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Recent Policy Studies
ImmigrationBy Jena Baker McNeill, Diem Nguyen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/09/2009
Congress should recognize the valuable role 287(g) plays in keeping America safe, combating illegal immigration, and engaging state and local governments.
Economic GrowthBy Rea S. Hederman Jr., James Sherk, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/09/2009
February continued the miserable string of poor employment reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consequently, Congress and the President should take action to strengthen the labor market instead of weakening it.
ImmigrationBy Jena Baker McNeill, Diem Nguyen, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/09/2009
Initiatives to secure the United States from potential terrorists in Canada should respect both nations’ sovereignty and addresses common concerns without hindering either nation’s economic viability.
Regulation & DeregulationBy James R. Copland, Paul Howard, Manhattan InstituteReport, 03/09/2009
Pharmaceuticals are subject to what are, in effect, two overlapping and often conflicting regimes for overseeing drug safety: mandatory regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and lawsuits seeking billions of dollars in damages in the common-law state tort system. This dual system is both irrational and destructive, particularly insofar as it discourages innovation, raises drug prices, and denies patients access to many medicines that are reasonably safe and effective. To put an end to this dual regulatory regime, we recommend that Congress broadly preempt state tort lawsuits seeking to hold drugs and medical devices responsible for claimants’ illnesses and injuries. Malpractice actions in state courts now available to plaintiffs would be unaffected by our proposal.
International Trade/FinanceBy Daniella Markheim, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/09/2009
The 2009 Trade Policy Agenda’s general lack of specificity leaves much of its content open to interpretation, reducing its transparency and informational value to consumers and businesses trying to make economic decisions today.
Budget & TaxationBy Barry W. Poulson, Independence InstituteArticle, 03/09/2009
Colorado’s Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) is experiencing a financial crisis. The current financial crisis has resulted in a significant decrease in the value of PERA’s portfolio. But the financial crisis in PERA is not just the result of the current financial crisis. PERA’s defined benefit pension plan is fundamentally flawed; the problems in the plan have emerged over several decades. While the current financial crisis has exacerbated these problems, PERA is facing a long-run deterioration in its financial condition.
Economic GrowthBy Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Hudson InstituteReport, 03/09/2009
A dreary week on Wall Street was capped by a morose employment report from the Labor Department. Payroll employment recorded a loss of 651,000 jobs in February. In addition, backward revisions decreased previous estimates by 161,000. (Payroll cuts in December were revised up from 577,000 to 681,000 – the highest monthly job loss in 59 years, while job losses in January were revised up from 598,000 to 655,000.) Since the start of recession in December 2007, payroll employment has declined by 4.4 million, with 2.6 million job losses in the last four months. The only industries that gained jobs in February were education and health services (+26,000) and government (+9,000). Employment in construction, manufacturing and service providing industries continued to decline.
EducationBy Paul DiPerna, Friedman Foundation for Educational ChoiceSchool Choice Survey in the State, 03/09/2009
This survey shows a striking contrast between public opinion and public reality. Responses indicate a wide disconnect between individual schooling preferences and actual school enrollments. Forty-four percent of Vermont parents said they would like to send their child to a private school; however in reality, approximately 8 percent of Vermont’s K-12 students attend private schools. Twenty-five percent of Vermont parents said they would like to send their child to a charter school. As of this school year, Vermont has no charter school law. Twelve percent of Vermont parents said they would choose a regular public school for their child. Approximately 92 percent of Vermont’s K-12 students attend regular public schools.1 As we survey one state to the next, we continue to see this stark implication that states do not have sufficient school choice systems in place to match parents’ schooling preferences
Budget & TaxationBy Goldwater Institute, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Report, 03/09/2009
The state budget crisis is estimated to be at least $3 billion for fiscal year 2010, and perhaps reach $4 billion. When facing a 40 percent General Fund shortfall, reducing spending by 2 or 3 percent in some of the state’s biggest budget areas won’t even begin to make a dent. The Goldwater Institute proposes 16 systemic changes that will save the state money now and bolster the private economy in the long term.
