The World Trade Organization meeting may have gone up in flames, but the trade phoenix flies high in the think tanks.
The Institute for International Economics is poised to spend 2000 producing a set of "globalization balance sheets," which, in layman's terms, will attempt to answer the question: "Globalization: good or bad?" Researchers aim to sort out which parts of the trade backlash are based in fact and which are part of global mythology.
Among the projects are looks at the effects of trade swings on workers; industry adjustment strategies; how representative are the labor unions; and whether Americans' political views correspond with their status as trade losers or winners.
IIE is also planning a separate conference post-mortem-ing Seattle for next month.
At the Economic Strategy Institute, meanwhile, senior fellow and University of Maryland professor Peter Morici has received a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to examine how basic labor standards might become a part of world trade agreements. The two-year project aims to "examine how we can make the WTO a system of commercial law consistent with the U.N. system of human rights law," said Morici, who hopes to use the work to debunk arguments about the harm such standards would cause.
TRADE TRAP: It's worth noting that IIE did, in the end, benefit in a way from the ruckus at the WTO meetings. On the day of its program at Seattle's Westin Hotel (across from the now-infamous Starbucks), the police decided the area needed a "timeout," and put the hotel in lockdown: No one was permitted to leave, no one could enter.
The pessimist's view: The tank lost part of its expected audience. The optimist's view: Folks in the hotel, including the U.S. trade delegation, were essentially trapped.
"It gave new meaning to the term 'captive audience,' " said IIE head C. Fred Bergsten, who was quite pleased with the 200-person turnout.
WHO NEEDS SANTA? The Heritage Foundation humbly reports that, with only days left until the official close of its two-year "Leadership for America" fund-raising campaign, the tank has exceeded its $85 million goal by about 20 percent, having raised $102.3 million. Among the top donations: a neat $10 million each from New York's Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation and financier Timothy Mellon. Heritage also received $7 million from the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Oklahoma to retire the debt on its Capitol Hill office.
AEI AFFAIRS: The American Enterprise Institute has brought on Veronique Rodman to fill the new role of director of public affairs. Rodman spent 15 years finding topics and guests as a producer at ABC's "This Week with David Brinkley."
"This is exactly the reverse picture," said Rodman of the new job, where she plans to focus on turning some of AEI's lesser-known scholars into familiar faces. Rodman started at the tank last week.
POLICY PROGNOSTICATIONS FOR 2000:
"With the national support for school choice rising, especially among the poor and minority populations, more Democrats will jump on the bandwagon and claim ownership of an issue that, if it were not for the teachers unions, is custom-made for the party of the poor." -- Nina Shokraii Rees, senior education policy analyst, Heritage.
"Here is a trifecta of policy issues currently playing in the think tank community and bound for front page coverage next year: 1. the reunification of North and South Korea; 2. a backlash on the reforms begun under the 1996 Welfare Reform Act; 3. technology will outpace the ability of Congress or regulators to deal with the issue of broadband connectivity." -- Geoffrey Underwood, president, Think Tanks Network.
"I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. . . . Nevertheless, I venture to suggest that one of the issues that will most energize religious conservatives will be the legal battles over attempts to redefine marriage. And watch for these same activists to begin to appeal not only to biblical revelation but also to the philosophical tradition of natural law to buttress their arguments." -- Michael Cromartie, vice president, Ethics and Public Policy Center.
"Elections around the world will force the inevitable policy freeze during the campaign season in most countries, like Russia [June], Japan [no later than October], and the United States. That'll make for an exciting 2001 [the real millennium]. The notable exception will be the push to get as much progress as possible in the Middle East before the U.S. election." -- Alex Lennon, editor-in-chief, The Washington Quarterly, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Lennon may be equally well-known as the organizer of the annual Think Tank Softball Tournament, which his team lost last year to AEI.
His softball prediction: "Expect AEI to continue to recruit all their interns from high school all-state baseball teams and still lose the 2000 tournament to CSIS (that counts as trash talking, right?)."
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