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Morning Brief: Profiling Infrastructure Best Practices

by Renewing America Staff
June 1, 2012

A Los Angeles Metro Gold Line train; in 2008, Los Angeles voters passed a half cent sales tax increase to fund $30 to $40 billion in infrastructure investment over the next 30 years (Reuters Staff/Courtesy Reuters). A Los Angeles Metro Gold Line train; in 2008, Los Angeles voters passed a half cent sales tax increase to fund $30 to $40 billion in infrastructure investment over the next 30 years (Reuters Staff/Courtesy Reuters).

The Urban Land Institute and Ernst & Young released their latest annual assessment of global infrastructure, Infrastructure 2012: Spotlight on Leadership. The report looks at how six different U.S. regions are successfully addressing their infrastructure needs, and also discusses funding methods and global trends. The authors see a shift in developed economies from large transformational national projects to more tightly focused regional efforts.

Scott Thomasson, the president of NewBuild Strategies and an expert on infrastructure funding, recently authored Encouraging U.S. Infrastructure Investment, a Policy Innovation Memo released by CFR’s Renewing America initiative.

Infrastructure. Read more on how upgrading the nation’s aging network of roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness.

International Trade and Finance

India Eyes $7 Billion in Retroactive Taxes

The Wall Street Journal reports that India is likely to pursue almost $7 billion in retroactive taxes from deals between foreign firms; half may come from a 2007 Vodafone acquisition. Earlier this year, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the transaction was ineligible for taxation; in the next few days, the government is expected to pass legislation to acquire retroactive tax power on all deals involving Indian assets. Vodafone is seeking international arbitration.

This CFR Independent Task Force report encourages the Obama administration and Congress to adopt a “pro-America” trade policy that brings to more Americans the benefits of global engagement.

International trade and investment. Read more from leading analysts on the debate over next steps in U.S. trade policy.

Corporate Regulation and Taxation

FTC Chairman Sees Opportunities in Privacy

While some internet firms worry about privacy backlash, Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), suggested that more privacy on the internet could increase revenues to web companies (TechCrunch). He argued that “The more control consumers have over the internet, the more they trust it and the more commerce they do…. this is good for business.” Forbes has a breakdown of major points, including antitrust issues and the FTC’s power in disciplining the market. Video highlights are available here.

Corporate regulation and taxation. Read more from top economists and business experts on solutions for addressing corporate tax reform.

Education and Human Capital

Companies Try to Hire More from Within

Firms are ramping up efforts to hire more from within (WSJ). Internal hires tend to have better performance reviews in the first two years, even though external ones average 18 percent higher pay; experts believe that firms historically have underestimated the difficulty in integrating outside hires. While firms build internal talent systems to improve matching, experts say they need to be wary of managers who hoard top talent and remember that external hires are often the most effective change agents.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.

Innovation

SpaceX’s Successful Splashdown

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) completed the first private mission to resupply the International Space Station (ISS) and return material to the Earth (NYT). SpaceX is expected to receive a $1.6 billion contract with NASA for 12 future ISS supply flights, and it is targeting manned launches by 2015. The Atlantic breaks down the numbers, while the editors of Bloomberg point out that every $1 spent on space yields at least $2 in economic benefits at home; they urge NASA to concentrate on moving humanity beyond low Earth orbit while delegating routine tasks to private firms.

Should the United States adopt a “patent box” tax incentive as several European countries have done in recent years in order to spur innovation? This Policy Initiative Spotlight examines the issue alongside a more conventional policy, the research and development tax credit.

Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.

The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.

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