Early next week, more than 171 million Americans will celebrate Halloween spending $8.4 billion on decorations, according to the National Retail Federation. Now at an all-time high, Halloween spending has doubled over the past decade, and 14 million more people than last year will “do Halloween.” Dina Khapaeva, professor in the School of Modern Languages at Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and author of the forthcoming book, “The Celebration of Death in Contemporary Culture,” offers an explanation:
If you want to know how severe a natural disaster will be, consider the “Waffle House Index.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency will sometimes categorize a storm by looking at how long it took the restaurant chain to get its restaurants up and running. As Hurricane Matthew batters the East Coast, Pinar Keskinocak and Julie Swann, co-directors of Georgia Tech's Center for Health & Humanitarian Systems (CHHS), explain the disaster preparedness lessons we can learn from the Waffle House.
Cyberattacks against America’s energy infrastructure put public safety and national defense at risk. In response, a proposal before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources suggests a “retro approach” to de-computerize the electrical grid. A.P. “Sakis” Meliopoulos, the Georgia Power Distinguished Professor in the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering and associate director of cyber-physical systems for the Institute for Information Security & Privacy, explains the vulnerabilities, threats and solutions underway.
While much effort has been expended to harden the cybersecurity of America’s power grid, vulnerabilities still remain, coupled with the reality that attackers are becoming more sophisticated and smarter.
This past weekend, licensed reactor operators at the Tennessee Valley Authority safely connected a new source of nuclear power to its electric system. It is an historic moment for the nuclear industry because it is the first new U.S. nuclear generation of the 21st century. Marilyn Brown, the Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, chairs the TVA Nuclear Oversight Committee. She explains the importance of this achievement.
Assistant Professor John Smith teaches Boxing, Race and American Culture each semester and is an expert on the life of Muhammad Ali. He's also the co-author of a book that examines the relationship between the champ and civil rights leader Malcolm X.
Two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2030, according to a new report from the United Nations. These fast-growing cities need to plan now to develop improved housing and social services that will promote green living and close the growing gap between rich and poor, the report said. This “New Urban Agenda” will be discussed in October at the Habitat III U.N. Conference. Bruce Stiftel, professor and chair of the School of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech, was a principal consultant for one of the report’s chapters and said there are lessons that city leaders can pull from the report now.
This new report proposes how urbanization, urban planning, and policy need to change in the years ahead. Its message is clear -- the current model of urbanization is unsustainable, and cities all over the world are unprepared for the challenges ahead.
On February 9th, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court halted implementing the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Marilyn Brown, the Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy, wants everyone to calm down and understand the plan's benefits.
With a 5-4 decision, the Court has put a halt to the regulation while its legal challenge is being decided. The request for a stay came from a coalition of 29 states, led by West Virginia and including most of the states in the South. The claim is that the regulation is overly far-reaching and burdensome.
The European Union and United States announced a new framework for transatlantic data flows on February 2, called the EU-US Privacy Shield. Peter Swire, the Huang Professor of Law and Ethics at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, was in Brussels last week while these Safe Harbor negotiations were underway. Swire, who is the associate director for policy of the Institute for Information Security and Privacy, explains how the new agreement saves the day.
The agreement announced Feb. 2 averts a trade war that threatened to cut off a vast array of data flows between Europe and the United States. Effective reforms and effective diplomacy have saved the day.
In Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this week, he said that “we” have boosted graduates in fields like engineering as an example of progress that is being made in helping Americans land a good-paying job. Back in 2011, the Present announced an initiative to train an additional 10,000 engineers a year as a way to stimulate the economy.
In Barack Obama’s State of the Union address this week, he said that “we” have boosted graduates in fields like engineering as an example of progress that is being made in helping Americans land a good-paying job. Back in 2011, the Present announced an initiative to train an additional 10,000 engineers a year as a way to stimulate the economy.
Professor Phil Auslander wrote a book in 2006 about Glam rock, a term coined in Great Britain in the 1970s to describe a style of rock and pop music played by artists who wore over-the-top clothes, make-up, hair and, well, more. The king was David Bowie, who died on Monday. Auslander says it’s hard to summarize such a massive career as Bowie’s in a few words.
Last week, the Obama administration negotiated the first global accord that commits 195 countries to diverge from their “business-as-usual” emissions of greenhouse gases. But when the U.S. climate negotiators return from Paris, the partisan bickering is going to intensify, said Marilyn Brown, the Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems in the School of Public Policy.
The U.S. fleet of fossil fuel-fired power plants is our nation’s single largest source of climate-destabilizing pollution and one of the largest sources in the world. That means our politicians are going to fight or support the Administration’s first climate policy aimed at decarbonizing U.S. power plants – the Clean Power Plan. Critics are going to argue that the U.S. cannot afford to take such actions.
Last week, the “International Summit on Human Gene Editing” was jointly convened by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, UK’s Royal Society, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine. Sam Nunn School of International Affairs Associate Professor Margaret Kosal was one of 500 invited participants from more than 20 nations there to take part in discussions on the future of human gene editing and “designer babies.”