Information TechnologyBy Randolph J. May, Free State FoundationPerspectives from FSF Scholars, 03/09/2009
The $7.2 billion allocated in the stimulus package to broadband can be money well spent, at least compared to the uses to which some of the remaining $780 billion will be spent, if the broadband fund initiatives are implemented in a sensible fashion. Although $7 billion is by no means a minimal amount of money – even in today’s currency – in approaching their tasks, the government disbursing agencies should act in what I would call a prudential minimalist fashion.
Economic GrowthBy Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Cato InstituteDevelopment Policy Analysis, 03/09/2009
El Salvador is showing the rest of the region how economic freedom can pave the way for development and how globalization offers great opportunities for developing countries that are willing to implement a coherent set of mutually supportive market reforms.
LaborBy Richard A. Epstein, University of Chicago Law SchoolWorking Paper, 03/09/2009
Legislation, being costly, has to be shown to be a good, or otherwise it should be treated as harm. The Employee Free Choice Act does not come close to passing that test, which is why there are strong and principled reasons to oppose, and oppose vigorously, its passage.
EducationBy John P. Avlon, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 03/06/2009
Amid their smorgasbord of new congressional spending, Democrats have decided to make a highly telling cut in the $410 billion spending bill that the House passed last week: a popular and successful school-choice program in Washington, D.C. To add insult to injury, the initiative costs taxpayers just $18 million a year, which amounts to little more than a rounding error in the bill. Now the Senate has a last chance to save school choice for students in D.C. while advancing the broader cause of education reform.
EducationBy Marcus A. Winters, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 03/06/2009
With two wars to fight and a reeling economy, the Obama administration wasn’t supposed to be about education policy at all. The stimulus bill, and now the omnibus spending bill before Congress, change that, however. The vast new resources that they shovel into public schools are sure to have an enormous and lasting impact on education. Unfortunately, though he keeps issuing encouraging sound bites, President Obama’s actions so far mostly continue the Democratic Party’s tired practices of subsidizing ineffective education policies and killing effective, cost-saving ones whenever they might threaten the adults who run the public schools.
National SecurityBy Daniel Goure, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 03/06/2009
In his February 24 speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama promised to protect the future health of the American economy by halving the projected deficit in his first term. One way of accomplishing this task, the President declared, was by reforming the buying practices of the Department of Defense (DoD). Unfortunately, the President’s call to reduce the use of private contractors is precisely the wrong way to reform the defense acquisition system and save money. DoD already has innovative reform programs underway that could meet the President’s challenge. One of these is called Performance-Based Logistics (PBL).
Regulation & DeregulationBy John E. Calfee, American Enterprise InstituteThe American, 03/06/2009
In this environment, manufacturers can be expected to take careful account of the parameters established by Wyeth v. Levine. They are likely to pester the FDA with even more requests to augment safety warnings, reinforcing an existing tendency toward over-warning rather than under-warning. As the FDA staff has noted, this is likely to discourage the use of valuable drugs.
WelfareBy Douglas J. Besharov, Douglas M. Call, American Enterprise InstituteWorking Paper, 03/06/2009
Officially, eligibility for WIC is based on income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty line or the receipt of Medicaid, cash assistance under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or food stamps. For the period of July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009 that was $32,560 for a family of three, and $45,880 for a family of five. This relatively high threshold is presumably meant to be mitigated by the additional requirement that applicants also be found to be at “nutritional risk.” Over the years, however, the criteria for determining nutritional risk have been watered down and now just about all WIC applicants are deemed at risk.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Kenneth P. Green, Aparna Mathur, American Enterprise InstituteEnergy and Environment Outlook, 03/06/2009
The average household spends nearly as much on the consumption of indirect energy as it does on direct energy consumption. Understanding how money is spent and who spends it will be important when Congress addresses climate change and our energy infrastructure.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Sally McNamara, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/06/2009
Secretary Hillary Clinton must be proactive on this European trip, requesting European military support in Afghanistan as well as confronting Russian opposition to key U.S. policies such as NATO enlargement and missile defense.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Jack Spencer, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/06/2009
Washington is starting to recognize that President Obama will not be able to meet his energy objectives without a strong nuclear industry.
