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G-20 Series: Business School Dean Says Public Infrastructure Investments Best Road to Recovery

Big Think recently approached top economic thinkers from around the world for policy recommendations that could catalyze the needed structural changes to pull the global economy out of recession. Included here are ideas from Mike Knetter, Dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Business.

The inspiration for a series on global economic policy solutions came from Dr. Takenaka, who in 2002, acting as Japan’s economics minister, successfully tackled Japan’s banking crisis with his Plan For Financial Review, or, as it is widely known, the Takenaka Plan. His measures were largely successful after he convinced reluctant banks to write down billions in bad assets.

Mike Knetter joined the Wisconsin School of Business as its dean in July 2002. As dean, he has orchestrated the novel $85 million Wisconsin Naming Gift, the expansion of Grainger Hall, the restructuring and improved national standing of the full-time MBA, and the restructuring and expansion of the Enterprise MBA. He served as senior staff economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisors for former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He is a research associate for the National Bureau of Economic Research, a director of Wausau Paper and Great Wolf Resorts, a faculty affiliate of the La Follette School of Public Affairs and a trustee of Neuberger Berman Funds and Northwestern Mutual Series Fund. He is chairing the capital campaign for Interfaith Hospitality Network, a non-profit that assists in finding housing and work solutions for homeless families in Dane County.

The following is excerpted from a video submission by Mr. Knetter.

“For the longer term health of productivity, I would say, number one, we need a responsible fiscal policy, one that’s guided by sound cost-benefit analysis. So, while in the short term, we may be focused on using fiscal policy to manage aggregate demand, in the long term, any government project should be subject to good cost-benefit principles. We should really undertake projects that boost our public infrastructure, both physical capital, whether it’s our transportation network or telecommunications infrastructure, and our human capital, through both higher education and K-12 education. Those are the kinds of public projects that provide real long-term value in the economy and can help us sustain high rates of productivity growth and support higher living standards.”

This essay describes a model for urban development that takes into account and makes use of the externalities that exist in the built environment. Buildings and the people that inhabitat them makes neighborhoods and vice versa the value of a building is in its locations. How can better frame this relationship between an object and its environment? How can develop strategies for a integral area development that learn from the best global examples?

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