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America faces the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. At the heart of this economic turmoil has been debate about the role of regulation and deregulation both in precipitating the crisis and finding possible remedies. Given the sheer scale of federal assets now entrenched in troubled corporations, and the new administration’s ambitious reform objectives, we need more than ever a long-term reevaluation of the relationships between the market and the state.

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The Financial Product Safety Commission Act of 2009 has been introduced by Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA) in the House and by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate. The bills urge Congress to create a government body that would track and regulate consumer financial products, ideas derived directly from Elizabeth Warren’s (Harvard Law School) research and proposals. 

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Elections scholarship has a long and distinguished history in the social sciences, and it emerged as a full-fledged legal discipline during the 1990s. Its academic and policy significance was underscored by the tumult surrounding the 2000 presidential election, which sparked a growing interest in the field and spawned new interdisciplinary work between law professors, social scientists, and historians.

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Two generations ago, American policymakers and scholars developed a U.S. national security strategy that offered a lasting and coherent response to the threats that emerged after World War II. In the late 1940s George F. Kennan, then a diplomat serving in Moscow, developed the strategy of containment. This strategy became the cornerstone of America’s successful effort to address the threat of Soviet expansion.

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The Tobin Project asks for grant proposals from scholars who intend to undertake new, policy-relevant research that will contribute to knowledge of regulatory governance and the appropriate role of the state and markets in economic regulation. Potential research topics may address four over-arching themes: models of economic and political behavior; strategies for assessing regulatory outcomes; information flows and regulatory politics; and regulatory strategy and design.

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At an inaugural meeting of the Economic Inequality working group, scholars identify a number of domains for research, each of which offers a promising setting for promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration and highlighting important research questions. While the scholars agree that inequality has been reasonably well-measured, they also note that research on the causes of increased inequality has produced little consensus and that there is markedly little work on the consequences of and remedies for inequality.

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What are the best ways to structure economic regulation in an age of rapid technological change, fraying social safety nets, globalization, and the reemergence of concentrated corporate power?

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On June 22, 2007, members of the National Security working group met to discuss U.S. Iraq policy. With seven discussion pieces to ground their conversation, the scholars considered politics inside Iraq, U.S. force posture in the Mideast, managing al-Qaeda, the humanitarian mission in Iraq, preventing the spread of conflict, and the response from Washington.

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On June 23, 2007, the Institutions of Democracy working group met to chart a path forward for the initiative. Participants grounded their discussion with a collection of short, idea-generating pieces prepared by members of the group. Conversation transitioned to a focus on the main obstacles of reform of the election system and the types of policies and institutions that would enable the election system to run better.

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In May 2007, the Risk working group met to consider "Managing Risk in the 21st Century" and to develop a research for the group going forward. Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) attended the meeting and offered on-the-ground perspective, highlighting the challenges that policymakers face in proposing new policy.

The scholars contributed short papers for discussion at the meeting:

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