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Brazilian soccer jerseys with the number ten are displayed for sale at a beach in Natal, June 20, 2014. In a project called "On The Sidelines" Reuters photographers share pictures showing their own quirky and creative view of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.   REUTERS/Toru Hanai (BRAZIL - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP SOCIETY)
Brookings Now

10 things we learned at Brookings in April


April 2020 was another month in which Brookings experts produced a wealth of research and analysis about addressing the COVID-19 crisis, both in the U.S. and globally. But research on other topics continues. Below is a selection of new research across a range of topics.

1. The Federal Reserve’s response to the COVID-19 crisis

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell arrives to speak to reporters after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates in an emergency move designed to shield the world's largest economy from the impact of the coronavirus, in Washington, U.S., March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“The Federal Reserve has stepped in with a broad array of actions to limit the economic damage from the pandemic,” write Jeffrey Chang, Dave Skidmore, and David Wessel, “including up to $2.3 trillion in lending to support households, employers, financial markets, and state and local governments.” In this piece, the authors describe a host of policy tools the Fed is deploying to ensure credit flows and to “limit the permanent damage to the economy so that when the pandemic recedes, the economy can grow again, and supply goods and services to meet demand.”

2. China’s growing global technological reach

Staff work to produce auto parts with machines, which can help to save 2 minute and reduce production time to 30 seconds, at a factory in Suzhou city, east China's Jiangsu province, 25 November 2019.China has set up a $21 billion (£16.25 billion) national investment fund to promote the transformation and upgrading of the country's manufacturing industry, the official Shanghai Securities News reported on Wednesday. The fund will invest in both growth-stage and mature companies in areas such as new materials, next-generation information technology (IT) and power equipment, the newspaper said. The new fund will invest throughout the entire manufacturing industry value chain. fachaoshiNo Use China. No Use France.
A factory in Suzhou city, November 2019.

Tarun Chhabra, Rush Doshi, Ryan Hass, and Emilie Kimball write that “China has eclipsed, or is on the verge of eclipsing, the United States—particularly in the rapid deployment of certain technologies.” As the economies and influence of both China and the United States continue to rise, so “have many of its technological ambitions and achievements.” Their piece introduces a new set of papers from the Global China Initiative at Brookings that focus on China’s growing technological reach

3. Why we need reparations for Black Americans

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Rashawn Ray and Andre Perry argue that “if we want to close the racial wealth gap and live up to our moral creed to protect ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ a reparations package for Black Americans is in order.” The authors conclude “that it is time to pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved Blacks.” This paper is part of the Policy 2020 “Big Ideas” series.

4. How to give COVID-19’s essential workers hazard pay

(L-R): Courtney Meadows (photo by Mark Covey), Sabrina Hopps, Yvette Beatty, and Matt Milzman (photos by Molly Kinder)

Molly Kinder observes how “COVID-19 has laid bare the enormous gap between the value that frontline workers … bring to society and the low wages.” Kinder argues that it is an “outrage that so many workers are risking their lives while being denied the dignity of a family-sustaining wage.” Kinder argues that such workers deserve an income boost and a living wage with benefits.

5. The cost of school closures from COVID-19

Thiago covering his face during a live class online on Zoom as he continues his homeschool during the fifth week of his school closure due to the coronavirus pandemic at a temporary home in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico on April 15, 2020. Photographer Benedicte Desrus says, "With his school closed, my son is experiencing big changes to his routine. At such a young age, it's difficult for him to focus and sit behind a computer during a 40 minute long online class. He misses face-to-face teaching and his friends.” Thiago, 3-years-old, is the son of the photographer. He was documented as part of a project titled “When I grow up” about a child growing up on quarantine, away from other children and from the outside world, during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Bénédicte Desrus/Sipa USA)No Use UK. No Use Germany.
A child covers his face during a live Zoom class during the fifth week of his school closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, April 2020. Bénédicte Desrus/Sipa USA

192 countries worldwide have closed schools, affecting 90 percent of the world’s learners, according to UNESCO. George Psacharopoulos, Harry Patrinos, Victoria Collis, and Emiliana Vegas write that “When children lose out on education, they lose out on future opportunities including economic benefits, such as additional earnings, with far-reaching consequences,” but that these losses will not be evenly distributed. In this paper, the authors begin to estimate future earnings losses for students and their economies due to school closures.

6. COVID-19 and military readiness: Preparing for the long game

A U.S. Army National Guard soldier wears a protective face mask while directing vehicles to pick up food for delivery to residents in need, at the Kingsbridge Armory which is being used as a temporary food distribution center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Bronx borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar
A U.S. Army National Guard soldier directs vehicles to pick up food for delivery to residents in need at the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx borough of New York City, April 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Federal Executive Fellows and U.S. military officers Thomas Burke, Chesley Dycus,  Eric Reid, and Jessica Worst, and Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon, explain how “to date, it is reasonable to say that the U.S. military has not been severely affected by the novel coronavirus.” The availability of coronavirus testing may increase over time in which readiness concerns may intensify, they note. The authors conclude that military culture adapting “to adverse conditions, bodes well for the future U.S. military readiness.”

7. healthy skepticism WARRANTED ON AI and coronavirus

People queue before undergoing medical tests for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a laboratory in Moscow, Russia March 26, 2020. Alexander Avilov/Moscow News Agency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT.
People queue before undergoing medical tests for COVID-19 at a laboratory in Moscow, Russia, March 26, 2020. Alexander Avilov/Moscow News Agency/Handout via REUTERS

Can artificial intelligence (AI) help combat the spread of coronavirus? Alex Engler encourages a healthy skepticism, writing that “Like many tools, AI has a role to play, but its effect on the outbreak is probably small. While this may change in the future, technologies like data reporting, telemedicine, and conventional diagnostic tools are currently far more impactful than AI.”

8. Who lives where coronavirus is hitting hardest?

People walk along 53rd Street during the global outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
People walk along 53rd Street in Chicago, Illinois, April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Demographer William Frey observes that “U.S. urban cores, racial minorities (especially Black Americans), and those who cast votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 disproportionately comprise counties where COVID-19 cases are currently clustered—a stark contrast to areas where there is a low level of coronavirus exposure.”

9. Integrating gender into economic constraints analyses

A child sleeps on the back of her mother as she sells fruits to customers along the streets in the ancient city of Bhaktapur, near Nepal's capital Kathmandu September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar (NEPAL - Tags: SOCIETY)
A child sleeps on the back of her mother as she sells fruits to customers along the streets  of Bhaktapur, near Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Measures of gender inequality have improved over the last 50 years, but as Ana Revenga and Meagan Dooley observe, “despite this progress, some elements of gender inequality remain incredibly sticky, resistant to change,” including access to economic opportunity. These researchers argue that gender analysis must be integrated into the diagnostic and prioritization tools used by governments and development organizations. “Sometimes,” they note, “applying such a lens will suggest that gender inequality itself is a major constraint to economic development, while at other times, gender may emerge as an important but not first-order priority issue.”

10. Telecommuting will likely continue long after the pandemic

A passenger walks towards the Metro Train at Pershing Square during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot
A passenger walks toward the metro train at Pershing Square in Los Angeles, California, April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

Katherine Guyot and Isabel Sawhill note that about half of all American workers are now working from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic, a doubling from just a couple of years ago. A majority of these workers are higher-paid as well. Guyot and Sawhill add that “the pandemic is forcing these investments in industries where telework is possible, with more people learning how to use remote technology. As a result, we may see a more permanent shift toward telecommuting.”


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