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"Things are definitely looking up here in Cambridge: here are the top ten reasons why."

-Ira A. Jackson

 

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May 2002 Director's Welcome

 
 

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American Economic Policy in the 1990s1 May 2002

Dear CBG faculty, fellows, staff and friends:

Okay, so the Bruins aren't going to win the Stanley Cup, but how about the Celtics and the Sox -- and our Super Bowl Champion Patriots!

Things are definitely looking up here in Cambridge: Derek Lowe just pitched a no-hitter at Fenway for the first time in 37 years, George Mitchell is our commencement speaker at KSG, and we're hot off the MIT Press with a timely and useful analysis of economic policy-making in the 1990s.

We at CBG have, along with so many others, been deeply engaged in trying to add perspective and prescription to a world desperately in need of sanity and wisdom. Ours is only a modest contribution, but I'm proud to report that on several fronts we seem to be picking up a head of steam and certainly trying to make a difference. Here are ten concrete examples:

1. Last week, we hosted UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as he delivered the annual Godkin Lecture in the Forum before an enthusiastic standing room only crowd that seemed to hang on his every word about the challenges of governance and opportunity in Africa. The Secretary's visit was made possible through the efforts of our own Prof. John Ruggie, who had been Kofi Annan's deputy and principal architect of the UN's innovative Global Compact.

2. Two weeks ago, a group of KSG and Harvard Business School students collaborated to bring together leaders from business, government and civil society for a highly informative Dialogue on Social Enterprise, which featured a number of CBG faculty and a keynote address on corporate citizenship by Orin Smith, the founder and CEO of Starbucks. Practitioners and academics alike focused on best-practice public-private partnerships and a variety of "double and triple bottom-line" companies that are attempting to do well for shareholders and do good for society.

3. This past weekend, a group of our Japanese and Korean students took the initiative to engage in a spirited, candid and constructive exploration of Korean-Japanese relations that featured some extremely frank discussion about a number of contentious issues. The dialogue then morphed into a competitive Korea v. Japan soccer match and concluded with a joint sushi supper -- as well as a commitment to keep in touch and continue the conversation through the Internet after graduation in June.

4. Tomorrow night, Prof. Rob Stavins convenes the first anniversary dinner of faculty fellows and doctoral students of the Environmental Economics Program at Harvard University (EEPHU), an umbrella for University-wide research, teaching and engagement on a range of cutting-edge environmental issues, ranging from the efficacy of the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory to global warming. EEPHU helps to galvanize and harness the intellectual energies of some 18 Harvard faculty who study the environment through the analytical lens of economics. One of Harvard's better-known economists -- Larry Summers -- will keynote our dinner discussion.

5. Speaking of presidents: one of CBG's fellows, Rob Waldron, was recently appointed the new President and CEO of Jumpstart, a promising young nonprofit institution recently dubbed by Worth Magazine as a top 100 charity. For the past eight years, Jumpstart has linked college students to preschool age Head Start children as tutors, mentors and role models. Rob was previously CEO of SCORE!, the second-largest after-school tutoring company in the U.S., and will now take his entrepreneurial savvy and success to this high-impact nonprofit initiative.

6. This weekend, the Kennedy School is conducting a workshop on terrorism and homeland defense that a number of CBG faculty will be addressing, including Elaine Kamarck, John Ruggie, Marsh Carter and Robert Lawrence. Many of us on Friday will also be playing the role of Governor Tom Ridge as we receive the policy analyses and action recommendations of MPP students completing their Spring Exercise on the same topic; the next day, the real Tom Ridge will be briefed by faculty and will address the terrorism conference.

7. CBG goes to Washington mid-month, hosting leading decision-makers and policy analysts as they explore the frontiers of knowledge and practice in the field of regulatory reform and market-like alternatives to traditional command-and-control government oversight of health, safety and the environment. Sponsored by CBG's Regulatory Policy Program, this meeting will feature a speech by John Graham, the director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the OMB and specific emphasis on the emerging field of performance-based regulation, which seeks to internalize within firms management measures that achieve desired public objectives through cost-effective approaches.

8. Prof. Jeff Frankel and Brookings Institutes' Senior Fellow Peter Orszag are out with a really wonderful book that captures the insights of some 100 participants and 14 major papers presented and debated at a CBG conference last summer on economic policy and performance during the 1990s. While it weighs in at 3 pounds, 6 ounces (and that's the soft-cover!) and is 1119 pages long, American Economic Policy in the 1990s is chock-a-block full of valuable analysis and timely perspective of what worked, what didn't, and why during this remarkable decade. I can't recall an intellectual project of this magnitude, importance and complexity being completed and coming to market as quickly or being any more relevant to decision-makers.

9. If anyone is looking to back a winner, here's an opportunity you won't want to miss: Patience Terry, a member of our CBG team for the past 15 years, will be making her 17th Walk for Hunger this spring, to help raise money for Project Bread. Over the years, Patience has trudged more than 300 miles and raised more than $26,500 in a wonderful display of caring and stamina. If you'd like to lighten her burden by pledging a dollar or more a mile, please make out your pledge to Project Bread and send it along to CBG, with Patience Terry's name at the bottom.

10. And if you're compelled to want to get more deeply involved, roll up your sleeves and help CBG make a difference by joining us in an annual Day of Community Service on May 17. This is an initiative that IOP Director David Pryor and I started last year, in conjunction with CityYear, a fabulously impressive nonprofit that was originally incubated here at CBG and that I had the privilege of giving corporate financial support to at a critical time back in the late 1980s. I encourage all of our friends -- faculty, fellows, staff and outside associates -- to join us as we get dirty, work hard, have some fun and give back.

So that's a quick top ten from CBG. In the interim: my very best wishes and genuine thanks for your participation, interest and involvement at CBG.

 Ira

Ira A. Jackson, Director

Center for Business and Government

 
 
 
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