FDA proposes to extend its tobacco authority to additional tobacco products, including e-cigarettes
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
As part of its implementation of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act signed by the President in 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed a new rule that would extend the agency’s tobacco authority to cover additional tobacco products.
Products that would be “deemed” to be subject to FDA regulation are those that meet the statutory definition of a tobacco product, including currently unregulated marketed products, such as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), cigars, pipe tobacco, nicotine gels, waterpipe (or hookah) tobacco, and dissolvables not already under the FDA’s authority. The FDA currently regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco.
Smart Money? The Effect of Education on Financial Outcomes (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers
Household financial decisions are important for household welfare, economic growth, and financial stability. Yet, our understanding of the determinants of financial decision-making is limited. Exploiting exogenous variation in state compulsory schooling laws in both standard and two-sample instrumental variable strategies, we show education increases financial market participation, measured by investment income and equities ownership, while dramatically reducing the probability that an individual declares bankruptcy, experiences a foreclosure, or is delinquent on a loan. Further results and a simple calibration suggest the result is driven by changes in savings or investment behavior, rather than simply increased labor earnings.
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. HUD Rental Assistance Demonstration: Information on Initial Conversions to Project-Based Vouchers. GAO-14-402, April 24.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662737.pdf
2. Federal Vehicle Collisions and Aftermarket Collision Avoidance Technologies. GAO-14-408R, April 24.
1. Small Business Research Programs: Agencies Did Not Consistently Comply with Spending and Reporting Requirements, by John Neumann, acting director, natural resources and environment, before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, in Seattle, WA. GAO-14-567T, April 24.
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662734.pdf
Stress testing: A look into the Fed’s black box
On March 26th, the Federal Reserve (Fed) announced the results of its annual Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR). This year the Fed assessed the capital plans of 30 bank holding companies (BHCs) – 12 more than last year – and objected to five plans (four due to deficiencies in the quality of capital planning process, and one for falling below quantitative minimum capital ratios). Two other US BHCs had to “take a mulligan” and quickly resubmit their plans with reduced capital actions to remain above the quantitative floors.
The CCAR 2014 results send two overarching messages: The quality of the capital planning process is now a more prominent aspect of the Fed’s focus (versus just the quantity of capital), and the bar continues to rise, especially for the largest firms. Therefore, BHCs must continue to improve their capital planning processes regardless of whether they meet quantitative capital requirements.
Fed objections this year covered both US and foreign-owned BHCs. Three of the six largest US BHCs were unable to make desired capital distributions, in part due to the Fed using its own forecasting models for the first time (rather than relying on the BHCs’ models). In addition, half of foreign-owned BHCs’ plans (again, three of six) were rejected due to qualitative issues. These outcomes suggest that the Fed will likely continue to use its models to exert downward pressure on stressed capital ratios to keep capital in the system, supplemented by its heightened qualitative assessments.
This A closer look provides our quantitative and qualitative analyses of the CCAR 2014 results and lessons learned, and our view of enhancements needed to meet increasingly heightened regulatory expectations.
State-by-State Economic Impact of Real Estate Activity
Source: National Association of REALTORS®
How is the housing market in your state affecting the local economy? These reports outline the total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance. Find out how much the real estate industry is affecting the gross state product for your area.
Benefits from Immunization During the Vaccines for Children Program Era — United States, 1994–2013
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program was created by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (1) and first implemented in 1994. VFC was designed to ensure that eligible children do not contract vaccine-preventable diseases because of inability to pay for vaccine and was created in response to a measles resurgence in the United States that resulted in approximately 55,000 cases reported during 1989–1991 (2). The resurgence was caused largely by widespread failure to vaccinate uninsured children at the recommended age of 12–15 months. To summarize the impact of the U.S. immunization program on the health of all children (both VFC-eligible and not VFC-eligible) who were born during the 20 years since VFC began, CDC used information on immunization coverage from the National Immunization Survey (NIS) and a previously published cost-benefit model to estimate illnesses, hospitalizations, and premature deaths prevented and costs saved by routine childhood vaccination during 1994–2013. Coverage for many childhood vaccine series was near or above 90% for much of the period. Modeling estimated that, among children born during 1994– 2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes, at a net savings of $295 billion in direct costs and $1.38 trillion in total societal costs. With support from the VFC program, immunization has been a highly effective tool for improving the health of U.S. children.
Leadership in Action – The Business of Government Magazine Spring 2014
Source: IBM Center for the Business of Government
This edition of The Business of Government magazine underscores the importance of correlating short-term decision-making with long-range consequences. We highlight the latest trends and best practices for improving government effectiveness by introducing you to key government executives, detailing the work of public management practitioners, and offering insights from leading academics.
