Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Iraqi constitution draft

Complete text of the draft Iraqi constitution, as translated from the Arabic by the Associated Press. Source : University of Pittsburg, School of Law

Available as online text or dowloadable PDF.

[link to site]

Internet Advertising and the Generalized Second Price Auction: Selling Billions of Dollars Worth of Keywords

Abstract : We investigate the generalized second price auction (GSP), a new auction mechanism, which is used by Internet search engines to sell online advertising. GSP is tailored to its unique environment, and neither the mechanism nor the environment have previously been studied in the auction literature. Although GSP looks similar to the Vickrey-Clarke-Groves (VCG) auction, its properties are very di erent. In particular, unlike the VCG auction, GSP generally does not have an equilibrium in dominant strategies, and truth-telling is not an equilibrium of GSP. To analyze the properties of GSP in dynamic environment we describe the generalized English auction that corresponds to the GSP and show that it has a unique equilibrium. This is an ex post equilibrium that results in the same payo s to all players as the dominant strategy equilibrium of VCG. Authors : Benjamin Edelman, Harvard University; Michael Ostrovsky, Stanford University; Michael Schwarz, U.C. Berkeley and NBER | Source : Institute of Business and Economic Research Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley

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The Political Participation of Working Youth and College Students

Young people who both study and work are busier than students who do not work. However, student-workers report higher levels of interest in politics, newspaper reading, talking politics with friends, engaging or practicing civic skills, having been asked to vote, making their views known, and political participation. Many student-workers appear to be pursuing bachelor's degrees, but they are also more engaged, more open to politics, and less likely to feel dissuaded by potential barriers to participation than their peers who are attending college full-time. Whether they work or not, students between the ages of 19 and 23 tend to be more politically engaged than their peers who are out of school and college altogether. Source : The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Personal Papers of Sarah Emily Davies

Online access to the writings of Sarah Emily Davies, a leading campaigner in the women’s suffrage movement. Includes correspondence, press cuttings, letters to the press, publications of women's suffrage societies, petitions, Parliamentary papers, etc. Papers date from 1907-1918. Source : Cambridge University

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Deciding to Distrust

Abstract : "We employ experiments to illustrate one factor contributing to the lack of distrust in the recent corporate scandals: Trust rather than no trust was the default. Holding the expected returns from trusting constant, people are more trusting when the default is trust than when it is no trust. In a new game, the Distrust Game (DTG), where the default is full trust, trust levels are higher and trustworthiness levels lower than in the BDM-Trust Game (TG), where the default is no trust. Agents punish distrust more in the DTG than in the TG but principals do not anticipate this." Authors : Iris Bohnet and Stephan Meier | Source: Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Faculty Research Working Paper Series

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Psychological and behavioural reactions to the bombings in London on 7 July 2005: cross sectional survey of a representative sample of Londoners

"Although the psychological needs of those intimately caught up in the attacks will require further assessment, we found no evidence of a widespread desire for professional counselling. The attacks have inflicted disproportionately high levels of distress among non-white and Muslim Londoners." Source : British Medical Journal

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Monday, August 22, 2005

On Death Row in Japan

"Iwao hakamada used to be a promising prizefighter. Crowds cheered his name. Nowadays, his only regular human contact is with prison guards, who address him by number. He spends his time pacing the floor of his nine-by-nine-foot cell at the Tokyo Detention Center. When his food comes, he stares at it for 30 minutes or so before taking a taste. He refuses most of the few visits he’s allowed. This is his life on death row in Japan, where Hakamada, now 69, has been for 25 years." Author : Charles Lane | Source : Hoover Institution Policy Review

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The Well-Being of Single-Mother Families After Welfare Reform

Abstract : "Trends in income and consumption tell very different stories about the well-being of single mothers and their children in recent years. On the one hand, data suggest that income fell noticeably for single mothers well below the poverty line, while income grew significantly for single mothers with higher incomes. On the other hand, data on how much these two groups of mothers and children consumed suggest that the material circumstances of both groups improved during the 1990s. We argue that the consumption data better reflect well-being for several reasons. First, consumption is probably measured with less error than income for poor families, and is more strongly associated with other measures of well-being such as health and housing conditions. Second, there is overwhelming evidence that income is underreported by these mothers and that the underreporting, especially of income from welfare and other transfer programs, has increased in recent years." Authors : Bruce D. Meyer and James X. Sullivan | Source : The Brookings Institution

