For nearly two decades the U.S. economy has been plagued by two disturbing economic trends: the slowdown in the growth rates of productivity and average real wages and the increase in wage and income inequality. The federal budget is in chronic deficit. Imports have far exceeded exports for more than a decade. American competitiveness has been a source of concern for even longer. Many Americans worry that foreigners are buying up U.S. companies, that the economy is losing its manufacturing base, and that the gap between rich and poor is widening. In this book three of the nation's most noted economists look at the primary reasons for these trends and assess which of the many suggestions for change in policy—whether for increased tax incentives for investment, education reform, or accelerated research and development—are likely to work and which may not work and could even hinder economic development. The author's discuss a variety of issues connected with deindustrialization and diminished competitiveness, distinguishing between problems that would be of real concern and those that should not. They evaluate explanations for slow growth in aggregate productivity in the United States and its relation to slower growth in other industrialized countries. They discuss the performance of the various sectors of the U.S. economy and systematically examine the evidence for and against the major proposals for correcting the adverse trends in productivity and inequity. Growth With Equity clearly explains how the country can accomplish the challenge of accelerating growth and narrowing the gap that separates the rich from the poor. While recognizing that some of their recommendations may be politically painful, the authors stress the importance of adopting a purposeful, long-range policy to encourage growth, ensure equity, and reduce the government's equity.
Once we paid for things with bills, coins, or checks. Today we pay with zeroes and ones—digital entries on credit and debit cards, or electronic messages sent over the Internet. In Moving Money, distinguished analysts explore this trend, its development and likely future, and the ramifications of this transformation.

This is a book about money as a medium of exchange—in the past, in the present, but particularly in the future. What forms has money taken over the years? Moreover, how have those means of payment changed in recent years, and how will they develop in the future? And what (if anything) should policymakers do to facilitate those changes, or at least allow them to develop and mature? Brookings economists Robert E. Litan and Martin Neil Baily and a distinguished group of experts dissect these issues and peer into the future of consumer payments.

The landscape of the consumer payments industry will be shaped at least in part by public policies. Historically, governments have had monopolies on the manufacture of money. Any form of payment clearly requires trust on the part of both the seller and the buyer, and the government must establish and enforce laws to secure this relationship. More controversial is the issue of whether, and to what extent, government is also needed to protect the market in private sector payments systems.

Why do these issues matter? The payments industry is a large and important sector of developed economies. In the United States, private-sector payments providers generate approximately $280 billion a year in revenue, while the government invests substantial resources into making money (minting coins and printing bills) or moving it (via checks and various electronic transfers). And the way we pay for things influences our purchases—what we spend money on, how much we spend, and where we spend it. Thus the future of consumer payments is intertwined with the health of national economies.

Contributors: Martin Neil Baily (Brookings), Thomas P. Brown (O'Melveny & Myers), Kenneth Chenault (American Express Company), Vijay D'Silva (McKinsey and Company), Nicholas Economides (New York University), David S. Evans (Market Platform Dynamics), Robert E. Litan (Brookings and Kaufmann Foundation), Drazen Prelec (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Richard Schmalensee (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-sponsored enterprises that played a prominent role in the financial crisis of 2008, and the federal government have come to a crossroads. The government must make key decisions about their structure, and indeed, their very existence.

The government has played an important role in the American housing market since the early 1930s, when the Great Depression ushered in housing programs to promote a stable society. The government's role expanded further during the recent housing and financial crisis—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now dominate the American housing market, backing more than 62 percent of new mortgages and holding more than $5 trillion in accumulated mortgage risk.

In The Future of Housing Finance Martin Baily and his associates discuss the issues and options that policymakers face as they reassess the government's role in the U.S. residential mortgage market. While presenting diverse analytical perspectives, including a contribution from former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, all contributors agree that the government's support for mortgage financing in the recent past was too broad and deep but some role is necessary to maintain the stability of the housing finance market. The Obama administration has recommended reducing the role of Fannie and Freddie while replacing them with a private market approach, but continuing federal support for worthy borrowers. But what will Congress agree to? And how fast will it move on any initiative?

Specific topics include:

• Introduction of a new system to reduce incentives that encourage excessive risk taking.

• Gradual withdrawal of Fannie and Freddie from the housing finance system.

• New approaches to regulating mortgage securitization, with financial stability as a primary goal.

• Use of government-backed guarantees through institutional structures designed to limit moral hazard.

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