Global flows in a digital age
Source: McKinsey & Company
Global flows have been a common thread in economic growth for centuries, since the days of the Silk Road, through the mercantilist and colonial periods and the Industrial Revolution. But today, the movement of goods, services, finance, and people has reached previously unimagined levels. Global flows are creating new degrees of connectedness among economies—and playing an ever-larger role in determining the fate of nations, companies, and individuals; to be unconnected is to fall behind.
Flows of goods, services, and finance reached $26 trillion in 2012, or 36 percent of global GDP, 1.5 times the level in 1990. Now, one in three goods crosses national borders, and more than one-third of financial investments are international transactions. In the next decade, global flows could triple, powered by rising prosperity and participation in the emerging world and by the spread of the Internet and digital technologies. Our scenarios show that global flows could reach $54 trillion to $85 trillion by 2025, more than double or triple their current scale.
The Indian Economy at a Crossroads
Source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Indian economic growth in 2014 is expected to come in at less than 5 percent—the lowest level in over a decade—potentially signaling the end to 20 years of robust economic development often known as the “Indian Economic Miracle.” While the recent global economic downturn has played a part, a major factor in India’s economic slowdown has been the loss of momentum for continued economic and trade liberalizing reforms. In recent years this has been replaced by an economic development approach that has prioritized expanding domestic manufacturing and import substitution rather than across-the-board productivity growth, which has in part contributed to India’s recent embrace of several trade-distorting “innovation mercantilist” policies.
With national elections now underway, this report details the evolution of India’s post-independence economic policies and explains how the liberalizing reforms of the early 1990s spurred two decades of turbocharged growth. It explains how that success is increasingly threatened by innovation mercantilist policies—such as Preferential Market Access (PMA) rules for government procurement of ICT products and compulsory licensing of biopharmaceutical intellectual property—designed to promote selected domestic industries, even at the expense of other Indian industries and Indian consumers. But while such policies may seem beneficial in the short-term, they will ultimately prove counterproductive, by hampering domestic productivity, lessening India’s attractiveness to foreign direct investment (FDI), and potentially leading to retaliatory measures by other nations that would imperil the global trading system.
Prosecutions for Contempt of Congress and the Fifth Amendment (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform)
This memorandum responds to your request for information about invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in congressional hearings and contempt of Congress. Specifically, you asked for previous instances in which a witness before a congressional committee was voted in contempt of Congress and then prosecuted for refusing to answer the committee’s questions or produce documents pursuant to a subpoena after invoking the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Additionally, you asked for information on whether any subsequent convictions for contempt of Congress under 2 U.S.C. §§ 192, 194 were upheld or overturned.
The table below provides the requested information based on search of federal court cases in the LexisNexis database.
Developing a 21st Century Global Library for Mathematics Research (2014)
Source: National Research Council
Like most areas of scholarship, mathematics is a cumulative discipline: new research is reliant on well-organized and well-curated literature. Because of the precise definitions and structures within mathematics, today’s information technologies and machine learning tools provide an opportunity to further organize and enhance discoverability of the mathematics literature in new ways, with the potential to significantly facilitate mathematics research and learning. Opportunities exist to enhance discoverability directly via new technologies and also by using technology to capture important interactions between mathematicians and the literature for later sharing and reuse.
Developing a 21st Century Global Library for Mathematics Research discusses how information about what the mathematical literature contains can be formalized and made easier to express, encode, and explore. Many of the tools necessary to make this information system a reality will require much more than indexing and will instead depend on community input paired with machine learning, where mathematicians’ expertise can fill the gaps of automatization. This report proposes the establishment of an organization; the development of a set of platforms, tools, and services; the deployment of an ongoing applied research program to complement the development work; and the mobilization and coordination of the mathematical community to take the first steps toward these capabilities. The report recommends building on the extensive work done by many dedicated individuals under the rubric of the World Digital Mathematical Library, as well as many other community initiatives. Developing a 21st Century Global Library for Mathematics envisions a combination of machine learning methods and community-based editorial effort that makes a significantly greater portion of the information and knowledge in the global mathematical corpus available to researchers as linked open data through a central organizational entity-referred to in the report as the Digital Mathematics Library. This report describes how such a library might operate – discussing development and research needs, role in facilitating discover and interaction, and establishing partnerships with publishers.
Cigarette Smuggling: A National Problem and Lucrative Criminal Enterprise
Source: Tax Foundation
Increased excise taxes on cigarettes have created lucrative incentives for black market trafficking between states, with illegal sales on the rise nationwide, according to the latest report from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation.
