SOURCE: Milken Institute

Milken Institute

January 21, 2014 16:19 ET

What Will Need to Happen to Make Commercial Drones a Reality?

A Look at the Aerial Future in the Latest Milken Institute Review

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwired - Jan 21, 2014) - Business journalist Larry Fisher looks closely at a technology that is literally sneaking up on us. "A host of companies are racing to market with unmanned aerial vehicles intended for non-military applications, from wildlife tracking to real estate marketing to last-mile package delivery," he writes. "The technology is flying ahead, far in advance of regulations governing safety and privacy."

Also in this issue:

Jim Barth, Priscilla Hamilton and Donald Markwardt of the Milken Institute argue that the sky-high rates paid by the working poor for "payday" loans to tide them over to the next check are symptoms of reversible market failure. "The evidence from pilot programs suggests that traditional lenders could profit handsomely at far lower interest rates than those charged by the stores," they conclude. "Why, then, have banks left ripe fruit to be picked by payday lenders?"

Nathan Richardson, a lawyer at Resources for the Future, assuages fears that climate regulation by the EPA will be flat-footed -- or worse. "There's every reason to believe that well-designed and, above all, flexible Clean Air Act climate regulation can deliver a lot of emissions cuts for relatively little money and economic disruption," he writes. "There is no other approach to climate policy available today or, given political realities, in the near future, with similar potential."

Ed Dolan, an economist who's taught in post-Soviet Estonia and Latvia, ponders why the Baltic states were hit harder by the financial crisis than other European periphery states, but have recovered more rapidly. "Some have chosen to interpret the Baltic experience as a success story for fiscal austerity, as if tax increases and spending cuts were the best cure for economies in a slump," he writes. "That's hard to support."

Eric Toder, co-director of the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center, plots a tortuous route through the minefield of corporate income tax reform. "The most likely way to break the logjam is to rethink the tax from the basics."

Yichuan Wang, at the University of Michigan, focuses on one of the Chinese economy's serious growing pains. "Though China has traditionally been marked by regional inequality, the breakneck pace of development has greatly improved living standards across the country and -- contrary to received wisdom -- has, in recent years, even worked to narrow the gaps," Wang writes. "But to lock in the gains, the Chinese government needs to take aggressive action to equalize access to social services."

Thomas Healey, a former assistant secretary of the Treasury, describes the other elephant in the room when talk turns to future environmental disasters. "The phrase 'water crisis' has a faraway feel, something that happens on the other side of the world," he writes. "In truth, though, water is in disturbingly short supply in developed countries, too. Unless steps are taken soon to improve the way water is managed, local shortages could cascade into a global catastrophe."

Stan Liebowitz, an economist at the University of Texas, outlines all you need to know about the economics of copyright law. "It has been a matter of debate whether the law yields efficient incentives to create and distribute property," he writes. "In fact, the contemporary debate is a modern rendition of a centuries-old argument."

The Milken Institute Review is sent quarterly to the world's leading business and financial executives, senior policy makers and journalists. It is edited by Peter Passell, former economics columnist for The New York Times.

About the Milken Institute
A nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, the Milken Institute believes in the power of capital markets to solve urgent social and economic challenges. Its mission is to improve lives around the world by advancing innovative economic and policy solutions that create jobs, widen access to capital and enhance health.