New technologies often bring new ways of doing things and improvements to health through new therapeutics. They also sometimes create new fears about unintended consequences, new weapons and broad ethical concerns. That’s why I participated in a global discussion on the scientific, ethical and governance issues associated with human gene-editing research and biomedical clinical uses of some of the newest biotechnologies.
The labor market added 211,000 jobs in November, bringing the latest 12 month average to 220,000. This 12-month total is better than it was in 2006, the year preceding the Great Recession. Given the growth in jobs and the unemployment rate of 5 percent, financial analysts are focused on one question: will the Federal Reserve raise interest rates? The answer is almost certainly yes.
Ironically a second, equally important question is not being asked. Specifically, has the economic recovery peaked? If so, by increasing the interest rates now, the Federal Reserve may put other brakes on an economy that is about to slow down because it has reached its high point.
Before joining the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs as an associate professor, Magaret Kosal served as science and technology advisor within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She recently returned to Georgia Tech after serving as an advisor to the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army as part of his inaugural Strategic Studies Group. She comments in the aftermath of the ISIL attack in Paris.
John Edgar Browning is the Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication. His main focus of expertise is vampires — and not just the ones in books, TV, and the movies.
Bram Stoker was arguably a minor novelist when he wrote Dracula in 1897. His book has never been out of print and has piqued the interest of both the general public and – more recently – of scholars from a variety of critical methodologies: Marxist, psychoanalytic, feminist, cultural studies. One of them is Carol Senf, a professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication.
This week the European Court of Justice struck down the “Safe Harbor” agreement between the U.S. and the European Union. Peter Swire, the Huang Professor of Law and Ethics at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, said the decision will disrupt the way that many major online companies are able to offer unified services to consumers
Since 2000, the Safe Harbor had been a major mechanism that allowed global companies to transfer information about users from Europe, where there are relatively strict privacy laws, to the United States. Until the new decision, companies that promised to follow the Safe Harbor principles had a lawful basis for moving the data between the E.U. and the U.S.
In the past 30 years a number of practices emerged as de rigueur companions to the proposed construction of a new sporting ground or stadium. While some are forgotten once the stadium opens and the games begin, School of Architecture professor Benjamin Flowers says one is inescapable: the selling of naming rights.
Currently the Atlanta Falcons play in the Georgia Dome, a stadium whose name speaks to the geographic location of the team and its fan base. In 2017 the Falcons will play in Mercedes-Benz stadium, whose name is placeless (yes, Mercedes-Benz is moving their headquarters to Georgia, but I wonder how many fans track corporate HQ locations).
John Lawrence Tone is associate dean of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and professor of history in the School of History and Sociology. He teaches courses on Cuban and Spanish history and has written the prize-winning book, “War and Genocide in Cuba.”
After two years of negotiating, the United States has announced a nuclear deal with Iran. The pact is between Iraq and the P5+1: United States, China, France, Russia and the United Kingdom, plus Germany. Iran will get relief from international oil and financial sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear activities. Lawrence Rubin is an assistant professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and is an expert on politics in the Middle East.
The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on July 8 to discuss the impact technological advancements have on the balance between public safety and privacy. Peter Swire, the Huang Professor of Law and Ethics at the Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, was among the five experts who testified during the panel entitled: “Going Dark: Encryption, Technology, and the Balance Between Public Safety and Privacy.” Swire was a member of President Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology. A condensed version of his testimony follows:
Greek banks just announced they are closing for a week starting today, Monday, June 29. Closure prevents Greeks operating on the panic they feel by pulling their money out of Greek banks. Capital controls prevent them from moving that money to safety in another country and currency. They are allowed to withdraw limited amounts of euros from ATMs, and long queues of Greeks appeared almost immediately when the bank closings were announced. Economics Professor Christine Ries is an expert on world financial markets.
Kirk Bowman is the Jon Wilcox Term Professor of Soccer and Global Politics. With the recent FIFA indictments, resignation and kick-off of the World Cup, he’s had plenty on his plate.
Over decades, global soccer and FIFA created a multinational web of clientelism, cooptation, nepotism and corruption, resulting in a self-reinforcing equilibrium of beneficial relationships. The resulting Soccer Industrial Complex will not change with the election of a new president. Far-reaching reforms are necessary to fix FIFA. Among other reforms, the World Cup, the crown jewel of global soccer, requires dramatic restructuring.
Diversity in STEM matters significantly and on so many levels. African-American men face unique challenges, and Georgia Tech is hosting two events in Washington, D.C., on May 5 to discuss how to attract this group to STEM. Gary May, dean and Southern Company Chair in the College of Engineering, explains that when capable students’ talents go undeveloped, this represents a loss for both the individual and society.
As a nation, we need to engage students of all genders, colors and backgrounds to increase our technological IQ and create a more robust economy. As a society, we can ill-afford the social consequences of economic disenfranchisement.
Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Interactive Computing, through a grant provided by the National Science Foundation, studied how digital content creation tools can be improved to help people be more effective. Mark Riedl, associate professor in the School of Interactive Computing and director of the Entertainment Intelligence Lab, explains how this research drives economic development and innovation.
