Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies Publications Archive


The Cult of the Expert—and How It Collapsed

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
The Guardian

Sebastian Mallaby uses the framework of central bank power to examine the rise and recent decline of the cult of the expert. He concludes that, ironically, experts need to play the political game if they hope to maintain their legitimacy; and that a healthy democracy is well served by a mix of public accountability and technocratic independence. 

See more in United States; Monetary Policy; International Finance

Other Report

Global Economics Monthly September 2016

Author: Robert Kahn

Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics Robert Kahn argues that at the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit in Hangzhou, China, leaders called for governments to do more to support growth, but offered little in the way of new measures. Quietly, and away from the G20 spotlight, fiscal policy is becoming more expansionary, but current policies are unlikely to provide a meaningful boost to growth or soothe rising populist pressures.

See more in Global; Economics

Foreign Affairs Article

America’s Brewing Debt Crisis

Author: Robert E. Litan

“Although short-term debt poses one of the greatest threats to the financial stability of the United States, Dodd-Frank has done little to mitigate it. Fortunately, several experts have proposed ambitious ways of dealing with the problem, including expanding federal insurance of bank deposits, allowing the Federal Reserve to lend money to more firms in the case of a panic, and banning unregulated financial institutions from issuing runnable liabilities,” writes Robert E. Litan.

See more in United States; Budget, Debt, and Deficits


Britain’s Post-Brexit Warning for Americans Seduced by Trump

Author: Sebastian Mallaby
The Washington Post

Donald Trump’s ungainly back-and-forth on immigration has a parallel in Britain, which is struggling to make sense of its own impetuous resolution to take control of its borders. Indeed, if Britain after the Brexit referendum is anything to go by, a Trump presidency would be dominated by zigzagging: sometimes to dilute past promises, sometimes to double down.

See more in United Kingdom; United States; Elections


Venture Capital and Cleantech: The Wrong Model for Clean Energy Innovation

Author: Varun Sivaram
MIT Energy Initiative

Venture capital (VC) firms spent over $25 billion funding clean energy technology (cleantech) start-ups from 2006 to 2011 and lost over half their money; as a result, funding has dried up in the cleantech sector. In this report, we present the most comprehensive account to date of the cleantech VC boom and bust, aggregating hundreds of investments to calculate the risk/return profile of cleantech, compared with those of medical and software technology investments. The results are stark—cleantech offered VCs a dismal risk/return profile, dragged down by companies developing new materials, chemistries, or processes that never achieved manufacturing scale. We conclude that the VC model is broken for the cleantech sector, which suffers especially from a dearth of large corporations willing to invest in innovation. Fortunately, new public and private capital may be on the way after announcements made at the 2015 Paris Climate Change Summit. If a new and more diverse set of actors avoids the mistakes of the cleantech VC boom and bust, then they may be able to support a new generation of cleantech companies."

See more in Global; Energy and Environment

Other Report

Global Economics Monthly August 2016

Author: Robert Kahn

Steven A. Tananbaum Senior Fellow for International Economics Robert Kahn argues that markets have absorbed the initial economic shock from Brexit, but navigating the new landscape will remain a challenge. Two months after the vote, the politics of Brexit is producing a lengthy and uncertain renegotiation of Britain’s place in Europe and the world. Such extended uncertainty is likely to produce a long-lasting drag on both UK and European economies, which could ultimately threaten the viability of the European Union (EU).

See more in Europe; Economics