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Stem Cell Research

"For a variety of reasons, many believe research advancement requires new embryonic stem cell lines, and for certain applications, stem cells derived from cloned embryos may offer the best hope for progress in understanding and treating disease. A significant cohort of pro-life advocates support stem cell research; those opposed are concerned that the isolation of stem cells requires the destruction of embryos. Some have argued that stem cell research be limited to adult stem cells obtained from tissues such as bone marrow or umbilical cord blood. They argue that adult stem cells should be pursued instead of embryonic stem cells because they believe the derivation of stem cells from either embryos or aborted fetuses is ethically unacceptable. Other scientists believe adult stem cells should not be the sole target of research because of important scientific and technical limitations. Some scientists are exploring the possibility of obtaining human embryonic stem cells that bypass the destruction of living human embryos." Source : Congressional Research Service

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Work Disability is a Pain in the *****, Especially in England, The Netherlands, and the United States

Abstract : This paper investigates the role of pain in determining self-reported work disability in the US, the UK and The Netherlands. Even if identical questions are asked, cross-country differences in reported work disability remain substantial. In the US and the Netherlands, respondent evaluations of work limitations of hypothetical persons described in pain vignettes are used to identify the extent to which differences in self-reports between countries or socio-economic groups are due to systematic variation in the response scales. Source : NBER

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Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?

Abstract :

This paper reviews the recent evidence on U.S. immigration, focusing on two key questions: (1) Does immigration reduce the labor market opportunities of less-skilled natives? (2) Have immigrants who arrived after the 1965 Immigration Reform Act successfully assimilated? Looking across major cities, differential immigrant inflows are strongly correlated with the relative supply of high school dropouts. Nevertheless, data from the 2000 Census shows that relative wages of native dropouts are uncorrelated with the relative supply of less-educated workers, as they were in earlier years. At the aggregate level, the wage gap between dropouts and high school graduates has remained nearly constant since 1980, despite supply pressure from immigration and the rise of other education-related wage gaps. Overall, evidence that immigrants have harmed the opportunities of less educated natives is scant. On the question of assimilation, the success of the U.S.-born children of immigrants is a key yardstick. By this metric, post-1965 immigrants are doing reasonably well: second generation sons and daughters have higher education and wages than the children of natives. Even children of the least- educated immigrant origin groups have closed most of the education gap with the children of natives. Author : David Card | Source : NBER

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Oral Histories from Sept. 11 Compiled by the N.Y. Fire Department

The Sept. 11 Records
"A rich vein of city records from Sept. 11, including more than 12,000 pages of oral histories rendered in the voices of 503 firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians, were made public on Aug. 12. The New York Times has published all of them.

The oral histories of dispatch transmissions are transcribed verbatim. They have have not been edited to omit coarse language." Source : New York Times

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A Portrait of the Visual Arts: Meeting the Challenges Of A New Era

"The third in a series that examines the state of the arts in America, this analysis shows, in addition to lines around the block for special exhibits, well-paid superstar artists, flourishing university visual arts programs, and a global expansion of collectors, developments in the visual arts also tell a story of rapid, even seismic change, systemic imbalances, and dislocation." Source: RAND Corporation

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First two reports in series:

Pre-9/11 U.S. Attempts to Drive Bin Laden Out of Afghanistan Repeatedly Unsuccessful

Update to National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 134

"The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan told a top Taliban official in September 2000 that the U.S. "was not out to destroy the Taliban," but the "UBL [Osama bin Laden] issue is supremely important," according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, show how years of U.S. diplomacy with the Taliban, combined with pressure on Pakistan, and attempts to employ Saudi cooperation still failed to compel the Taliban to expel bin Laden."

Link to site for download of declassified documents.

Approval Ratings for All 100 U.S. Senators as of August 2005

600 adults age 18+ in each of the 50 states were interviewed by SurveyUSA 8/12/05 to 8/14/05.

Results :
Sorted Alphabetically by State
Sorted Alphabetically by U.S. Senator's Last Name

Sorted from Highest "Net Approval" Score to Lowest
Sorted from Highest Approval Rating to Lowest

Also available for August : Approval Ratings for President George W. Bush

Information and Intellectual Property Protection: Evaluating the Claim that Information Should be Free

The claim “information should be free” (hereinafter ISBF) has become a rallying cry for those who believe intellectual property rights are illegitimately protected by the state. In this essay, I will attempt to (1) determine what ISBF means (which will require determining what the concept-term “information” means as used in ISBF); (2) evaluate what kind of support there is for ISBF; (3) determine whether ISBF conforms to ordinary views about the propriety of certain restrictions on the free flow of information; and (4) determine whether ISBF provides good reason for thinking that legal protection of intellectual property rights is illegitimate. I will argue that the most charitable interpretation of ISBF lacks adequate support in mainstream moral views and thus cannot ground a wholesale challenge to the legitimacy of intellectual property rights. Author : Kenneth Himma | Source : Berkeley Center for Law and Technology