Crime, Justice & the LawBy Brian W. Walsh, Tiffany M. Joslyn, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/06/2009
Members of Congress should not embrace harmful or misguided legislation simply to show they are “doing something” to “solve” the subprime meltdown and resulting financial crisis.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy David M. Mason, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/06/2009
Poorly designed regulations may have encouraged, rather than curbed, excesses in private markets. A Financial Markets Commission could help identify how regulation may have contributed to market flaws and what sort of regulations might work better.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Ted R. Bromund, Steven Groves, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/06/2009
The United Kingdom must withdraw from Durban II immediately and unconditionally and supply the leadership in action that has so far been lacking in Europe.
Economic GrowthBy Ronald D. Utt, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/06/2009
The transportation components of the stimulus bill will do nothing to alleviate the immediate downward slide in economic activity and little or nothing to support jobs during the current year.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Brett D. Schaefer, Steven Groves, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/06/2009
In a welcome recognition of the limitations of multilateral engagement, the Obama Administration announced that it would not participate in the upcoming Durban Review Conference.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Derek Scissors, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/06/2009
President Obama’s emphasis on climate change has notable implications for U.S.-China relations. On her inaugural trip to Asia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought to expand the Sino-American Strategic Economic Dialog to include climate change among America’s chief China policy priorities. Making climate change a high priority is a mistake. It may inject unnecessary hostility into the already-strained bilateral relationship over what should be a secondary issue. And it rests on a faulty premise: Many argue that the PRC will make sharp cuts in carbon emissions but only if the U.S. does so first. This claim borders on nonsense.
Economic GrowthBy Wendell Cox, Ronald D. Utt, The Heritage FoundationBackgrounder, 03/06/2009
As currently proposed, President Obama’s homeowner relief program would further undermine personal financial responsibility by requiring taxpayers who paid their bills to subsidize the many homeowners who didn’t. Based on the President’s initial pronouncements on the issue, his program would diminish freedom of choice and make housing even less affordable, substantially slowing the process of recovery in homebuilding and housing finance.
EducationBy Brooke Dollens Terry , John Kim, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Brief, 03/06/2009
Texas recently hit the cap on open-enrollment charter schools preventing the opening of many new charter schools to serve the nearly 17,000 students on a waiting list. This brief examines the charter school cap policies of 40 states and the District of Columbia, and recommends that Texas eliminate or raise the cap.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Kathleen Hartnett White, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 03/06/2009
Policy decisions impacting energy sources must support basic reliability, affordability, and supply necessary for electric generation. Too oft en, the inexorable rate and scale of growth in energy demand is not fully reflected in new energy policies. Environmental policy should enhance—but cannot supplant—the fundamental dynamics of securely available, cost-efficient energy. Without coal in the energy mix, sufficient electric generation to meet future Texas, national, and global demand is doubtful. Although frequently maligned as a source of air pollution and green house gasses, coal remains fundamental to current and future electric generation in the U.S. and Texas. In the U.S., and particularly in Texas, advanced emission control technologies have dramatically reduced major environmental impacts from coal-fired generation. A new generation of technologies under development herald a second generation of even cleaner coal power.
