Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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The Oracle of Omaha warns about public pension underfunding

By Edward Zelinsky
As the American public debated the legislation ultimately enacted into law as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, no person was more influential than the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. Much attention was given to billionaire Buffett’s complaint that his federal income tax bracket was lower than his secretary’s tax rate. President Obama invoked “the Buffett Rule” to bolster the President’s successful effort for the Act to raise income tax brackets for high income taxpayers.

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Is the planet full?

Is the planet full? Can the world continue to support a growing population estimated to reach 10 billion people by the middle of the century? And how can we harness the benefits of a healthier, wealthier and longer-living population?

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Banning Sterling makes a lot of cents for the NBA

By Adam Grossman
Donald Sterling’s lifetime National Basketball Association (NBA) ban, $2.5 million dollar fine, and potentially forced sale of the Clippers may seem fit in the category of previous owners who received a comparable punishment. Marge Schott was forced to sell the Cincinnati Reds for her anti-Semitic and racist comment while owner of the team.

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Why everyone does better when employees have a say in the workplace

By William Lazonick and Tony Huzzard
In manufacturing plants all over the world, both managers and workers have discovered that when employees are involved in workplace decision-making, productivity rises. So in the United States, it made national news when on 14 February 2014 workers at the Volkswagen auto plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee rejected representation by the United Automobile Workers by a vote 712 to 626.

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Searching for more legal certainty in bitcoins and mobile payments

By Niels Vandezande
In the last few months, international media have reported extensively on the latest developments in the online economy. These reports have focused mostly on the rise of so-called cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin being the most well-known example. Such cryptocurrencies are characterized by their decentralized nature, meaning that they aren’t controlled by a central government.

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Why are money market funds safer than the Bitcoin?

Few realise that Brazil was the birthplace of the money market fund. Since their inception money market funds have grown and spread globally. However, they have often eluded a firm definition. In this series of podcasts Viktoria Baklanova, Chief Credit Officer of Acacia Capital (New York), describes the genesis of money market funds, explains what they are, and gives insight to the size of the industry and the major players within it.

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Are you a tax expert?

Today is 15 April or Tax Day in the United States. In recognition of this day we compiled a free virtual issue on taxation bringing together content from books, online products, and journals. The material covers a wide range of specific tax-related topics including income tax, austerity, tax structure, tax reform, and more. The collection is not US-centered, but includes information on economies across the globe.

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The political economy of skills and inequality

By Marius R. Busemeyer and Torben Iversen
Inequality has been on the rise in all the advanced democracies in the past three or four decades; in some cases dramatically. Economists already know a great deal about the proximate causes.

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China’s exchange rate conundrum

Ronald McKinnon
In late February, the slow appreciation of China’s currency was interrupted by a discrete depreciation from 6.06 to 6.12 yuan per dollar. Despite making front page headlines in the Western financial press, this 1% depreciation was too small to significantly affect trade in goods and services—and hardly anything compared to how floating exchange rates change among other currencies.

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The economics of sanctions

By Richard S. Grossman
Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine has left its neighbors—particularly those with sizable Russian-speaking populations such as Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia, and what is left of Ukraine—looking over their shoulder wondering if they are next on Vladimir Putin’s list of territorial acquisitions. The seizure has also left Europe and United States looking for a coherent response.

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The political economy of policy transitions

By Michael Trebilcock
The long fight to end slavery, led by William Wilberforce, among many others, culminated in Britain with the enactment of the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833. This Act made provision for a payment of £20 million (almost 40% of the British budget at the time) in compensation to plantation owners in many British colonies — about US$21 billion in present day value.

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What does the economic future hold for Spain?

By William Chislett
The good news is that Spain has finally come out of a five-year recession that was triggered by the bursting of its property bubble. The bad news is that the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at a whopping 26%, double the European Union average.

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What Coke’s cocaine problem can tell us about Coca-Cola Capitalism

By Bart Elmore
In the 1960s, Coca-Cola had a cocaine problem. This might seem odd, since the company removed cocaine from its formula around 1903, bowing to Jim Crow fears that the drug was contributing to black crime in the South. But even though Coke went cocaine-free in the Progressive Era, it continued to purchase coca leaves from Peru, removing the cocaine from the leaves but keeping what was left over as a flavoring extract.

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Monetary policy, asset prices, and inflation targeting

By David Cobham
The standard arguments against monetary policy responding to asset prices are the claims that it is not feasible to identify asset price bubbles in real time, and that the use of interest rates to restrain asset prices would have big adverse effects on real economic activity. So what happened with central banks and house prices prior to the financial crisis of 2007-8?

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A hidden pillar of the modern world economy

By David Gugerli and Tobias Straumann
In September 1965, Hurricane Betsy devastated parts of Florida and the central United States Gulf Coast. The damage was estimated at $1 billion – so far the costliest natural disaster in US history.

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Collective emotions and the European crisis

By Mikko Salmela and Christian von Scheve
Nationalist, conservative, and anti-immigration parties as well as political movements have risen or become stronger all over Europe in the aftermath of EU’s financial crisis and its alleged solution, the politics of austerity. This development has been similar in countries like Greece, Portugal, and Spain where radical cuts to public services such as social security and health care have been implemented as a precondition for the bail out loans arranged by the European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund and countries such as Finland, France, and the Netherlands that have contributed to the bailout while struggling with the crisis themselves.

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