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Social Security 70th Anniversary Survey Report: Trends Over Time

"The latest assessment of Social Security by the American public continues to reflect the strong support that has also characterized two earlier assessments. All three AARP surveys—conducted to celebrate the 50th (1985), 60th (1995) and 70th (2005) anniversaries of Social Security’s founding—have demonstrated the high regard that the American public has for Social Security as an important American institution, not only for America’s retired citizens, but for the entire American adult population." Source : AARP

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The Election after Reform: Money, Politics, and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act

"The book is made up of eleven chapters by leading political scientists in the field on the impact of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in its first election, the election of 2004." Forthcoming book from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. "Under the terms of CFI's agreement with the book's publisher, Rowman and Littlefield, electronic versions (pdf) of all draft chapters will remain available on the CFI website until the book has been published. The edited, published version should be available through bookstores in early 2006." Edited by Michael J. Malbin | Source: The Campaign Finance Institute, affiliated with George Washington University

Link to site

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Women Who Step Out of the Corporate World Find It Hard to Step Back In

Abstract :
In this study, we capture the experiences of women who voluntarily step out of the workforce for a hiatus and provide proactive recommendations that these women, as well as employers and universities, can use to facilitate their re-entry into the working world. This study was done under the advisement of the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change and through the support of the Forté Foundation, as well as several professional women s organizations. The research team constructed a survey to delve into the challenges women face when they are ready to return to work after stepping out for a period of time and to collect their advice about how to alleviate, or at least minimize, these challenges. In addition to the survey, we conducted one-on-one interviews with a select group of our survey respondents to explore their experiences in depth. We were interested in how these women manage the process of returning to work after their hiatuses, something we referred to as stepping back in. We discovered that women seem to face similar difficulties, whether their hiatuses spanned 2 years or 8. While ours is not an academic study, our survey and interviews do cast a light on the experiences these women encounter. We feel our respondents have something important to tell us about the stepping-out process and how the stepping-in process can be improved, and we hope our work enables their voices to be heard.

Source : Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

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Census Data : Pacific Islanders in the United States

This report provides a portrait of the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population in the United States and discusses the largest detailed Pacific Islander groups at the national level: Native Hawaiian, Samoan, Guamanian or Chamorro, Fijian, Tongan, and Marshallese. It is part of the Census 2000 Special Reports series that presents several demographic, social, and economic characteristics collected from Census 2000. Source : U.S. Census Bureau

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The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II: A Collection of Primary Sources

"With the material that follows, the National Security Archive publishes the most comprehensive on-line collection to date of declassified U.S. government documents on the atomic bomb and the end of the war in the Pacific. Besides material from the files of the Manhattan Project, this collection includes formerly "Top Secret Ultra" summaries and translations of Japanese diplomatic cable traffic intercepted under the 'Magic' program. Moreover, the collection includes for the first time translations from Japanese sources of high level meetings and discussions in Tokyo, including the conferences when Emperor Hirohito authorized the final decision to surrender." Source: National Security Archive

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Exploring the Value of Courage in the Workplace

Monica C. Worline, assistant professor of organization and management at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, discusses the need for courage in the contemporary workplace that is focused on knowledge work or service delivery. She says managers should encourage forthright and constructive criticism of the organization, whether it is in reaction to day-to-day-projects gone awry or a response to even more serious ethical breaches. In her groundbreaking research with front line employees and middle managers in high technology workplaces around the world, Worline investigates how courageous behavior can serve to benefit companies. She defines courage as the ability to act on a perceived good for the organization, even in the face of fear or reprisal. Source : Emory University

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Exploring Religious Conflict

Abstract : Reports the result of a workshop that brought together intelligence analysts and experts on religion with the goal of providing background and a frame of reference for assessing religious motivations in international politics and discovering what causes religiously rooted violence and how states have sought to take advantage of or contain religious violence — with emphasis on radical Islam. Source : RAND Corporation

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Unraveling the SES-Health Connection

