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Brookings Now

10 things we learned at Brookings in April

The month of April brought another set of wide-ranging ideas from Brookings experts. Here is a sample.

1. The global economic recovery in both advanced and emerging market economies is real

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTX2Z06Y

Eswar Prasad and Karim Foda, in the latest TIGER Index that tracks the global economic recovery, discuss data that show that “after numerous fits and false starts, the recovery has become broad-based and stable, even if not vigorous.” Visit the TIGER Index for country-specific performance data as well as performance of key indicators across advanced and emerging markets.

2. The “internet of things” could be 11 percent of the global economy by 2025

Kiva robots move products at an Amazon Fulfillment Center on Cyber Monday in Tracy, California, U.S. November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger - RTSTQ1L

Jon Sallet reviews six economic issues to consider as the internet of things (IoT) matures, including effects on productivity, competition, ownership of big data, and more. “IoT is going to be important,” Sallet writes, “and the time has come to consider potential impacts of IoT on economic growth and competition.”

3. Only 25 percent of the population in Venezuela can maintain a regular diet

Opposition supporters holding a Venezuelan flag protest against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government during a rally in Caracas, Venezuela April 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins - RTX33OG1

Venezuela’s economy and democracy continue to erode as more of its citizens are unable to eat adequately, the poverty rate increases, and crime spreads. The Brookings Institution Working Group on Venezuela offers a set of policy options for the United States and key regional partners to consider in an “immediate and sustained dialogue.”

4. China has less water than Canada, but also has 40 times more people

People crowd around a water tanker to fill their buckets and pots in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad May 11, 2006. At least 27 people have died in India from scorching weather, officials said on Monday. REUTERS/Amit Dave - RTR1DA14

In her new report, Vanda Felbab-Brown examines water theft and water smuggling, and the policy failures that lead to illegal water markets worldwide. She characterizes water as a human right—though not unlimited—as opposed to a commodity. “The policing of water,” she argues, “needs to become a part of the menu of tools that communities and policymakers have to ensure an adequate, equitable, and sustainable use of water for people, agriculture, industries, and natural ecosystems.”

5. American middle class families’ spending on health care has increased 25% since 2007, which other spending has dropped


In a new report from the Center for Health Policy, authors Martin Gaynor, Farzad Mostashari, and Paul Ginsburg propose a “competition policy” for health care that would “maintain and enhance the competitiveness of health care markets, promote entry by new competitors and remove barriers to entry, and prevent anticompetitive practices.” Such reforms would control health care costs and improve the quality of care.

6. 75 percent of the American public supports U.S. foreign assistance programs

A U.S. Army Marines helicopter is loaded with goods from U.S.relief organization U.S. Aid to be deployed to survivors of the Super Typhoon Haiyan at Tacloban airport November 17, 2013. The Philippine and U.S. Air Forces are flying rice, clothes and drinking water into remote areas of the central Philippines, which are unreachable by vehicles. A massive relief effort is finally kicking into gear, nine days after one of the most powerful typhoons on record wreaked havoc across the impoverished area in the central Philippines with monster winds and a deadly storm surge of sea water. Philippine authorities and international aid agencies face a mounting humanitarian crisis, with the number of people displaced by the catastrophe estimated at 4 million, up from 900,000 late last week. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (PHILIPPINES - Tags: DISASTER ENVIRONMENT MILITARY) - RTX15GU3

George Ingram breaks down the myths of U.S. foreign assistance, including the widely held misperception that nearly a quarter of the federal budget is devoted to foreign aid. “If you have a hard time accepting foreign aid as an investment,” Ingram says, “think of it as insurance. Insurance that is cheaper than at some point having to put American troops in danger.

7. 40 percent of EITC-eligible taxpayers are whites without a college degree

A Ford Motor production worker assembles batteries for Ford electric and hybrid vehicles at the Ford Rawsonville Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti Twsp, Michigan November 7, 2012. Ford Motor Co marked on Thursday the production launch of its latest plug-in hybrid at a former SUV factory that now serves as a model for the second-largest U.S. automaker's global manufacturing strategy. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS) - RTR3A5AC

Cecile Murray and Elizabeth Kneebone examine the demographics of taxpayers eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and say that the EITC “should still have bipartisan appeal today because it reaches across the demographic divides that characterized the 2016 election, particularly those of race and education.”

8. Co-working spaces are the fastest-growing type in the U.S.

MTWTF designed cover photo of the Innovation spaces report: a modern, open office space is presented in a purple/yellow tintIn their new report, Julie Wagner and Dan Watch examine the different kinds of “innovation spaces,” which include co-working spaces, and say that “innovation spaces are the physical manifestations of economic, demographic and cultural forces.”

9. Two-thirds of student loan defaulters have less than $10,000 in debt

Cover image for eight economic facts on higher educationNew research from The Hamilton Project highlights eight economic facts about higher education, including the fact that the median college graduate earns twice as much over their lifetime as a high school-only graduate. “A population that is more highly educated,” the researchers write, “also confers wide-ranging benefits to the economy, such as lower rates of unemployment and higher wages even for workers without college degrees.”

10. Research supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science has led to 100+ Nobel Prizes

A general view of the DanTysk wind farm, 90 kilometres west of Esbjerg, Denmark, September 21, 2016. Picture taken September 21, 2016. To match EUROPE-OFFSHORE/WINDPOWER REUTERS/Nikolaj Skydsgaard - RTX2TXD5

Samantha Gross examines the potential budget cuts to basic research outlined in President Trump’s “skinny budget” released in March. She notes that the DOE’s Office of Science would take a $900 million cut. The private sector, she says, don’t undertake basic research “because it is too risky and the benefits from discoveries are too diffuse for a single company to recoup.”


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