why we aren’t funding science the way we need to, what’s wrong with our education system, and how the tech landscape has changed for women since those controversial comments ten years ago."


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The long-term unemployment trap

"...Washington politics may suffer from terrible gridlock, but politicians from both the right and left support an interesting idea of offering relocation subsidies to the long-term unemployed to help them move from one area of high unemployment to a place with a better job market. A 2010 paper from the Hamilton Project at Brookings estimates that relocation subsidies would cost the federal government less than $1 billion a year and would result in as many as 62,000 matches between workers and new jobs..."


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Earnings have fallen for workers with little education

"Perhaps the single most shocking number in a new review of employment and earnings data by researchers at the Hamilton Project, a research group within the Brookings Institution, is this one: The median earnings of prime-aged working men (25 to 54) without a high school diploma fell 20 percent from 1990 to 2013 when adjusted for inflation...The difficulties of American workers, and especially those with low levels of education, have been well documented. What makes the latest analysis, by Melissa S. Kearney, Brad Hershbein and Elisa Jácome, interesting is in some ways its simplicity..."


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Has globalization trend already peaked?

"I would bet on globalization slowly being in abeyance,” tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel said in a video interview with George Mason University economist Tyler Cowen. “I think with the benefit of hindsight, we will realize that 2007 was not just the peak year of the finance boom, but also the peak year of globalization, like maybe 1913.”

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Ten serious flaws in the House and Senate budget plans

"The House and Senate are resolving the differences between the budget plans they adopted in March. Despite some differences, the plans are largely aligned and have in common a number of serious flaws that likely will also apply to the final agreement between the two chambers..."


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Men without college degrees doing worse than in 1990

"...The share of men with only high school degrees aged 30-45 working full-time year-round fell from 76 percent in 1990 to 68 percent in 2013, the Hamilton Project found in a report published Monday afternoon...The Hamilton Project, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, also found that the median earnings for men without a college diploma dropped by more than 13 percent over the same time, from $47,100 to $40,700, adjusted for inflation..."

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Euro zone braces for possible Greek default

"Roger Altman, Evercore Partners chairman, shares his thoughts on whether Greece and the euro zone will be able to reach a last minute deal on restructuring its debt."


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U.S. economy isn’t growing fast enough

"...Larry Summers, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton, had a similar take...He warned that America's economy is entering a period of stagnation -- he dubs it "secular stagnation" -- where it won't be able to achieve its full growth potential because everyone is saving too much and not spending..."

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The worst mistake is to ignore secular stagnation

"...The persistence of this phenomenon has been called “secular stagnation” by Lawrence Summers, a former US Treasury Secretary, using the term to describe “a chronic excess of savings over investment”. This imbalance drives down interest rates, and leaves demand in the economy stuck below a healthy level and resources sitting idle..."

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Larry Summers on how to stimulate investment in a slow-growth world

"There's a substantial need more investment throughout the world and influential economist Larry Summers says some of it may have to come from public investment..."


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A smarter way to pay doctors

"In a welcome break from political stasis, Congress may be on the verge of passing important bipartisan legislation to fix the way Medicare pays doctors. A bill before the Senate this week, which the president is willing to sign, would shift toward paying based on how well doctors care for their patients, rather than on how much care they provide. The fix isn't perfect, but it's far better than most of us expected from a polarized Congress..." 


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The high cost of fighting for $15

“If somebody was already making $7.50, and minimum wage goes to $7.50, they’ll have some expectation of a raise as well,” Flis said. “And I have to maintain my workforce.”... The [Hamilton Project at the] Brookings Institute calls this the ripple effect. The pay increase at the bottom ripples all the way up the pay scale..."

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Contractor burden: A license to kill…mold?

"...In the 1950s, only about 5 percent of American occupations required a license; today it is about 30 percent, according to the Brookings Institution. Economist Morris Kleiner, in a Brookings paper released in January, wrote that occupational licensing tends to “impose net costs on society with little improvement to service quality, health, and safety.” This license requirement fits that description..."


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College degree does little to resolve income inequality, study says

"A recent study published by the Hamilton Project, an economic research project, found that while education can propel Americans from the lower class to the middle class, there is little evidence education reduces the gap between the middle class and the wealthiest citizens, reported Education News..."