Economic GrowthBy Jake Haulk, Frank Gamrat, Allegheny Institute for Public PolicyPolicy Brief, 03/06/2009
Speaking at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s annual meeting, Mayor Ravenstahl told his audience that 2008 building permits for large scale projects ($10 million or greater) showed that Pittsburgh was experiencing its third renaissance. Does the permit data really suggest yet another renaissance is underway? Unfortunately for the Mayor, a closer examination of the permit numbers calls into question the notion that a renaissance is at hand. Two serious flaws are discovered in this closer inspection. One, the Mayor.s permit total is far higher than the true total. And second, the renaissance, if there is one, is casino driven.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Bill Peacock, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 03/05/2009
The good news of today’s marketplace often gets lost in the political process. Too often when challenges arise for consumers, the first answer seems to be traditional “consumer protection” laws that dictate market behavior, reduce market efficiencies, and curb consumer choice—all in the false hope of helping consumers. Ultimately, these laws hurt consumers more than they help. Competition is the best consumer-protection measure available, as it punishes companies that set prices too high or engage in unfriendly (and even illegal) practices. How? In a competitive market, consumers can simply switch to another producer/provider.
WelfareBy Arlene Wohlgemuth, Texas Public Policy FoundationPolicy Perspective, 03/05/2009
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is a federal block grant program that provides assistance and work opportunities to poor families. TANF replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program, and the Emergency Assistance (EA) program as part of the federal welfare reform legislation of 1996. The new law ended federal entitlement to assistance and created block grants of federal funds to states, giving them the flexibility to develop and implement their own welfare programs.
Budget & TaxationBy Veronique de Rugy, Reason FoundationReason, 03/04/2009
The bottom line is that there is very little to be happy about in Obama's first budget. It simply expands the Bush policies of bigger government and increased centralization, which threatens to permanently transform America's culture and economic outlook by making more and more Americans dependent on government.
Transportation/InfrastructureBy Chris R. Swenson, Robert W. Poole, Reason FoundationPolicy Study, 03/04/2009
This report provides an analysis of congestion in Lee County and what can be done about it. It is part of a broader Reason Foundation project, the Galvin Mobility Project, whose purpose is to focus national attention on eliminating serious traffic congestion as a major urban problem in America. In addition to extensively researching the causes and consequences of congestion and on what works and doesn’t work in reducing congestion, the Galvin project also develops a series of case studies of specific urban areas. This Lee County report is one of those case studies.
Information TechnologyBy Adam Thierer, Progress & Freedom FoundationProgress on Point, 03/04/2009
A common refrain heard in debates about media, video game, or Internet content regulation is that government intervention may be necessary because parental control technologies are not widely utilized in most homes. But does every household really need parental control technologies? This paper argues that the relevant universe of potential parental control users is actually quite limited.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy James Huffman, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterPERC Reports, 03/04/2009
Public access to rivers, lakes, and streams seems like a good idea in the abstract. Why not allow access to anyone who wants to enjoy the recreational opportunities associated with water? Or to state it differently, why allow private landowners to exclude the public from waters that happen to flow across private lands? A recent decision of the Montana Supreme Court is a perfect example of why environmentalists and conservationists should reconsider their usual support for public access without regard to ownership of the underlying land.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Reed Watson, PERC – The Property and Environment Research CenterPERC Reports, 03/04/2009
Protecting private property rights is critical to protecting environmental resources because private landowners respond to incentives. When landowners can profit from stewarding game animals, fish, wetlands, forests, or streams, one can expect these resources to flourish. Conversely, environmental resources that generate costs to landowners or compromise their privacy will likely suffer from neglect at the landowner’s hand. The critical distinction is whether the landowner views the resource as an asset or as a liability, and that depends largely on the landowner’s property rights. Nowhere is the relationship between property rights and stewardship better demonstrated than in the context of stream access laws. These laws define the public’s right to access non-navigable streams and, in so doing, they impact the rights and stewardship incentives of riparian landowners.