Our research model included a form of computer animation called machinima, which heavily contributes to filmmaking today. Filmmaking is a $5.1 billion industry in Georgia that is heavily supported as an economic development priority. Media and Entertainment is a $546 billion industry in the U.S. – the largest in the world.
Nelson Baker, dean of Georgia Tech Professional Education, recently addressed members of the Organization of American States, sharing how continuing education adds a workforce development option that could help all economies move forward.
Higher education is no longer just about traditional undergraduate and graduate students. By some estimates more than 50 percent of today’s students pursue postsecondary education well beyond the “traditional” pattern of right after high school. Not only are student demographics changing, but so are the knowledge and skills they must learn. With technologies evolving so rapidly, working professionals need to access the resources of higher education to stay current throughout their careers – whether or not they have a degree.
Many families are having the discussion of how to pay for college. When Rick Clark, director of Undergraduate Admission at Georgia Tech, heard a friend with a newborn child stressing over this issue, Clark advised him to open a college savings account. To parents who are closer to writing checks for college, Clark offers five tips:
Don't depend on scholarships. Articles tout the millions of dollars given annually in the form of grant aid. These numbers are sizable in the macro, but only 10 percent of undergraduate students earn a private scholarship, on average about $2,800 a year. Less than 1 percent will receive scholarships covering full cost of attendance for a four-year education.
It's not the planes, trains or automobiles that Assistant Professor Kari Watkins is focusing on these days. It's the bikes. Her research is helping to keep them safer and guiding the City of Atlanta on how to be more bike-friendly.
Traditionally, transportation planning in the U.S. has been automobile-focused, resulting in marginalization of healthy and active modes of transportation like cycling and walking. Environmentally, this has contributed to air pollution. Economically, this has contributed to dependence on international sources of fuel. Socially, this has contributed to an alarming increase in obesity, heart disease and asthma among both adults and children. Atlanta, traditionally not a bike friendly city, has recently seen a 417 percent increase in bike commuting from 2000 to 2011. The City of Atlanta has been a key player in promoting biking in the region and is intent on developing a network of bicycle facilities in the city.
Olympic hurdles for Boston?School of Architecture professor Benjamin Flowers discusses the cost, challenges host cities face
Now that Boston beat out bids from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., to win the nomination for the United States’ 2024 Olympic bid, it’s time to examine how the city would host the games. School of Architecture professor Benjamin Flowers raises questions about cost and the pledge to build a temporary stadium.
Boston is the United States Olympic Committee’s choice to compete for the 2024 Summer Games.
A key element of the winning proposal is to build something never seen at the Olympics before: a “temporary” 60,000-seat stadium that will disappear once the games are over. Boston 2024, the private group behind the bid, promised not to leave the city with an empty stadium, the white elephant haunting many former host cities.
The Apple iOS8 phone and the latest Google Android phone claim to establish landmark privacy protections by establishing encryption by default. According to Apple and Google, they will be unable to “open” the phone for anyone, not even law enforcement. These new measures have been sharply criticized by the Director of the FBI and the Attorney General. As a software engineering professor, I’ve devoted my career to teaching students how to develop (a) secure, (b) privacy preserving, and (c) legally compliant software systems. I’m not qualified to debate whether or not this move by Apple and Google is lawful or constitutional. However, as a technologist I can assert that applying security best practices will yield a system that can withstand intrusions and denial of service attacks, limits access to authenticated and authorized users, etc.
LinkedIn Terms of Service: One of worst to one of the best
Posted: October 9, 2014 on
In the past year, I’ve been picking on LinkedIn a bit for the copyright licensing requirements in their Terms of Service. When talking about my work, I routinely throw up a slide with this block of text as a visual demonstration of how unreadable TOS can be, and then explain worst case scenarios of what the terms could mean–typically to surprised faces (probably of LinkedIn users).
Mary McDonald is the Homer C. Rice Chair of Sports and Society in the School of History, Technology and Society. Her research focuses on the cultural studies of sport including representations of gender, race, class and sexuality.
The Atlanta Braves recently announced naming rights with SunTrust Bank for the new stadium in Cobb County. The new SunTrust Park led Architecture Professor Benjamin Flowers to question what happened to the promise of a new, exciting sports destination.
Months ago the Braves (it seems increasingly curious to use the modifier Atlanta) announced plans to move to the suburbs. Last week the team doubled-down on a new suburban identity, announcing naming rights with SunTrust Bank. The team will in 2017 begin playing in SunTrust Park, a field whose name that to anyone except perhaps a banking regulator is nearly entirely placeless.
Georgia’s financial technology companies produce more than $34 billion in revenues annually, placing the state third behind New York and California. The state’s FinTech sector is set to cement its position as the global leader in payments processing, said Christine Ries, a professor in the School of Economics. Her comments are included in a new report from the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).
Georgia financial technical companies and the companies that support them must tap into big data to spur growth.
