10 things we learned at Brookings in September

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By Chris McKenna

Brookings experts were busy in September and there are several new podcasts, reports, and books to show for it. Here is a short list of just 10 things we learned from scholars’ research in the previous month.

 

1. Brookings experts’ reactions to Trump’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 25, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

On September 25, President Trump delivered an address to the United Nations General Assembly. More than 20 Brookings scholars responded by annotating the president’s speech and providing their commentary and, in some cases, corrections to his remarks. Read their analysis in “Brookings experts on Trump’s UNGA speech.”

2. How to adapt to a “new threat landscape”

A member of forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stands with a civilian on the rubble of the Carlton Hotel, in the government controlled area of Aleppo, Syria December 17, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki - RC181701B570

In a report with Charles Call, Daniel Toubolets, and Jason Fritz, Bruce Jones explored the modern threat and security landscape around the world, and what emerging threats merit the United Nations and other international actors’ attention. According to the authors, “frontier threats in emerging technology, and specifically cyber tools and artificial intelligence, pose an imminent and growing challenge to global security.”

In a related episode of the Brookings Cafeteria podcast, Jones discussed the report and whether the United Nations has the tools it needs to address these security challenges.

3. What challenges remain for meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

A woman draws water from a well in a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Caren Firouz - GF10000043990

In another paper released in advance of the United Nations General Assembly, Homi Kharas, John McArthur, and Krista Rasmussen considered how many people are being left behind in the efforts to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. As part of their report, the authors examined which countries and regions will miss targets if current trends persist, noting, among other things, that “independent of population size, countries like Central African Republic, Chad, South Sudan, and Somalia will be furthest from the absolute targets in 2030.”

4. Bernanke, Geithner, and Paulson’s thoughts on the government’s response to the financial crisis

Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson discuss "10 Years After the Global Financial Crisis" in Washington, U.S., September 12, 2018.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RC14CF9B7250

Throughout September, experts from across and outside Brookings reflected on the government’s response to the financial crisis of 2007-2009, highlighted by a series of events hosted by the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy and the Program on Financial Stability at the Yale School of Management. In one of several noteworthy panel discussions, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretaries Tim Geithner and Hank Paulson, three of the architects of the government’s response to the financial crisis, discussed the most challenging parts of the recession and the reasoning behind the decisions they made while in office.

Watch a full recording of their conversation or read a summary of the event written by Jeffrey Cheng and David Wessel. Ben Bernanke also authored a new report on the consequences of the crisis titled “The real effects of the financial crisis.”

5. The financial crisis’ long-term impact on teachers

Teachers walk the picket line as they strike outside Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington September 9, 2015. Classes were cancelled for 53,000 students as Seattle teachers and support staff marched in picket lines on Wednesday on what was supposed to be the first day of school, waging their first such strike in three decades after contract talks between the school district and the teachers' union failed.  REUTERS/Matt Mills McKnight - GF10000199643

In a new report, Mike Hansen, director of the Brown Center on Education Policy, analyzed what effect the Great Recession had on teachers’ age, qualifications, and compensation. He found that teachers are more qualified now than they were in 2007—both with respect to age and educational attainment—yet teachers’ wages overall have fallen, and by a greater amount than Hansen had formerly believed.

6. The global economic recovery has been uneven

An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Hefei, Anhui province December 9, 2008. China's stock market dropped in heavy trade on Tuesday, led by property and financial shares, on worries that November economic data, to be released in coming days, would be poor. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA).  CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - GF2E4C90PRF01

Eswar Prasad and Karim Foda focused their latest report on how advanced and emerging markets have recovered from the economic crisis and specifically on several disconnects between economic markers and economic performance. “While a great deal of progress has been made in repairing financial and labor markets” they wrote, “the limited and incomplete nature of structural reforms in many economies leaves open the possibility that financial pressures and macroeconomic stresses could be lurking under the surface.”

7. Embracing a new partnership between cities, states, and the federal government

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a news conference after meeting with the family of Ezell Ford at City Hall in Los Angeles, California, June 9, 2015. Los Angeles police commissioners on Tuesday issued a mixed ruling in the shooting of the unarmed black man by two patrolmen, largely approving of one officer's actions while finding that the other had violated department policy. The decision followed a tense administrative hearing into the shooting death of 25-year-old Ford last Aug. 11. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon - GF10000122476

Amy Liu, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, wrote on the limits of city power in a recent piece for CityLab and, citing Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, warned that “local control” can give way to dangerous and oppressive policies that have led to racial segregation and voter suppression. Liu rejected the notion that cities and city leaders should “go it alone” in the age of Trump, and instead proposed a more constructive partnership between all levels of government with an emphasis on the role of cities.

This November, voters will go to the ballot box to choose new governors, state legislators, and members of Congress. It’s time to reset the federal, state, and local dynamic. While cities alone can’t save us, they can be the foundation on which we build a restored democracy.

8. Who is responsible for addressing the ethical dilemmas of artificial intelligence?

A small drone helicopter operated by a paparazzi records singer Beyonce Knowles-Carter (not seen) as she rides the Cyclone rollercoaster while filming a music video on Coney Island in New York August 29, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

In a pair of papers from the Governance Studies program, Darrell West and William Galston examined the ethical dilemmas of artificial intelligence and the role government and corporations should play in addressing them. Each focused on a number of issues including weapons and surveillance and introduced the types of regulations they recommend for moving forward.

9. Rural areas could be bouncing back in terms of economic growth

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According to Mark Muro and Jacob Whiton, employment growth rates of smaller, rural communities have outpaced national rates so far this year, a trend which could be good news for Republicans going into November. They analyzed what they call “modest but real reversal of fortunes in small town and rural America” marked by an increasing share of the nation’s job growth.

10. What progress has been made 50 years since the Kerner Commission report?

A woman and child walk past a dilapidated building in a run-down neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY) - GM1E73A0I1C01

Marcus Casey and Bradley Hardy reflect on progress made since the Kerner Commission was authorized under President Lyndon B. Johnson to study the causes of riots 50 years ago, and specifically, what change has occurred in four cities: Detroit, Los Angeles, Newark, and Washington DC. The authors found the neighborhoods that directly experienced riots in 1970 shared several traits—lower levels of education and higher unemployment among them—than other neighborhoods that had not directly experienced riots and that these differences between the two neighborhood groups have persisted over time.

You can find their full report, “The Evolution of Black Neighborhoods Since Kerner,” in the Russell Sage Journal of the Social Sciences.

Megan Drake contributed to this blog post.