CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Policy Initiative Spotlight: The Bounty of Bikeshares

by Jonathan Masters Friday, June 29, 2012
Capital Bikeshare rental site in Pentagon City, Arlington, VA (Wikimedia Commons). Capital Bikeshare rental site in Pentagon City, Arlington, VA (Wikimedia Commons).

In just a matter of days, New York City will officially become the most recent U.S. metropolis—joining the likes of Washington, DC (Capital Bikeshare), Denver (Denver B-cycle),  Boston (Hubway), and Minneapolis (Nice Ride Minnesota), among others—to unveil a large-scale bikesharing program. Citi Bike, as it’s known, will add yet another mode to the city’s diverse suite of public transportation, with a planned fleet of 10,000 bikes and some 600 docking stations scattered about the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. It will be the largest such program in the country, marking what some supporters have touted as a “watershed moment” in the city’s transportation history (NYT). Read more »

Morning Brief: Google Tries ‘Made in USA’

by Renewing America Staff Friday, June 29, 2012
Vic Gundotra, senior vice-president of Social Business for Google, speaks at Google I/O 2012 Conference in San Francisco (Stephen Lam / Courtesy Reuters). Vic Gundotra, senior vice-president of Social Business for Google, speaks at Google I/O 2012 Conference in San Francisco (Stephen Lam / Courtesy Reuters).

Google’s Nexus Q, a wireless home media player designed to compete with the Apple TV, is manufactured in Silicon Valley (NYT). Rising overseas production and transportation costs—as well as longer lead times and the threat of loss of intellectual property—have led more manufacturers such as General Electric and Caterpillar to move some assembly operations back to the United States.  However, other manufacturers have kept production in China because of the difficulty of finding good local sources for component parts and workers in the United States. Read more »

Morning Brief: Congress Strikes Transportation Deal

by Renewing America Staff Thursday, June 28, 2012
The southern portion of the 18-Mile Stretch, a facet of U.S. Highway 1 that connects South Florida with the Florida Keys, September 2011 (Handout/Courtesy Reuters). The southern portion of the 18-Mile Stretch, a facet of U.S. Highway 1 that connects South Florida with the Florida Keys, September 2011 (Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

Congressional leaders announced that a deal has been struck to pass a new transportation bill (WashPost). The final deal is based upon a two-year bill passed by the Senate. In the final compromise, Republicans gave up demands for congressional approval for the Keystone oil pipeline and a rollback of new coal restrictions. Read more »

Morning Brief: Court Backs EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Rules

by Renewing America Staff Wednesday, June 27, 2012
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson announcing the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health on December 7, 2009 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson announcing the EPA finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health on December 7, 2009 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

DC’s U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the findings by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming and are therefore a threat to public health (WashPost). The court stated that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act was “unambiguously correct,” and that the rules the EPA has made after that finding could not be challenged due to authority granted to the agency by a prior Supreme Court ruling. Read more »

Foreign Languages and U.S. Economic Competitiveness

by Edward Alden Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Teacher Kennis Wong points to Chinese characters on a board at Broadway Elementary School in Los Angeles, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters). Teacher Kennis Wong points to Chinese characters on a board at Broadway Elementary School in Los Angeles, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

Americans are lousy at learning foreign languages. We all know the historical reasons – the United States was long a big, largely monolingual country with a fairly self-sufficient economy. U.S. economic and military might (and that of the British Empire before) spread the English language across the world, so that English became the global second language and the de facto language of international business. Read more »

Morning Brief: U.S. Trade to Double by 2026

by Renewing America Staff Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Shipping containers are seen at the Port Newark Container Terminal near New York City in July, 2009 (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters). Shipping containers are seen at the Port Newark Container Terminal near New York City in July, 2009 (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters).

In its Global Connections Report, British multinational bank HSBC forecasts a 95 percent increase in U.S. trade by 2026. Over the next five years, HSBC expects U.S. trade growth to trail the global average, and then to match or exceed it in subsequent years. Much of the growth will be in exports to emerging markets of commodities and goods such as autos, biopharmaceuticals, and telecommunications and medical equipment. Read more »

Morning Brief: Looming Global Shortage of High-Skill Workers

by Renewing America Staff Monday, June 25, 2012
Graduates in the Class of 2012 take part in commencement exercises at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California (Phil McCarten/Courtesy Reuters). Graduates in the Class of 2012 take part in commencement exercises at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California (Phil McCarten/Courtesy Reuters).

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the world will face a shortage of up to 40 million college-educated workers in 2020, and a glut of 90 to 95 million more low-skill workers than required. The report argues that advanced economies such as the United States must produce more college graduates, particularly in STEM fields. The report also recommends that businesses increase their efforts to shape public education and training systems. Read more »

Morning Brief: Moody’s Downgrades Large Banks

by Renewing America Staff Friday, June 22, 2012
The Manhattan headquarters of Morgan Stanley, who received a ratings downgrade of two notches from Moody's (Andrew Burton/Courtesy Reuters). The Manhattan headquarters of Morgan Stanley, who received a ratings downgrade of two notches from Moody's (Andrew Burton/Courtesy Reuters).

Rating agency Moody’s Investors Service downgraded fifteen of the world’s largest banks by assets, including five of the six largest U.S. banks (Reuters). A Moody’s managing director explained: “All of the banks affected by today’s actions have significant exposure to the volatility and risk of outsized losses inherent to capital-markets activities.” The downgrades came after a review of the ratings of more than a hundred banks worldwide that Moody’s first announced in February. The ratings of Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley all went down two notches, while Bank of America received a one notch downgrade. Read more »

Morning Brief: Bipartisan Attacks on Facebook IPO

by Renewing America Staff Thursday, June 21, 2012
A television reporter talks about the Facebook IPO at the NASDAQ Marketsite in New York prior to the opening of trade on May 17, 2012 (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters). A television reporter talks about the Facebook IPO at the NASDAQ Marketsite in New York prior to the opening of trade on May 17, 2012 (Keith Bedford/Courtesy Reuters).

Lawmakers from both parties are pressuring the SEC to scrutinize Facebook’s IPO (WSJ). In a letter to the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on behalf of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-CA) wrote “[The Facebook deal] taught us that, at a minimum, the IPO process suffers substantial flaws…[federal law is] fraught with conflicts of interest and incentives to misprice shares.” Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) said that “The perception today, and perhaps in too many cases the reality, is that the retail investor comes in at a disadvantage [in IPOs].” Read more »

Clarity about Austerity

by Michael Spence Wednesday, June 20, 2012
A man walks in front of a closed bank branch in central Athens, February 2012 (John Kolesidis/Courtesy Reuters). A man walks in front of a closed bank branch in central Athens, February 2012 (John Kolesidis/Courtesy Reuters).

I have just had the privilege of speaking at the main annual conference of Germany’s Economic Council, the economic and business arm of the Christian Democratic Union, the current governing party. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble were among the other speakers. It was an interesting event – and, more important, an encouraging one. Read more »