We know that payments processing is the linchpin of global trade, and the data science impact on payments is already igniting dramatic expansions of trade and prosperity in many sectors.
The labor market continued a sizzling pace of economic recovery in July. The economy created 209,000 new jobs while the unemployment rate edged up only incrementally from 6.1 percent to 6.2 percent. However, the latter increase occurred only because 329,000 workers enter the labor market over the last month. According to Thomas "Danny" Boston, an economics professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, when so many workers enter or re-enter the labor market, it is an optimistic sign that jobs are increasingly available. But the current growth comes with some worries.
The job gains were spread across all key industries, including construction (22,000) and manufacturing (28,000). Private non-goods producing sectors also experienced significant employment gains, including retail trade (26,700), business and professional services (47,000) and health care and social assistance (25,400).
Aerospace leaders from across the state gathered at the Georgia Tech Research Institute on July 29 to develop a plan to help expand the space industry within Georgia. The Georgia Space Leadership Summit included representatives from academia, industry, the state government and the investor community.
The aerospace industry presently generates $51 billion per year in economic impact for the state. Professor Robert Braun is director of the Georgia Tech Center for Space Technology and Research (C-STAR). He says, because things have drastically changed on the federal level, the time is right for Georgia to increase its contribution to the nation's space economy.
The Labor Department latest jobs report, covering activity in June, revealed 288,000 new jobs were created and the unemployment rate declined to 6.1 percent from 6.3 percent the month before. If the current pace of recovery continues, according to Thomas “Danny” Boston, a professor of economics in the School of International Affairs, next month’s unemployment rate should enter the 5 percentage point region - something unimaginable in recent years.
After meandering through five years of uncharacteristic performance, the last several months signal economic growth has finally hit a normal stride. For three consecutive months, the economy produced an average of 272,000 jobs. This amount is more than adequate to absorb displaced workers who are re-entering the market and normal labor force growth. The expansion is now marching to a normal beat.
How Cities Use Design to Drive Homeless People Away
Posted: June 19, 2014 on
Robert Rosenberger, an assistant professor of philosophy in the School of Public Policy has written an opinion piece for The Atlantic about how cities develop unique ways to discourage the homeless from sleeping in public.
In London, metal spikes have been poured into concrete outside buildings. It didn't take long for protestors to complain. As Rosenberger explains, the spikes are just the latest tactic used in cities. Many of the others are very common, but you might not realize they are there.
Georgia State Senator David Shafer has released a statement signed by 17 leading Georgia economists supporting the state constitutional amendment to be offered on November’s ballot that would cap the state income tax rate at its current 6 percent. School of Economics Professor Christine Ries is one of those defending the amendment.
"The new EPA carbon pollution limits will not only accelerate the retirement of the nation's oldest coal plants, but will also encourage states and power producers to help consumers use less electricity. This flexibility is very important in the South, where the efficient use of energy has been a struggle."
"In 2013, TVA met the Administration's 30% carbon reduction goal. Other utilities in the South can surely do the same by 2030."
It’s already becoming commonplace to connect your smartphone with your car. Now Apple has made it one step easier with the introduction of CarPlay, an in-car system that enables drivers to access their iPhone through the dashboard.
If you’re concerned that the National Security Agency is reading your private thoughts, Professor Kristie Macrakis has a novel idea: invisible ink. The School of History, Technology and Society faculty member is an expert in the history of science and espionage. She describes ways people have historically got their message across, without making it apparent.
In ancient Rome, the love poet Ovid wrote a racy manual on the Art of Love and appears to be the first person use milk to hide secret messages. He tells us:
A letter too is safe and escapes the eye, when written in new milk:
Touch it with coal dust and you will read.
Well, you don’t need to use coal dust after pulling out the milk cart. You can simply heat the message and it will become visible. Of course, if you write the message on a body you might try a glutinous substance like ashes or dust to read the message, as you don’t want to burn your partner.
Coming, oh so slowly, out of ‘the Great Recession’ it is tempting to look to government action to jumpstart economic growth. Nearly all advocates for new spending and taxing add a tag line to their arguments. “It’s good for the economy. It will create jobs.”
That’s the argument for Georgia to bid film production away from California, North Carolina, British Columbia and elsewhere. The production companies will move here, build studios as ‘permanent investment and give Georgia jobs and tax revenue.
But will they? We forget about the counter-offers, promising new and enhanced film tax credits. In the end, money is transferred from the taxpayers of the state that offered the highest kickback to the investors in the production company. Taxpayers in Georgia are paying kickbacks to investors in Hollywood…and, perhaps, to California’s spendthrifts in Sacramento.
December Unemployment 6.7 Percent: Aberration or Trend?
Posted: January 10, 2014 on
The unemployment rate finally declined beneath the 7% threshold and reached 6.7% in December, according to the Labor Department’s Monthly Employment Report. However, the number of new jobs created was less than a third of the 241,000 jobs created in November.
Only 74,000 new jobs were generated in the economy during December. Nevertheless, all other economic indicators are still very positive and broadly spread across the economy. This suggests the December employment report should be viewed as an aberration rather than a trend.
