HKS in the News January 25, 2012

January 25, 2012


1. Economic uncertainty is no excuse for inaction (Summers)
Financial Times

2. Top Democrat Close To Proposing Clean-Energy Bill, An Obama Goal (Aldy) Dow Jones International News

3. Would a Casino in Foxborough Put Your Home's Value at Risk? (Rappaport Institute) Foxborough Patch

4. Biomedical research can learn from citizen science, which is grounded in strong relationships with study participants (Saha) The Scientist


Economic uncertainty is no excuse for inaction
Financial Times
January 23
Commentary by: Lawrence Summers
Topic: State of the economy

A similar commentary is published in The Washington Post

The year has started well for financial markets. Equities are generally up. European sovereigns have borrowed with an ease that has surprised many observers. Economic data, particularly in the US, have beaten expectations. So as President Barack Obama prepares to give his State of the Union address, and as policymakers and corporate chiefs come together in Davos, there is less alarm among the global community, though not yet a sense of relief. Indeed, anxiety about the future remains a major driver of economic performance.

The news coming from financial markets is paradoxical. On the one hand interest rates remain very low throughout the industrial world. While this is partially a result of very low expected inflation, the inflation-linked bond market suggests that remarkably low levels of real interest rates will prevail for a long time. In the US, the yield on 10-year indexed bonds has fluctuated around minus 15 basis points: on an inflation-adjusted basis investors are paying the government to store their money for 10 years! In Britain, inflation-linked yields are negative going out 30 years.

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Top Democrat Close To Proposing Clean-Energy Bill, An Obama Goal
Dow Jones International News
January 24
Quoted: Joseph Aldy
Topic: Clean-energy standard

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)--Congressional lawmakers have been slow to act on the clean-energy standard outlined by President Barack Obama in his 2011 State of the Union address, but a top Senate Democrat is close to introducing legislation that will force a transition to using clean power from solar, wind and other sources.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D., N.M.), chairman of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, plans to introduce a bill that codifies the president's goal of generating 80% of electricity from clean energy by 2035. The U.S. currently generates about 40% of electricity from clean sources.

... energy-producing states. But it could lay the groundwork for future negotiations in the House and Senate following the 2012 elections.

"There is a political opportunity here for a bipartisan deal," said Joseph Aldy, assistant professor at Harvard University and a former assistant to Obama on energy issues. A clean-energy standard could create "incentives for the private sector to continue deployment of these technologies ...

Link not available


Would a Casino in Foxborough Put Your Home's Value at Risk?
Foxborough Patch
January 24
Cited: Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston
Topic: The economic benefits of a proposed casino

Aside from a potential increase in local revenue, job creation and a larger business tax base, proponents of the Wynn-Kraft Foxborough casino venture are citing another positive: a potential increase to home values. According to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), a single-family home in Foxboro averages $416,000. This figure is based on selling prices of homes sold over the past six months….

One such study Farmelant highlighted was conducted in 2005 by the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Titled, "Betting on the Future: The Economic Impact of Legalized Gambling," the study analyzed whether legalized gambling in Massachusetts would be beneficial or harmful to a prospective casino community. Regarding home values in a casino community, the study found that casinos produced "a limited positive effect on some house prices....

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Biomedical research can learn from citizen science, which is grounded in strong relationships with study participants
The Scientist
January 24
Commentary by: Krishanu Saha, Program on Science, Technology and Society
Topic: Barriers to biomedical research data collection

Genomics research increasingly depends on access to large pools of individuals’ genetic and health data, but there is mounting dissatisfaction with governance approaches that erect barriers between donors and the biomedical research in which they are participating. Typically, participants have little or no opportunity to track how their data are being used, what discoveries result, and what the new knowledge might mean for them, even when findings are of life and death significance for the participant.

Some frustrated communities have built their own scientific enterprises outside of traditional research settings.  Disease advocacy organizations have established biobanks, for example, and firms like 23andMe and PatientsLikeMe have used crowdsourcing methods to build up repositories of genomic and health data, each attracting over 100,000 participants in just a few years. Often labeled “citizen science,” these projects offer a two-way connection between participants and research—participants contribute their data, while seeing how it is used in research, what findings it generates, and how that new knowledge might impact their own lives.

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In the HKS TV Studio

Marshall Ganz, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations
Fox News, 1/24
Topic: Community organizer Saul Alinsky

Jeffrey Frankel
Bloomberg News, 1/24
Topic: U.S. and global economy

Broadcast Notes

Trey Grayson, Institute of Politics

NECN “Broad Side,” 1/24
Topic: State of the Union address


This selection of media appearances is compiled by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs.

To submit an item please email bryan_galcik@harvard.edu.


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