Please see the first post [A-I] for more info about this post. Unfortunately, post character limit is 40k, so I will have to break this into multiple posts linked here:
1944 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago. Professor at the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies. Director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development (CEHD). Co-Director of Human Capital and Economic Opportunity (HCEO) Global Working Group. Heckman is also a Professor of Law at ‘the Law School’, a senior research fellow at the American Bar Foundation, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
· In 2000, Heckman shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Daniel McFadden, for his pioneering work in econometrics and microeconomics.
· As of February 2019 (according to RePEc), he is the next most influential economist in the world behind Daniel McFadden.
· Heckman has received numerous awards for his work, including the John Bates Clark Medal of the American Economic Association in 1983, the 2005 and 2007 Dennis Aigner Award for Applied Econometrics from the Journal of Econometrics, the 2005 Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Achievement in Labor Economics, the 2005 Ulysses Medal from the University College Dublin, the 2007 Theodore W. Schultz Award from the American Agricultural Economics Association, the Gold Medal of the President of the Italian Republic awarded by the International Scientific Committee of the Pio Manzú Centre in 2008, the Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children Award from the Society for Research in Child Development in 2009, the 2014 Frisch Medal from the Econometric Society, the 2014 Spirit of Erikson Award from the Erikson Institute, and the 2016 Dan David Prize for Combating Poverty from Tel Aviv University. “The best way to improve the American workforce in the 21st century is to invest in early childhood education, to ensure that even the most disadvantaged children have the opportunity to succeed alongside their more advantaged peers”
1945 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Successor to Ben Bernanke, serving as the Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, and as Vice Chair from 2010 to 2014, following her position as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Yellen was also Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Bill Clinton.
· Yellen is a Keynesian economist and advocates the use of monetary policy in stabilizing economic activity over the business cycle. She believes in the modern version of the Phillips curve, which originally was an observation about an inverse relationship between unemployment and inflation. In her 2010 nomination hearing for Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Yellen said, “The modern version of the Phillips curve model—relating movements in inflation to the degree of slack in the economy—has solid theoretical and empirical support.”
· Yellen is married to George Akerlof, another notable economist, Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate, professor at Georgetown University and the University of California, Berkeley..
· In 2014, Yellen was named by Forbes as the second most powerful woman in the world. She was the highest ranking American on the list. In October 2015, Bloomberg Markets ranked her first in their annual list of the 50 most influential economists and policymakers. In October 2015, Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute ranked Yellen #1 in the Public Investor 100 list. In October 2010, she received the Adam Smith Award from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE). “In the long run, outsourcing is another form of trade that benefits the U.S. economy by giving us cheaper ways to do things.” “I'm just opposed to a pure inflation-only mandate in which the only thing a central bank cares about is inflation and not unemployment.”
1975 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· 43rd governor of Colorado since January 2019. Polis served on the Colorado State Board of Education from 2001 to 2007 and was the United States Representative for Colorado's 2nd congressional district from 2009 to 2019.
· Polis is the first openly gay person and second openly LGBT person (after Kate Brown of Oregon) to be elected governor in the United States.
· In 2000 Polis founded the Jared Polis Foundation, whose mission is to “create opportunities for success by supporting educators, increasing access to technology, and strengthening our community.” Polis has also founded two charter schools.
· Polis was named Outstanding Philanthropist for the 2006 National Philanthropy Day in Colorado. He has received many awards, including the Boulder Daily Camera's 2007 Pacesetter Award in Education; the Kauffman Foundation Community Award; the Denver consul general of Mexico “Ohtli”; the Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Humanitarian Award; and the Anti-Defamation League's inaugural Boulder Community Builder Award. “Having alternative currencies is great, right, because, historically, government's had a monopoly on currency. … At the end of the day, why should only politicians—either directly or indirectly—control the currency? We can reduce transaction cost, provide an alternative, and—look, I don't know whether it'll be Bitcoin or not—but I think the concept of digital currencies is here to stay, and the fact that a politician would write to try to ban them in their infancy is just the wrong way to go about it. Let the market determine whether there's any value there or not.”
