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HPS Insights: Real Estate Run Down with Mark Calabria

On today’s episode of HPS Insights, HPS Managing Director Jonathan Graffeo sits down with Mark Calabria, senior advisor at the Cato Institute and former director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency to talk about the current state of the housing market. Mark also previously served as the chief economist for Vice President Mike Pence and as a senior aide to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. 

The two talk about the current state of the housing market, including how it compares to the housing market in 2008. They examine how factors related to COVID-19, such as increased disposable income and movement out of cities, impacted the housing market, leading to a gap between supply and demand. The impact of international affairs on housing also sparked discussion, as did the Federal reserve and upcoming midterm elections. Lastly, Jonathan and Mark chat about Mark’s upcoming book, which will feature insights on the housing market from Mark’s time at the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

Read Mark’s full biography.

Read more about the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

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Insights: Tony Talks Tax With Alex Parker

With a historic global tax deal on the horizon (albeit delayed), new tax provisions lurking in the BBB, and renewed congressional interest in corporate tax practices, what better time to talk tax?

On the latest HPS Insights, HPS Partner Tony Fratto and HPS Senior Director Elliott Owensby are joined by Alex Parker. Alex is a writer, researcher, and Principal at Capitol Counsel. A former journalist at Law360, Alex previously covered federal taxation issues, such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, efforts to address taxation of online commerce at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the debate over inequality in national and global tax systems.

The trio first discusses the latest in international tax, including a discussion of different countries’ motives for updating global tax frameworks and the domestic politics underlying international tax debates in the U.S. The group also covers tax provisions in BBB, compliance, and prospects for an agreement on a new global tax framework.

See the HPS International Tax Tracker.

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Insights: Advancing Equity in Graduate Public Policy Education

In this edition of HPS Insights, HPS Partner Tony Fratto and Senior Director Stephanie Dodge host Fanta Traore, CEO and Co-Founder of the Sadie Collective, and Young-Chan Lim and Doug Ortiz, members of the working group for the Cross-Policy School White Paper on Anti-Racism, for a conversation on racial equity in graduate public policy programs. 

The next generation of policymakers is being shaped by racial equity & inclusion (REI) efforts within their own university programs. Fanta, Young-Chan, and Doug discuss the new white paper, which draws on input from students across the country to offer recommendations for making graduate public policy programs more inclusive. 

The group also discusses how using a REI lens over a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lens can lead to better outcomes, both for students of color at public policy programs and policymaking itself.

Read more about the Sadie Collective here

Read more about Fanta Traore here.

And as always, subscribe on Apple Music or Spotify, and follow us on Twitter at @HPSInsight.

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Capitol Chatter: A Quarterly Analysis Of Congressional Tweets

Welcome back to Capitol Chatter: A Quarterly Analysis Of Congressional Tweets, where we help you keep track of what Congress is tweeting.

In the first quarter of 2022, Congressional Twitter accounts sent out 135,116 tweets—a 16.8% increase from the fourth quarter of 2021. The economy fell from being the most tweeted-about topic as lawmakers increased focus on foreign affairs and defense as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Not only was Ukraine the most discussed major event in Q1, it also reshaped the conversation on issues beyond foreign affairs, including energy and the environment. 

The most notable difference between Q1 2022 and the previous quarter is the nearly 150% increase in the number of times members of Congress mentioned terms related to foreign affairs and defense, driven by members calling for consequences against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, tweets mentioning the economy decreased 32% from 2021 Q4 to 2022 Q1, returning to levels in line with Q1 2021. A drastic decrease in tweets about Build Back Better, with tweet volume falling almost 90% as the bill lost momentum in Congress, drove the overall downward trend of economy mentions. 

Democrats’ and Republicans’ different focuses on Twitter continue to be evident in how and how much they talk about President Biden, with Republicans mentioning Biden more than 3 times as much as their Democrat counterparts. While Democrats most frequently referred to Biden as “POTUS,” their Republican counterparts referred to him as “Biden,” tying him to negative issues like inflation. 

