In the monthly update below, you will find news about Tobin Project activities, highlights of recent research from scholars in the network, and summaries of new work from across the social sciences that relates to Tobin Project research initiatives.
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Government & Markets

A Capitalism For the People

In his new book, A Capitalism for the People: Recapturing the Lost Genius of American Prosperity, Luigi Zingales argues that the United States is drifting into crony capitalism, as corporate interests in the government have successfully conflated "pro-market" with "pro-business," with the complicity of the intellectual class. According to Professor Zingales, the solution necessitates a return to true “pro-market” values and policies that reflect the interests of American people.
[About the book]
[Read an excerpt]

Strengthen and Stabilize the FDA

In a recent article in Nature, Daniel Carpenter argues that the strength of the FDA has been undermined by both the pharmaceutical industry and the White House. Professor Carpenter suggests concrete reforms to preserve the FDA’s autonomy and capacity, including reorganizing its sources of funding and separating the agency from the Department of Health and Human Services.
[Read the article]

Rise and Fall of Keynesian Fiscal Policy

In a recent working paper, Alan Auerbach reviews the evidence on the effectiveness of activist fiscal policy during recessions and traces the evolution of thinking around the effectiveness of such policy. Professor Auerbach finds that a largely positive view of fiscal intervention developed early in the 2000s, well before the “Great Recession,” yet recent concerns about growing government debt could lead people to question such interventions.
[Read the working paper]

Outsourcing Regulation

Exploring the potential value of insurance as a substitute for government regulation of safety, Omri Ben-Shahar and Kyle Logue argue that insurance companies effectively regulate behavior in ways that are more information-sensitive than typical forms of government oversight. The authors explore ways that private insurance could complement or replace government regulation in consumer protection, food safety, and finance.
[Read the working paper]

Government & Markets
Economic Inequality
Institutions of Democracy
National Security

Tobin Project News

Leadership Announcement

The Tobin Project welcomes Joshua Cracraft to the leadership team as Director of Strategy and Operations. Josh holds an A.B. honors degree in Government from Harvard College and an M.A. in American History from Brandeis University. He conducted his doctoral work in American History at Brandeis with fields in early American history, legal history, and American Indian history.

Josh is replacing Sage Trombulak in her post as Director of Operations at the Tobin Project. Sage will be entering Harvard Business School as an M.B.A. candidate this fall.

The Corporation & American Democracy

What has been the role of the corporation in the history of the American democracy? The Tobin Project has begun to gather a group of scholars to study this critical question. Naomi Lamoreaux (Yale, Economics and History) and Bill Novak (University of Michigan Law School) have signed on to lead this research effort and on May 16th convened an initial group of scholars for a Tobin Project workshop.
[Read more about the inquiry]

Economic Inequality

From Parents to Children
What is the relationship between economic inequality and inequality of opportunity? Timothy Smeeding, John Ermisch, and Markus Jantti explore this question along with a group of other leading scholars in the new volume, From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage. The authors investigate the ways in which income disparities among parents affect intergenerational mobility and development outcomes in the next generation.
[About the volume] * [Read the first chapter]

Economic Insecurity and Social Stratification
Reviewing research on labor market inequality, poverty, and social policy, Bruce Western, Deirdre Bloome, Benjamin Sosnaud, and Laura Tach propose a four-part framework for studying the distribution of and trends in economic insecurity. The data suggest, they argue, that economic insecurity increases with the growth of economic inequality in the U.S.
[Read the article]

Institutions of Democracy

Failure is an Option
According to James Kwak in a review of Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s theory that “nations fall because once-open institutions become closed and corrupt” has important implications for the contemporary United States. Professor Kwak argues that American history shows that our institutions are fragile and are always at risk of being subverted by elites. He highlights the current threat posed to our political institutions by the ability of economic elites to translate economic power into political power.
[Read the review]

Class Unconsciousness
Whereas contemporary usage defines “middle class” purely based on income, Nelson Lichtenstein argues that this definition conflates a struggling working class with comfortable salaried professionals at the expense of the labor movement. Professor Lichtenstein contends that America’s traditional “working class” is a separate group, deserving political and popular recognition.
[Read the paper]

National Security

Selective Engagement in an Era of Austerity
A recent report on U.S. grand strategy by the Center for a New American Security features a chapter by Robert Art based on a paper that he presented at Tobin’s December 2010 national security conference. Professor Art argues that a strategy of “selective engagement” can help ensure the provision of vital public international goods by the U.S., while at the same time recognizing the limits of American power.
[Read the CNAS report]

Institutions and Worldviews in Indian Foreign Security Policy
Vipin Narang and Paul Staniland analyze India’s foreign policy and identify a pragmatic “core” strategy that transcends differences between Indian politicians and political parties. Professors Narang and Staniland argue that this strategy is shaped by bureaucratic institutions and elite perception of foreign affairs rather than by democratic politics.
[Read the paper]

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