The World Economic Forum estimates the cost of corruption to be more than 5% of global GDP (US $2.6 trillion), and the World Bank believes over $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year. Of course, given the secretive nature of corrupt exchanges, we cannot know the true value of how much is actually lost, but there can be little doubt that corruption represents a major cost to the public. Given such staggering numbers, it is understandable that both academics and policymakers would want to develop measures of corruption. These measures aim to show how much corruption exists in the world and where it occurs, and ultimately provide guidance about how to stop it. Unfortunately, currently available measures of corruption are beset by conceptual, methodological, or political problems (or a combination of all three) that constrain their utility as a guide to developing effective anti-corruption policies. Continue reading
Book Review By Jackie Ohlin, University of Technology, Sydney
This is a vitally important book for social scientists and all concerned with being open to new ways of addressing complex issues within our communities. It examines our capacity, as individuals and together, to bring about transformational change – not any change, mind you, but the kind that is required to deal with truly ‘wicked’ problems – the kind that, by definition, have no solution. In modelling transformational change, authors Valerie A. Brown and John A. Harris suggest that we need to be encouraged to see how small changes can lead to large, unpredictable effects across a whole system (including human and natural systems). They also propose that we need to recognize that, through transformational change, the future is not going to be the same as the past. This seems to me to be a critical realization, because we might desire our brand of change to be controlled, supportive (of our actions), and predictable, and we should acknowledge that notion is absurd. On reading this book, one sense I have is that envisioning the scope of some transformational change may require a long lens. In social terms, for example, we could consider how transformational change has wrought the role and contribution of people with a disability now compared with their invisibility in society only a few years ago. Continue reading
Book Review By Gergana Yankova-Dimova, University of Cambridge
The book “The New Regulatory Space” delivers a masterfully well-reasoned defense of regulation. The regulatory space is analyzed with regard to four systems of authority–the market, democratic politics, the law, and social norms. The book outlines and defends the contributions of the regulatory space to each of them. The market and the regulatory space embrace, because the regulator represents missing interests and voices in the market and promulgates societal goals that extend beyond the market. The regulatory space corrects democratic politics in the cases where the electors are incompetent, the issues are not contentious and voices do not count equally. Societal goals might be better achieved through regulation rather than the law, because regulation offers more opportunities for amicable settlement against the more adversarial legal settlements and because regulators are better equipped to adjudicate over complex issues grounded in the natural sciences. Finally, regulation offers a remedy for the cases when societal norms are weakened and society becomes less coordinated and predictable.
We now have First View to help us publish the manuscripts we have accepted well in advance of their print date. Further, oftentimes these manuscripts are available online individually well before the issue as a whole is available. But, in favor of supporting a cohesive approach to reading JPP, we will begin to publish each issue’s table of contents here on our blog. See below for what the December issue has to offer. Better yet, you can read the issue online now or wait with bated breath until October 15th, at which point the whole issue will be free to view for two months. Mark your calendars, and alert your friends… because sharing is caring.
The December issue includes: Continue reading
By Nicolas Duquette, University of Southern California
Fifty years ago this year, the central piece of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty — the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (EOA) — was passed. This law was unusual both in its ambition to eliminate US poverty and in its implementation. Instead of directing funds to state anti-poverty programs, the Johnson administration had the power and discretion to make grants directly to community organizations with minimal oversight from state or local governments or from Congress. The outgrowth of this federal-local collaboration, the Community Action Program, engendered several enduring and popular anti-poverty programs, including Head Start and Community Health Centers. Yet, the popular memory of Johnson’s efforts is one of overwhelming failure. President Reagan joked in his 1988 State of the Union Address, to hearty laughter, that, “the federal government fought the war on poverty, and poverty won,” a feeling shared by critics of Johnson on the political left and the right.
This is an excerpt from Above Politics: Bureaucratic Discretion and Credible Commitment, written with Gary J. Miller of Washington University in St. Louis. This book manuscript is under contract with Cambridge University Press. It is not yet accepted for publication though.
One important legacy of the Great Recession has been that the Federal Reserve expanded the tools in its arsenal for guiding monetary policy by adding “unconventional” policy options like large-scale asset purchases now known collectively as “quantitative easing” (QE). While it will take years for us to fully understand the power of such options, it is clear that QE has changed how we think about the Fed and its role in the American political economy.
On July 10, 2014, the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services held hearings on H.R. 5018, the “Federal Reserve Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014,” a bill sponsored by Representative Bill Huizenga (R-MI):
to amend the Federal Reserve Act to establish requirements for policy rules and blackout periods of the Federal Open Market Committee, to establish requirements for certain activities of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and for other purposes.
By William Resh (@billresh), University of Southern California
As Gary Hollibaugh, Jr. and colleagues plainly stated on the LSE blog, “Presidential appointees matter.” Of course, this is of little question when these positions are filled. Incompetent appointees cause deleterious consequences for both citizens and presidents. But, what about those positions reserved for Senate-confirmed presidential appointees (PAS) that remain empty?
A report last year by Pro Publica grouses that the Obama administration has been subject to more vacancies than previous administrations—in both independent and executive branch agencies (see Figure 1). Yet, occupancy is often legislatively required in independent commissions and agencies before agency action can be triggered. Therefore, outcomes (or a lack thereof) are easier to identify during periods of vacancy in those positions (at least anecdotally), whereas the effects vacancies have on agency performance in executive branch agencies generally may be less evident. The substantive importance of filling these positions in executive branch agencies is not empirically established. In terms of functional performance, “the evidence linking appointee continuity and agency performance remains largely anecdotal” (Dull & Roberts 2009, 445).
By Alice Chen, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business
There is a growing concern that too few physicians are willing to accept Medicaid patients. One way to encourage Medicaid supply is to pay doctors more for performing Medicaid-covered procedures. However, we lack a holistic understanding of how changes to Medicaid payments affect access to care among the broader population.
Understanding how Medicaid policies affect the breadth of physician behavior, and not just the Medicaid market, is particularly important, because the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will change the entire distribution of insurance enrollments. In addition to 11 million new Medicaid enrollees, 24 million people will enroll in private health insurance exchanges, and 30 million people will remain uninsured (Congressional Budget Office 2012). If physicians are unwilling to treat patients with a particular type of insurance, then obtaining coverage may not improve access to care. This concern has already manifested itself among Medicaid patients. As illustrated in Figure 1 below, the percentage of practices offering any care to Medicaid patients has fallen from 87% in 1996 to 81% in 2008. Continue reading
The global role of the EU in the post-Lisbon Treaty era and in a multi-polar world has been the focus of numerous academic and policymaking debates. This is exactly the topic of the timely volume The EU‘s Foreign Policy: What Kind of Power and Diplomatic Action? The themes of power and coherence are central to the volume chapters. In terms of coherence, the emphasis is placed on the horizontal and internal levels. Horizontal coherence refers to the absence of contradictions and presence of positive synergies between the policy objectives of different EU policy areas, as well as the compatibility of the supranational and intergovernmental decision-making and implementation processes. Internal coherence refers to the presence or absence of positive synergies between the policy instruments/initiatives used in the same policy area as well as the presence of an integrated bureaucratic and decision-making system in a given policy area. Continue reading