"People of lower socio-economic status (SES) appear to always have much worse health outcomes. At least until the end of life, at each age every movement down in income is associated with being in poorer health. While a debate rages on about competing reasons why SES may affect health, there is little recognition that the so-called reverse causation from health to economic status may be pretty fundamental as well. Even if the direction of causation is that SES mainly affects health, what dimensions of SES actually matter — the financial aspects such as income or wealth or non-financial dimensions like education? Finally, is there a life course component to the health gradient so that we may be mislead in trying to answer these questions by only looking at people of a certain age — say those past 50. This paper, which is divided into four sections, provides my answers to these questions." Source: RAND Corporation

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

First Generation Students in Postsecondary Education

Abstract : This report uses data from the Postsecondary Education Transcript Study (PETS) of the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS:88) to examine the majors and coursetaking patterns of students who are the first members of their families to attend college (referred to as “first-generation students” in this report) and compare their postsecondary experiences and outcomes with those of students whose parents attended or completed college. The results indicate that first-generation students were at a disadvantage in terms of their access to, persistence through, and completion of postsecondary education. Once in college, their relative disadvantage continued with respect to coursetaking and academic performance. First-generation status was significantly and negatively associated with lower bachelor’s degree completion rates even after controlling for a wide range of interrelated factors, including students’ demographic backgrounds, academic preparation, enrollment characteristics, postsecondary coursetaking, and academic performance. This report also demonstrates that more credits and higher grades in the first year and fewer withdrawn or repeated courses were strongly related to the chances of students (regardless of generation status) persisting in postsecondary education and earning a bachelor’s degree. Source : National Center for Education Statistics (U.S.)

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Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches

The fundamental transformation of American politics can be summed up by the recent history of a single Senate seat. In 1991, Pennsylvania's three-term senator John Heinz was killed in a light plane accident. A Republican, he compiled a moderate record as his party's leading supporter of environmental and labor union causes. In the special election that followed, the Republicans ran another relatively moderate candidate, Richard Thornburgh a former governor and US attorney general, against Harris Wofford, the interim senator. Wofford, who began his career as the first associate director of the Peace Corps, was significantly more liberal than Heinz or Thornburgh was conservative. In a campaign orchestrated by the then relatively unknown James Carville, Wofford ran a platform of fundamental reform of the U.S. Healthcare system. This electoral strategy was wildly successful as Thornburgh was beaten easily and healthcare became the "hot" issue going into the 1992 presidential elections. Authors : Nolan McCarty (fellow 2005), Keith T. Poole (fellow 2004), and Howard Rosenthal (fellow 1992, 1999. Source : Institute of Governmental Studies, U.C. Berkeley

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Friday, August 05, 2005

Terrorist Financing: U.S. Agency Efforts and Inter-Agency Coordination

"Stopping the ability of terrorists to finance their operations is a key component of the U.S. counterterrorism strategy. To accomplish this, the Administration has implemented a three-tiered approach based on (1) intelligence and domestic legal and regulatory efforts; (2) technical assistance to provide capacity-building programs for U.S. allies; and (3) global efforts to create international norms and guidelines. Effective implementation of this strategy requires the participation of, and coordination among, several elements of the U.S. Government. This report provides an agency-by-agency survey of U.S. efforts." Source : Congressional Research Service

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The Elasticity of Trust

Evidence from Kuwait, Oman, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States Abstract : "This paper employs experiments to determine how effectively arrangements decreasing the expected cost of trust betrayal foster trust in three Gulf countries (Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates), and two Western countries (Switzerland and the United States). Our basic instrument elicits subjects' minimum acceptable probabilities for trustworthiness that would make them just willing to trust. Trust proves more elastic to the likelihood and the cost of betrayal in the West than in the Gulf. Risk aversion and betrayal aversion contribute to this difference. The disparities between the West and the Gulf are driven more by men than by women." Authors : Iris Bohnet, Benedikt Herrmann and Richard Zeckhauser | Source : Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Faculty Research Working Paper Series.

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Public Agenda Confidence in U.S. Foreign Policy Index

"The American public sees the web of issues surrounding relations with the Islamic world as the fundamental foreign policy problem facing the nation – but they have little idea what to do about it. So far, public thinking is a disquieting mix of high anxiety, growing uncertainly about current policy, and virtually no consensus about what else the country might do." Source: Public Agenda

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Truth and consequences of offshoring

"This briefing paper examines three studies claiming that the offshoring of white-collar work will result in large benefits to the U.S. economy. These studies—written by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), Global Insight (GI), and Catherine Mann in a policy brief for the Institute for International Economics (IIE)—have been cited often in business reporting about the overall impact of white-collar offshoring on the American economy. However, these findings do not hold up to scrutiny, and in fact, each paper makes excessive claims about the benefits of white-collar offshoring." Source: Economic Policy Institute

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

How Do Friendships Form?