Health CareBy John C. Goodman, National Center for Policy AnalysisBrief Analysis, 03/04/2009
How can we control the rising cost of Medicare? Fortunately, there are an enormous number of people who have answers. These include most of the 44 million enrollees, 650,000 doctors and 30,000 facilities participating in Medicare. In fact, almost everyone who has contact with the system can produce examples of waste and inefficiency that could be eliminated. However, none of these people can do much to bring about the improvements needed. Perversely, people who try to improve the system are often financially penalized for doing so. This should change. Every doctor, patient and hospital administrator must be unleashed to use their intelligence and creativity to make the changes necessary to produce low-cost, high-quality health care.
Health CareBy Don King, Mercatus CenterPolicy Series, 03/04/2009
During the twentieth century, physicians, scientists, and other health-care professionals in the United States made rapid progress in curing disease, restoring function, and relieving pain. During this time, essentially all measures of health status improved, and recent data suggests that for many clinical conditions, U.S. patients have equal or superior outcomes to patients in other advanced countries. However, though most Americans receive excellent care, some patients have limited access to care, U.S. health-care expenditures are very large, and some Americans receive substandard care. This policy resource aims to provide state policy makers with a framework for approaching health-care reform at the state level. While there are many factors that contribute to health-care access, quality, and cost, this resource emphasizes the role that federal and state policies have on U.S. health care and the effects that state reforms and ensuing regulations may have.
Economic GrowthBy Jason Sorens, William P. Ruger, Mercatus CenterResearch Study, 03/04/2009
This paper presents the first-ever comprehensive ranking of the American states on their public policies affecting individual freedoms in the economic, social, and personal spheres. We develop and justify our ratings and aggregation procedure on explicitly normative criteria, defining individual freedom as the ability to dispose of one’s own life, liberty, and justly acquired property however one sees fit, so long as one does not coercively infringe on another individual’s ability to do the same.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Max Schulz, Manhattan InstituteCity Journal, 03/04/2009
It would be comforting to think that the new Community-Organizer-in-Chief has better sense on the green economy than his Oakland counterparts. If he does, he’ll recognize that the best way to a greener, more prosperous future would be for the government simply to set goals and parameters for the private sector, and then step aside and let the market work. That might mean instituting a carbon tax or a greenhouse-gas-emissions cap-and-trade program. It might even mean banning new coal plants outright. What it emphatically does not mean is spreading around yet more taxpayer wealth to uneconomic industries and establishing make-work programs for parolees and high school dropouts.
Budget & TaxationBy Loren B. Thompson, Lexington InstituteIssue Brief, 03/04/2009
There’s a simple way of eliminating all of the recently reported cost increase in the presidential helicopter replacement program: kill the more advanced version of the new copter and stick with the initial design. Doing that would give President Obama a much safer, more capable helicopter than he has today, while accelerating the rate at which the whole presidential fleet is converted to modern rotorcraft. In addition, terminating the high-cost version would reduce the price-tag for the program back to its originally projected baseline of $6.8 billion.
Budget & TaxationBy Joseph Coletti, Michael Sanera, John Locke FoundationRegional Brief, 03/04/2009
Counties and cities obviously have multiple factors that influence their tax revenues, so measuring locally generated revenue for an area over time cannot give the full picture. But looking at the growth of local government revenues adjusted for inflation and population gives citizens enough information to allow them to hold elected and unelected officials accountable for their taxing and spending decisions.
The Constitution/Civil Liberties
“Arms in the Hands of Jews Are a Danger to Public Safety”: Nazism, Firearm Registration, and the Night of the Broken GlassBy Stephen P. Halbrook, Independent InstituteResearch Article, 03/04/2009
In the wake of domestic and international controversies about whether to require registration of and to prohibit civilian firearms ownership, there has been a recent surge of scholarly interest in the subject of Nazi firearm policies. This Article seeks to contribute hitherto unknown historical facts so as to advance the scholarly literature to a higher level. Given the enormous literature in the field of Holocaust studies, it seems incredible that the disarming of the German Jews is rarely if ever mentioned.