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States ignoring Mitch McConnell, working on clean power plan: EPA

"...EPIC director Michael Greenstone emphasized the international importance of the Clean Power Plan...“I think the impact of the Clean Power Plan can’t be overstated,” said Greenstone, a former Obama economic advisor who also serves as the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago..."

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Education isn’t the solution to income inequality

"...[Lawrence] Summers, along with fellow economists Brad Hershbein and Melissa Kearney, conducted an experiment to see what might happen if 10% of men between the ages of 25 and 64 who hadn’t been to college suddenly had a degree. They concluded that having a degree meant greater earnings potential and higher incomes for individuals. Median earnings would jump by more than $3,000 per year, according to their calculations, which were published on the Brookings Institution [Hamilton Project] blog..."

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A guide to California’s water crisis – and why it’s so hard to fix

A chart from Tha Hamilton Project's list of facts on water policy in the United States was used in this article.


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Summers to Fed: Pre-emptive inflation war is dangerous

"While the Federal Reserve contemplates increasing interest rates, former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said Thursday that policymakers should be more concerned about acting too early than acting too late..."


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Water in California: A breakdown of the 80 percent that goes to agriculture

"...A nice neat [Hamilton Project] graph puts the use in perspective, especially in the context of Governor Jerry Brown’s recent executive order that requires cities to cut water use by 25 percent...Oddly enough, that order does not include agriculture—which accounts for 80 percent of the water used in the state..." 


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Labor force participation at a 36-year low, and other bad news from the March jobs report

"...Job creation was far below expectations. The economy added 126,000 new positions, far below the 245,000 that economists predicted. This was less than half of February’s growth. (By way of context, the Hamilton Project estimates that if the U.S. added 208,000 jobs per month it would take until 2020 to return to full employment.) The BLS has also adjusted its growth estimates down for January and February, putting the recent quarter at an average growth of 197,000 jobs per month..."


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Editorial: Poverty, despair driving unwed pregnancy?

"...Dr. Melissa Kearney of the University of Maryland and Dr. Phillip Levine of Wellesley College write that income inequality is the biggest factor determining whether U.S. teens will become single mothers...In regions with severe income gaps, girls in the underclass are much more vulnerable, they said. Further, geographic patterns occur: “A teen in Mississippi is four times more likely to give birth than a teen in New Hampshire.”..."

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Time US leadership woke up to new economic era

"...This past month may be remembered as the moment the United States lost its role as the underwriter of the global economic system. True, there have been any number of periods of frustration for the US before, and times when American behaviour was hardly multilateralist, such as the 1971 Nixon shock, ending the convertibility of the dollar into gold. But I can think of no event since Bretton Woods comparable to the combination of China’s effort to establish a major new institution and the failure of the US to persuade dozens of its traditional allies, starting with Britain, to stay out of it..."

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U.S. economy gained 126,000 jobs in March, an abrupt slowdown in hiring

"...The Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution, calculated that the nation still faces what it calls a “jobs gap” of four million, the number of additional jobs needed to reach prerecession employment levels..."


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The value of a college degree, or lack thereof

"...Looking at the value of a college degree overall (not restricted to software engineering), Brad Hershbein, Melissa S. Kearney, and Lawrence H. Summers at Brookings have conducted empirical simulations of what would happen if one in ten men aged 25 to 64 instantly obtained a bachelor’s degree..."


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Why you can’t solve income inequality by sending people to college

"..."I am all for improving education," Summers told Wonkblog earlier this month. "But to suggest that improving education is the solution to inequality is, I think, an evasion."...Summers and his collaborators, the Upjohn Institute's Brad Hershbein and Melissa S. Kearney of the University of Maryland, calculated what would happen if they could wave their magic wands and give a college education to about 6.8 million American men who don't already have one. Relatively speaking, that's an enormous increase -- about the same proportion as the increase in the overall share of the population with a college degree since 1979..."

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Summers’ inequality simulation surprises

"...Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers released an analysis Tuesday that concludes that a college education helps address the gap... Summers co-authored an analysis published by the Hamilton Project, part of the center-left Brookings Institution. Summers simulated the effect that a college degree would have on a working-age man, with an eye toward showing what it’d do for earnings and earnings inequality..."

