National Bureau of Economic Research

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As the Trump administration considers a rollback of strict Obama-era fuel standards, which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, a recent study has provided a new argument in their favor: They might actually save lives. One common way automakers improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles — that is, how much gasoline they consume per mile — is to reduce the weight of the automobile. And the new study, a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in April, suggests that a reduction in the overall average weight of vehicles on the road may actually result in fewer fatalities as a result of car crashes. This means that, even for critics who are not interested in reducing greenhouse gases from cars, there’s still an argument to be made for keeping vehicle fuel standards, said Antonio Bento, an environmental economics expert at the University of Southern California and one of the study’s co-authors. “What the paper shows is that even if those environmental benefits are very, very low, if nothing else, from a safety reason, you have a reason to move forward with the standards,” he said. The federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or “CAFE” standards, were first introduced in the United States in 1975. In 2012, the Obama administration approved a more stringent set of standards, which would steadily increase the efficiency of certain vehicles through 2025. The standards also changed some of the ways efficiency requirements are applied to cars of different sizes. Facing opposition from the automobile manufacturing industry, the administration later conducted a review of the standards but concluded at the end of 2016 that they would remain in place. However, the Trump administration decided in March to reopen this review — meaning it could decide to weaken or remove the Obama administration’s update. [Trump’s review of car fuel standards could lead to fight with California, environmentalists] Pushback against the CAFE standards is hardly new. Over the decades, industry members and other critics have levied a variety of arguments against them, and one of the most common from the beginning has been the idea that fuel standards sacrifice safety. Many critics have suggested that lighter-weight cars — which are typically more fuel efficient — are more likely to produce fatalities in an crash. This may indeed be the case if you’re looking at a weight change in only one car. Say you observe a crash between two SUVs, both around the same size. If you downsize one of those vehicles to a Smart car, the chance of its passengers being injured or killed may increase. On the other hand, if you downsize both vehicles, the overall risk of fatality might actually become smaller than it was to begin with. The researchers argue that, in the past, critics have only examined the effects of reducing an individual vehicle’s weight and not the standards’ overall effects on all vehicles in circulation — an important distinction. “What CAFE actually does is it doesn’t just lower the weight of one vehicle,” said Kevin Roth, an environmental economist at the University of California at Irvine and another co-author of the study. “It changes the entire composition of the fleet.” The researchers (who included Bento, Roth and co-author Kenneth Gillingham of Yale University) focused their study on two effects of the original CAFE standards: a reduction in the average weight of all vehicles on the road and a change in the dispersion of their weight — that is, how much variation there is in the weight of individual cars. Dispersion is what really causes safety problems, the researchers note. If you think about the scenario with the SUV and the Smart car, the problem wasn’t just that the Smart car, by itself, is a lightweight vehicle — it’s that it was pitted against a much heavier one. Automakers’ responses to fuel economy standards tend to produce a reduction in the average weight of vehicles on the road, as well as an increase in their weight dispersion. The relevant safety question, then, is whether an increase in weight dispersion, or a decrease in mean weight, is the more dominant outcome. To investigate, the researchers analyzed data on vehicles sold in the United States between 1954 and 2005 to see how their weight changed after the original CAFE standards were introduced in 1975. Next, they collected police reports on 17 million car crashes across 13 states between 1989 and 2005, noting which ones produced fatalities and the weights of the vehicles involved. Finally, the researchers conducted a series of simulations to see how these crashes might have turned out if the original CAFE standards had not been introduced and the vehicles’ weights had not been adjusted. The simulations suggested that 171 to 439 fewer fatalities occurred each year with the standards in place than without them, depending on factors such as the year and the location of the crashes. “I think one of the findings of this study is that these [safety] concerns have been drummed up as the reason to get rid of this standard,” Roth said. “We’re essentially showing that these concerns are probably overblown.” In fact, some of the changes the Obama administration made to the CAFE standards were designed to address safety concerns, according to Joshua Linn, a senior fellow at environmental research nonprofit Resources for the Future. (Linn was not involved with the new study but has provided comments on the working paper to the authors.) The study suggests that, in reality, this was probably never actually a problem, he said. However, the new study addresses only the effects of the original CAFE standards — not the Obama administration’s update, which may take years to produce noticeable changes in the composition of vehicles on the road, Roth noted. This means that the researchers can’t say for certain that their findings apply to the Obama standards under review. But they may suggest that “there’s no reason to think that removing the standards is going to improve safety on the road,” Roth said. It remains to be seen whether the safety argument will become a major point in the talks about the CAFE standards’ future under the Trump administration. So far, many of these discussions have revolved around the costs and logistics manufacturers face in complying with the current rules. Last week, automakers reportedly met with the heads of the Transportation Department and Environmental Protection Agency to discuss some of these issues. And it may be that the Obama standards are adjusted rather than removed. However, should a rollback begin to appear imminent, “then actually our study could become incredibly influential in the sense that our study looks at a historical perspective on the standards,” Bento said. “You start measuring what would happen if you were to truly remove or to lower the standards, potentially.”


