NRI Recent Projects

Joseph Gyourko is working on an ambitious follow-up project to his 2011 NRI report, “Is FHA the Next Housing Bailout?” The new project consists of three policy briefs, two with corresponding academic articles intended for academic publication. The policy briefs focus on the role of unemployment risk in generating losses for the main insurance fund and the role of higher FICO scores among borrowers in recent pools. Gyourko also authored a summary report which laid out a road map for FHA risk analysis reform. The first paper, in which Gyourko finds that FHA is substantially underestimating the unemployment risk on its books, was released in April with a corresponding op-ed in The Hill. The summary report, in which Gyourko proposes replacing the FHA with a more transparent subsidized savings program, was launched in June at a well-attended Hill event featuring a bipartisan panel of housing experts, which led to a subsequent op-ed in Roll Call that distilled the proposal for a popular audience.

Darius Lakdawalla returned to AEI in July 2012 for his third term as a visiting scholar. This past summer, Lakdawalla undertook an ambitious project by leading a team of top-tier scholars to collectively produce an original report, “Best of both worlds: Uniting market efficiency and universal coverage in health care.”  That team includes Jay Bhattacharya (Stanford University School of Medicine), Amitabh Chandra (Kennedy School, Harvard University), Michael Chernew (Harvard Medical School), Dana Goldman (Schaeffer Center, University of Southern California), Anupam Jena (Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School), Anup Malani (University of Chicago Law School), and Tomas Philipson (Harris School, University of Chicago and AEI). We expect the caliber of this team to wield significant influence in the health policy community and inject a measure of seriousness into an otherwise unruly debate. The report serves as a roadmap for post-PPACA health reform, and was launched in August.

Tanya Marsh (Wake Forest School of Law), along with Joseph Norman, completed a white paper examining the unintended consequences of the Dodd-Frank Act on community banks. The authors describe how Dodd-Frank regulations burden community banks with reporting and oversight regulations—even though community banks were not responsible for the financial crisis to which the Act responds. The paper, initially intended to assist a new Administration in reforming Dodd-Frank, now targets a more general financial policy audience with the purpose of raising awareness of the Act’s unintended consequences and mitigating the its most damaging regulations. Marsh explains her analysis from that paper in an article she wrote for the National Review Online, explaining how DFA regulations will harm community banks across the US. The paper and subsequent discussion resulted in Marsh being called to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in July. Marsh plans to present the paper at a St. Louis Federal Reserve conference on community banks in early October.

Following the release of their successful book on employment-based immigration policy, Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization (AEI Press, July 2010), Pia Orrenius and her coauthor, Madeline Zavodny, have maintained their affiliation with AEI as visiting scholars. Orrenius, assistant vice president and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, spent roughly two weeks at AEI over the past year interacting with our resident scholars and continuing her research on the economics of immigration reform. Separately, Zavodny published a report in November 2012 on the impact of immigration policy on the U.S. labor market. Her paper was sponsored by the Partnership for a New American Economy, not NRI, but it was a natural extension of the themes expressed in Beside the Golden Door. Zavodny returned to AEI while on sabbatical from Agnes Scott College in spring 2013, authoring an NRI-funded report on low-skilled immigration in the United States. Co-authored with Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks, the authors’ findings suggest that few low-skilled immigrants take jobs away from U.S. citizens, an oft-expressed concern. AEI sponsored a launch event keynoted by CKE Restaurant’s CEO Carl Puzder in late June, in the midst of a contentious debate over immigration policy. Zavodny has actively engaged in the policy debate, advancing her ideas on employment-based immigration in op-eds for The Daily Caller and The Blaze, and before policymakers in a testimony on the Hill before the Joint Economic Committee.

Benjamin Zycher continues to be an active member of AEI’s energy and environment team. In February, Zycher penned a letter to Congressman Waxman and Senator Whitehouse, members of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change, urging caution and adherence to both scientific evidence and market principles when evaluating and responding to calls for new legislation. As a visiting scholar, he makes regular visits to AEI, and recently completed an extensive empirical study of state constitutional spending limits. The paper, which indicates that the limits are largely ineffective in restraining state and local spending, was released in early May. Zycher’s next project will examine the relationship between energy consumption and U.S. economic growth, and we expect a final draft by September.