1964 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Best known as the founder, CEO, and president of Amazon, Bezos is an American internet and aerospace entrepreneur, media proprietor, and investor. The first centi-billionaire on the Forbes wealth index, Bezos was named the “richest man in modern history” after his net worth increased to $150 billion in July 2018. In September 2018, Forbes described him as “far richer than anyone else on the planet” as he added $1.8 billion to his net worth when Amazon became the second company in history to reach a market cap of $1 trillion.
· Bezos supported the electoral campaigns of U.S. senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, two Democratic U.S. senators from Washington. He has also supported U.S. representative John Conyers, as well as Patrick Leahy and Spencer Abraham, U.S. senators serving on committees dealing with Internet-related issues.
· Bezos has supported the legalization of same-sex marriage, and in 2012 contributed $2.5 million to a group supporting a yes vote on Washington Referendum 74, which affirmed same-sex marriage.
· After the 2016 presidential election, Bezos was invited to join Donald Trump's Defense Innovation Advisory Board, an advisory council to improve the technology used by the Defense Department. Bezos declined the offer without further comment.
· In September 2018, Business Insider reported that Bezos was the only one of the top five billionaires in the world who had not signed the Giving Pledge, an initiative created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett that encourage wealthy people to give away their wealth. “Percentage margins don't matter. What matters always is dollar margins: the actual dollar amount. Companies are valued not on their percentage margins, but on how many dollars they actually make, and a multiple of that.” “We have the resources to build room for a trillion humans in this solar system, and when we have a trillion humans, we'll have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts. It will be a way more interesting place to live.”
1968 – Present Born: Germany Resides: Germany
· German economist and president of the Deutsche Bundesbank. Chairman of the Board of the Bank for International Settlements. From 1997 to 1999, Weidmann worked at the International Monetary Fund. In 2006, he began serving as Head of Division IV (Economic and Financial Policy) in the Federal Chancellery. He was the chief negotiator of the Federal Republic of Germany for both the summits of the G8 and the G20. He was given the 2016 Medal for Extraordinary Merits for Bavaria in a United Europe.
· Weidmann was involved in a series of major decisions in response to the financial crisis in Germany and Europe: preventing the meltdown of the bank Hypo Real Estate, guaranteeing German deposits and implementing a rescue programme for the banking system, piecing together two fiscal-stimulus programmes, and setting up the Greek bail-out package and the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).
· In a 2011 speech, Weidmann criticized the errors and “many years of wrong developments” of the European Monetary Union (EMU) peripheral states, particularly the wasted opportunity represented by their “disproportionate investment in private home-building, high government spending or private consumption”. In May, 2012, Weidmann's stance was characterized by US economist and columnist Paul Krugman as amounting to wanting to destroy the Euro. In 2016, Weidmann dismissed deflation in light of the European Central Bank's current stimulus program, pointing out the healthy condition of the German economy and that the euro area is not that bad off. “I share the concerns regarding monetary policy that is too loose for too long. … As you know I have concerns about granting emergency liquidity on account of the fact that the banks are not doing everything to improve their liquidity situation.”
1953 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Current Chair of the Federal Reserve, nominated by Trump. Powell has faced substantial and repeated criticism from Trump after his confirmation. The Senate Banking Committee approved Powell's nomination in a 22–1 vote, with Senator Elizabeth Warren casting the lone dissenting vote.
· Powell briefly served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance under George H. W. Bush in 1992. He has served as a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors since 2012. He is the first Chair of the Federal Reserve since 1987 not to hold a Ph.D. degree in Economics.
· Powell has described the Fed's role as nonpartisan and apolitical. Trump has criticized Powell for not massively lowering federal interest rates and instituting quantitative easing.
· The Bloomberg Intelligence Fed Spectrometer rated Powell as neutral (not dove nor hawk). Powell has been a skeptic of round 3 of quantitative easing, initiated in 2012, although he did vote in favor of implementation.
· Powell stated that higher capital and liquidity requirements and stress tests have made the financial system safer and must be preserved. However, he also stated that the Volcker Rule should be re-written to exclude smaller banks. Powell supports ample amounts of private capital to support housing finance activities. “The Fed's organization reflects a long-standing desire in American history to ensure that power over our nation's monetary policy and financial system is not concentrated in a few hands, whether in Washington or in high finance or in any single group or constituency.”
1957 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and economist, specializing in financial economics and macroeconomics.
· The central idea of Cochrane's research is that macroeconomics and finance should be linked, and a comprehensive theory needs to explain both 1.) how, given the observed prices and financial returns, households and firms decide on consumption, investment, and financing; and 2.) how, in equilibrium, prices and financial returns are determined by households and firms decisions.
· Cochrane is the author of ‘Asset Pricing,’ a widely used textbook in graduate courses on asset pricing. According to his own words, the organizing principle of the book is that everything can be traced back to specializations of a single equation: the basic pricing equation. Cochrane received the TIAA-CREF Institute Paul A. Samuelson Award for this book. “Regulators and politicians aren’t nitwits. The libertarian argument that regulation is so dumb — which it surely is — misses the point that it is enacted by really smart people. The fact that the regulatory state is an ideal tool for the entrenchment of political power was surely not missed by its architects.”
John Keynes (John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes)
1883 – 1946 Born: England Died: England
· British economist, whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. Originally trained in mathematics, he built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. Widely considered the founder of modern macroeconomics, his ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots. Keynes was a lifelong member of the Liberal Party, which until the 1920s had been one of the two main political parties in the United Kingdom.
· During the 1930s Great Depression, Keynes challenged the ideas of neoclassical economics that held that free markets would, in the short to medium term, automatically provide full employment, as long as workers were flexible in their wage demands. He argued that aggregate demand (total spending in the economy) determined the overall level of economic activity, and that inadequate aggregate demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment. Keynes advocated the use of fiscal and monetary policies to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions and depressions.
· Keynes's influence started to wane in the 1970s, his ideas challenged by those who disputed the ability of government to favorably regulate the business cycle with fiscal policy. However, the advent of the global financial crisis of 2007–2008 sparked a resurgence in Keynesian thought. Keynesian economics provided the theoretical underpinning for economic policies undertaken in response to the crisis by President Barack Obama of the United States, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, and other heads of governments.
· Keynes was vice-chairman of the Marie Stopes Society which provided birth control education and campaigned against job discrimination against women and unequal pay. He was an outspoken critic of laws against homosexuality. Keynes thought that the pursuit of money for its own sake was a pathological condition, and that the proper aim of work is to provide leisure. He wanted shorter working hours and longer holidays for all. Keynes was ultimately a successful investor, building up a private fortune. “How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.”
1632 – 1704 Born: England Died: England
· Known as the “Father of Liberalism,” Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.
· Locke's political theory was founded on social contract theory. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority (of the ruler, or to the decision of a majority) in exchange for protection of their remaining rights or maintenance of the social order.
· Locke advocated for governmental separation of powers and believed that revolution is not only a right but an obligation in some circumstances. Locke was vehemently opposed to slavery, calling it “vile and miserable … directly opposite to the generous Temper and Courage of our Nation.”
· Locke uses the word “property” in both broad and narrow senses. In a broad sense, it covers a wide range of human interests and aspirations; more narrowly, it refers to material goods. He argues that property is a natural right and it is derived from labour aand that the individual ownership of goods and property is justified by the labour exerted to produce those goods
· According to Locke, unused property is wasteful and an offence against nature, but, with the introduction of “durable” goods, men could exchange their excessive perishable goods for goods that would last longer and thus not offend the natural law. In his view, the introduction of money marks the culmination of this process, making possible the unlimited accumulation of property without causing waste through spoilage. “The power of the legislative, being derived from the people by a positive voluntary grant and institution, can be no other than what that positive grant conveyed, which being only to make laws, and not to make legislators, the legislative can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws, and place it in other hands.” “No man in civil society can be exempted from the laws of it: for if any man may do what he thinks fit, and there be no appeal on earth, for redress or security against any harm he shall do; I ask, whether he be not perfectly still in the state of nature, and so can be no part or member of that civil society; unless any one will say, the state of nature and civil society are one and the same thing, which I have never yet found any one so great a patron of anarchy as to affirm.”
John Mill (John Stuart Mill a.k.a. J. S. Mill)
1806 – 1873 Born: England Died: France
· John Stuart Mill was arguably the most influential English speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century. He was a naturalist, a utilitarian, and a liberal, whose work explores the consequences of a thoroughgoing empiricist outlook. In doing so, he sought to combine the best of eighteenth-century Enlightenment thinking with newly emerging currents of nineteenth-century Romantic and historical philosophy. His most important works include System of Logic (1843), On Liberty (1859), Utilitarianism (1861) and An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy (1865).
· Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control. A member of the Liberal Party and author of the early feminist work The Subjection of Women (in which he also condemned slavery), he was also the second Member of Parliament to call for women's suffrage after Henry Hunt in 1832.
· Mill, an employee for the British East India Company from 1823 to 1858, argued in support of what he called a “benevolent despotism” with regard to the colonies. Mill argued that “To suppose that the same international customs, and the same rules of international morality, can obtain between one civilized nation and another, and between civilized nations and barbarians, is a grave error. ... To characterize any conduct whatever towards a barbarous people as a violation of the law of nations, only shows that he who so speaks has never considered the subject.”
· John Stuart Mill believed in the philosophy of Utilitarianism, which he described as the principle that holds “that actions are right in the proportion as they tend to promote happiness [intended pleasure, and the absence of pain], wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness [pain, and the privation of pleasure].” Mill asserts that even when we value virtues for selfish reasons we are in fact cherishing them as a part of our happiness.
· Mill's early economic philosophy was one of free markets. However, he accepted interventions in the economy, such as a tax on alcohol, if there were sufficient utilitarian grounds. Mill originally believed that “equality of taxation” meant “equality of sacrifice” and that progressive taxation penalized those who worked harder and saved more. Given an equal tax rate regardless of income, Mill agreed that inheritance should be taxed.
· His main objection of socialism was on that of what he saw its destruction of competition. According to Mill, a socialist society would only be attainable through the provision of basic education for all, promoting economic democracy instead of capitalism, in the manner of substituting capitalist businesses with worker cooperatives.
· Mill's major work on political democracy defends two fundamental principles at slight odds with each other: extensive participation by citizens and enlightened competence of rulers. He believed that the incompetence of the masses could eventually be overcome if they were given a chance to take part in politics, especially at the local level.
· Mill is one of the few political philosophers ever to serve in government as an elected official. In his three years in Parliament, he was more willing to compromise than the “radical” principles expressed in his writing would lead one to expect. “He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.” “The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”
1921 – 2002 Born: United States Died: United States
· Liberal American moral and political philosopher who received both the Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy and the National Humanities Medal in 1999, the latter presented by President Bill Clinton, who acclaimed Rawls for having “helped a whole generation of learned Americans revive their faith in democracy itself.”
He is frequently cited by the courts of law in the United States and Canada.
· Rawls's most discussed work is his theory of a just liberal society, called justice as fairness
. Rawls first wrote about this theory in his book A Theory of Justice. Rawls spoke much about the desire for a well-ordered society; a society of free and equal persons cooperating on fair terms of social cooperation.
· Rawls’s most important principle (the Liberty Principal) states that every individual has an equal right to basic liberties. Rawls believes that “personal property” constitutes a basic liberty, but an absolute right to unlimited private property is not.
· Rawls's argument for his principles of social justice uses a thought experiment called the “original position”, in which people select what kind of society they would choose to live under if they did not know which social position they would personally occupy. “Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well-arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantages enjoyed by many. Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled; the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or to the calculus of social interests.”
1937 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· American political scientist and co-founder of the international relations theory of neoliberalism (a theory concerned first and foremost with absolute gains rather than relative gains to other states), developed in the 1977 book Power and Interdependence. He is noted for his notion of “smart power” (“the ability to combine hard and soft power into a successful strategy”), which became a popular phrase with the Clinton and Obama Administrations.
· Secretary of State John Kerry appointed Nye to the Foreign Affairs Policy Board in 2014. In 2014, Nye was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star in recognition of his “contribution to the development of studies on Japan-U.S. security and to the promotion of the mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.”
· From 1977 to 1979, Nye was Deputy to the Undersecretary of State for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology and chaired the National Security Council Group on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In recognition of his service, he was awarded the State Department's Distinguished Honor Award in 1979. In 1993 and 1994, he was Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, which coordinates intelligence estimates for the President, and was awarded the Intelligence Community's Distinguished Service Medal. In the Clinton Administration from 1994 to 1995, Nye served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and was awarded the Department's Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. Nye was considered by many to be the preferred choice for National Security Advisor in the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry.
