Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Birdwatching at the Federal Reserve

Seven years ago this month the federal funds rate—a key short-term interest rate set by the Federal Reserve—was lowered below 0.25%. It has remained there ever since.Lowering the fed funds rate to rock-bottom levels did not come as a surprise. The sub-prime mortgage crisis led to a severe economic contraction, the Great Recession, and Federal Reserve policy makers used low interest rates—among other tools—in an effort to revive the economy.

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Hope from Paris: rebuilding trust

It has begun again: the age-old cycle of hate and counter-hate, self-justification and counter-justification, the grim celebrations of righteousness and revenge. In the US, conservative politicians play on it as demagogues always have, projecting strength and patriotism by refusing to take refugees from the lands terrorized by ISIS; my own governor, Chris Christie, tries to outdo his competition by arguing that even five-year-old orphans from Syria should be stopped and sent back, as if they are tainted by being from the same part of the world as the murderers.

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The Uber dilemma: are “crowd-work” platforms employers?

The law has long struggled to adapt to new forms of employment – who should be responsible for the protection of workers’ rights, from minimum wage and working time to discrimination law, in today’s fragmented economy? These fundamental questions are now returning to public discussion as a result of the meteoric rise of so-called “crowd-work”.

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Lessons for Volkswagen on organizational resilience

Volkswagen shocked the world. The world’s largest automaker admitted to creating software that would deliberately generate false exhaust emission information on many of its popular cars. Making matters worse, Volkswagen’s top leadership seemed unsure about how to respond to the crisis as it threatened the company’s reputation, operations, and long-term strategy.

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Place of the Year 2015 nominee spotlight: Greece

Earlier in the year, Greece faced some unsettling economic troubles. The country voted on a referendum that would decide whether they would pull their membership from the European Union (and thus, the union’s currency and economic system). It’s a wonder to think that this country, less than a decade ago, was among one of the richer nations.

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Social opulence: re-branding Labour

Corbynomics has yet to be unpacked. And when it is, there’s danger it will be branded as a return to the bad old days of tax and spend, when the 1983 Labour manifesto was dismissed by pundits as the longest suicide note in history. To avoid this, what Labour needs are some big and positive ideas; ideas that that resonate with the public and which capture that popular mood of radicalism that has put Jeremy Corbyn where he is.

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Academic knowledge and economic growth

Policies aimed at fostering economic growth through public expenditure in tertiary education should be better aware of the different contribution of each specific academic discipline. Rather than introducing measures affecting the allocation of resources in the broad spectrum of academic knowledge, policies might instead introduce ad-hoc measures to foster specific disciplines, for example through differentiated enrollment fees for students.

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Why Henry George matters

What value does the story of Henry George, a self-taught economist from the late nineteenth century, hold for Americans living in the early 21st century? Quite a lot, if we stop to consider the ways in which contemporary American society has come to resemble America in the late-nineteenth century, a period popularly known as the Gilded Age.

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Obstacles on the road to a European Energy Union

Is Europe heading towards an Energy Union — the ambitious goal announced by the Commission at the beginning of this year? If so, many would say that it is about time. Energy has long been neglected by Europe.

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Failed versus rogue states: which are worse?

Today, the international community has its hands full with a host of global challenges; from rising numbers of refugees, international terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferation, to pandemics, cyber-attacks, organized crime, drug trafficking, and others. Where do such global challenges originate? Two primary sources are rogue states like North Korea or Iran and failed states like Afghanistan or Somalia.

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Amartya Sen on gender equality

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, author of The Country of First Boys: And Other Essays talks to Amrita Dutta from The Indian Express about why inequality persists, his educational experiences, and his love for Sanskrit literature.

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Does news have a future?

For over two centuries, newspapers were the dominant news medium. Yet today “dead tree” media-like stamp collecting is, well, so twentieth century. Now that millions of Americans get their news from social media on-line, newspapers have been in free-fall, prompting many pundits to wonder aloud if journalism has a future.

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Clean air… hot air

With elections just about a year away, Americans can expect to hear a lot about regulation during the next twelve months—most of it from Republicans and most of it scathing. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump typifies the GOP’s attitude toward regulation.

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Ben Bernanke and Wall Street executives

In a widely quoted interview with USA Today, Ben Bernanke said that ‘It would have been my preference to have more investigations of individual actions because obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm.’ He makes it clear that he thought some Wall Street executives should have gone to jail.

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