Commentary, Environment

COMMENTARY: Climate Change and the Fishing Industry in Asia and Africa

Celestine Lindarto, University of Western Australia -- From around the mid-1990s to 2007, oceans across the globe took in over 30 billion metric tons of carbon from fossil fuel combustion, with the world’s highest sea level being recorded in 2022. Climate change has also resulted in increased ocean surface temperatures as well as heightened severity of weather events such as tropical storms. Due to these climatic events, the fishing industry is seeing changes in both the distribution and abundance of fish as they move away from equatorial territories and swim poleward to find cooler regions. 


COMMENTARY: Poverty Traps in Rural India: Why the NREGS Is Failing To Tackle Persistent Poverty

Hugh O'Reilly, University of Manchester -- India is home to the largest public workfare program to ever exist. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) employs between 21 and 55 million rural households every year and mandates employment as a legal right for adults. The aim is twofold: to serve as a safety net for the rural poor through employment insurance, particularly in the agricultural off-season, and to develop local infrastructure such as irrigation systems, roads, water networks, and environmental conservation.


COMMENTARY: El Salvador’s Bitcoin Adoption: The Great Cryptocurrency Experiment

Kyle Feinstein, Stanford University -- After much anticipation, Bitcoin City has met its end. The futuristic city was first announced at the 2021  Latin American Bitcoin and Blockchain Conference along with a 10 billion USD bond investment. This urban oasis was a symbol of El Salvador’s unprecedented decision to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in 2021. The metropolis was to be built at the base of the Conchagua volcano and serve as a hub for cryptocurrency mining and foreign investment. Bitcoin City’s strategic location offered a steady source of geothermal energy for bitcoin mining; to enhance its appeal, the city would also not collect income taxes. As a testament to El Salvador’s ambitious efforts to integrate cryptocurrency into the national economy, Bitcoin City had a circular layout, invoking the shape of a coin.


COMMENTARY: San Francisco’s Real Estate Nightmare: Office Vacancies and Urban Flight

Devan Bhumralkar, Stanford University -- In early 2023, the office vacancy rate in San Francisco climbed to a record 34.6%. The compounded effects of the remote work movement, massive layoffs in the tech industry, and the general economic downturn have left the city’s once-thriving financial district seemingly empty. Although one of the worst examples, San Francisco is not unique: High office vacancies have been the story nationwide, with cities like New York and Chicago seeing vacancy rates of 16% and 19%, respectively. 


LONG-FORM COMMENTARY: The True Cause of Silicon Valley Bank’s Collapse

Andrew Zeng, Stanford University -- On March 10th, 2023, Silicon Valley Bank, a premier financial institution in the startup world, suddenly collapsed. The federal government soon seized its assets, and as its clients tried, increasingly in vain, to withdraw their deposits, panic soon set in. Wealthy, platformed individuals began demanding that the government bail out the bank and compensate them, while news anchors and financial analysts predicted a ripple effect that would irreversibly end the dominance of Silicon Valley.


COMMENTARY: Qatar’s World Cup: Boon or Bust?

Jacob Ye, Boston College -- Every four years, all eyes turn towards a month-long competition in the world of soccer: the FIFA World Cup. The World Cup is considered the most prestigious prize in the sport, and boasts the title as the most watched sporting event. The 2018 Russia World Cup reached over half the world's population. Now, four years later, Qatar’s 2022 World Cup continues to impress with record-breaking viewership. The host of the World Cup receives billions of dollars in sponsorships, advertising, and merchandising. However, the host nation pays a steep cost. Indeed, the 2022 Qatar World Cup was the most expensive World Cup to date. Was it worth it? 

Commentary, Macroeconomics

LONG-FORM COMMENTARY: Meeting the Fed’s Mandate: The Recent Past and a Look Into the Future

Rutvij Thakkar, Claremont McKenna -- The Federal Reserve’s dual mandate is as simple as holding unemployment below 4% and inflation below 2%. Unemployment should ideally be at the “natural rate” or the lowest unemployment rate possible without creating inflation. According to the Federal Reserve Economic Database, it’s the rate of unemployment arising from all sources except fluctuations in aggregate demand. Since the Baby Boomer generation has chosen to leave the workforce and retire, the Natural Rate—now called the Noncyclical Rate—of unemployment has consistently declined since 1980 to approximately 4%.


LONG-FORM COMMENTARY: Why Stanford Needs Unions

Gabriel Frank-McPheter, Stanford University -- In less than two days, the Stanford Graduate Workers Union (SGWU) got over 2,500 signed cards expressing support for unionization, well over the threshold of 30% of workers required to trigger a unionization vote. Since then, 3,600 of approximately 5,000 eligible graduate workers have signed cards, and the SGWU has officially petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for a unionization election. The SGWU’s mobilization efforts are impressive and represent a significant political moment at Stanford.