· Nye has been a member of the Harvard faculty since 1964. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a foreign fellow of The British Academy. Nye is also a member of the American Academy of Diplomacy. The 2011 TRIP survey of over 1700 international relations scholars ranks Joe Nye as the sixth most influential scholar in the field of international relations in the past twenty years. He was also ranked as most influential in American foreign policy. In 2011, Foreign Policy magazine named him to its list of top global thinkers. In September 2014, Foreign Policy reported that the international relations scholars and policymakers both ranked Nye as one of the most influential scholars. “When you can get others to admire your ideals and to want what you want, you do not have to spend as much on sticks and carrots to move them in your direction. Seduction is always more effective than coercion, and many values like democracy, human rights, and individual opportunities are deeply seductive.”
1902 – 1994 Born: Austria-Hungary Died: England
· Karl Popper is generally regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century. He was a self-professed critical-rationalist, a dedicated opponent of all forms of scepticism, conventionalism, and relativism in science and in human affairs generally and a committed advocate and staunch defender of the ‘Open Society’.
· In ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’ and ‘The Poverty of Historicism’, Popper developed a critique of historicism and a defense of the “Open Society”. Popper considered historicism to be the theory that history develops inexorably and necessarily according to knowable general laws towards a determinate end. He argued that this view is the principal theoretical presupposition underpinning most forms of authoritarianism and totalitarianism. He argued that historicism is founded upon mistaken assumptions regarding the nature of scientific law and prediction. Since the growth of human knowledge is a causal factor in the evolution of human history, and since “no society can predict, scientifically, its own future states of knowledge”
, it follows, he argued, that there can be no predictive science of human history. For Popper, metaphysical and historical indeterminism go hand in hand.
· Popper is known for his vigorous defense of liberal democracy and the principles of social criticism that he believed made a flourishing open society possible. His political philosophy embraced ideas from major democratic political ideologies, including socialism/social democracy, libertarianism/classical liberalism and conservatism, and attempted to reconcile them. “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.”
1954 – Present Born: United States Resides: United States
· American economist, former Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist of the World Bank, senior U.S. Treasury Department official throughout President Clinton's administration, Treasury Secretary 1999–2001, and former director of the National Economic Council for President Obama (2009–2010). Summers served as the 27th President of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006. Current professor and director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
· As a researcher, Summers has made important contributions in many areas of economics, primarily public finance, labor economics, financial economics, and macroeconomics. Summers has also worked in international economics, economic demography, economic history and development economics.[ He received the John Bates Clark Medal in 1993 from the American Economic Association. In 1987, he was the first social scientist to win the Alan T. Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation. Summers is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
· In 1983, at age 28, Summers became one of the youngest tenured professors in Harvard's history. In 2006, Summers resigned as Harvard's president in the wake of a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty. Summers viewed his beliefs on why science and engineering had an under-representation of women to be a large part in the vote, saying, “There is a great deal of absurd political correctness. Now, I'm somebody who believes very strongly in diversity, who resists racism in all of its many incarnations, who thinks that there is a great deal that's unjust in American society that needs to be combated, but it seems to be that there is a kind of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kind of ideas are acceptable and are debatable on college campuses.”
· As the World Bank's Vice President of Development Economics and Chief Economist, Summers played a role in designing strategies to aid developing countries, worked on the bank's loan committee, guided the bank's research and statistics operations, and guided external training programs. The World Bank's official site reports that Summer's research included an “influential” report that demonstrated a very high return from investments in educating girls in developing nations. According to The Economist, Summers was “often at the centre of heated debates” about economic policy, to an extent exceptional for the history of the World Bank in recent decades.
· In 1999 Summers endorsed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act which removed the separation between investment and commercial banks. In February 2009, Summers quoted John Maynard Keynes, saying “When circumstances change, I change my opinion”, reflecting both on the failures of Wall Street deregulation and his new leadership role in the government bailout.
"I was talking about farting"—Presidential candidate/world’s most awkward person John Hickenlooper submitted by
Bidenfreude Joe Biden told an audience of donors in New York City that his tax policies wouldn’t “fundamentally change” things,
including their quality of life, and waxed nostalgic about his working relationships with segregationists
when he was a young senator. Guuuulp. It has not gone over well!
Here’s the full rundown. Biden has been campaigning on his ability to reach consensus with Republicans.
