Trump’s Tariffs: Industry Protection or Negotiation Tactic?

Trump’s Tariffs: Industry Protection or Negotiation Tactic?

Nearly a month ago, President Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports. Though the decision will not be made final until April, a 25% steel tariff and a 10% aluminum tariff were proposed, to be levied on all trading partners-no exceptions. The idea, the Commander in Chief claimed, was to promote American security interests and build up the steel and aluminum industry after “decades of unfair trade and bad policy." 

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Amazon as a Monopoly? Don’t Even Think About it.

Amazon as a Monopoly? Don’t Even Think About it.

Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods has made people question whether Amazon is a monopoly. Venturing into a $700 billion grocery-store business, Amazon has expanded its retailing business into a whole new territory. It already vends items like shoes, clothes, electronics, cleaning supplies and video streaming services. Jeff Bezos’s, its founder, net worth is almost a whopping sum of $100 billion. All of this clearly makes Amazon appear as an intimidator, a hegemonic firm dominating the retail market. However, conceptualizing Amazon as a monopoly is simply absurd because it ignores the basic premise of monopolies and consumer behavior.  

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The Future of U.S. Solar Manufacturing

The Future of U.S. Solar Manufacturing

The solar industry hangs in the balance heading into November as the International Trade Commission (ITC) prepares its final comments for the White House on the Suniva-SolarWorld Section 201 trade case. The president’s decision on whether to impose a tariff on imported solar panels and parts could have wide-ranging effects for solar companies, the energy sector, and the entire U.S. manufacturing industry.

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Tax Cuts and Growth: The Need for Precision

Tax Cuts and Growth: The Need for Precision

As the Trump administration pushes for new tax cuts, our nation re-enters the perennial debate over how to spur economic growth. As part of this debate, there seems to be a widely-held belief among Americans that economists doggedly pursue higher GDP growth without regard to actual human well-being and that they want to do so by blindly cutting taxes and regulations.

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Why Block Grants Fail America’s Neediest: Part II

Why Block Grants Fail America’s Neediest: Part II

The reason for the lack of widespread adoption of “true” TANF related programs (those accounting for all four tenants of the original 1996 bill) is a lack of repercussions. If a state chooses not to put TANF dollars into cash assistance, they can use that money in other areas, like pre-kindergarten or daycare. Every dollar not spent relieving poverty can be utilized for other programs that the state then does not have to pay for out of their own budget. The nebulous guidelines around program compliance, along with lack of any true repercussions means states have a clear incentive to use these federal funds to pad their budgets around a variety of programs they would have incurred regardless. The problem is not that the programs being funded are unworthy of funding, but that they are not the intended recipients of TANF spending.

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Why Block Grants Fail America’s Neediest: Part I

Why Block Grants Fail America’s Neediest: Part I

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a block grant program provided to the states by the federal government. Over the past two decades, TANF has evolved to become a highly individualized program across states. With little federal oversight, aside from required targets, states have generally moved away from utilizing TANF funds for their original purpose. TANF has become a state slush-fund, used differently across states based on their political, demographic, historical, and economic backgrounds with a disregard for the original purpose of the program.

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Asia Presses on with Free Trade, Without Trump

Asia Presses on with Free Trade, Without Trump

Throughout the 2016 election campaign, Donald Trump never missed an opportunity to rail against U.S. participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The proposed trade pact, the result of negotiations during the Obama administration between the United States and 11 other Pacific nations, was slammed by Trump and others for perceived weakening of U.S. regulatory standards and fears that it would accelerate the pace of decline of the American manufacturing sector. Indeed, gutting the TPP has become one of the few campaign promises the President seems to have been able to follow through on, with relatively minor, if any, pushback. The question remains, though, on what the American exit from TPP means for the Asia-Pacific region economically.

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The TPP and the Trade Lobby: Half a Loaf.

The TPP and the Trade Lobby: Half a Loaf.

During President Obama’s recent trip to Asia, he again signaled strong political support for the Trans Pacific Partnership and a desire to fight for domestic ratification in the U.S. Congress after the November elections. This likely sets the scene for the last major legislative battle of the Obama years, and its outcome may hinge on the lackluster support many of the purported benefactors of the pact have demonstrated.

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Trading at the Speed of Light

Trading at the Speed of Light

The stock market is no longer the stock market. Or, rather, the stock market is no longer what people imagine in their minds–traders in different colored jackets on the floors of the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, shouting out orders to one another. Neither is it even what they see on the ticker tape on the bottom of their CNBC screen. The stock market is now a signal of pure light, hurtling through fiber optic wires.

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Transitions to a Market Economy in the Soviet Union: Part 2

Transitions to a Market Economy in the Soviet Union: Part 2

Why do some countries in the region have substantially less corruption than others, and why have some countries, particularly the Baltics, been able to improve so dramatically since 2000? There are many factors driving these discrepancies, including historical, cultural, geographical, and political factors. In the interest of brevity, I will focus particularly on two of them: the length of time a country spent under Communism and the manner in which the Communist regime fell.

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Transitions to a Market Economy in the Soviet Union: Part 1

Transitions to a Market Economy in the Soviet Union: Part 1

Why did some countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have smoother transitions from a centrally planned to a market economy than others? This is a crucial question for policymakers in these states, as the region’s economic issues cannot be solved without a thorough understanding of what factors drive successful economic transitions. Based on research I carried out in the summer of 2014, I will explore a few of them here.

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Taking Away the Punch Bowl: What Happens to Silicon Valley When the Fed Raises the Interest Rate?

Taking Away the Punch Bowl: What Happens to Silicon Valley When the Fed Raises the Interest Rate?

Since December 16, 2008, the federal funds interest rate has been effectively zero—between 0 and 25 basis points (0.0-0.25%)—in response to the global recession caused by the subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent collapse of collateralized debt obligations issued by the largest banks. Seven years on, however, the noise surrounding whether the Fed should increase this rate, and what it effects will be, is deafening. The majority of this focus has targeted the impact on banks and depository institutions, government debt, and fixed-income accounts. But one of the less discussed areas that will surely be impacted, and which drives large portions of the economy, is Silicon Valley.

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A Brief History of Income Tax

A Brief History of Income Tax

In the heated atmosphere of elections, debt, wage gaps, and poverty it is easy to point at taxes as a cause or remedy to the United States’ dynamic state. Although taxes would appear to be a simple discussion of economics and cause and effect, it is one of the most divisive topics in politics. To understand why the discussion of taxes is framed this way, it is important to look at the history of income tax – the largest source of revenue for the United States government.

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Obesity: An Economic Problem

Obesity: An Economic Problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 and 2010 35.7% of U.S. adults were considered ‘obese’. Four years later, obesity remains a chief policy agenda item. Given the increasing coverage the obesity problem has received in the United States, this comes as no surprise. What is less evident, though, is the solution to the problem at hand.

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