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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > August 2017 > Thinking out of the trench

Thinking out of the trench

At our Think Tank Awards, the big brains were focused on the dangers of division PROSPECT STAFF

After the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, it seemed fair enough to expect—and perhaps hope—that 2017 would be a year of relative quiet. Not so. We’ve had swirling political chaos in the United States, the first bruising rounds of the Brexit haggle—and the small matter of a general election.

Reading this year’s entries for the Think Tank Awards, one theme emerged—the challenges posed by countries and sections of society digging themselves into trenches. Perhaps as a reaction against our interconnected world, the sense of difference seems to be heightening, dividing one group from another. The more we looked, the more we realised how many entrants were confronting the question of what happens once we’ve retreated into our silos. This is, perhaps, the most general problem of 2017—complicating the task of solving everything from tax evasion to climate change internationally, and of tackling poverty and security at home.

The US awards

In a busy Economics and Finance field, the Bipartisan Policy Center was lauded for its work on problems that are of interest on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill, notably infrastructure spending and the challenges of retirement. The Economic Innovation Group emerged as the runner-up. With roots in Silicon Valley, it is entirely fitting that this tank focuses on the problems caused by the over-concentration of economic dynamism within the US, in work that one judge called “grim and well-argued.” The winner was the Peterson Institute, for its excellent work on the economic threat posed by international disagreements over trade. It “comes out the winner,” one judge said, “for the importance and timeliness of its stance on trade—and the signs that the message is getting through.”

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About Prospect Magazine

In Prospect’s August issue: Adam Tooze, Helen Thompson, Ben Chu, Julian Baggini, Tom Clark and Hepzibah Anderson reveal the secret history of the banking crisis and its impact over the last decade. Tooze examines the secret history itself, suggesting the work done to repair the world’s finances could mean another crisis is just around the corner. Chu asks why more people at the top of the banks that failed haven’t faced more serious repercussions, and Anderson shows how post-crash Britain has retreated into cosiness. Elsewhere in the issue Alison Wolf asks whether universities are doing any good, and David Goldblatt explores how the decision to take football off free-to-view television in Argentina could backfire for the government. Also in this issue: Kasia Boddy asks why writers are still addicted to watching boxing despite falling viewing figures, Andrew Dickson profiles Tom Stoppard, Stephen Bush explains how Jeremy Corbyn learned to compromise and David Omand outlines the cyber-security challenges facing the UK and the wider world.