As evidence of this, he cited his relationships with now-deceased Sens. James Eastland (D-MS) and Herman Talmadge (D-GA). Biden said Eastland “never called me ‘boy,’ he always called me ‘son,’” and called Talmadge “one of the meanest guys I ever knew,” but added, “at least there was some civility. We got things done.” Some problems with this!
Several Democratic presidential candidates have condemned Biden’s comments,
- Of course these segregationist Senators didn’t call Biden, a white man, “boy.” The implication, intended or not, is they were civil to him because he was white. Which, duh, but also not a great model for making positive change in America.
- Whether they were civil with Biden or not, segregationist senators formed the backbone of a vicious, deadly regime that has echoes today in the form of racial inequality, mass incarceration, and other forms of systemic racism.
- Eastland and Talmadge were Democrats! (See the Ds by their names?) The fact that Biden was able to cut deals within his own party in the 1970s has no bearing on whether he’ll be able to govern by consensus with Republicans today. In truth, today’s Republican Party has made that kind of governing impossible. Vice President Biden, we have Merrick Garland on line one with a history lesson for you.
including Kamala Harris
, Cory Booker
, Bernie Sanders
, Elizabeth Warren
, Beto O’Rourke
, and Bill de Blasio
. Biden went on to assure his donors that they won’t assume much financial risk by supporting him.
“No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change,” he said. But, “when we have income inequality as large as we have in the United States today, it brews and ferments political discord and basic revolution.” Some problems with this!
There unfortunately aren’t many generous ways to interpret these comments.
- Biden has promised not to make a dent in rich people’s fortunes. Not the best way to drive home your income inequality message!
- His comments are contradictory: If income inequality is so great that we’re on the verge of “revolution,” isn’t Biden flirting with disaster by promising, “nothing would fundamentally change”? Vote for me! Things most people hate won't get better!
They have raised concerns across the party about what kind of nominee and president Biden would be, and so far he hasn’t sought to explain himself or walk the comments back. The good news: he’ll almost certainly face questions about them at next week’s debate. popcorn-eating.gif
Under the Radar The number of refugees—people who’ve been forced to flee violence or persecution—has reached an all-time high of nearly 71 million people worldwide,
and includes an estimated 13.6 million people who became refugees in the last year alone, according to the United Nations. Most of the world’s refugees come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia, and the greatest number of refugees live in Turkey, Pakistan, Uganda, Sudan, and Germany, respectively. While presenting the report, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees criticized “inward looking,” wealthy countries,
many of which have sought to close their borders to these displaced peoples. That includes, um, us.
What Else Trump administration officials have tried to convince Congress that Iran has ties to al Qaeda, suggesting the White House may try to use a post-9/11 war authorization as a legal justification for attacking Iran
over Congress’s objections. There’s every reason to be skeptical of the administration’s claims, and House Democrats underscored their skepticism by voting to repeal that authorization
. At a House subcommittee hearing on reparations, the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates called on Congress to “reject fair-weather patriotism,
to say that a nation is both its credits and its debits,” and to create a commission to study ways the U.S. government can make amends for slavery and its legacy. Coates also rebutted
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who expressed his opposition to reparations on Capitol Hill this Tuesday. President Trump’s former Communications Director Hope Hicks stonewalled Democrats during a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday
because White House lawyers barred her from answering any questions about her time in the White House. Hey Democrats: instead of hearings nobody can watch with witnesses you won’t force to testify, have you considered the opposite? Speaking of which, House Democrats may have finally run out of patience with former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s reluctance to testify,
but they still haven’t subpoenaed him. Reminder, again: Republicans hauled former FBI Director Jim Comey up to the Hill within two days of his decision to close the Hillary Clinton email investigation. And you might have noticed Republicans are pretty good at this “winning elections” thing. The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged today, resisting extraordinary and improper pressure from President Trump,
who has suggested he might demote Fed Chair Jerome Powell
, even though he does not have the legal authority to do so. International prosecutors indicted three men with ties to Russian intelligence and implicated a senior aide to Vladimir Putin for shooting a missile at Malaysia Airlines Flight 17
over Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 people on board. The British research submarine Boaty McBoatface (this is what happens when you let the internet name things) discovered a significant link between Antarctic winds and rising sea temperatures.
