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1 month

What's the Value of a QALY?

QALY is an abbreviation for "quality-adjusted life-year." It refers to gains in health, which combine a time dimension and an adjustment for quality of life. Peter J. Neumann and Joshua T. Cohen offer a quick overview in "QALYs in 2018—Advantages and Concerns," a "Viewpoint" article written for the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 24, 2018). Thus, even if you strongly dislike the idea of a QALY, you might want to be aware that your doctors and health care administrators are paying attention to them.

1 month

Italy and the Repricing of European Government Debt

The yield spread between 10yr BTPs and Bunds widened 114bp in May. Populist and anti-EU politics were the catalyst for this repricing of risk. Spain, Portugal and Greece all saw yields increase as Bund yields declined. The ECB policy of OMT should help to avoid a repeat of 2011/2012.

2 months

The Rising Importance of Soft Skills

What skills are most important for an employee to succeed at Google? Back in 2013, the company undertook Project Oxygen to answer that question. Cathy N. Davidson described the result in the Washington Post last month ("The surprising thing Google learned about its employees — and what it means for today’s students," December 20, 2017). She writes:

2 months

The Shifting Connections from Education to Job Skills

The Council on Foreign Relations has published The Work Ahead Machines, Skills, and U.S. Leadership in the Twenty-First Century, which is an Independent Task Force Report chaired by John Engler and Penny Pritzker,  Some of the discussion goes over familiar ground: innovation is needed, technology is changing work, economic growth is important, we should redesign unemployment assistance and sick leave for the modern work force, we should do more to assist displaced workers, and so on.  But I want to focus on one chapter of the report, "Education, Training, and the Labor Market," and its discussion of that how the interaction between education and job training has been shifting.

2 months

The Not-So-Triumphant Return of the Marshmallow Test

The marshmallow test is one of those legends of social science that a lot of non-social-scientists have heard about. Relatively young children are offered a choice: they can either eat a marshmallow (or some other attractive treat) right now, or they can wait for some period of time (maybe 15-20 minutes) and then have two marshmallows. If you follow up on these children some years later, the legend goes, you find that those who were able to defer gratification early in life will have more success later in life. A satisfyingly moralistic policy recommendation follows: If we could teach young children to defer gratification, that skill might help them as they advance in life.

2 months

Taxing Carried Interest Just Right

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump agree on one thing: Managers of private equity funds should pay ordinary tax rates on their carried interest, not the lower rates that apply to long-term capital gains and dividends. They differ, of course, on what those rates should be. But if we made that change today, managers would pay taxes at effective federal rates of up to 44 percent, rather than the up-to-25 percent rates that apply currently.

2 months

Sweden Heads Toward a Cash-Free Economy

Sweden seems headed toward a cash-free economy. Here are some comments from Stefan Ingves, Governor of Sveriges Riksbank, the central bank of Sweden, in a short essay called "Going Cashless: