Publications

- February 1, 2021: Vol. 14, Number 2

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Innovations in infrastructure finance – Ideas for ‘Amtrak Joe’

by Clive Lipshitz and Ingo Walter

President-elect Biden and the 117th Congress must craft bipartisan infrastructure legislation early in the new administration. We’ll focus on public infrastructure since the market for financing private infrastructure is efficient. “Amtrak Joe,” who regularly commuted during his years in the Senate, is well aware of the need for innovation in financing public infrastructure.

Hopes for similar big ideas were dashed during the Trump administration. They were promoted during the Obama, George W. Bush and Clinton years. Not much happened.

Yet, for more than two centuries, it was massive infrastructure projects that gave rise to new frontiers and robust economic development. Among them: the Erie Canal, the Transcontinental Railroad, the Panama Canal, the TVA and the Interstate System. Critical to these was the harnessing of private, state and federal government resources.

State and local governments own almost all public infrastructure, limiting the financing r

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