As the winds have grown stronger because of greenhouse gas buildup and the destruction of the ozone layer, they have caused more turbulence in waters, resulting in rising sea temperatures and sea levels. Not bad, Boaty. But, you know, bad in every other way. Trans author, activist, and television producer Janet Mock signed a multimillion dollar deal with Netflix to write, direct, and executive produce projects
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Did You See That Thing? Facebook confirmed this week that it has spent the past year working with 27 nonprofit, tech, and finance partners to create a cryptocurrency called “Libra.”
Despite its classification as a cryptocurrency, Libra would be very different than Bitcoin. Facebook imagines it as a “new global currency standard” that’s stable, guaranteed by tangible assets, and part of a larger program that will be able to perform all the functions of a traditional bank (think accounts, loans, ATMs, etc.). Facebook claims it wants to offer the service to benefit the developing world, and its 1.7 billion adults who don’t have access to banking.
This, however, is the same logic it used to promote its plan to offer free internet around the world—a plan that came under fire for attempting to make developing countries dependent on Facebook for access to the internet. On top of that, Facebook’s laundry list of privacy scandals, the rampant misinformation on its platform, and the way it’s been used to subvert elections have naturally made people skeptical that the company should be entrusted with vulnerable people’s money. OTOH maybe we should just blindly trust Zuck again for the 40,000th time.
Is That Hope I Feel? New York lawmakers have agreed to one of the most ambitious climate plans in the world.
The legislation, called the “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” calls for the state to eliminate almost all greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of making the state's economy carbon-free by 2050. Currently, New York sources only 60 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources.
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The first thing that should be said about Facebook’s Libra proposal
is it is thoughtful. In an industry characterized by initial coin offerings (ICO) seeking to raise funds for flimsy concepts on the basis of grossly inadequate disclosure, this is quite welcome. Whether you are enthusiastic or skeptical about the idea, at least Facebook has taken the time to think through a number of complex issues.
The white paper nevertheless raises many regulatory concerns, as well as fundamental questions about its utility and value, which are amplified by concerns about Facebook’s power and past record on privacy and security issues. The speed and intensity of the congressional reaction—with hearings scheduled for this week—illustrates that.
On the regulatory side, Facebook has designed Libra to address some of the basic problems with many previous crypto tokens. By separating the currency, Libra, from the investment token that will be used to raise capital for the project, Facebook is seeking to avoid having Libra classified as a security under U.S. (and other nations’) laws. If Libra were deemed a security, it is unlikely the project could get off the ground. While Libra is to be fully backed by a reserve of cash and cash equivalents, users of Libra will not receive any return from that reserve. Instead, any earnings will be used to pay for maintaining the system and issuing dividends to holders of the investment token.
But the security analysis may not end there. While the reserve means Libra is likely to be less volatile than other cryptocurrencies, it will still fluctuate in value as exchange rates fluctuate. The reserve may be invested in “low-volatility” assets and may be designed for “value preservation,” but so are money market funds. The fact that the association will encourage the listing of Libra on electronic exchanges and will have the power to change the composition of the reserve may raise eyebrows at the SEC. If it sees features of an investment product in the design, Libra may still have significant security law hurdles to overcome.
That potential exchange rate risk poses a tax challenge as well: Should Libra be considered property for tax purposes, like Bitcoin? Stablecoins tied to a single currency such as the U.S. dollar are not treated as property. But the tax treatment of a coin tied to a basket of fiat currencies is not clear. If Libra is deemed property under U.S. or other nations’ laws, then a user could face recognition of loss or gain on each transaction. That would severely diminish its utility as a payment mechanism.
Compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) requirements will also be a challenge. The possibility that Libra could be used for illegal payments is the surest path to uniting financial regulators around the world against it. The white paper acknowledges the importance of AML but does not provide any specific compliance plans. Will a user have the responsibility to satisfy KYC and AML standards before making any transfer? Will the Libra Association, Libra’s governing body, implement central KYC and AML clearance of any person sending or receiving Libra?