Released this morning, the report’s key findings include:
- Large differentials in cigarette taxes across states create incentives for black market sales.
- Smuggled cigarettes make up substantial portions of cigarette consumption in many states, and greater than 25 percent of consumption in twelve states.
- The highest inbound cigarette smuggling rates are in New York (56.9 percent), Arizona (51.5 percent), New Mexico (48.1 percent), Washington (48 percent), and Wisconsin (34.6 percent).
- The highest outbound smuggling rates are in New Hampshire (24.2 percent), Wyoming (22.3 percent), Idaho (21.3 percent), Virginia (21.1 percent), and Delaware (20.9 percent).
- Cigarette tax rates increased in 30 states and the District of Columbia between 2006 and 2012.
Beyond the Numbers: Employer-sponsored benefits extended to domestic partners
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
As part of compensation packages offered to employees, it is common for employers to extend certain benefits to an employee’s family members. For example, employment-based health benefits typically include insurance coverage for the family, and traditional (defined-benefit) pension plans provide survivor benefits to spouses of married employees. As employers recognize different family structures, many have adapted by offering similar benefits to employees who have varied family units. For example, employers often vary employee contributions for health benefits based on family makeup by identifying different contribution amounts for married employees with children and for single employees with children. New data provide a picture of how frequently certain benefits are extended to unmarried opposite-sex and unmarried same-sex partners. For example, 72 percent of civilian workers had access to employment-based health benefits in March 2013, with nearly all the employers extending these benefits to spouses and children, but only 32 percent of civilian workers had health benefits extended to unmarried same-sex domestic partners and 26 percent had benefits extended to unmarried opposite-sex domestic partners.
Human conflict, geopolitical crises, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters can turn large parts of energy distribution networks offline. Europe’s current gas supply network is largely dependent on deliveries from Russia and North Africa, creating vulnerabilities to social and political instabilities. During crises, less delivery may mean greater congestion, as the pipeline network is used in ways it has not been designed for. Given the importance of the security of natural gas supply, we develop a model to handle network congestion on various geographical scales. We offer a resilient response strategy to energy shortages and quantify its effectiveness for a variety of relevant scenarios. In essence, Europe’s gas supply can be made robust even to major supply disruptions, if a fair distribution strategy is applied.
The Inmate Education Facilitator’s Guide: Prison Rape Elimination Act — What You Need to Know (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Justice Assistance
This guide is a supplement to the video, PREA: What You Need to Know. Its purpose is to help corrections officials conduct educational screenings of the video for inmates in their custody.
The core goal of PREA: What You Need to Know is to teach inmates about their right to be free from sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The video gives an overview of corrections policies to prevent and respond to this abuse, covering how inmates can safely report abuse, the types of victim services available to inmates following an incident of sexual abuse, and what it means for a facility to have a “zero-tolerance” policy.
The “Amazon Tax”: Empirical Evidence From Amazon and Main Street Retailers (PDF)
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research
Several states have recently implemented laws requiring the collection of sales tax on online purchases. In practice, however, only Amazon.com has been affected. We find that households living in these states reduce Amazon expenditures by 9.5%, implying an elasticity of –1.3. We find the effect to be more pronounced for large purchases, for which we estimate an elasticity of –3.2. Further, we find that the decline in Amazon purchases is offset by a 2.0% increase in purchases at local brick-and-mortar retailers and a 19.8% increase in purchases at the online operations of competing retailers.
See also: An Analysis of Internet Sales Taxation and the Small Seller Exemption (U.S. Small Business Administration)
Cyberbullying is commonly presented as affecting K-12 populations. Current research suggests cyberbullying continues in college. A diverse sample of 613 university students was surveyed to study their cyberbullying experiences in high school and college. Nineteen percent of the sample reported being a victim of cyberbullying in college and 35% of this subsample reported being cyberbullied in high school. Additional findings and practical implications are presented.
Optimal Evidence in Difficult Settings: Improving Health Interventions and Decision Making in Disasters
- As for any type of health care, decisions about interventions in the context of natural disasters, conflict, and other major healthcare emergencies must be guided by the best possible evidence.
- Disaster health interventions and decision making can benefit from an evidence-based approach.
- We outline how systematic reviews and methodologically sound research can build a much-needed evidence base.
- We do this from the standpoint of Evidence Aid, an initiative that aims to improve access to evidence on the effects of interventions, actions, and policies before, during, and after disasters and other humanitarian emergencies, so as to improve health-related outcomes.