Despite the public’s focus on growing inflation, the number of congressional Tweets about the topic rose only slightly from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022. We predict that the number of inflation-related tweets will increase in the second quarter as the midterms approach and inflation continues to threaten the U.S. economy; Republicans will likely continue connecting inflation to Democratic policies, while Democrats will need to develop their own messaging strategy to address what’s expected to be a top issue for voters in November. 

While President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court and his State of the Union address were the two other major political moments in Q1 2022, the number of tweets about them peaked in the few days immediately following these events and stayed relatively low otherwise. Ukraine, on the other hand, had consistently high volumes throughout the quarter, with larger and more frequent peaks.

Even as these three major events unfolded, members of Congress still spent the majority of their Twitter posts discussing other topics more immediately relevant to their constituents, such as the economy and education. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine created an exception to this rule: in the two days immediately following the invasion, overall tweet volume fell, indicating that members tweeted significantly less about other topics as they focused on the situation in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine also reshaped the discussion on energy and the environment. Members of Congress began to tweet more frequently about energy and environment compared to other topics: while the total daily volume of tweets remained roughly the same, members of Congress tweeted about energy and the environment 2.5 times more every day after Russia invaded Ukraine. And as the tightening global oil supply pushed American gas prices to record highs, fossil fuels took center stage. Members of Congress mentioned “oil” 6 times more after the invasion began than before.

Methodology

HPS conducted text analysis on tweets and retweets from members of Congress and Congressional committee accounts that were posted between January 1, 2022 and March 31, 2022. In total, we searched for more than 150 keywords in each of the 135,116 tweets to determine which topics were discussed in each. In this analysis, independent Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Angus King (I-Maine), who caucus with the Democratic Party, were treated as Democrats. Charts and numbers may vary slightly quarter to quarter given methodology adjustments.

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Crypto Convos With Grayscale’s Craig Salm

On the latest episode of Crypto Convos, Craig Salm, Chief Legal Officer of Grayscale Investments, joins HPS partner Bryan DeAngelis to discuss the past, present, and future of cryptocurrency investing and surrounding regulation. 

In the episode, Craig explains how what started as an “intellectual investment” in crypto during law school led him to his work today, “bring[ing] access and exposure to the digital currency asset class in the form of a security, which is just a very familiar, transparent, traditional type of way to get investment exposure.” He details the history of Bitcoin ETFs, delving into the legal nuances of the Securities Act of 1933 (’33 Act), the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (’34), and the Investment Company Act of 1940 (’40 Act), arguing that “in the context of Bitcoin ETF approvals, those are distinctions without a difference.” Craig goes on to emphasize how a spot Bitcoin ETF provides increased investor protections, improves American competitiveness and leadership in the cryptocurrency space, and is the natural next step given SEC approval of a Bitcoin futures ETF. 

Bryan and Craig also walked through Grayscale’s public push for SEC approval of its own proposed spot Bitcoin ETF, with Craig calling the SEC open comment letter period “a great demonstration of the democratic process at work.” He concluded by outlining possible courses of action following an SEC decision. Give it a listen and check out the show notes below!

Show Notes

Grayscale’s SEC Comment Letter Submission Page

CNBC: Grayscale Tells SEC That Turning Biggest Bitcoin Fund Into ETF Will Unlock $8 Billion For Investors

Updated SEC Comment Letter From Davis Polk, Grayscale’s Law Firm

‘A New Argument for a Bitcoin ETF’ By Craig Salm

‘Another New Argument for a Bitcoin ETF’ By Craig Salm

@CraigSalm on Twitter

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Insights: A Conversation With Emily David Hershman

On this episode of HPS Insights, Emily David Hershman, Director of Engagement and Special Projects in the Office of Delaware Governor John Carney joins HPS Partner Bryan DeAngelis to discuss the role of a communications team at the state government level and the unique challenges of the job. 

In the episode, Emily dives into how her team managed the COVID-19 crisis over what has now been over two years, outlining Delaware’s response to the pandemic and the ways in which her office worked to confront misinformation, build wide-reaching trust, and develop local relationships. 

Emily notes the importance of being nimble in public-facing communications and honest in disclosing the limitations of available information. “The message we’re saying today is accurate today,” she said. “But we have to all understand that just like this virus is changing—it’s getting new variants, etc.—so is our messaging.” She also provides insights into how Delaware and other states have been creative in the distribution of key messaging to reach new, younger audiences. Emily speaks to the importance of compassion and working with other states—from Massachusetts to Connecticut and Rhode Island—to learn how to better reach their citizens where they are. Listen to the full conversation here and check out the show notes below! 

