10 things we learned at Brookings in March

NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Buffalo vs Kentucky.

It’s sometimes hard to keep from being distracted by college basketball and the storylines that come with it, but research, testimony, and events have kept Brookings experts busy in the month of March Madness. Check out this list of ten things we learned at Brookings in the previous month, and click on any of the links to view the full research.

1. No one wins in a trade war

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the White House East Room in Washington, U.S. March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

President Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports earlier this month in an effort, he said, to rectify the United States’ trade deficit and help the economy. His actions, according to Eswar Prasad, will probably not bring back lost jobs and may have a slight negative effect on the economy if America’s trading partners take actions to retaliate. An ensuing trade war could drive down consumer and business confidence and lead to less consumption and investment in the economy.

2. The United States will become “minority white” in 2045

2018.03.14_metro_diversity young people

According demographer and Brookings expert William Frey, new Census data project the nation will become “minority white” in 2045. This shift, Frey explains, is the result of population growth continuing in racial minority populations between 2018 and 2060, and the aging white population experiencing only a modest immediate gain through 2023 followed by a long-term decline through 2060.

3. President Trump’s staff turnover rates are high (and we have a tool to track them)

U.S. President Donald Trump announces that the United States will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum during a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RC1A0674C740

In a series of new interactives, Brookings experts are tracking the turnover rates of President Trump’s cabinet secretaries and the “A Team” (senior-ranking advisers in the executive office of the president). The interactives provide information on each staffers’ previous position, their successor, and the nature of their departure. They also allow readers to compare turnover in President Trump’s White House to prior administrations.

4. Tillerson’s trip to Africa was welcome, but had few clear objectives or deliverables

Faki and Tillerson hold a news conference at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Former-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Africa earlier in the month marked the first time he, the president, or the vice president had been to the region since taking office, according to Brahima Sangafowa Coulibaly, director of the Africa Growth Initiative. Before the trip, Coulibaly noted that Tillerson’s main deliverables were unclear, but the countries he would visit—Kenya, Ethiopia, and Nigeria—reinforced the perception that the Trump administration mainly views Africa through a security lens.

5. You are more likely to be incarcerated if you grew up in poverty

A guard opens the handcuffs of an inmate.In a new report on the economic characteristics of America’s incarcerated population, Senior Fellow Adam Looney and Nicholas Turner find “boys who grew up in families in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution were 20 times more likely to be in prison on a given day in their early 30s than children born in top ten percent of families.” Their study also reveals that the poorer your parents are, the more likely you are to be incarcerated.

6. US-Russia relations are on a “downward spiral”

Pictures of the Year: U.S. PoliticsOn an episode of the 5 on 45 podcast, Alina Polyakova explains why the U.S. expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and the closing of the Russian consulate in Seattle, in response to Russia’s nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom, was the largest diplomatic expulsion in U.S.-Russia history. Polyakova also describes Washington’s actions as “as a strong sign of solidarity with the United Kingdom” and closely coordinated with other allies.

7. Spotlight Latin America created a starting point for dialogue on the region’s top issues

Flags of the countries of the Americas are seen at the entrance of the Centro de Convenciones in Cartagena

The Brookings Global-CERES Economic and Social Policy in Latin America Initiative (ESPLA) launched 11 new reports on the key issues for Latin America in 2018 and beyond. The reports are authored by both Brookings scholars and other regional experts, and cover the troubled shape of pension systems, fiscal deficits, educational reforms, NAFTA’s investment rules, police behavior, and more.

8. How Uruguay can maximize its non-medical cannabis laws

People queue in line outside of a pharmacy to buy legal marijuana in MontevideoIn a new report, Governance Studies Senior Fellow John Hudak, Geoff Ramsey, and John Walsh analyze how Uruguay—the world’s first country to legalize and regulate non-medical cannabis—passed its cannabis legislation in 2013, what progress they have made thus far, and what policies the country should consider to maximize the law’s potential benefits.

9. Growth, prosperity, and inclusion are positively related

2018.03.19_Related Image_Economic inclusion Chad Shearer

Citing research from the latest Brookings Metro Monitor, which found that few large metro areas have achieved consistent progress across prosperity, growth, and inclusion, Chad Shearer and Isha Shah sought to find out whether those three measures are actually related. Plotting progress on growth, prosperity, and inclusion for each of America’s 100 largest metro areas, their study reveals better performance on one measure is in fact associated with better performance on the other two measures.

10. What policies could strengthen economic progress for all American workers?

Demonstrators in the "Fight for $15" wage protest are joined by social justice activists at a rally in downtown San Diego, California

In a recent episode of the Intersections podcast, Jared Bernstein and Jay Shambaugh discussed the reasons American’s real-wages have stagnated. In the conversation, Bernstein and Shambaugh focused on policy solutions for increasing productivity, strengthening wage growth, and ensuring national economic growth is reflected in the living standards of all American workers.