Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Social Sciences

How nations finance themselves matters

To understand how nations should finance themselves it is fruitful to look at how corporations finance themselves, how they divide their financing between debt and equity. Corporations typically issue equity when they need financing for a new profitable investment opportunity, when their shares are overvalued by the stock market, or when they need to raise funds to service their debt obligations.

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The evisceration of storytelling

In his seminal essay “The Storyteller,” published in 1936, the German philosopher Walter Benjamin decried the loss of the craft of oral storytelling marked by the advent of the short story and the novel. Modern society, he lamented, had abbreviated storytelling. Fast forward to the era of Facebook, where the story has become an easily digestible soundbite on your news feed or timeline.. Complexity is eschewed,

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Why consumers forget unethical business practices

Imagine a consumer, Kate, who enjoys shopping for fashionable clothing, but who also cares about whether her clothing is produced ethically. She reads an article online indicating that fashion giant Zara sells clothing made by allegedly unpaid workers, but a few days later ends up buying a new shirt from Zara. She either forgets that Zara may be mistreating workers, or she mistakenly recalls that they are one of the brands that have agreed to a strict code of ethical labor practices, including paying a living wage to all workers.

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How (un)representative is the British political class? [QUIZ]

The fact that the British political class doesn’t fully reflect the diversity seen in the population as a whole is hardly news. However, many people don’t fully appreciate exactly how unrepresentative its members are, or the specific (and sometimes slightly odd) ways in which the political class differs from Britain as a whole.

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The IMF’s role in the evolution of economic orthodoxy since the Crisis

The IMF & World Bank’s Spring meetings with finance ministers and central bankers, which took place in Washington DC recently, are one key forum where the IMF performs its mandated role as conduit of international economic co-ordination. The IMF uses its knowledge bank, expertise and mandate for economic surveillance and coordination to act as global arbiter of legitimate or ‘sound’ policy.

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History books for Dads [reading list]

In recent years, consumer surveys have shown an upward trend in Father’s Day gift-giving. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. Father’s Day spending in 2017 hit record highs: reaching an estimated $15.5 billion. This change could be related to nature of modern fatherhood: today’s dads report spending an average of seven hours per week on child care (nearly triple what fathers reported 50 years ago). To celebrate Father’s Day, we put together a video collection of books we think dads will love. More details about each book can be found in the list below. If you have any reading suggestions for Father’s Day, please share in the comments section!

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Performing for their lives: LGBT individuals seeking asylum

The UN Refugee Convention promises safe haven to individuals who, having crossed an international boundary, can prove a well-founded fear of persecution based upon one of five categories. Least well-defined of these categories, and most ambiguous among them, is ‘membership in a particular social group.’ How does one prove lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender ‘membership’?

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Taxing donor-advised funds

Congress should extend two taxes to donor-advised funds which currently apply to private foundations. First, Congress should apply to donor-advised funds the federal tax on private foundations’ net investment incomes. Second, Congress should extend to donor-advised funds the federal penalty tax imposed upon a private foundation if it fails to pay out annually an amount of at least equal to five percent of its assets.

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Taking pride in standing up for the transgender community

At the beginning of 2017, following the tumultuous election season it was my hope that there would be few changes made to the years of progress for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights and equality. It was clear that prior to the election of 2016, the Obama administration, U.S. Supreme Court, and the Justice Department were committed to promoting social justice for LGBTQ individuals, and most especially the transgender community.

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Markets aren’t natural: governments have to make them work

hether we recognize it or not, “marketcraft” constitutes a core government function comparable to statecraft. By marketcraft, I refer to all the things governments do to make markets function and flourish, like corporate law, antitrust policy, intellectual property rights, and financial regulation. Marketcraft has profound implications for economic performance, social welfare, and national power – so we should want to get it right.

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When corporations do the right thing

Delta Airlines was one of more than a dozen companies to cut ties with the NRA after the school shooting in February 2018 that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida. In a similar spirit six months earlier, CEOs from major American corporations spoke out against racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump’s inadequate response to the violence of white supremacists and their racist rhetoric prompted CEOs from Merck, General Electric, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Unilever, Armor, Dow, and Pepsi to separate themselves from him.

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Investment law leads to more investment: A faulty premise?

If a government ratifies investment treaties and provides foreigners with access to investor-state arbitration, they will receive additional foreign investment. This has been the premise of investment law for over 50 years. Is it true? Two decades of studies testing this premise have been inconclusive. Since statistics on foreign investment are notoriously unreliable, they are unlikely to provide a clear answer anytime soon.

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Is the pre-crisis central bank model still viable after the Great Recession?

The global financial crisis, which started a decade ago and led to the Great Recession, caused profound changes in central bank practices. Extraordinary responsibilities were thrust upon central banks, particularly the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve. A key issue now is whether there will be a return to the central bank model which dominated advanced economies for over two decades leading up to the crisis.

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Covert action is theatre – and the curtain isn’t coming down yet

We are told that intelligence activities are eye-wateringly secret. Yet they have been surprisingly prominent of late. Senior politicians and armies of online bloggers alike are trading bitter accusations about dark arts and dirty tricks.  This is covert action: perhaps the most sensitive – and controversial – of all state activity. What is striking, however, is the visibility of the supposedly hidden hand behind recent operations.

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First they came for Josh Blackman: why censorship isn’t the answer [video]

Having been thinking, reading, speaking, and writing about “hate speech” over the last four decades, I had come to believe that I had nothing new to say, and that all arguments on all sides of the topic had been thoroughly aired. That view began to change several years ago, as I started to see increasing activism on campus and beyond in sup­port of various equal rights causes.

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