Hot Docs: Future of Financial Regulation, Medical School Enrollment at All-Time High

Today's selection of timely reports.

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House Oversight Committee Quizzes Federal Regulators: Following up on its hearings into possible lapses at Lehman Brothers, AIG, and the credit rating agencies, the House Oversight Committee delved into whether, in the words of its chairman, Henry Waxman, "these abuses could have been prevented if federal regulators had paid more attention and intervened with responsible regulations." The committee's fourth hearing included testimony from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, ex-Treasury Secretary John Snow, and SEC Chairman Christopher Cox. Greenspan said he is "in a state of shocked disbelief" that lenders did not act to protect their shareholders, and he recommended some regulatory changes. He said that markets and investors will most likely be extremely cautious in future but predicted that "this crisis will pass, and America will re-emerge with a far sounder financial system." Snow recommended measures like increasing transparency and international cooperation but stressed that we "need to avoid an overreaction." The SEC's Cox called on Congress to act decisively to update outdated regulations and systems: "If we continue to do what we were doing, and just do more of it, we will undoubtedly repeat history."

Med School Enrollment at All-Time High: Enrollment in American medical schools has reached its highest number in history, according to a report by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Enrollment in 2008 was up 2 percent to 18,036 students. The report also found increased diversity in the entering class and, while applications to medical school dropped somewhat, there were still two applicants for every medical school opening.

U.S. Nonproliferation Efforts Need Re-evaluation: The United States needs to take a new approach when it comes to curtailing the spread of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction, a report by the Henry L. Stimson Center concludes. The nonprofit, nonpartisan group found that current programs have not "realized their full potential" because of bureaucratic tangles, White House inattention, and suspicion of Russia. The group said the "next administration and Congress should invest the necessary political, capital, and financial resources to ensure optimum performance to prevent a nuclear 9/11."

Immigrant "Brain Waste": Over 1.3 million immigrants in the United States went to college but are jobless or in an unskilled line of work, according to a report from the Migration Policy Institute. The report from the nonprofit think tank examines the "brain waste" or underutilization of college-educated immigrants. MPI composes its report from a New Immigrant Survey from 2003 and an American Community Survey from 2005-2006. Fifteen percent of the American workers in 2006 were college-educated immigrants who were at least 25 years of age. Immigrants from Africa and Latin America have a more difficult time finding a job than immigrants from other areas, the report says. Where immigrants earn their degrees has an impact on whether they will find a high-skilled job. Immigrants who earned degrees in the United States have an advantage over those who earned their degrees abroad. One of the suggestions the report makes is restructuring English courses for adults to make them better suited for immigrants.

Wage Gap Expands: The gap between the rich and poor in industrialized and western countries has not only continued to grow but is now beginning to affect the middle class, a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has found. The report, based on a survey of the OECD's 30 member countries, found that the gap between the rich and middle class increased in Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, and the United States. OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria warned that "growing inequality is divisive" and ignoring it "is not an option."