Penn Arts and Sciences

Public Lectures

Peter Singer: The Life You Can Save: Effective Giving to Improve the Health and Welfare of the Global Poor

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 5:00pm - 9:00pm

Peter Singer, author of The Life You Can Save and renowned Princeton philosophy professor, argues that we can, and should, donate to highly cost effective charities to improve the health and wellbeing of the world’s poor. Peter Singer is one of the most well-known living philosophers and a leader of the Effective Altruism movement, which applies evidence, reason and rationality to doing good. (See www.thelifeyoucansave.org.) Professor Singer will discuss the moral case for helping others, and the evidence available to do so most effectively.

Peter Singer is, according to The New Yorker, the planet’s "most influential living philosopher." For over thirty years he has challenged traditional notions of applied ethics, and is best known for his work on animal rights, reproductive rights and poverty. He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, a Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne and serves on the Advisory Board of Incentives for Global Health. He has won numerous awards and accolades and has many acclaimed publications, including Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, and The Life You Can Save.

Immigration Policy: Dreaming of Reform (Douglas Rivlin)

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 7:00pm

JOIN THE PENN WHARTON PUBLIC POLICY INITIATIVE STUDENT ASSOCIATION for "U.S. Immigration Policy: Dreaming of Reform," a lecture by Douglas Rivlin, ASC’95, current Director of Communications for for the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Immigration Task Force, U.S. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL-04). This event is in conjunction with the recent release of “Framing the Debate: Immigration,” a comprehensive report on current policy options before Congress and the economic effects of undocumented immigration, authored by members of the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative Student Association.

BANKRUPT: Lessons from the Detroit Fiscal Crisis (Gilles Duranton, Robert Inman, Jeremy Nowak, Thomas Sugrue, Susan Wachter)

Tue, 09/10/2013 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm

Please join the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum and the Penn Institute for Urban Research for a roundtable on Detroit's unprecedented municipal bankruptcy and its implications for urban finance, pensions, and the future of American cities. Speakers include Gilles Duranton, Professor of Real Estate and chair of the Real Estate Department at the Wharton School, Robert P. Inman, Richard K. Mellon Professor of Finance, Economics, and Public Policy, Wharton School; Jeremy Nowak, Chair of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and President of J Nowak and Associates, LLC; and Thomas J. Sugrue, David Boies Professor of History and Sociology and Director of the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum. Moderated by Susan M. Wachter, Co-Director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research. This event is free and open to the public. Please register here.

Who Should be an American? The Past and Future of Immigration Policy (Mae Ngai, Tamar Jacoby, Joseph Berger, Jennifer Rodriguez)

Thu, 10/03/2013 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Co-sponsored by the National Museum of American Jewish History and the University of Pennsylvania Jewish Studies Program, with generous support from the Arlene and Stanley Ginsburg Family Foundation.

IN THIS KICKOFF EVENT FOR a year in which we will examine the many dimensions of immigration policy, and in conjunction with the National Museum of Jewish American History, Penn SSPF has brought together important perspectives on the past and future of immigration in this distinguished panel.  It ultimately explores whether, in efforts to maintain America's longstanding status as a nation of immigrants, the emphasis should be on the economic benefit for the U.S. or social justice for those who seek to live here.

Mae M. Ngai, Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies at Columbia University, is a U.S. legal and political historian interested in questions of immigration, citizenship, and nationalism. She is author of the award winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (2004) and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America (2010).  Ngai has written on immigration history and policy for the Washington Post, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Nation, and the Boston Review. Before becoming a historian she was a labor union organizer and educator in New York City, working for District 65-UAW and the Consortium for Worker Education.  She is now working on Yellow and Gold: The Chinese Mining Diaspora, 1848-1908, a study of Chinese gold miners and racial politics in the nineteenth-century California, the Australian colony of Victoria, and the South African Transvaal.

Tamar Jacoby is president and CEO of ImmigrationWorks USA, a national federation of small business owners working to advance better immigration law. She is a nationally known journalist and author. Her articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, The Weekly Standard and Foreign Affairs, among other publications, and she is a regular guest on national television and radio.  She is author of Someone Else’s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration, and editor of Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What It Means To Be American, a collection of essays about immigrant integration.