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New research shows education won’t fix inequality

"...But is education really the solution to inequality that it’s often presented as? A new paper from the Hamilton Project, co-authored by former Treasury Secretary and former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers, argues that the answer is no. Instead, the researchers assert, policymakers tend conflate two separate issues: helping lower-income Americans become more financially secure and decreasing inequality overall..."


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Why more education won’t fix economic inequality

"...Brad Hershbein, Melissa Kearney and Lawrence Summers offer a simple little simulation that shows the limits of education as an inequality-fighter. In short, more education would be great news for middle and lower-income Americans, increasing their pay and economic security. It just isn’t up to the task of meaningfully reducing inequality, which is being driven by the sharp upward movement of the very top of the income distribution..."


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More college degrees aren’t enough to wipe out inequality, paper says

"Better education would lift the earnings of men in the bottom half of the income scale but wouldn’t be enough to erase inequality between the rich and poor, according to a new paper...The study, by economists Brad Hershbein, Melissa Kearney and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, simulates the impact of a bachelor’s degree on the population of men 25 to 64 who don’t have one."

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Obama colleagues Summers and Furman talk economic growth

"Former University President Lawrence H. Summers and Jason L. Furman ‘92, the current chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, discussed domestic economic growth at a packed John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics Monday night...Both men, who previously worked together as economic advisers in the Obama Administration, touched on concerns surrounding tepid growth in the U.S. economy overall, in addition to issues like income inequality, healthcare costs, and stagnant growth for the middle class..."

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Education won’t solve inequality — U.S. economy close to stall speed — Bush backs Indiana law — Iran deadline day

"In a paper going out this morning as part of the Hamilton Project, Brad Hershbein, Melissa S. Kearney, and Lawrence H. Summers write: “Increasing the educational attainment of men without a college degree will increase their average earnings and their likelihood of being employed. … Increasing educational attainment will not significantly change overall earnings inequality..."


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Why More Bachelor’s Degrees Won’t Solve Inequality

"...What these analyses usually lack is a clear picture of what the world might look like if we successfully increased college graduation. But today, economists Larry Summers, Melissa Kearney, and Brad Hershbein have stepped up to offer an answer in a short paper for the Hamilton Project. The team finds that, yes, boosting bachelor's degree attainment would decrease inequality a bit, mostly by bringing lower-income workers a bit closer to the middle class..."


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Entitlement reform: Dead or alive?

"...In his recently released budget, Obama offered few new ideas for addressing long-term entitlement costs, a position that reflects the increasingly progressive tone coming from the White House in the president's final two years..."The combination of discretionary spending cuts, slower growth in health spending and tax rate increases has slowed the projected growth of debt, but not reversed it," Alice Rivlin, former budget director under President Clinton, told the Washington Examiner. "I would not advise the president to jump back on this issue right now."..."

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Alice M. Rivlin to receive the Economic Club of New York Award for leadership excellence

"Alice M. Rivlin, a senior fellow in the Economic Studies Department at the Brookings Institution; founding Director of the Congressional Budget Office and former Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve System has been elected by the Economic Club of New York to receive its third Award for Leadership Excellence. Ms. Rivlin will receive the award and speak at a luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria in New York on Tuesday, April 21, 2015..."


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Why the TPP is a game changer

"...And the pamphlet’s populist message was the antithesis of the position Obama championed during a 2006 speech delivered to members of the Hamilton Project:
"I think that if you polled many of the people in this room, most of us are strong free traders and most of us believe in markets. Bob and I have had a running debate now for about a year about how do we, in fact, deal with the losers in a globalized economy..."

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Panel discussion: The impacts of climate change on water resources

"The Hamilton Project at Brookings and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment hosted the forum, New Directions for U.S. Water Policy, in October of last year, which focused on the release of three new papers and featured panels discussing water markets, innovation, and climate change..."


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Grading the economy’s recovery

"Former WH budget director Peter Orszag explains says the focus on transparency and the Federal Reserve is misplaced. Orszag also says the economy "could be doing better."


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Despite anti-fraud rhetoric, Republican budgets omit funding to combat fraud and abuse

"The budgets that the House and Senate will consider this week leave out the funding that the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) specifically allows for “program integrity” activities to fight fraud and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid, and disability programs, despite the fact that these activities have a proven track record of saving money.  This action stands in contrast to Republican claims that their budgets will make government spending more “efficient and effective.”


