Uncertainty in the economy and a possible global recession, the quest for normalcy after the COVID-19 pandemic; the continued war in Ukraine; record numbers of migrants surging across the U.S.-Mexican border… As 2022 concludes, American University experts share their insights on this year’s headlines and their outlook for 2023.
Tuesday, December 20, 2022 - ongoing
American University experts who are available for interviews include those listed below as well as some who have provided insights.
U.S. Politics & Elections
David Barker is the Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University’s School of Public Affairs. He is a nationally recognized expert on a broad range of topics, including American political parties, campaigns and elections, representation, culture and polarization, ideology and attitudes, information and communication, political institutions. His latest book is The Politics of Truth in Polarized America.
Prof. Barker said: “Both at home and abroad, after several years of democratic backsliding, 2022 offered some modestly encouraging signs regarding democracy’s resilience and its prospects for renewal. However, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent. Freedom is always precarious; it must be vigilantly protected and persistently pursued.”
Amy Dacey is Executive Director of the Sine Institute of Policy & Policy at American University. For more than two decades, she managed prominent national organizations, advised leading elected officials and candidates, including President Barack Obama and Senator John Kerry, and counseled a variety of nonprofits and companies. During the 2016 presidential election, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic National Committee.
Amy Dacey said: “The midterms showed yet again that while all issues matter, certain issues motivate voters. The passion we saw from voters -- and particularly young voters – about access to abortion, may have been what prevented the ‘red wave’ that so many observers predicted. But while campaigns are about contrasts, governing is about consensus. That won’t be easy in this age of extremism and political polarization. The number one task for 2023 is to keep our democracy intact and functional.”
Dean Sam Fulwood, III of American University’s School of Communication is a prominent journalist, public policy analyst and author, whose work addresses key issues of media influences on American life. In addition to his work at SOC, Fulwood is a nonresident senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he was a senior fellow and vice president for race and equity programming.
Dean Fulwood said: “Every sector of U.S. society remains in recovery mode from the aftershocks of the COVID pandemic. While most Americans are fatigued by the lingering restrictions the pandemic imposed, it’s perhaps a bit overly optimistic to expect that 2023 will bring an immediate return to past normalcy. In fact, the U.S. – and the world – are creating pathways to a new normal. This will continue well into the New Year.
I think this emerging new normal will be evident both in our national and local politics and will be revealed primarily in our various media modes. 2023 will not be an election year for most Americans, but politics will continue to be front and center as presidential aspirants jockey for positioning to run in 2024. Campaigns are likely to be particularly contentious among GOP hopefuls as they navigate internal struggles and come to grips with the legacy of the Trump/MAGA hold over much of the party.”
Economy & Finance
Valentina Bruno is a professor of finance in the Kogod School of Business where she studies topics at the intersection of macroeconomics and finance and opened new lines of inquiry into how global financial markets interact with the real economy. Before joining American University, she worked at the World Bank in the Financial Sector Strategy and Policy Group and in the International Finance Team.
Prof. Bruno said: “Many indicators point to a global recession coming in 2023. And yet, in the past recent weeks financial conditions have loosened, stocks have rallied, and mortgage rates have fallen from their recent peaks. The US dollar has reaffirmed its dominant role, and data shows that 88% of all foreign exchange transactions have the dollar on one side. And yet, emerging markets have been quite resilient so far. Consumer demand and a tight labor market have partially undone the actions of the Fed. As Chairman Powell said recently, we have a long way to go to get back to price stability. However, once inflation is under control, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel. A soft landing is still possible.”
Jeffrey Harris is the Gary D. Cohn Goldman Sachs Chair in Finance at the Kogod School of Business. He has an extensive background in market microstructure and regulatory issues. Dr. Harris recently served as Chief Economist and Division Director for the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Prof. Harris said: “With higher rates in store, I expect variable rate mortgages to pinch consumer spending along with dismal house prices. These higher rates will likely tame inflation but will pinch the economy. Most businesses will persevere, but the housing and financial sectors will slow. The uncertainty in Ukraine will continue to keep energy prices high, but this bodes well for the energy and defense sectors. I expect GDP growth south of 2% but a continuing strong job market as more boomers retire.”
Dean David Marchick leads the Kogod School of Business to support more than 2,000 students and offer more than two dozen undergraduate, graduate degree, and certification programs. He previously was a managing director at the Carlyle Group and served as Chief Operating Officer of the US Development Finance Corporation during the first year of the Biden Administration, and also served in Clinton administration in various roles.