From 1989 to 2007, she was a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Before that, she was a senior writer and justice editor for Newsweek. From 1981 to 1987, she was the deputy editor of The New York Times op-ed page.

Jennifer Rodriguez is Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, a new city agency created in 2013 by Mayor Michael Nutter.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Boston University and a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the Mayor's Office, Rodriguez managed a more than $200 million portfolio as Vice President of Financial Services with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, and served as deputy vice president at Asociación de Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) where she oversaw the nonprofit organization’s human service programs and directed its sustainable communities initiative.

Joseph Berger (Moderator) has been a reporter, editor, and columnist for the New York Times since 1984. He was a religion correspondent from 1985 to 1987, covering the Pope's trip to ten American cities, and national education correspondent from 1987 to 1990, a period when American school curricula were under attack as too European-focused. From 1990 until 1993, he covered New York City's schools and colleges, when there were bitter controversies over condom distribution and AIDS instruction. He was the recipient of the 1993 Education Writers Association award for exposing abuses in bilingual education. In September 1999, he was appointed deputy education editor, and regularly writes a column on education. Prior to joining the Times, Mr. Berger worked as Newsday's religion writer, where he three times won the Supple Award given by the Religion Newswriters Association, its highest honor. Mr. Berger also worked at The New York Post, covering such assignments as the 1973 Middle East War and Watergate. From 1967 to 1971, he was an English teacher at a Bronx junior high school.

Berger is the author of several books, including Displaced Persons: Growing Up American After the Holocaust (2001), a memoir about his family's experience as refugees in New York in the 1950s and 1960s. The book was chosen as a notable book of the year byThe New York Times. His most recent book is The World in a City: Traveling the Globe through the Neighborhoods of the New New York (2007).

Berger was born in Russia in 1945, spent the postwar years in displaced persons camps in Germany and, after immigrating to the U.S., grew up in Manhattan and the Bronx. He is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, City College, and the Bronx High School of Science.

The New Refugees: Seeking Haven in Post-Cold War, Post-9/11 America (Maria Cristina Garcia)

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 4:30pm - 6:00pm

THE END OF THE COLD WAR altered the ideological lens that for half a century shaped U.S. definitions of – and policies toward – refugees and asylum-seekers. During the Cold War, the vast majority of the refugees resettled in the United States came from communist countries, but today “refugees” and “asylees” receive protection on a much wider range of religious, political, social, and gender-related grounds. Foreign policy, concerns about homeland security, and humanitarian obligations continue to influence who is admitted to the U.S. and in what numbers, but non-governmental actors and the courts are playing an ever greater role in shaping U.S. refugee policy.  Prof. Garcia examines these developments, as well as the implications of these changing definitions for both immigrant and host societies.

“Thus, Mexico, the United States, and Canada have two parallel and competing goals in the new century: facilitate the free movement of capital while controlling the movement of ‘undesirables.’  Decades of immigration restriction measures have demonstrated the difficulties of controlling unwanted migration.  Visas, fines on airlines and shipping companies, increased border security personnel, criminal penalties on smugglers, streamlined detention and deportation procedures, and multinational ‘crackdowns’ on illegal immigration may temporarily reduce the number of immigrants and refugees in a given year, but only until new entry points, transportation networks, and legal loopholes are discovered. . . . Unfortunately, refugees are now subsumed under this general category of ‘undesirables.’  The goal of these three countries, as well as others in the region, should be to create and reinforce procedural safeguards that respect the safety and human rights of all migrants.”
– From Seeking Refuge

Maria Cristina Garcia is the Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies at Cornell University.  She studies refugees, immigrants, exiles, and transnationals in the Americas. Her first book, Havana USA (1996), examined the migration of Cubans to the United States after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. Her second book, Seeking Refuge (2006), is a study of the individuals, groups, and organizations that responded to the Central American refugee crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, and helped shape refugee policies throughout North America. Garcia has been chosen as a fellow for 2013-14 by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Her project as a Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow in residence will be “Refuge in Post-Cold War America.”

Getting Comprehensive Immigration Reform Right (Demetrios Papademetriou)

Fri, 12/13/2013 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

UNTIL THE RECENT SHOWDOWNS IN WASHINGTON brought other policy initiatives to a standstill, movement on immigration reform was significant, even astounding. It is unusual for a divisive issue to jump from the near oblivion of repeated legislative failures to the center of the political and policy stage as quickly as immigration reform had done since the beginning of the year. And the broad policy prescription on which both a bipartisan group of eight senators and the president appeared to agree was nothing short of audacious. In fact, a mere few months earlier, virtually all congressional Republicans and a fair number of Democrats would have pronounced the plan dead on arrival.  And now, as pressure for legislative accomplishment compels a return to immigration reform, Papademetriou provides a clear and incisive look at the various proposals, their virtues, and their potential pitfalls.

“Although we passed substantial legislation in 1986, focusing on illegal immigration, and 1990, focusing on labor migration, we have been unable to reorient policies since then in ways that reflect and adapt to the vast changes in the U.S. and global economies. . . . Some may see this stasis as standing by the 1965 legislation’s commitment to American families and American workers. Most, however, see it as it is. First, as a system whose commitment to family reunification is a false promise for all but the closest family members of U.S. citizens (spouses, minor children, and parents). Second, as a system that is still struggling with how to protect the jobs of U.S. workers (that is, everyone with the legal right to work in the U.S.) but gives little thought to their broader interests, which include more and better jobs that smart immigration policies can help generate. [And] third, as a system that turned a blind eye to illegal immigration and to the large-scale settlement of illegally resident immigrants and, as a result, vastly expanded low-wage sectors and flattened the wages in such sectors even more.”
– From “The Fundamentals of Immigration Reform,” The American Prospect

Demetrios G. Papademetriou is President and Co-Founder of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a Washington-based think tank dedicated exclusively to the study of international migration. He is also President of Migration Policy Institute Europe, a nonprofit, independent research institute in Brussels that aims to promote a better understanding of migration trends and effects within Europe; and serves on MPI Europe’s Administrative Council.

Papademetriou has published more than 250 books, articles, monographs, and research reports on migration topics and advises senior government and political party officials in more than 20 countries. He is co-author and co-editor of Migration and the Great Recession: The Transatlantic Experience (2011), and co-author of Immigration Policy in the Federal Republic of Germany: Negotiating Membership and Remaking the Nation (2010) and Immigration and America's Future: A New Chapter (2006).

Ending Too Big to Fail: Financial Regulation After Dodd-Frank (Sheila Bair)

Thu, 05/09/2013 - 2:00pm - 4:30pm

The talk by Chairman Bair will be followed by a panel discussion on financial regulation featuring Bair and Wharton Professors Franklin Allen, Richard Herring and Susan Wachter.

AS CHAIRMAN OF THE FDIC DURING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS, Sheila Bair oversaw the successful resolution of over 350 banking institutions representing assets in excess of $800 billion.  Working in tandem with the Federal Reserve Board and US Treasury Department, the FDIC was deeply involved in the frenetic efforts to stabilize troubled financial behemoths such as Wachovia, Citibank and Bank of America, representing trillions of dollars in assets.

Chairman Bair fought a public --if not always successful -- battle against government bailouts and decried the lack of adequate tools to deal with failing financial conglomerates.  She successfully sought new authority in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to place all large financial institutions under the same type of receivership process the FDIC has successfully used for insured banks, thus shifting the financial burden of failure onto creditors and shareholders, not taxpayers.

"The bailouts, while stabilizing the financial system in the short term, have created a long-term drag on our economy.  Because we propped up the mismanaged institutions, our financial sector remains bloated.  The well-managed institutions have to compete with the boneheads.  We did not force financial institutions to shed their bad assets and recognize their losses.  Lingering uncertainty about the true extent of those losses made previously profligate management more risk averse when prudent risk taking and lending were most needed, particularly by small businesses.  Only in 2012 did we finally see some meaningful pickup in lending by the big financial institutions.  Economic growth is sluggish, unemployment remains high.  The housing market still struggles.  I hope that our economy continues to improve.  But it will do so despite the bailouts, not because of them."
-- From Bull by the Horns (2012)

Sheila C. Bair served as the 19th Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for a five-year term, from June 2006 through June 2011. As FDIC Chairman, Ms. Bair presided over a tumultuous period in the nation’s financial sector, working to bolster public confidence and system stability. Determined not to turn to taxpayer borrowing during the crisis, the FDIC managed its losses and liquidity needs entirely through its traditional industry-funded resources.  In response to the financial crisis, she developed innovative and stabilizing programs that provided temporary liquidity guarantees to unfreeze credit markets and increased deposit insurance limits.  In 2007, she was a singular – and prescient – advocate for systematic loan modifications to stem the coming tidal wave of foreclosures. Ms. Bair also led FDIC resolution strategies to sell failing banks to healthier institutions, while providing credit support of future losses from failed banks’ troubled loans. That strategy saved the Deposit Insurance Fund $40 billion over losses it would have incurred if the FDIC had liquidated those banks.

