Morning Brief: Poverty Rate Expected to Reach Highest Level Since 1965

Morning Brief: Poverty Rate Expected to Reach Highest Level Since 1965

A homeless man begs for money in the Financial District in San Francisco, California (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters).
A homeless man begs for money in the Financial District in San Francisco, California (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters).

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The Associated Press reports that the poverty rate is expected to rise from its 2010 level of 15.1 percent; an increase as small as 0.1 percent would be the highest level since 1965. Joblessness plays an important role. While the unemployment rate fell from 9.6 to 8.9 percent from 2010 to 2011, the ratio of workers to the general population was largely unchanged, suggesting more discouraged workers have stopped looking for a job.

CFR Senior Fellow and Renewing America Director Edward Alden recently discussed how globalization weakened the power of unions because U.S. manufacturing firms now have alternative sources of labor. This new dynamic has helped decrease the share of GDP going to wages from nearly 55 percent in the 1970s to less than 45 percent today.

California Group Can Use "Parent Trigger" to Take Over School

A judge in San Bernardino County, California ruled that a group of elementary school parents could be the first in the country to implement the state’s “parent trigger law.” The law, which is gaining increasing popularity in many states around the country, allows a majority of families to shut down a failing school and reopen it as a charter if they obtain enough signatures (Washington Post).

Choice-based school reforms, including the "parent trigger law," have attracted considerable debate among experts. The state of Louisiana has become a kind of national laboratory for proponents of choice-based reform. Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich discussed recent Louisianan educational reforms in a Policy Initiative Spotlight.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.

Corporate Regulation and Taxation

Do More Bank Examiners Improve Oversight?

Since 2008, large financial firms have hosted a surging number of bank examiners, but Francesco Guerrera of the Wall Street Journal argues that the U.S. financial system is not that much better off. While acknowledging that bank examiners fill a thankless role in preventing problems from escalating into crises, he argues that perhaps regulatory resources could be better spent deploying data driven assessments that could be shared with the public and investors.

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act—one of the most significant regulatory reform measures since the Great Depression—continues to arouse debate over its methods, goals, and implementation. This Backgrounder by Steven J. Markovich examines the financial oversight bill.

Corporate regulation and taxation. Read more from top economists and business experts on solutions for addressing corporate tax reform.


DOJ Will Not Modify Ebook Demands

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided not to make major changes to its proposed settlement for its lawsuit against Apple and its partners (TechCrunch). DOJ alleges that Apple and publishers worked to increase the prices of ebooks through the implementation of agency model pricing—where publishers set ebook prices, and Apple collected a percentage of sales. Three of the five publishers have already settled with DOJ. Apple contends that its entry into the ebook market has benefited customers by helping break Amazon’s virtual monopoly.

Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.


Utilities Turn to Rewards, Social Media, and Behavioral Science

Electrical utilities are stepping up efforts to encourage consumers to use less electricity (NYT). Duke Energy is using a social media campaign of web videos with recommendations, and Texans can compete to win gift cards and new appliances by being the "biggest energy saver." Techniques driven by behavioral science research are being deployed. Opower sends reports comparing a household’s energy usage to its neighbors; doing well earns the recipient smiley faces.

Infrastructure. Read more on how upgrading the nation’s aging network of roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness.

The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.

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