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Maine’s minimum wage looks a little worse when factoring in prices

"...Economist Arindrajit Dube, a leading proponent of local minimum wages, has argued in various forums against that concern. In a recent paper for the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, he advocated the approach Portland Mayor Michael Brennan tried in pushing for a municipal minimum wage hike. That method would set the minimum wage at about half the local median income..."


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It is actually illegal in Colorado to collect the rain that falls on your home

"...In a report for the [Hamilton Project at] Brookings Institution last October, he and co-authors Peter Culp and Gary Libecap suggest a menu of water contracts that farmers and cities could buy and sell.
“The perfect example is a dry year option, whereby a broccoli grower agrees not to grow broccoli in a dry season to let either a thirsty orchard producer or a city use the water,” Glennon said. The broccoli grower gets paid every year, wet or dry, for a steady stream of income. The orchard producer gets insurance that he’ll have enough water for his almond trees, even during a drought..."

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No voter consensus on debt-ceiling debate

"Almost half of U.S. registered voters said Congress should not increase the nation’s borrowing limit, according to a new Morning Consult poll. Twenty-four percent of respondents said lawmakers should pass a bill that would allow the federal government to borrow more money, while 27 percent have no opinion on the matter.
At the same time, a plurality – 40 percent – said an economic crisis would ensue if Capitol Hill failed to raise the country’s debt limit. That contrasts with the 30 percent who said no such catastrophe would ensue.
Alice Rivlin, former director of both the Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget, said in an interview this week that the out-of-sync responses are due to the issue’s complexity..."

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Finding the Right Price for Water

"A Brookings [Hamilton Project] report finds that the current drought is serious indeed, but not unprecedented. Serious droughts occur almost every decade, and the current one is within historical range. Though it doesn't help that the driest regions of the country are also experiencing rapid population growth...The drought's cost to agriculture has been estimated to be as high as $1.5 billion. According to a report by The Hamilton Project, agriculture accounts for over 80 percent of water consumption in the American West..."


Recently On the Record

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Free Lunch: Slice your cake and grow it too

Financial Times • May 21, 2015 • Martin Sandbu

"...The discussion, between Greg Mankiw, Justin Wolfers, Heather Boushey and Melissa Kearney, demonstrated the deep and lasting influence Okun's work had on the US economics profession - interested readers can watch it or read the transcript..."
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Chinese drivers pay for roads. Why can’t Americans?

Bloomberg View • May 21, 2015 • Peter Orszag

'...A new paper from the Hamilton Project lays out several ways in which we could facilitate user fees in the U.S. The federal government could, for example, establish a single national standard for electronic toll collection, perhaps through a smartphone application that would function much like an E-ZPass. The authors also suggest a set of national guidelines for congestion pricing, with variable user fees that depend on traffic flows and so reduce demand on infrastructure at peak times..."

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Student debt 101: dearth of data fuels common misperceptions

The Conversation • May 21, 2015 • Nick Hillman

"...Some researchers argue students can shoulder even more debt because the financial returns on education are so vast. From this perspective, we do not have a borrowing crisis – we have a repayment crisis, as argued by researchers at the Brookings' Hamilton Project. To fix it, policymakers should make repayment programs that are more responsive to students’ incomes..."

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Quality, not just quantity, of infrastructure needs attention

The Wall Street Journal • May 20, 2015 • Greg Ip

"...The Hamilton Project, a think tank, notes that federal spending per 1,000 miles traveled per vehicle varies from $12 in Georgia to $98 in Alaska. A similar number of miles were driven in Tennessee and New Jersey, but Tennessee received 42% more federal funding..."

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How the minimum wage debate moved from capitol hill to city halls

NPR • May 20, 2015 • Danielle Kurtzleben

"...But there's a case for setting city-specific minimum wages nationwide. In a 2014 paper for the Hamilton Project, a part of the left-leaning think tank the Brookings Institution, MIT professor Arindrajit Dube agreed with this idea, arguing that "one-size-fits-all" minimum wages hurt people in cities with higher costs of living. His idea is to set local and state minimum wages at half the state or local median wage. That could cut the number of Americans in poverty by 2.2 million, he wrote. It's an argument city council members and mayors nationwide clearly have considered, and they certainly aren't going to wait for the federal government to act..."

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