Budget & TaxationBy Arthur Laffer, Donna Arduin, Wayne Winegarden, Goldwater InstitutePolicy Report, 03/04/2009
Implementing tax reforms, especially the flat-rate tax, represents a significant opportunity to completely break from Arizona’s past and address the current weaknesses in the state’s tax system. Such a pro-growth tax reform will make Arizona significantly more competitive than all its neighbors and continue the economic prosperity the state has been experiencing over the past decade.
Regulation & DeregulationBy Gregory Conko, Jerome Arnett, Competitive Enterprise InstituteOn Point, 03/04/2009
President Barack Obama has designated overhauling American health care as a priority of his administration, and he has indicated that whomever he appoints to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must implement “a stricter regulatory structure” and redouble the agency’s focus on food and drug safety. With mounting pressure for the incoming FDA Commissioner to dramatically reform the agency, it is worth noting that when regulators are pushed to err on the side of safety, they often make society less safe, not more. A good example is the FDA’s recent crackdown on prescription antidepressants, which has led to a drop in their use and a corresponding increase in suicides among teenagers and young adults.
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & ScienceBy Ben Lieberman, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/03/2009
The American people do not need a costly backdoor global warming policy through the misuse of preexisting ESA authority never intended for that purpose.
Budget & TaxationBy Brian M. Riedl, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/03/2009
Even a recession and record $1.4 trillion budget deficit has not altered Congress’s business-as-usual culture of spending and pork.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Nile Gardiner, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/03/2009
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will be the first European leader to meet with President Barack Obama when he visits the White House on March 3. The two world leaders are expected to discuss a range of issues, including the war in Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear threat and the global financial crisis, as well as the upcoming G-20 talks in London and the NATO 60th anniversary summit in Strasbourg/Kehl.
Elections, Transparency, & AccountabilityBy Jena Baker McNeill, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/03/2009
Given the current economic turmoil and the success of DHS in recent years, taking FEMA out of DHS would be a mistake.
National SecurityBy Ted R. Bromund, The Heritage FoundationWebMemo, 03/03/2009
Both President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Gordon Brown should acknowledge the shared values and interests that are at stake and act to continue this indispensable collaboration.
PhilanthropyBy Fred Lucas, Capital Research CenterFoundation Watch, 03/03/2009
Liberal philanthropists Andy and Deborah Rappaport are bringing a mutual funds approach to “investing” in leftwing political causes. Their pass-through vehicle, the New Progressive Coalition, gives truly committed liberal donors access to under-the-radar local and grassroots activists groups. Its goal: bring donors and activists together to produce big results from small contributions.
Health CareBy Philip Klein, Capital Research CenterOrganization Trends, 03/03/2009
The Obama administration hopes to impose universal government-run health care on Americans, but unlike in 1994, it now has a receptive audience in industry. With premium costs skyrocketing, many businesses are hoping to cut a deal.
Foreign Policy/International AffairsBy Andrei Lankov, American Enterprise InstituteAsian Outlook, 03/03/2009
North Korea must be transformed from within. Neither sanctions nor direct engagement will work. What is needed is an effort to increase contacts between North Korea and the outside world through cultural and educational exchanges and through economic cooperation that exposes North Koreans to South Koreans and their vastly better way of life. Increased radio and video penetration combined with support for defectors who can aid the transformation when the Kim Jong Il regime ends will also be necessary.
Monetary Policy/Financial RegulationBy John H. Makin, American Enterprise InstituteEconomic Outlook, 03/03/2009
Most of the lessons from past crises arise from painful demonstrations of what not to do in a crisis. The most compelling message to emerge from the experiences in postbubble economies centers on the need to avoid deflation and intensifying deflation expectations. Those are two necessary conditions for recovery. It is disconcerting that an antideflation message has not yet been transmitted clearly by central banks as the weakness in the global economy has worsened sharply over the past several months and demand has collapsed relative even to rapidly falling output. The awkward but compelling conclusion from postbubble periods is this: it is better to risk a period of higher inflation than it is to risk an episode of self-reinforcing deflation.