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Short-Term Talk, Long-Term Cost
An op-ed by Mark Roe.
The idea that financial markets are too focused on the short term is gaining ground in the media and among academics. And now it is attracting political attention in the United States. Investors’ obsession with short-term returns, according to the new conventional wisdom, compels corporate boards of directors and managers to seek impressive quarterly earnings at the expense of strong long-term investments. Research and development suffers, as does long-term investment in plant and equipment. Similarly, short-term thinking leads major companies to buy back their stock, thereby sapping them of the cash they need for future investments. None of this is good news for the economy – at least, it wouldn’t be, if it were real. Upon closer inspection, the supposed negative consequences of investor short-termism appear not to be happening at all.
Inside Higher Ed
H-1B Under Scrutiny
The H-1B guest worker visa program has been coming under scrutiny lately. The program is important to colleges both in terms of their ability to hire postdocs and other researchers from abroad and, more indirectly, in providing a pathway for the international students they recruit to work in the U.S. after graduation...“The only reason it would be a good idea from a national interest perspective is if indeed there were a shortage of such people, but I don’t think there’s any evidence of that except in some small fields, or fast-growing fields,” said Michael S. Teitelbaum
, a senior research associate at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. Teitelbaum is the author of Falling Behind: Boom, Bust, and the Global Race for Scientific Talent, in which he argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there is no evidence of a generalized shortage of STEM workers in the U.S.
Supreme Court’s challenge: Fit new grid into old law
What happens when you try to fit an evolving electric grid into an 80-year-old statute? Lawsuits wind their way to the Supreme Court. In a move that surprised energy experts, the high court has decided to hear at least two cases this year that deal with how to regulate evolving electricity markets...Ari Peskoe
, an energy fellow at Harvard Law School's Environmental Policy Initiative, said it's surprising the court decided to take back-to-back FERC cases. "Hopefully, these two decisions combined will give a lot of clarity in an area that I think really needs it," he said. "This section of the Federal Power Act was written 80 years ago, and it hasn't changed, but the industry has."
Activists Calling for a Ban on ‘Killer Robots’ Raise Alarm Over an Uncertain Threat
The year is 2050. A fighter jet roars across the sky, zeroing in on targets in enemy territory somewhere in the Middle East. But the targets are really a group of farmers holding hoes and rakes, which the jet identifies as guns. Within minutes, it fires a series of rockets, killing all of them. The jet is pilotless, and the aircraft is not being directed from a base. It registers its operation as successful. The prospect of such scenarios has led some activists and human rights groups to call for a complete ban on so-called "killer robots" — advanced artificial intelligence weaponry that they believe could one day blanket battlefields and make life and death decisions independent of human direction...Michael Schmitt
, a fellow at Harvard Law School's program on international law and armed conflict, agreed that a ban was "unrealistic." Regulation, he said, would be more likely to succeed. "Since autonomous weapons have the potential to be a game changer in modern warfare, some states will wish to develop them either to extend their technological edge on the battlefield or to offset their weakness," he suggested, adding that from a humanitarian perspective, solutions "must be practical and realistic about what states are likely to accept and move in that direction."