In a word, no. And now for the 2nd question: Does the massive cold air outbreak blanketing much of the U.S. disprove global warming? Same word: no. The media are mostly in stupid mode over this one. … Continue reading →
The White House released a presidential task force report that included more than 40 recommendations for overhauling U.S. Intelligence operations. Georgia Tech professor Peter Swire was a member of the task force and provides insight about the panel and the issues:
President Obama created this group to report on how, in light of advancements in technology, the United States can employ its technical collection capabilities in a way that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while respecting our commitment to privacy and civil liberties, recognizing our need to maintain the public trust and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure.
The Atlanta Braves’ decision to leave Atlanta for a new stadium in Cobb County left many surprised and confused. As details trickle out, Architecture Professor Benjamin Flowers questions who benefits from the new deal and whether it can really be a “walkable” development project.
It must be the year of the stadium in Atlanta. First there were lengthy, often secretive, negotiations with the Falcons about a new stadium deal to keep them inside the city limits.
Then the Atlanta Braves announced—to the surprise of many—their intent to move out of Turner Field and into a new stadium in Cobb County by 2017.
While the crisis over the federal government shutdown and debt ceiling has been averted for the moment, the sequestration remains a challenge for Georgia Tech and other universities that receive federal research funding. The sequestration, which cuts federal budgets across the board, had begun to affect Georgia Tech prior to the shutdown crisis. We are now learning more about how these cuts – five percent a year for the next eight years – will affect us.
Atlanta has embarked on $5 billion worth of projects, such as the BeltLine and the new Atlanta Falcons stadium. City and Regional Planning Professor of Practice Michael Dobbins says now is the time for city leaders to tackle the poverty plaguing many of its residents. He is the former Commissioner of Planning and Community Development for the City of Atlanta.
Recent national studies have reminded us of Atlanta’s most pervasive, persistent, and shameful problem: poverty.
Some 180,000 citizens, mostly African-Americans, live in the swath of deprivation that extends from Bankhead in the northwest to South Town Park in the southeast. The city’s poverty rate has persisted in the 20 to 25 percent range for decades with little notice and little effort among the business and civic leaders to improve the situation. At the root of these citizens’ deprivation is joblessness.
As details are finalized on a new Atlanta Falcons football stadium, Architecture Professor Benjamin Flowers looks at how it could impact surrounding neighborhoods:
The congregations of Friendship Baptist Church and Mount Vernon Baptist Church have agreed to sell their properties to make way for the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium, ending months of speculation about where the new structure will be located.
While there is clarity about where the new stadium will be built, many important aspects of the project remain unanswered, not the least of which is the question of how a $1 billion stadium will help rather than harm surrounding neighborhoods.
U.S. House Continues Dangerous Game of Political Chicken with the Economy
Posted: September 30, 2013 on
Fearing a vote not to raise the debt ceiling might have disastrous economic consequences, the US House of Representatives appears to have shifted tactics. It has temporarily moved the fight to defund Obamacare from the arena of the debt ceiling to the arena of the continuing resolution, i.e. funding government operations.
Either way, it is playing a dangerous game of political chicken with the economy. Congress must pass a continuing resolution by Tuesday, September 30, 2013 to avoid a government shutdown of all but the most essential operations. Similarly, by October 17 the debt ceiling must be raised so that the government can repay interest to individuals and institutions from which it has borrowed (i.e. not default on its debt).
House Vote Fuels a Perfect Storm for a New Recession
Posted: September 23, 2013 on
There are three reasons why a perfect storm for a new recession is developing rapidly. Number one, the economic recovery is losing steam and the economy is meandering forward rather than growing energetically. Number two, the law of averages regarding the typical time that an economic recovery lasts is almost at our doorstep. Number three, the US House of Representatives decided once again that it’s time to play political football with the financial health and stability of the economy.
Any one of these factors alone might be enough to tip the economy over the edge, but the three together is the perfect storm for a new recession.
MOOCs scale for bankers and industrialists, not for students — You might want to read this New York Times article about Georgia Tech's new online masters degree in computer science. The article is pretty good, reasonably balanced, and looks at the issue from (almost) all sides. Notable side missing, as usual: what students think. Anyway, I've said enough about this whole MOOC thing, but I did want to highlight one excerpt from the NYT piece: The three leading MOOC providers, Udacity, Coursera and edX, have grown at a remarkable rate, adding hundreds of courses with dozens of college and university partners. But the path ahead is less clear, and all... (read more)
2014 could be the year that Georgia's House and Senate vote to either decrease or eliminate the state's income tax. Both have convened study groups to examine specific plans to lower personal income tax rates during the 2013 session. Economics Professor Christine Ries explains why less is more.
Taxation is, or should be, about raising tax revenue for government services. Before 1842, all countries used only consumption or sales taxes to collect tax revenue. By 1939, beginning with the United Kingdom and ending with Switzerland, countries in western Europe, North America, Asia and the Pacific added income taxes to a previously consumption tax regime.