The Chemical Activity Barometer has four primary components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators. In April, production-related indicators were positive, with U.S. exports and housing permits improving. Equity prices retreated as uncertainty over tax reform and other public policy issues gained footing. Inventory and product prices all remained positive. Overall the barometer suggests accelerating gains in U.S. business activity through the end of the year. The Chemical Activity Barometer is a leading economic indicator derived from a composite index of chemical industry activity. The chemical industry has been found to consistently lead the U.S. economy's business cycle given its early position in the supply chain, and this barometer can be used to determine turning points and likely trends in the wider economy. Month-to-month movements can be volatile so a three-month moving average of the barometer is provided. This provides a more consistent and illustrative picture of national economic trends. Applying the CAB back to 1912, it has been shown to provide a lead of two to fourteen months, with an average lead of eight months at cycle peaks as determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The median lead was also eight months. At business cycle troughs, the CAB leads by one to seven months, with an average lead of four months. The median lead was three months. The CAB is rebased to the average lead (in months) of an average 100 in the base year (the year 2012 was used) of a reference time series. The latter is the Federal Reserve's Industrial Production Index. Chemical Activity Barometer for the Latest Six Months and Year-Ago Month* *Percentage changes may not reflect index values due to rounding. The CAB comprises indicators relating to the production of chlorine and other alkalies, pigments, plastic resins and other selected basic industrial chemicals; chemical company stock data; hours worked in chemicals; publicly sourced, chemical price information; end-use (or customer) industry sales-to-inventories; and several broader leading economic measures (building permits and new orders). Each month, ACC provides a barometer number, which reflects activity data for the current month, as well as a three-month moving average. The CAB was developed by the economics department at the American Chemistry Council. The next CAB is currently planned for: 23 May 2017 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time The CAB is designed and prepared in compliance with ACC's Antitrust Guidelines and FTC Safe Harbor Guidelines; does not use company-specific price information as input data; and data is aggregated such that company-specific and product-specific data cannot be determined. Note: Every effort has been made in the preparation of this publication to provide the best available information. However, neither the American Chemistry Council, nor any of its employees, agents or other assigns makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for any use, or the results of such use, of any information or data disclosed in this material. www.americanchemistry.com To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/economic-indicator-marks-strong-opening-to-second-quarter-up-more-than-five-percent-over-last-year-300444723.html


News Article | May 17, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

SALT LAKE CITY , May 17, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Medici Ventures, a global leader in advancing blockchain technology, announces the formation of the company’s inaugural board of directors. Blockchain pioneer Bruce Fenton and former presidential advisor and economic policy expert Robert J. Shapiro join Medici Ventures’ President Jonathan E. Johnson III and Overstock.com board member Barclay F. Corbus on the board. “This board of directors combines blockchain expertise with top-level expertise from the worlds of economics, entrepreneurship, and finance,” said Patrick M. Byrne, CEO and founder of Overstock.com, the owner of Medici Ventures.  “I know that Jonathan, Bruce, Robert and Clay will guide Medici Ventures adroitly as the firm continues to break ground in blockchain technology.” Mr. Johnson is president of Medici Ventures, Overstock's subsidiary that oversees a portfolio of blockchain technology and fintech businesses, including t0, which recently completed the world’s first blockchain-based stock offering on its platform. Johnson joined Overstock in 2002, and has served as the chairman of Overstock's board of directors since April 2014, transitioning to the position after five years as the company's president, and later, as the acting CEO and executive vice chairman of the board. He has been an integral part of Overstock's meteoric growth from a small start-up to a publicly traded company with over $1.8 billion in sales and over 1,700 employees. Johnson received a Bachelor's Degree in Japanese from Brigham Young University, studied at Osaka University of Foreign Studies in Japan as a Ministry of Education Scholar, and received his Juris Doctor degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. Bruce Fenton is an experienced economic advisor and an active member of the blockchain industry. He is the founder of Atlantic Financial, the former Executive Director and a current board member of the Bitcoin Foundation, a co-founder of the Bitcoin Association, and the organizer of the first Dubai Bitcoin Conference. He is also the host and founder of the Satoshi Roundtable retreat, an exclusive, invitation-only retreat for leaders in the blockchain industry. Currently, Mr. Fenton is serving as Managing Director of Atlantic Financial which, in 1994, became the first full-service investment firm on the internet. Prior to Atlantic Financial, he was with Morgan Stanley and specialized in emerging technologies and emerging markets. Mr. Fenton has completed several significant transactions and served as a consultant to large investment funds, along with ultra-high net worth individuals, and families. He has served as an advisor to one of the world’s largest charitable organizations for Gulf engagement, and to a top ten global private equity firm. He travels extensively, and has lived in the US and Asia, as well as Riyadh and Dubai. Robert J. Shapiro is the chairman and founder of Sonecon, LLC, a private firm that advises U.S. and foreign businesses, governments and non-profit organizations on economic and security-related matters. Dr. Shapiro has advised, among others, U.S. President Bill Clinton, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Vice President Al Gore, Jr., U.K. Foreign Minister David Miliband, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Timothy Geithner, and many senior members of the Obama administration, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. He and Sonecon also have advised senior officials of the Departments of Defense and Energy; senior executives at private firms including AT&T, Elliot Management, Exxon-Mobil, Gilead Sciences; and Google, and non-profit organizations including the International Monetary Fund, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Center for American Progress. Dr. Shapiro is also a Senior Fellow of the Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy, director of the NDN Center on Globalization, chief strategist for Brand Transact, and a member of the advisory boards of Gilead Science and Cote Capital.   From 1997 to 2001, he was U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs.  Prior to that, he was co-founder and Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute and, before that, the Legislative Director and Economic Counsel to Senator Daniel P. Moynihan. Dr. Shapiro also served as the principal economic advisor to Bill Clinton in his 1991-1992 presidential campaign, and as a senior economic advisor to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016 and, before that, to the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, John Kerry and Al Gore, Jr. Dr. Shapiro has been a Fellow of Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and the Fugitsu Institute. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Harvard University, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and an A.B. from the University of Chicago. Mr. Barclay F. Corbus has served as a Director of Overstock since March 2007. He is a member of the Audit Committee and Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee, and is the Chairman of the Compensation Committee. Mr. Corbus has served as Senior Vice President of Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a provider of vehicular natural gas, with responsibility for strategic development, since September 2007. He served as Co-CEO of WR Hambrecht + Co., an investment banking firm, from July 2004 to September 2007, and prior to that date served in other executive positions with WR Hambrecht + Co. Prior to joining WR Hambrecht + Co in March 1999, Mr. Corbus was in the investment banking group at Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette. Mr. Corbus graduated from Dartmouth College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government and has a Master's Degree of Business Administration in Finance from Columbia Business School. Launched in 2014, Medici Ventures is a wholly owned subsidiary of Overstock.com, Inc., created to leverage blockchain technology to solve real-world problems with transparent, efficient and secure solutions. Medici Ventures has a growing portfolio of groundbreaking new companies and tech businesses, including t0.com, Peernova, Bitt, SettleMint, Factom, Ripio and IdentityMind. This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Such forward-looking statements include all statements other than statements of historical fact.  Additional information regarding factors that could materially affect results and the accuracy of the forward-looking statements contained herein may be found in the Company's Form 10-K for the quarter ended December 31, 2016, which was filed with the SEC on March 3, 2017, and any subsequent filings with the SEC.


The Chemical Activity Barometer has four primary components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators. In May, two of the four broad categories improved, while the diffusion index (number of positive contributors relative to total indicators monitored) fell to 53 percent from 82 percent in April. Production-related indicators were mixed while equity prices retreated again. Input and product prices were rising and inventory and other downstream indicators remained positive. The Chemical Activity Barometer is a leading economic indicator derived from a composite index of chemical industry activity. The chemical industry has been found to consistently lead the U.S. economy's business cycle given its early position in the supply chain, and this barometer can be used to determine turning points and likely trends in the wider economy. Month-to-month movements can be volatile so a three-month moving average of the barometer is provided. This provides a more consistent and illustrative picture of national economic trends. Applying the CAB back to 1912, it has been shown to provide a lead of two to fourteen months, with an average lead of eight months at cycle peaks as determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The median lead was also eight months. At business cycle troughs, the CAB leads by one to seven months, with an average lead of four months. The median lead was three months. The CAB is rebased to the average lead (in months) of an average 100 in the base year (the year 2012 was used) of a reference time series. The latter is the Federal Reserve's Industrial Production Index. Chemical Activity Barometer for the Latest Six Months and Year-Ago Month* *Percentage changes may not reflect index values due to rounding. The CAB comprises indicators relating to the production of chlorine and other alkalies, pigments, plastic resins and other selected basic industrial chemicals; chemical company stock data; hours worked in chemicals; publicly sourced, chemical price information; end-use (or customer) industry sales-to-inventories; and several broader leading economic measures (building permits and new orders). Each month, ACC provides a barometer number, which reflects activity data for the current month, as well as a three-month moving average. The CAB was developed by the economics department at the American Chemistry Council. The next CAB is currently planned for: 20 June 2017 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time The CAB is designed and prepared in compliance with ACC's Antitrust Guidelines and FTC Safe Harbor Guidelines; does not use company-specific price information as input data; and data is aggregated such that company-specific and product-specific data cannot be determined. Note: Every effort has been made in the preparation of this publication to provide the best available information. However, neither the American Chemistry Council, nor any of its employees, agents or other assigns makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for any use, or the results of such use, of any information or data disclosed in this material. www.americanchemistry.com To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chemical-activity-barometer-remains-strong-but-hints-at-slowing-pace-of-economic-growth-and-business-activity-into-2018-300462398.html