Dean Marchick said: “The biggest uncertainty for the global economy is not based on what happens at the Federal Reserve but rather what happens with COVID in China. This month, in the wake of protests in China, Chinese authorities lifted the drastic COVID restrictions across the country. Now the question is whether China will be shut down not based on policy, but disease. More than 600 million PRC nationals remain unvaccinated or unboosted weeks before the Lunar new year, when more than 300 million PRC nationals travel to see family and friends. Not only could we see a humanitarian crisis worse than the peaks in India, New York or Italy, but the crisis could further stress supply chains, exacerbate political instability and slow China’s economy. Since China accounts for almost 20% of global GDP, the level of China’s growth, or lack thereof, has global implications. At 4.4% growth in 2023, China is projected to contribute 30% of aggregate global growth next year. But if China’s growth rate falls to zero, global GDP could drop by more than 1%. Thus, the US and other countries have a deep interest in helping China avoid a humanitarian disaster, but also a self-interest in seeing China grow.”
Extremism & Polarization
Kurt Braddock is an Assistant Professor of Public Communication in the School of Communication. His research focuses on the persuasive strategies used by violent extremist groups to recruit and radicalize audiences targeted by their propaganda. He is the author of Weaponized Words: The Strategic Role of Persuasion in Violent Radicalization and Counter-Radicalization.
Prof. Braddock said: “2022 saw an intensification of far-right extremism in the United States, with motivations for violence evolving as the year progressed. In parallel with increased rhetoric by some far-right politicians and pundits about so-called "grooming", attacks against LGBTQIA+ individuals grew over the course of the year. I expect this trend to continue through at least the first part of 2023, as some far-right politicians and pundits show no signs of abating their rhetoric in this regard.
White supremacy, white nationalism, and related topics are also likely to continue being key motivators of political violence, as communication surrounding these topics -- by both extremists and some elected officials -- shows no signs of abating. As these trends continue, I expect we will see continued -- and possibly increasing -- incidents of lone-actor plots and attacks against those they perceive as viable targets (e.g., the attack on Paul Pelosi).”
Carolyn Gallaher is an expert on extremism and the right-wing, organized violence by non-state actors and urban politics, including the politics, internal dynamics, and patterns of violence of militias, paramilitaries, and private military contractors, among others. Gallaher is the author of On the Fault Line: Race, Class, and the American Patriot Movement.
Prof. Gallaher said: “This year, the January 6th Committee revealed how President Donald Trump inspired a failed insurrection that almost toppled 245 years of American democracy. Much of 2022 was spent on holding insurrectionists and other participants to account. The Department of Justice has arrested more than 900 people who participated in the assault and recently successfully prosecuted several members of the violent Oathkeepers militia, including two for seditious conspiracy. As 2023 begins, Trump’s star may be growing dimmer, but right-wing conspiracy theories, online disinformation, and a distressing lack of trust in the basic institutions of democracy continue apace. In particular, it will be important to see whether the Republican Party will reject those within its ranks who have embrace election disinformation and spread false claims about the so-called 'deep state.' The fate of the party, and American democracy may hinge on whether the party embraces or rejects right wing extremists within its ranks.”
Brian Hughes is the Co-Founder and Associate Director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL), where he develops studies and interventions to reduce the risk of radicalization to extremism. His scholarly research explores the impact of communication technology on political and religious extremism, terrorism, and fringe culture.
Prof. Hughes said: “This year saw a troubling continuation of ongoing trends in the radicalization of mainstream American politics. Anti-LGBTQ violence and antisemitism in particular were on the rise, while racism, male supremacy, and other forms of extremism have not abated. Unfortunately, these trends are spurred on and exploited for profit and power by a large cohort of media and political figures. It is all the more crucial that in 2023 we continue our work inoculating the public against their divisive, hateful, and manipulative rhetoric.”
Janice Iwama is an assistant professor in AU’s School of Public Affairs. Her research focuses on examining local conditions and social processes that influence hate crimes, gun violence, racial profiling, and the victimization of immigrants. Iwama has served as a co-principal investigator and lead researcher in projects funded by the Department of Justice Civil Rights Unit and the National Institute of Justice.
Prof. Iwama said: “Following the recent spike in hate crimes, I expect federal and state legislators to introduce new legislation in 2023 that will actively seek to improve our data collection on hate crimes, develop better preventative measures against bias incidents, and improve law enforcement responses to hate crimes.”
Pamela Nadell is director of AU’s Jewish Studies Program and an award-winning historian and expert on the history of antisemitism in America and around the world. Nadell can provide commentary on current trends and problems of antisemitism.