Opposition to the NSA’s data-gathering powers has made for some odd bedfellows – witness the narrowly-rejected Amash-Conyers amendment. Why are some people, on both ends of the political spectrum, so worried about PRISM and others not? How can it be that two-thirds of Americans (according to a recent poll) approve of a surveillance program that the rest see as a path to “totalitarianism?” According to Georgia Tech Associate Professor Aaron Santesso and Trinity College Associate Professor David Rosen, the answer, in part, is a basic confusion in current debates about what surveillance is and how it actually works.
Multinational manufacturers are leaving China and flocking to Cambodia, the New York Times reported this week. Ben Wang, executive director of the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute, comments on how rising wages and the waning number of young factory workers in China are causing manufacturers to look elsewhere.
Working from home is no longer an option at Yahoo thanks to a new policy by the company's new CEO, Marissa Mayer. Christina Shalley, a professor in the Scheller College of Business, studies how companies structure jobs and the work environment to support creative and innovative work. Is Yahoo’s new policy a mistake or a good idea?
Essentially, Marissa Mayer is trying to change the culture. In order to do this, she feels that the employees need to come together and create a new, vibrant culture that is “right” for Yahoo moving forward. This could be difficult to accomplish when a number of employees work exclusively at home.
Economics Professor Thomas "Danny" Boston weighs in on the eve of sequestration.
Republicans appear to have outmaneuvered Democrats on the budget battle. What Republicans are betting on is the size of the general cuts in government spending (sequester) is not deep enough to derail the economy and cause a recession.
At present, the odds favor the Republican’s bet. However, public opinion and expectations may change rapidly as a result of the sequester. If that happens, a precipitous drop in consumer spending and business investment will occur, dragging the economy into a recession sooner than the Republicans could have imagined.
Working against the Republicans bet are three things.
President Obama meets this afternoon with Japan's new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, for the first time. Associate Professor Brian Woodall is an expert on U.S.-Japan international relations. He says that there are more issues of substance on the table at this meeting of the Japanese and American leaders than at any time in recent memory.
In last night’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama not only laid out the agenda for his second term, he started to show his true colors. Mark Zachary Taylor, assistant professor of political economy, explains why Obama may be bolder in the days ahead.
I think we began seeing more of the "true" Obama emerge in the State of the Union. He arrived in office in 2009 with a host of major problems to deal with and not much of a personal policy agenda. But with the Great Recession fading, the wars in the Middle East winding down and health care cooling off, Obama is now free to advance his own policy agenda, which he has had four years to consider.
Economics Professor Thomas "Danny" Boston has a recap of last night's State of the Union address, a speech that he says caught a number of people off guard.
President Obama's hour-long speech covered a panorama of topics, including deficit reduction, universal early-childhood education, energy efficiency, college affordability, gun violence and minimum wages.
The President started by juxtaposing the record rise in corporate profits against the slow grinding stagnation of middle-class salaries and wages. He argued we must revive the middle class. Unless this is done, the recovery will be meaningless.
The speech surprised many because it was less polarizing than what had been anticipated. In fact, it was laced with moderate concessions to Republicans while at the same time, it appealed to the middle class by guaranteeing it would not incur greater sacrifices than the wealthy.
Each month, Economics Professor Thomas "Danny" Boston appears on CNN to break down the new Labor Department job numbers. He says the unemployment rate stayed the same in December (7.8 percent) thanks to the action/inaction of Washington DC.
The economy is on a treadmill when it comes to job creation, largely because of the endless wrangling over the fiscal cliff. As a result, the unemployment rate, which declined significantly over the last few months, stalled in December at 7.8% -- unchanged from November
While 155,000 new jobs were created (an amount that was predicted) it was not sufficient to reduce the unemployment rate further. That is, more jobs are needed to provide employment opportunities for new entrants into the labor market and those displaced by the recession.
Georgia Tech Economics Professor Thomas "Danny" Boston reacts to this week's deal that allowed the country to avert the fiscal cliff.
On both sides of the aisle, it was a forced agreement occasioned by the hyped up panic regarding the fiscal cliff – that is automatic spending cuts and tax increases that would have kicked in with the start of the New Year.
It was like a shotgun wedding where one party enters into a relationship hastily, not because of a mutual understanding, but because of an external threat. Had we hit the fiscal cliff, the effects would have hurt but not nearly as much as advertised. There would have been time and opportunity to cut a deal to remove more uncertainty regarding the country’s current and future debt. Instead, we panicked and struck a problemmatic deal.
I keep hearing this line about guns. Guns don’t kill people, people do. So I thought it would be interesting to explore the argument via knitting needles.
I knit, I create knitted artifacts. But, the knitting needles I use are pretty crucial to the experience. It’s not impossible to knit without knitting needles, I’ve tried with chopsticks, it’s possible but not as satisfying. You can also use the knitting needles for other, non-knitting things, I’ve used mine to tie my hair up. But they are better for knitting than as hair decorations.
The holiday season is a seemingly endless parade of feasts and treats. If you're watching your weight, you may want to consider the research findings of Koert van Ittersum, associate professor of marketing in Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business. Ittersum has conducted numerous studies validating techniques that could help you avoid adding "lose weight" to your list of New Year's resolutions.