Wilson M.,Brigham and Women's Hospital | Cutler D.,National Bureau of Economic Research
Health Affairs | Year: 2014

To better understand the financial viability of hospital emergency departments (EDs), we created national estimates of the cost to hospitals of providing ED care and the associated hospital revenue using hospital financial reports and patient claims data from 2009. We then estimated the effect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have on the future profitability of providing ED care. We estimated that hospital revenue from ED care exceeded costs for that care by $6.1 billion in 2009, representing a profit margin of 7.8 percent (net revenue expressed as a percentage of total revenue). However, this is primarily because hospitals make enough profit on the privately insured ($17 billion) to cover underpayment from all other payer groups, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and unreimbursed care. Assuming current payer reimbursement rates, ACA reforms could result in an additional 4.4-percentage-point increase in profit margins for hospital-based EDs compared to what could be the case without the reforms. © 2014 Project HOPE-The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.


Lobell D.B.,Stanford University | Schlenker W.,Columbia University | Schlenker W.,National Bureau of Economic Research | Costa-Roberts J.,Stanford University
Science | Year: 2011

Efforts to anticipate how climate change will affect future food availability can benefit from understanding the impacts of changes to date. We found that in the cropping regions and growing seasons of most countries, with the important exception of the United States, temperature trends from 1980 to 2008 exceeded one standard deviation of historic year-to-year variability. Models that link yields of the four largest commodity crops to weather indicate that global maize and wheat production declined by 3.8 and 5.5%, respectively, relative to a counterfactual without climate trends. For soybeans and rice, winners and losers largely balanced out. Climate trends were large enough in some countries to offset a significant portion of the increases in average yields that arose from technology, carbon dioxide fertilization, and other factors.


Li D.,Harvard University | Agha L.,Boston University | Agha L.,National Bureau of Economic Research
Science | Year: 2015

This paper examines the success of peer-review panels in predicting the future quality of proposed research.We construct new data to track publication, citation, and patenting outcomes associated with more than 130,000 research project (R01) grants funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health from1980 to 2008.We find that better peer-review scores are consistently associated with better research outcomes and that this relationship persists even when we include detailed controls for an investigator's publication history, grant history, institutional affiliations, career stage, and degree types. A one-standard deviation worse peer-review score among awarded grants is associated with 15% fewer citations, 7% fewer publications, 19% fewer high-impact publications, and 14%fewer follow-on patents. © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.


Aizer A.,Brown University | Aizer A.,National Bureau of Economic Research | Currie J.,National Bureau of Economic Research | Currie J.,Princeton University
Science | Year: 2014

Health at birth is an important predictor of long-term outcomes, including education, income, and disability. Recent evidence suggests that maternal disadvantage leads to worse health at birth through poor health behaviors; exposure to harmful environmental factors; worse access to medical care, including family planning; and worse underlying maternal health. With increasing inequality, those at the bottom of the distribution now face relatively worse economic conditions, but newborn health among the most disadvantaged has actually improved. The most likely explanation is increasing knowledge about determinants of infant health and how to protect it along with public policies that put this knowledge into practice.


Ravallion M.,Georgetown University | Ravallion M.,National Bureau of Economic Research
Science | Year: 2014

Should income inequality be of concern in developing countries? New data reveal less income inequality in the developing world than 30 years ago. However, this is due to falling inequality between countries. Average inequality within developing countries has been slowly rising, though staying fairly flat since 2000. As a rule, higher rates of growth in average incomes have not put upward pressure on inequality within countries. Growth has generally helped reduce the incidence of absolute poverty, but less so in more unequal countries. High inequality also threatens to stall future progress against poverty by attenuating growth prospects. Perceptions of rising absolute gaps in living standards between the rich and the poor in growing economies are also consistent with the evidence.


Dominici F.,Harvard University | Greenstone M.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Greenstone M.,National Bureau of Economic Research | Sunstein C.R.,Harvard University
Science | Year: 2014

Quasi-experimental evidence is needed on the relations between human health and airborne particulate matter.

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