Commentary

Closing the Health-Care Data Gap

BOSTON – While much of the world today suffers from information overload, there are still places where information is scarce. And that scarcity sometimes costs people their lives.

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The Middle East Must Lead on Refugees

FEZ – Since 2012, more than 12 million migrants and refugees have landed in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. The result has been an escalating political and humanitarian crisis – and increasingly heated debate about how to address it.

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Uncertainty at the Fed

BERKELEY – The US Federal Reserve is increasingly at risk of losing credibility – and for good reason. As Narayana Kocherlakota, former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, recently argued, Fed officials seem be balancing their stated aim of keeping inflation near 2% over the long term with a host of other, inexplicit, considerations.
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America’s Looming Debt Decision

BOGOTÁ – Should the US government lock in today’s ultra-low borrowing costs by issuing longer-term debt? It’s a tough call, but with overall debt levels already high (not to mention unfunded pension and medical insurance liabilities, which are both likely to rise), perhaps the time has come.

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Putting Profits in Perspective

BERKELEY – High profits are usually viewed as a sign of a company’s economic prowess, the result of innovation and efficiency forged by healthy competition. But, as a recent report by the US Council of Economic Advisers shows, high profits can have another cause: market concentration.

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Donald the Destroyer

WASHINGTON, DC – Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee to contest the United States’ presidential election in November, is clearly not a standard Republican. The party’s leaders and elected officials fought against him during the primary, and many are still reluctant to endorse him. Trump is now aligning some of his policy proposals with mainstream Republican ideas, but he is also clearly determined to retain his distinctive identity.

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Why Democracy Requires Trusted Experts

PARIS – Last month, I wrote a commentary asking why voters in the United Kingdom supported leaving the European Union, defying the overwhelming weight of expert opinion warning of the major economic costs of Brexit. I observed that many voters in the UK and elsewhere are angry at economic experts. They say that the experts failed to foresee the financial crisis of 2008, put efficiency first in their policy advice, and blindly assumed that the losers from their policy prescriptions could be compensated in some unspecified way. I argued that experts should be humbler and more attentive to distributional issues.

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Doubling Down on European Energy Efficiency

BRUSSELS – At the COP21 conference in Paris last December, world leaders made a binding pledge to set national targets, including energy-efficiency benchmarks, for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Now, the European Commission is nearing a moment of truth: Will it set ambitious but attainable energy efficiency targets that will force individuals and industry to make real changes? Or will it bend to political pressure and set meaningless targets that will be reached anyway, with no any additional effort?

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Building a Progressive International


ATHENS – Politics in the advanced economies of the West is in the throes of a political shakeup unseen since the 1930s. The Great Deflation now gripping both sides of the Atlantic is reviving political forces that had lain dormant since the end of World War II. Passion is returning to politics, but not in the manner many of us had hoped it would.

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The Global Security Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance

SEATTLE – Today we are faced with the harsh reality that the treatment or prevention of infectious diseases has not made quantum advances since the early successes of vaccines and antimicrobial therapies. In a sense, the world is headed backward, as once-treatable microbes become resistant to existing therapies, and new infections for which there are no effective interventions continue to arise.

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