If you want control your portion size, use smaller china and serving spoons. While 4 ounces of food on an 8-ounce plate might look like a good helping, 4 ounces on a 10-ounce plate could seem skimpy.
Ladies, what would your “perfect day” look like? According to a new study by Georgia Tech and Jacobs University in Germany, women prefer to spend the majority of their time – nearly two hours – on “intimate relations” and only 36 minutes on work. Sebastian Pokutta, assistant professor in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech, co-authored the study that breaks down a woman's "perfect day" in minutes based on concepts of optimization to maximize happiness. He explains his findings and whether this “perfect day” could play out in the real world.
Georgia’s ban on texting-while-driving went into effect more than two years ago, threatening to fine drivers $150 if caught texting behind the wheel. Reports show the law is severely under-policed. Roughly 1,300 citations have been issued since the law’s enactment, fewer than 50 per month statewide and less than two per day. Things couldn’t be more different in New Jersey, a state that doesn’t just ban texting, but prohibits drivers from using a handheld cell phone. A different report shows that New Jersey issues 7,600 cell-phone-related traffic tickets every month. School of Public Policy Assistant Professor Robert Rosenberger says the biggest problem of under-policing the law is that it sends the wrong message to Georgia drivers.
Economics Professor Thomas "Danny" Boston is the author the Gazelle Index, a national quarterly survey of CEOs of high performing small businesses and businesses owned by diverse groups. In a recent blog post, Boston, a professor in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts, suggests that the area of the nation that was devastated by Hurricane Sandy will likely never regain the complete economic footing that was washed away by the disaster.
Georgians head to the polls tomorrow to vote on Constitutional Amendment One, which would reinforce the state’s power to establish charter schools. According to a new study by Economics Professor Christine Ries, district public school systems will gain more money than they lose for each child that transfers from the district system to a public charter school. Ries based the study on the proposed funding arrangement for charters.
The analysis concludes that a majority of Georgia’s 180 school districts and 88% of public school students’ financial resources will increase, rather than decrease, when a start-up public charter school is authorized.
Economics Professor Thomas "Danny" Boston breaks down the new unemployment numbers, which were released today by the Labor Department.
The unemployment rate declined from 8.3% in July to 8.1% in August. However, the number of new jobs created (96,000) was less than expected. This is disappointing because the economy created 141,000 jobs in July. Economists predicted 125,000 to 140,000 new jobs would be created. The decline in the unemployment rate was largely caused by 368,000 workers dropping out of the labor market.
Ironically the underlying economic indicators are much stronger than the labor market report indicates.
The economy is stronger than the number of jobs created suggests. For example, motor vehicle sales continue to rise, retail sales have increased, new home sales have increased, consumer sentiment is up, and oil prices have stabilized.
After months in financial limbo, Greece started a new government this afternoon by swearing in a new prime minister. Economics Professor Christine Ries analyzes the challenges ahead and what will happen next in Europe.
My mother-in-law had a great tennis strategy: You don’t need to smash the ball. Just get it back over the net. The Greek electorate got the ball back over the net last week. In carefully watched elections, the vote telegraphed a majority’s desire to stay in the Euro, but with less “austerity” than Greece had previously negotiated with its bailout donors.
The Greek New Democracy party has just formed a coalition government with two other political parties. The next step is for them to appoint cabinet ministers, which includes finding a new finance minister with the unenviable job of organizing national consensus around a new program for government spending cutbacks.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has just released a report that shows 58 percent of high school seniors admit that they have texted while driving within the last month. The news comes days after a Massachusetts teenager was sentenced to two years in jail and a loss of his license for 15 years after a jury found him guilty of motor vehicle homicide. Prosecutors said the 18-year old was texting when his car swerved across the center line of street, smashed into a truck and killed the other driver.
Christine Ries is an economics professor who studies world markets and currency. She says the United States may actually benefit if the euro ruptures.
Greece will be getting a new/old currency very soon.Elections results (and riots) in Greece and France sealed it! In fact, throughout Europe, voters are strongly rejecting the German bargain – German taxpayers will bail out and subsidize the spending of other European governments if voters in those countries agree to "austerity." Austerity means reducing government spending and shifting a large share of the workforce out of government jobs and into the uncertainty and discipline of employment in the private sector.
Some comments on "The Facebook Illusion" — There's an interesting opinion column in today's New York Times by Ross Douthat, The Facebook Illusion. The gist of the article is that the Internet economy is not capable of producing the economic growth, prosperity, and support of previous economies. ...the problem is not that Facebook doesn't make money. It's that it doesn't make that much money, and doesn't have an obvious way to make that much more of it. ... The result is a company that's successful, certainly, but whose balance sheet is much less impressive than its ubiquitous online presence would suggest. This "huge reach, limited profitability" problem... (read more)
Thirty-five years ago, in a movie theater not so far, far away, Georgia Lucas’s Star Wars premiered (It was May 25, 1977 to be exact). More than a blockbuster, Star Wars became a record-setting film series and worldwide pop culture phenomenon. Lisa Yaszek, Georgia Tech professor of Literature, Communication and Culture and executive officer of the Science Fiction Research Association, explains how the film brought science fiction into the mainstream.