Foreign Policy – War in Ukraine, Refugees & Immigration
Ernesto Castañeda is Associate Professor of Sociology at American University and the Director of the Immigration Lab. He is an expert on international migration, borders, social movements, and ethnic and racial inequality. He is currently working on research projects about health disparities, Central American migration, and Afghan refugee integration.
Garret Martin is the co-director of the Transatlantic Policy Center and Senior Professorial Lecturer at the School of International Service. He has written widely on transatlantic relations and Europe, security, U.S. foreign policy, NATO, European politics, and European foreign policy and defense.
Jordan Tama is an associate professor in the School of International Service, he specializes in U.S. foreign and national security policy, foreign policy bipartisanship, presidential-congressional relations, national security strategic planning, the politics of economic sanctions, the foreign policy views of U.S. elites, and the value of independent commissions. He is currently working on a book Bipartisanship in a Polarized Age: When Democrats and Republicans Cooperate on U.S. Foreign Policy.
Prof. Tama said: "In 2022, Democrats and Republicans in Congress banded together to back the Biden administration's effort to provide robust military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Maintaining this strong bipartisan support for Ukraine will be one of the key challenges facing the Biden administration in 2023."
Joseph Torigian, assistant professor at the School of International Service, is an expert on politics of authoritarian regimes with a specific focus on China and Russia. His research draws upon comparative politics, international relations, security studies, and history to ask big questions about the long-term political trajectories of these two states.
Guy Ziv is an associate professor at the School of International Service and expert in U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, U.S.-Israel relations, and Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. He is the author of Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel.
Media & Technology
Dean Sam Fulwood, III of American University’s School of Communication.
Dean Fulwood said: “For journalists and media observers, the runup to the 2024 presidential campaign will dominate much of the 2023 news cycles. While some stories are evergreen, journalists will continue struggle to find audiences as the new normal unfolds with changes in media delivery modes. Twitter, Facebook, Tik-Tok and other forms of social media will continue to erode advertising base for traditional, mainstream media outlets, exacerbating an ongoing trend toward declining local news and expanding news deserts in small American communities without comprehensive media presence.”
Filippo Trevisan is an Associate Professor of Public Communication at American University's School of Communication and Deputy Director of the Institute on Disability and Public Policy. His research explores the impact of digital technologies on advocacy, activism, and political communication.
Prof. Trevisan said: “In a year without elections, no Olympics, and in which the pandemic seems to finally be waning, we likely need to wait until the next "crisis" to know what the media are going to focus on in 2023. The war in Ukraine is certainly going to stay at the top of the agenda and invite a fair bit of misinformation, especially if negotiations will start and each side will try its best to win the narrative "war." A lot will also depend on what will happen to Twitter following Elon Musk's takeover. Whether or not more companies will withdraw their advertising dollars from it, its brand is already badly damaged, which threatens to put the platform into a vicious circle. Musk's seemingly erratic moves will continue as it's one way to keep the company relevant in the news, but it may only be a matter of time before the news media stop reporting every one of his moves verbatim.”
Sherri Williams is an assistant professor in the School of Communication, her interests are at intersection of social media, social justice, reality television, mass media and how people of color use and are represented by these mediums. Prof. Williams teaches journalism and focuses on how marginalized groups, especially women of color, are portrayed in the media.
Prof. Williams said: “I hope that next year will include more national and local news coverage about how inequality is embedded into law. We are at a critical time in history where extremely conservative legislators are codifying discrimination into law. State legislation that discriminates against transgender youth, limits protests, restricts education about state and national legacies of oppression and bans abortion all essentially legalize discrimination. Journalism that explores how legislators can help close equity gaps with legislation is essential to helping Americans understand that discrimination is often legal and can be remedied with policy, like the Respect for Marriage Act that President Biden just signed. I also hope to see more reporters localize U.S. Supreme Court stories and translate the importance of the court to the public and what is on its docket.”
Paul Bledsoe is an adjunct professorial lecturer at the Center on Environmental Policy at American University's School of Public Affairs at. He was director of communications of the White House Climate Change Task Force under President Clinton from 1998-2001, communications director of the Senate Finance Committee under Chairman Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and special assistant to former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
Todd Eisenstadt, professor and Research Director at the Center for Environmental Policy at American University’s School of Public Affairs, is an expert on climate change policy. He recently co-authored Climate Change, Science, and the Politics of Shared Sacrifice and has written extensively on climate finance and adaptation in the developing world.
Jessica Gephart is a U.S. Department of State Science Envoy and Assistant Professor of Environmental Science. She focuses on the intersection of seafood globalization and environmental change, evaluating how seafood trade drives environmental impacts, and how environmental shocks disrupt seafood trade. Gephart is currently working on the development of a global seafood trade database.
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