Show Notes

VisitDelaware.com

Delaware COVID-19 Dashboard

– First COVID-19 case in Delaware on March 11, 2020

– Only 50% of Delawareans ages 18-35 were vaccinated by June 2021

– Delaware engaged in door-knocking to spread COVID vaccine information

California SMARTER coronavirus plan

– John Gallagher Jr. COVID-19 Video

– Elena Delle Donne COVID-19 Video

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Historic Context And Economic Background Of Russia’s War On Ukraine

At the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, HPS examined the historical and economic context behind Russia’s tumultuous relationship with Ukraine, analyzing the state of play in regard to international sanctions as well as the broader global reaction

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New HPS Insights Podcast Miniseries: Crypto Convos

With what seem like new innovations almost every day and an uncertain regulatory environment, the crypto space is rapidly changing—so much so that it’s hard to keep up with the latest developments.

To help provide the latest insights and analyses, HPS Insights launched “Crypto Convos,” a miniseries hosted by HPS Partner Bryan DeAngelis and HPS Senior Director Elliott Owensby. Each episode features an interview with a crypto expert from various segments of the industry to discuss the latest developments in crypto technology, policy, and regulation. Each guest offers a unique perspective on some of the biggest questions facing crypto regulators and investors today.

In the series’ inaugural episode, Bryan and Elliott were joined by Amit Sharma, CEO & Founder of FinClusive, a fintech firm at the cutting edge of 21st century compliance solutions for un- and underbanked communities across the globe. The group discussed how FinClusive is using new crypto products to expand financial access across the globe, the tight-rope that U.S. regulators walk when trying to balance the need for crypto regulation without hamstringing innovation, and the inherent tension between financial inclusion and counter-terrorist financing.

In the second episode of the series, Bryan and Elliott spoke with Alex Sternhell, principal at the Sternhell Group and a top financial services public policy strategist in Washington. The group discussed the evolving interest in crypto on the Hill, including new stablecoin developments and the inclusion of crypto-related tax provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal. After walking through the past and present landscape surrounding crypto regulation and policy in the U.S., the group debated what future regulatory and policy action might look like. 

Crypto Convos’ third installment features Will McDonough, a leader in introducing one of the first Bitcoin future ETFs and Vice Chairman of Valkyrie Investments. HPS Partner Matt McDonald and Markets Policy Partners’ Brendan Walsh joined Bryan for the conversation, in which Will shared insights on the maturing regulatory environment for crypto-based funds, the potential of NFT technology, and more.

The latest episode of the series is a “podcast within a podcast,” as Bryan and Elliott are joined by Modern Markets Initiative CEO Kirsten Wegner and Elliptic Senior Policy Associate Kate Goldman, co-hosts of Crypto [StudyHall], a podcast that dives into the ever-evolving crypto landscape through conversations with experts from across the industry. Kirsten and Kate discussed new crypto developments and upcoming guests that they are most excited about, crypto’s impacts on almost every facet of life, particularly on social justice and geopolitics, and more.

Stay tuned for additional episodes throughout 2022, the so-called year of crypto regulation, as HPS continues its work to help clients define and navigate this new industry. Be sure to subscribe to the HPS Insights podcast on your favorite podcast platform to be the first to know about additional episodes, coming soon!

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Insights: A Conversation With Retired General Stanley McChrystal

Retired Four-Star U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal spent over thirty years serving his country in the armed forces—from West Point to Commander International Security Assistance Services Forces – Afghanistan. In this episode of HPS Insights, General McChrystal and coauthor Anna Butrico join HPS Partners Tony Fratto and Stacy Kerr for a conversation on risk in today’s dynamic landscape and their book, “Risk: A User’s Guide.” The authors discuss how individuals and organizations often fail to appropriately identify and mitigate risk. Leveraging his decades-long military service, General McChrystal offers insights into his battle-tested system for effectively detecting and responding to risk. 