A small town in New Jersey is in the national news after passing a law that cracks down on texting while walking. Fort Lee police officers are writing $85 tickets to people who are caught jaywalking while staring at their cell phones or iPods. Robert Rosenberger is an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy, and his research explores the habitual relationships people develop with everyday devices.
The U.S. Department of Labor has released the May Jobs Report. It's a mixed bag. For starters, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.2 percent in March to 8.1 percent in April. However, it was caused by a decrease in the size of the civilian labor, which declined by 342,000 workers. Economics Professor Danny Boston, who appeared on CNN on Friday to discuss the report, outlines the good, not-so-good and the bad.
The lower unemployment rate was not the result of the economy adding large number of new jobs. In fact, the economy added only 115,000 jobs (less than half of what is needed and a smaller number than was expected). The implication is that there is much work to be done to strengthen the economic recovery.
This week marks the one year anniversary of the capture and death of Osama bin Laden. U.S. Special Forces killed the terrorist on May 2, 2011 in Pakistan (May 1 in the United States). Lawrence Rubin, assistant professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, says we'll never truly know the significance of bin Laden's death on the future of al-Qaeda and terrorism. That's because three events within the last year may actually have a greater historical impact.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a new tax bill into law last week. Nearly everyone is affected, from married couples, to internet shoppers, to small businesses. Economics Professor Christine Ries outlines the changes and weighs in on the good, bad and controversial.
Those who supported the bill fairly claimed it would help families, attract companies to invest in Georgia and improve the competitiveness of businesses already here. It was also claimed that the bill represents a net tax cut for Georgia citizens.
After weeks of threats and posturing, the world watched North Korea launch a rocket from a missile base last night. It was a failure. The rocket broke apart shortly after liftoff and the remnants were never a threat to other countries. Margaret Kosal, assistant professor in the School of International Affairs, explains the significance of the failed launch and what will likely happen next.
School of Economics Professor Danny Boston is a regular guest on CNN, analyzing the Department of Labor's montly Unemployment Report. The new numbers are out, and Boston says it's disappointing.
The report suggests that the economy is still struggling to gain a solid footing in the recovery. The good news is that the unemployment rate declined from 8.3 percent to 8.2 percent. The bad news is that there were only 120,000 jobs created last month, one half of what was created the month before and for the last several months. Most troubling is that the size of the labor force decreased by 164,000 persons, after increasing by almost 500,000 in previous months.
Today, President Obama is signing legislation that will make it easier for startups and small businesses to raise funds, including through online crowdsourcing. Stephen Fleming, vice president and executive director of Georgia Tech's Enterprise Innovation Institute, explains how the JOBS Act will benefit entrepreneurs and likely the economy as a whole.
The JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act is one of the first victories of a new class of politically-active entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists. And, although no bill is perfect, the JOBS Act should lead to expansion opportunities for many small businesses... and, yes, to more jobs.
Jennifer Singh is an assistant professor in the School of History, Technology, and Society. Her research focuses on the social and scientific understandings of diseases, including autism, based on emerging medical technologies. April is Autism Awareness month and Monday, April 2 is Autism Awareness Day.
On Thursday, March 29, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported new prevalence estimates for autism. Based on evaluations of children drawn from 14 states, the report estimates that one child in 88 received a diagnosis in 2008. These numbers are more than 20 percent higher than the 2006 estimates of one in 110 and nearly double the numbers since the CDC started tracking these estimates.
Instant mega-wealth is on the line tonight as 42 states (including Georgia), Washington DC and the Virgin Islands await the $540 million Mega Millions drawing. The cash option will net a single winner $389 mil ($293 million after federal taxes). The odds are clearly not in your favor, says School of Mathematics Professor Michael Lacey.
The odds are easy to figure out and widely reported as 1 in 176 million. But you have a better chance of being struck by lightning. An estimated 400 Americans a year are either killed or hurt by lightning, making you 50 times more likely to be struck than striking it rich.
China is North Korea's strongest ally. That is why President Barack Obama urged Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday to do more to stop the North from launching a long-range missile next month. No one is sure what the Chinese will do. John Garver, professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, explains why.
"China and the United States have agreed since the mid-1990s that preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is an important and shared interest and have worked to strengthen cooperation in that area as one area that can help stabilize the broader situation. North Korea, along with Iran, are high-ranking nuclear proliferation issues.
President Obama overlooks the DMZ while attending a nuclear summit in South Korea (Courtesy: The White House).
As President Barack Obama flies back to Washington from a two-day nuclear summit in South Korea, North Korea is ignoring his warnings. The North says it will not abandon its plans for a long-range missile launch scheduled for next month. Monday the President said that if the launch moves forward, North Korea would further deepen its isolation, face additional sanctions and damage relations with neighboring countries.