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As stocks lurch, Fed ponders twist of the dial
Mark Thoma August 26, 2015

CBS's MoneyWatch is closely monitoring the interest rates set by the Fed and is eager to see what will happen at the September meeting of the Federal Reserve. TCF fellow Mark Thoma explains that if the rates are increased too soon, job market might remain below the full employment level for much longer than if rates remained low, but if raised too late, there is the fear of inflation.

"Yet with interest rates already as low as they can go, this mechanism is broken, and the consequence is a level of aggregate demand that is insufficient to support full employment. In such a situation, the last thing you want to do is raise interest rates and make the situation worse," says Thoma.

Read the rest of Thoma's interest rate predictions from CBS Moneywatch.

What Went Wrong: Republicans Keep Ignoring the Lessons of Iraq
Michael Cohen August 26, 2015

Recently, several Republican presidential candidates have blamed the actions of President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for Iraq's current instability. TCF fellow Michael Cohen says that these arguments refuse to recognize President George W. Bush's original decision to withdraw forces from Iraq—and that this policy option was overwhelmingly preferred by the American public. In the end, writes Cohen, Republicans are "missing the larger lessons of what went wrong in Iraq."

This is the clear lesson of the war in Iraq: Even with the best of intentions, even with overwhelming U.S. military force, even with billions of dollars in national treasure, the U.S. can only do so much to influence and shape international events. It’s hard to imagine anything that teaches that better than Iraq.

Check out Cohen's full piece in World Politics Review.

The Politics of Income Inequality
Mark Thoma August 25, 2015

The longtime quest to reduce income inequality is still a mystery to many politicians. The Republican ideal that hints at “you’re on your own no matter what bad luck comes your way” remains popular among the wealthy elite that don' believe they should share their income with their lower income counterparts. Despite what some believe to be the best designed fiscal policy, TCF fellow Mark Thoma says that the root of today's economic issues lies in inequality and lack of income redistribution. 

Economists must come up with a solution to the inequality problem. That doesn’t mean taking a position on whether a particular redistribution, education, or other policy to reduce inequality is good or bad. No matter what we do, there will be winners and losers, and economists can help to determine the most effective, least distortive means of accomplishing the goal of a more equal society, both in terms of opportunity and outcomes, without taking a position on which alternative to pursue.

Thoma's article can be read in the Fiscal Times.

The Charter School Movement Needs Greater Accountability
Amy Dean August 24, 2015

Charter schools enroll more than 2.5 million students across America, but many of these publicly funded schools lack accountability. TCF fellow Amy Dean highlights growing corruption and waste among these privately run schools—and the need for reform—in a new article:

If charter schools are to become a permanent and respected part of public education in America, their champions will need to clean up their sector and let the sunshine in.

Read Dean's discussion of the need for more accountability in America's charter schools in Al Jazeera America.

Concentrated poverty spikes in metro Detroit
Paul Jargowsky August 23, 2015

Niraj Warikoo of the Detroit Free Press uses the research from TCF's recent report Architecture of Segregation to describe the issues hitting the city of Detroit. With poverty at the extremely high rate of 40 to 60 percent in certain areas of Detroit, Warikoo says that it's critical that action be taken to curb this from worsening. He says that the trend of concentrated poverty is a major contributor to the civil unrest movements that have been springing up across the country, making it an even more severe issue as it raises civilian security concerns. The article quotes Jargowsky:

Jargowsky says that reducing concentrated poverty would require federal and state governments to control suburban development, and that new housing should reflect "the income distribution of the metropolitan area as a whole."

Read Warikoo's article on concentrated poverty in Detroit.

The Arab Spring Was a Revolution of the Hungry
Thanassis Cambanis August 23, 2015

Four years after the Egyptian revolution, Egypt has watched as its government has once again come under a dictator's rule. In a new article, TCF fellow Thanassis Cambanis discusses why much of the Arab world's upheaval can be attributed to the region's food insecurity.

The ruler who controls the main staples of life — bread and fuel — often controls everything else, too.

Read more on what Cambanis describes as the "revolution of the hungry" in the Boston Globe.

Milwaukee Metro Area Among Fastest Growing Areas of Concentrated Poverty
Paul Jargowsky August 20, 2015

WUWM public radio recently interviewed TCF fellow Paul Jargowsky about his report Architecture of Segregation, specifically in regard to the changing face of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The metropolitan area of Milwaukee has one of the fastest growing concentrations of Black and Latino people living in neighborhoods of poverty—nearly 45 percent of African Americans now living in high poverty neighborhoods compared to 39% in 2000.

Jargowsky attributes much of the change to so-called "white flight." "We still have an issue in this country with the way metropolitan areas are developing, in that we have suburban jurisdictions growing very fast," he says. "Faster than is needed to accommodate population growth; and they're also using zoning and other tactics to essentially create economically segregated jurisdictions.

Listen to the interview and read the rest of the article from WUWM's show Lake Effect.

Five Things Successful Turnaround Schools Have in Common
Greg Anrig August 18, 2015

The Obama administration's SIG program is in danger of being defunded by Congress. TCF senior fellow Greg Anrig discusses why the program should not be scrapped and outlines five key commonalities among the most successful turnaround SIG schools.

Because many critics maintain that transforming dysfunctional public schools in high-poverty, racially isolated settings simply can't be done, much greater attention should be paid to the success stories as guideposts for learning how to make them more common. After conducting a federal experiment as ambitious and unprecedented as the big funding increase for SIGs, zooming in on what worked is a much more productive response than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. That's especially true because among the SIG schools that showed the strongest results, there are many shared characteristics—characteristics that are also shared by non-SIG schools that show consistent improvement over time.

Read Anrig's full article at EdWeek.

Egypt: Back to the Future
Michael Wahid Hanna August 17, 2015

TCF senior fellow Michael Wahid Hanna's recent report citing Egypt's next stage of sustainable instability has been quoted in a new piece comparing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with Egypt's second president, Gamel Abdel Nasser:

On television, the uniformed Sisi consoled his troops and insisted that "things are totally stable". However, according to Michael Wahid Hanna of The Century Foundation in New York, the likeliest prospect for Egypt is several years of "sustainable instability".

Read the full article in the Africa Report.

Bernie Sanders Is Enjoying a Lift But Only a Fool Would Bet against Hillary Clinton
Michael Cohen August 16, 2015

Since entering into the spotlight surrounding the 2016 presidential race, Vermont Democratic senator Bernie Sanders has been drawing big crowds at his public appearances. Despite his popularity on the Left, however, TCF fellow Michael Cohen says that Sanders has little chance of securing the Democratic nomination.

In the end, there is, with only a few exceptions, a striking sense of unanimity among Democrats on a host of policy issues. And, in the face of growing Republican extremism, any differences that do exist are likely to be papered over in pursuit of the far larger – and important – liberal goal of keeping the White House in Democratic hands. Bernie Sanders may challenge Clinton on the campaign trail but, paradoxically, he’s more likely than not going to help her make it to the White House.

Read more from Cohen on Sanders's run at the Guardian.

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