On the podcast, General McChrystal and Butrico offer lessons for leaders at all levels, urging them to take responsibility for their organizations’ “risk immune systems,” even when that means breaking from established practices and old perspectives. “If the people before you or your peers are all doing it a certain way, there’s a safety in doing what they do—even if you fail.”

You can listen to the full conversation here. You can also learn more about the book here. Subscribe to the HPS Podcast Channel on your favorite podcast service for more insights and our weekly Macrocast.

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Capitol Chatter: A Quarterly Analysis Of Congressional Tweets & A 2021 Retrospective

Welcome back to Capitol Chatter: A Quarterly Analysis Of Congressional Tweets, where we help you keep track of what Congress is tweeting. This analysis covers both trends from Q4 2021 and insights from the full year.

In 2021, Congressional Twitter accounts sent out a total of 549,687 tweets. Democrats accounted for 61.2% of that total, while Republicans sent the remaining 38.8%. Tweet activity declined over the year: members of Congress sent 115,657 tweets in Q4, an 11% decline from Q3. 

Topics: What Were Members Talking About?

After three quarters of growth, infrastructure emerged as the most discussed topic on congressional Twitter in Q4: members’ tweets about infrastructure jumped almost 50% from Q3 to Q4 as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was signed in November. Conversely, the number of tweets mentioning foreign affairs and defense fell 55%, returning to levels in line with tweet volume prior to the U.S.’ withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The steady growth in tweets about infrastructure and the economy was driven largely by Democrats, who used terms like “bipartisan,” “infrastructure,” “jobs,” and the hashtag “BuildBackBetter” to push the President’s agenda. Republicans were more likely to tweet about Biden directly, and focused on negative issues like inflation: Republicans mentioned “inflation” nearly nine times as often as Democrats in Q4.

Mentions of “inflation” illustrate how congressional Twitter can be a barometer of both parties’ political and communications strategies. While consumer interest in inflation has been high all year, as data from Google Trends show, Republicans increased their discussion of the topic to try to tie rising prices to President Biden’s agenda in May, while Democrats shifted gears in December, pointing to the need to fight inflation as a reason to pass Build Back Better.

Mentions of COVID-19 vaccines showed a similarly partisan split. Democrats’ tweets about COVID-19 vaccines generally tracked Google search volume: volume slowed over the year after peaking around expanded vaccine eligibility in April. Republicans mentioned vaccines far less frequently for most of the year, until President Biden announced a sweeping vaccine mandate in November. Since then, Republican mentions of vaccines have matched or even outpaced those by Democrats.

Member Leaderboards: Who Was Tweeted About—And Tweeted—Most?

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were mentioned most in members’ tweets: their combined weekly mentions ranged from one to 40 times more than combined mentions of Congressional leadership (Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)). 

Speaker Pelosi consistently led the other three leaders in mentions by other lawmakers. Among lawmakers, regulators, and government officials, her handle was mentioned the fourth most on congressional Twitter in 2021, trailing only @potus, @housedemocrats, and @joebiden.

Meanwhile, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) was crowned 2021’s most prolific tweeter in Congress. His account sent out a total of 6,507 tweets, over 1,000 more than any other member’s account. However, Sen. Cornyn’s tweet volume has steadily declined, dropping 44% from Q1 to Q4. Q4 was the only quarter in which Cornyn was not the top tweeter: that spot went to Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.).

Tennessee Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty join Sen. Cornyn as the only senators on the full-year leaderboard, which is largely composed of Democratic House members. 

Methodology

HPS conducted text analysis on all tweets and retweets from handles included in C-SPAN’s “members of Congress” Twitter list that were posted between January 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021. In total, we searched for more than 150 keywords in each of the 549,687 tweets (including retweets) to determine which topics were discussed in each. In this analysis, independent Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Angus King (I-Maine), who caucus with the Democratic Party, were treated as Democrats. 

To provide context for our full-year analysis, HPS obtained Google Trends data on select relevant topics featured in Axios’ 2021 news cycles analysis. The 0 to 100 weekly Google Trends index measures a topic’s proportion to all search topics in the U.S. 

COVID cases data used are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID Data Tracker; they were normalized to the same 0 to 100 scale as the Google Trends data.