Chairman Bair has also received several honors for her published work on financial issues, including her educational writings on money and finance for children, and for professional achievement. Among the honors she has received are: Distinguished Achievement Award, Association of Education Publishers (2005); Personal Service Feature of the Year, and Author of the Month Awards, Highlights Magazine for Children (2002, 2003 and 2004); and The Treasury Medal (2002). Her first children’s book, Rock, Brock and the Savings Shock, was published in 2006 and her second, Isabel’s Car Wash, in 2008. Bull by the Horns (2012) documents her tenure as FDIC Chairman.

She is also a regular contributor to CNN Money.

Possibilities and Perils: The Future of Economic Policy (Peter Orszag)

Thu, 03/28/2013 - 5:00pm - 6:30pm

IN THE WAKE OF THE FINANCIAL CRISIS, Great Recession and sluggish recovery, good federal policy can help rebuild the American economy and make it both more stable and equitable. Misguided policy could take the nation down a very different road. In an era of divided government and political brinksmanship, many sensible policies don’t get the public airing they deserve – much less the legislative action we desperately need.  Peter Orszag, Citigroup Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking and the former head of the Office of Budget and Management, discusses the options facing economic policy makers.

“The negotiations are about more than taxes. There is also the debt limit, which, according to the best guesses of both the Congressional Budget Office and the Bipartisan Policy Center, will be reached in the first quarter of 2013.

So the question for the Democrats is: Even if you win higher marginal tax rates, how do you plan to get the debt limit increased? The Republicans, after all, could cave on raising taxes but still be unwilling to include a debt-limit increase in the agreement, absent any changes to entitlements. In that case, the fiscal-cliff victory would be Pyrrhic, with another crisis arriving in February or March.

In any case, Democrats should affirmatively want entitlement reform that is progressive and puts the crucial programs on a sounder footing.

On Social Security, the Democrats, while they still control the White House and the Senate, should want to lock in the victory they have already won over the idea of keeping private accounts out of Social Security. Plus, as Peter Diamond and I have laid out, it’s possible to restore the program’s long-term solvency while also making it fairer -- including by having it reflect the growing gap in life expectancy by income and education. Finally, and perhaps most important, Social Security reform can be phased in gradually, thereby minimizing the damage to the labor market from too much austerity too soon.”

– from “A Good Deal Will Raise Tax Rates, Fix Entitlements,” which appeared December 4, 2012 on Bloomberg View.

Peter Orszag is an American economist, currently serving as Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking at Citigroup. He also writes a bimonthly column for Bloomberg View, covering such topics such as bipartisanship, the American class divide, unemployment, and other economic issues. Orszag is currently an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He resides and works in New York City. Prior to becoming Vice Chairman of Global Banking at Citigroup, Peter Orszag served as the 37th Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under President Barack Obama, who nominated him to the position. He served as the Director from November 2008 through August 2010, after which he took his current position. Orszag also served as the Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) from January 2007 until November of 2008. From 2001-2007, Orszag was a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he headed the Hamilton Project and the Retirement Security Project. He was a lecturer at UC Berkeley in macroeconomics in 1999 and 2000. Before this, he worked in the Clinton administration as Senior Economist and Senior Adviser on the Council of Economic Advisers in 1995 and 1996, and as Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy in 1997 and 1998. Orszag has also been a columnist for the New York Times, writing about the deficit, Social Security, health care, and other topics.