Abstract : We examine how people form social networks among their peers. We use a unique dataset that tells us the volume of email between any two people in the sample. The data are from students and recent graduates of Dartmouth College. First year students interact with peers in their immediate proximity and form long term friendships with a subset of these people. This result is consistent with a model in which the expected value of interacting with an unknown person is low (making traveling solely to meet new people unlikely), while the benefits from interacting with the same person repeatedly are high. Geographic proximity and race are greater determinants of social interaction than are common interests, majors, or family background. Two randomly chosen white students interact three times more often than do a black student and a white student. However, placing the black and white student in the same freshman dorm increases their frequency of interaction by a factor of three. A traditional "linear in group means" model of peer ability is only a reasonable approximation to the ability of actual peers chosen when we form the groups around all key factors including distance, race and cohort. Source : NBER

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Behavioral Public Economics: Welfare and Policy Analysis with Non-Standard Decision-Makers

Abstract : This paper has two goals. First, we discuss several emerging approaches to applied welfare analysis under non-standard ("behavioral") assumptions concerning consumer choice. This provides a foundation for Behavioral Public Economics. Second, we illustrate applications of these approaches by surveying behavioral studies of policy problems involving saving, addiction, and public goods. We argue that the literature on behavioral public economics, though in its infancy, has already fundamentally changed our understanding of public policy in each of these domains. Source : NBER

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Gender and Assimilation Among Mexican Americans

Abstract : Using 1994-2003 CPS data, we study gender and assimilation of Mexican Americans. Source country patterns, particularly the more traditional gender division of labor in the family in Mexico, strongly influence the outcomes and behavior of Mexican immigrants. On arrival in the United States, immigrant women have a higher incidence of marriage (spouse present), higher fertility, and much lower labor supply than comparable white natives; wage differences are smaller than labor supply differences, and smaller than comparable wage gaps for men. Immigrant women's labor supply assimilates dramatically: the ceteris paribus immigrant shortfall is virtually eliminated after twenty years. While men experience moderate wage assimilation, evidence is mixed for women. Rising education in the second generation considerably reduces raw labor supply (especially for women) and wage gaps with nonhispanic whites. Female immigrants' high marriage rates assimilate towards comparable natives', but immigrant women and men remain more likely to be married even after long residence. The remaining ceteris paribus marriage gap is eliminated in the second generation. Immigrants' higher fertility does not assimilate toward the native level, and, while the size of the Mexican American- white native fertility differential declines across generations, it is not eliminated. Source : NBER

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Are There Real Effects of Licensing on Academic Research? A Life Cycle View.

Abstract : Whether financial returns to university licensing divert faculty from basic research is examined in a life cycle context. As in traditional life cycle models, faculty devote more time to research, which can be either basic or applied, early and more time to leisure as they age. Licensing has real effects by increasing the ratio of applied to basic effort and reducing leisure throughout the life cycle, but basic research need not suffer. When applied effort adds nothing to the stock of knowledge, licensing reduces research output, but if applied effort leads to publishable output as well as licenses, then research output and the stock of knowledge are higher with licensing than without. When tenure is added to the system, licensing has a positive effect on research output except when the incentives to license are very high. Source : NBER

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

America’s Deficit, the World’s Problem

Abstract : The United States deficit on current account, now running at an annual rate of over $700 billion, has reached levels (as a percent of U.S. GDP) not seen since the first decades of the nineteenth century. The deficit is soaking up roughly three-quarters of the world's available external surpluses. Were the deficit to continue at this pace, the U.S. could ultimately converge to an external debt/GDP ratio around 1. Several analyses suggest that a rapid adjustment of the deficit toward balance would require a very sharp real depreciation of the U.S. dollar. This paper reviews the limitations of some optimistic arguments that predict instead a "soft landing" for the dollar. I focus in particular on the view that greater financial globalization allows the U.S. easily to run much bigger deficits for much longer periods. Some simple calculations based on real interest rate differentials suggest that markets could be underestimating the extent of necessary dollar depreciation. Author : Maurice Obstfeld, University of California, Berkeley | Source : Center for International and Development Economics Research

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Youths' Exposure to Substance Use Prevention Messages

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) asks youths aged 12 to 17 whether they have talked with at least one of their parents1,2 during the past year about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use. Youths are also asked whether they have seen or heard any alcohol or drug prevention messages from sources such as posters, pamphlets, radio, or TV in the past 12 months. (updated on July 27, 2005) Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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