The governance of Libra raises a host of interesting questions. Some crypto enthusiasts have been quick to point out that the centralized control by the Libra Association is antithetical to the decentralized promise of blockchain technology. Others have taken the view that there is no other practical way to launch the currency. The white paper says Facebook is committed to decentralized governance in the long term, and touts the fact that Facebook will be just one of many members of the association, no doubt seeking to allay concerns about Facebook increasing its own power and influence through Libra. But I would not read too much into the announcement that many prominent companies have agreed to participate. At this stage, those commitments neither tell us when or to what degree Facebook will relinquish control, nor are they evidence of third-party verification of the project’s viability. For a company like Visa
, which has $20 billion in annual revenue
and spends $1 billion a year on marketing, it is presumably an easy decision to ante up $10 million to have a seat at the table as this unfolds.
Moreover, for those who hope that blockchain can reduce our reliance on large institutions, the composition of the association—which includes many financial and technological giants—is not necessarily comforting.
The reasons for organizing the association as a Swiss foundation may also be more mixed than the white paper suggests, which says it is because Switzerland has a “history of global neutrality and an openness to blockchain technology.” Crypto enthusiasts at _Fortune_’s recent Brainstorm Finance conference claimed this is evidence that the U.S. is losing the blockchain innovation race to jurisdictions like Switzerland. But the use of Swiss foundations for international nonprofit activities is not uncommon. There are tax and general corporate law advantages to using such foundations, particularly if the organization is not primarily dependent on receiving tax-deductible contributions from U.S. persons, as will be the case for Libra. In addition, the choice of Switzerland as the jurisdiction of organization does not exempt Facebook or the association from having to comply with U.S. law if the token is offered, sold, and used here.
Given the concerns about Facebook’s technological dominance and past record, it is not surprising that the Libra proposal provoked quick and strong reactions in Washington. Senate and House leaders on both sides of the aisle have scheduled hearings for mid-July, and some have called on Facebook to halt work on the proposal. Even Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell—who one year ago told Congress that the Fed did not have jurisdiction over cryptocurrencies—was quick to say the Fed will be examining the proposal closely. Regulators around the world have made similar statements.
The congressional hearings will surely examine Facebook’s objectives. Is it really to bring financial services to the unbanked people of the world, as the white paper claims? Or is it to create a new source of revenue as well as data collection? Even if that is not the primary objective, how will Facebook prevent itself from using the data generated by Libra for other purposes? Will the other financial giants who are members of the Libra Association have access to that data? And in light of its own poor privacy record, as well as the poor record of cybersecurity in the crypto industry generally, how will Facebook keep its users’ data protected and their accounts free from hacks?
Congress and financial regulators will also want to consider the long-term implications for financial stability and financial inclusion. If the goal of Libra really is financial inclusion—providing services to the unbanked, one must ask whether another mobile payments service is all that the targeted constituency needs. Don’t they also need credit and liquidity products, to tide them over between paychecks, or to help with unexpected cash needs? There are already several mobile payment services, such as WeChat and M-Pesa, some of which pay interest on deposits and provide loans. Will Facebook offer a broader range of financial services? At what point should Calibra or the Libra Association be subject to regulation as a bank or other financial intermediary?
While Facebook has said it does not intend to pay interest on Libra deposits, the financial stability consequences of significant deposits in Libra should be considered. The financial system is different than other industries because it is vulnerable to runs and panics. The federal government has provided deposit insurance on bank accounts since the 1930s to minimize the potential for bank runs. The white paper claims that the existence of the reserve “discourages
‘runs on the bank.’” But money market funds were thought to be stable because of their conservative investments also—until the fall of 2008. Now, we have taken some steps to reduce that vulnerability, though probably not enough.
Time and again, financial innovation has given rise to types of financial intermediation that operate outside the regulatory framework, often bringing lower costs, better services, or more choice. But sooner or later—as a result of a crisis or otherwise—we must reset the parameters of regulation to bring these new innovations into the fold. The challenge is whether regulators can strike a proper balance between allowing innovation and minimizing risks to financial stability at the outset.
Ten years ago, Satoshi Nakamoto proclaimed that Bitcoin could provide a peer-to-peer means to transfer value that could eliminate or at least reduce our reliance on large centralized financial intermediaries. It was an especially attractive idea in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, but one that has not been realized. Should we regard the Libra proposal as a new iteration of that vision or a perversion of it? It would be ironic, after all, if blockchain gives rise to a Frankenstein-like incarnation of the very thing it was advertised to cure—a digital currency centrally controlled and administered by one of the most powerful, domineering technology companies in the world. Timothy Massad is a senior fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an adjunct professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center. He was the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 2014 to 2017.
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