Continental Drift: The Forces Underlying the Euro Crisis (Thomas Sargent)

Mon, 01/28/2013 - 4:30pm - 6:00pm

A NOBEL-PRIZE WINNING ECONOMIST looks beyond the headlines to examine the deeper issues driving day-to-day events in Europe and other polities experiencing "fiscal crises" – and suggests that economic theory may help point the way out, though not by promising any easy solutions. As he has written, the "concept of equilibrium ties our hands by asserting that if you want to change outcomes, then you have to reform institutions. This is subversive. Nevertheless, that is what economic theory teaches."  

"In terms of fiscal arrangements, the EU today has features reminiscent of the U.S. under the Articles of Confederation. The power to tax lies with the member states. Unanimous consent by member states is required for many important EU-wide fiscal actions. Reformers in Europe today seek to redesign these aspects of European institutions, but so far the temporal order in which they have sought to rearrange institutions has evidently differed from early U.S. experience in key respects. The U.S. nationalized fiscal policy first, and for the U.S. framers, monetary policy did not mean managing a common fiat currency, or maybe even having a common currency at all. The EU has first sought to centralize arrangements for managing a common fiat currency and until now has not wanted a fiscal union. And to begin its fiscal union, the U.S. carried out a comprehensive bailout of the government debts of the individual states. So far, at least, the EU does not have a fiscal union, and few statesmen now openly call for a comprehensive bailout by the EU of the debts owed by governments of the member states."
– from "United States Then, Europe Now," Sargent's Nobel Prize lecture delivered in Stockholm on December 8, 2011.

Thomas Sargent is William R. Berkley Professor of Economics and Business, The Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University and, along with Christopher Sims, the 2011 Nobel Prize Winner in Economics for work analyzing the causal relationships between economic activity and policy actions. He is the author of The Conquest of American Inflation (2001) and co-author of Recursive Macroeconomic Theory, 3rd edition (2012), Robustness (2008), and The Big Problem of Small Change (2002), as well as numerous papers.

Inequality in America: The 1% in Historical and Comparative Perspective (Thomas Piketty)

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:00pm - 5:30pm

THE SHARE OF TOTAL INCOME going to top income groups has risen dramatically in recent decades in the United States and in many other (but not all) countries. Taking the U.S. case, after a precipitous (10 percentage point) decline during World War II and stability in the postwar decades, the top decile share has surged (a rise of more than 10 percentage points) since the 1970s and reached almost 50 percent by 2007, the highest level on record.  Most of the changes in the top decile are due to dramatic changes in the top percentile, which rose from 8.9 percent in 1976 to 23.5 percent in 2007. The share of an even wealthier group—the top 0.1 percent—has more than quadrupled from 2.6 percent to 12.3 percent over this period. Why do these increases at the top matter? Several answers can be given. The most general is that people have a sense of fairness and care about the distribution of economic resources across individuals in society. There are also specific economic reasons why we should be interested in the top income groups: their impact on overall growth and resources, their impact on overall inequality, and their global significance.

“[Would] increased taxes on the top income group would yield appreciable revenue that could be deployed to fund public goods or redistribution? This question is of particular interest in the current U.S. policy debate where large government deficits will require raising tax revenue in coming years. The standard response by many economists in the past has been that ‘the game is not worth the candle.’ Indeed, net of all federal taxes, in the United States in 1976 the top percentile received only 5.8 percent of total pretax income, an amount equal to 24 percent of all federal taxes (individual, corporate, estate taxes, and social security and health contributions) in that year. However, by 2007, net of all federal taxes, the top percentile received 17.3 percent of total pretax income, or about 74 percent of all federal taxes raised in 2007. Therefore, it is clear that the surge in the top percentile share has greatly increased the ‘tax capacity’ at the top of the income distribution. In budgetary terms, this cannot be ignored. “
– From “Top Incomes in the Long R
un of History” (with Anthony B. Atkinson and Emmanuel Saez), Journal of Economic Literature 49 (2011)

Thomas Piketty is Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics, of which he was the founder and first director from 2005 and 2007. He is the author of numerous articles published in journals such as the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Journal of Political Economy, the American Economic Review and the Review of Economic Studies, and of a dozen books. He has done major empirical and theoretical work on the interplay between economic development and the distribution of income and wealth. He is the initiator of the recent literature on the historical evolution of top income shares (now available in the World Top Incomes Database).

Read Piketty in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Piketty and co-authors in The Journal of Economic Literature and in a working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research, "Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities."

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