Monday, August 8, 2016

Peterson Institute Fires Three Scholars Due to Conflicts of Interest

The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), one of the world's top economic think tanks, has recently fired three scholars for violating conflict of interest policies.  Here is more from the New York Times (in collaboration with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting), which has just published a two-part series highlighting the lack of independence at many major US think tanks:
Adam S. Posen, the president of the Peterson Institute, considered the world’s pre-eminent think thank on global economics, has a commanding view of the construction of the new headquarters for the American Enterprise Institute, as well as the main office of Brookings. From his grand office, he recently had a series of uncomfortable conversations with three scholars he had decided to let go.
After much internal debate, Mr. Posen decided to formally prohibit Peterson’s scholars from holding outside jobs that directly related to the field they wrote about on behalf of the think tank.
The three who had such outside engagements were terminated.
Mr. Posen noted that the change did not imply the researchers had done anything wrong. But tighter rules are needed, he said, to respond to a growing sense he shares with the Peterson board that the think tank industry must reassert its commitment to impartiality.

PIIE is reportedly updating its conflict-of-interest policies in the wake of recent reports shining a light on think tank independence.