Monday, April 27, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#376)

  • BPC: COVID-19 could deplete social security as early as this decade.
  • ISPI launches #ThinkTanksReact campaign to show solidarity amid COVID-19. 
  • Can think tanks please ease up on the press releases?
  • Definitive guide to think tank podcasts.
  • US think tanks release annual counterspace and space threats studies.
  • 2020 ranking of free-market think tanks measured by social media impact.
  • Judge: Wisconsin Gov. can keep conservative think tank members out of media briefings.
  • China should be sued for $6.5 trillion for coronavirus damage says top UK think tank.
  • Global Times: "Ill-intentioned American think tank fellow maligns Chinese assistance in Middle East to sow discord."
  • Kent Calder on SAIS' Reischauer Center: "It is a problem-oriented think tank."

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Brothers From Opposing Think Tanks Fight Over Climate Policy

Here is more from E&E News:

It's brother versus brother in the climate wars.
Two of the primary think tanks fighting it out on climate policy are now led by brothers on opposing sides of the argument over human-caused global warming.
In one corner is Jerry Taylor, president of the Niskanen Center, which advocates for a carbon tax and other methods of mitigating climate change.
In the other is James Taylor, recently installed as president of the Heartland Institute, which seeks to undercut climate science and says that climate fears are overblown.
Jerry Taylor spent years battling climate regulations when he was a vice president at the libertarian Cato Institute, with the idea that humanity had decades to act on global warming. But as Taylor studied the science more closely, he became convinced his skepticism was misplaced.
He founded Niskanen to promote carbon pricing and has spent years conducting outreach with libertarians and conservatives who are concerned about climate change and open to policy solutions.

Here is a biography and recent writings of Jerry Taylor, and here is one for James Taylor.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Think Tank Finds Whereabouts of Kim Jong Un?

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is apparently in ill health and hasn't be seen in public in weeks.  A Washington, DC-based think tank, however, may have found some evidence of his location.  Here is more from Reuters:

A special train possibly belonging to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was spotted this week at a resort town in the country, according to satellite images reviewed by a Washington-based North Korea monitoring project, amid conflicting reports about Kim’s health and whereabouts.
The monitoring project, 38 North, said in its report on Saturday that the train was parked at the “leadership station” in Wonsan on April 21 and April 23. The station is reserved for the use of the Kim family, it said.
Though the group said it was probably Kim Jong Un’s train, Reuters has not been able to confirm that independently, or whether he was in Wonsan.

Here are more details from 38 North, which is now housed within the Stimson Center and managed by former US State Department official Joel Wit and managing editor Jenny Town.  Those two co-founded 38 North in 2010 at Johns Hopkins, where is was originally housed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Cato Institute Promises Not to Take Bailout Money

Here is more from Cato Institute's Peter Goettler and Robert Levy in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:

The libertarian think tank we lead qualifies as a small business that can apply for loans under the recently passed Cares Act—an acronym for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security. But...we’re choosing to leave those dollars on the shelf.
We wouldn’t criticize others for taking aid. In our communities and across the nation, millions have lost jobs and paychecks, while vital needs persist. Small-business owners struggle to preserve their life’s work and to sustain their employees. And we can’t say these loans wouldn’t help us right now. We’re wholly funded by private donations, the overwhelming majority of which come from individuals who will suffer material losses from the pandemic. Financial pressures and difficult choices lie ahead.
Why, then, are we not applying for a Cares Act loan? Because doing so would undermine the principles that underlie the Cato Institute’s mission and animate its policy work. Central to this mission is our view that the scope and power of government should be limited. Our ability to make that case with credibility and integrity would be irreparably compromised if we accepted a loan right now. We’ve never taken money from any government.

Most think tanks are established as nonprofits, which are eligible to access funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  In fact, Think Tank Watch is aware of several think tanks that have already received loans/grants.

New provisions to aid nonprofits, which could greatly benefit think tanks, are currently being discussed for the next round of stimulus money.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

White House Official (Now a Think Tanker) Had Warned Trump Admin. in 2019 of Devastating Pandemic

Here is more from the New York Times:

White House economists published a study last September that warned a pandemic disease could kill a half million Americans and devastate the economy.  It went unheeded inside the administration.
One of the authors of the study, who has since left the White House, now says it would make sense for the administration to effectively shut down most economic activity for two to eight months to slow the virus.
Outside economists have been pumping out analyses on the optimal length of a shutdown almost daily. One that has been shared with officials inside the White House comes from Anna Scherbina, an author of the 2019 study who is now an economist at Brandeis University and the American Enterprise Institute.

Anna Scherbina is a visiting scholar at AEI.  Here is her working paper on determining the optimal duration of the COVID-19 suppression policy.

Another AEI scholar, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who was Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Trump Administration, has co-authored a new report on a national COVID-19 surveillance system.

Dr. Gottlieb has reportedly been talking with lawmakers about crafting legislation to put his surveillance system in place.

That paper was co-authored with Mark McClellan, another former FDA commissioner (under George W. Bush) who used to be a scholar at AEI as well as the Brookings Institution.

Here is a link to all of AEI's COVID-19 coverage, including its COVID-19 Action Tracker.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

"Think Tank" Sowing Disinformation About Coronavirus

Here is more from the New York Times:

Chinese officials appeared to have relied on borrowing falsehoods pushed by anti-American organizations cultivated by the Kremlin that already have an audience in Western countries. Some of the sites have received Russian money, according to experts.
On March 12, for instance, Zhao Lijian, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, posted a link on Twitter to what he described as a “very much important” article that falsely described American origins of the coronavirus.
The article was from Global Research, a group based in Montreal that presents itself as a think tank but largely traffics in conspiracy theories, many of them pro-Russian and anti-American.
At least a dozen other Chinese Embassies around the world retweeted Mr. Zhao’s post. All told, more than 12,000 accounts have retweeted it and more than 20,000 users have liked it.

Here is more about the Global Research article from Politico:
On March 4, the People’s Daily reprint of this article was used as the basis for a piece published on conspiracy website, titled “China’s Coronavirus: A Shocking Update. Did The Virus Originate in the US?” It was the first of two articles on the website that would lead to Zhao’s tweet nine days later suggesting the U.S. Army had brought the virus to Wuhan.

Here is a link to Global Research, and here is a link to the above-mentioned article.

In related new, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMFUS), unveiled a tool to track the Chinese disinformation campaign.  As NYT notes, the group's Hamilton dashboard has long monitored Russian Twitter accounts and broadcast feeds.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

What Happens to Think Tank Funding After a Global Crisis?

Here is a tweet from Hans Gutbrod of Transparify:

Think Tank Watch has learned that a number of donors are making cuts to the think tanks they fund.  Moreover, think tanks themselves have been tightening the belt and have started to announce things like salary cuts.

Here is what happened to the revenue of the Brookings Institution during the 2008 financial crisis.