CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Hurricane Sandy: A Lesson in Why Governments Really Matter

by Edward Alden Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Emergency personnel help a resident onto a boat after rescuing her from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey on October 30, 2012 (Adam Hunger/Courtesy Reuters). Emergency personnel help a resident onto a boat after rescuing her from flood waters brought on by Hurricane Sandy in Little Ferry, New Jersey on October 30, 2012 (Adam Hunger/Courtesy Reuters).

Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader, has famously said that he has no wish to eliminate government, but only to “shrink it to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.” Americans up and down the east coast can be grateful in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that he has not yet succeeded, or they might well have drowned in their own homes. Read more »

A U.S.-China “Trade War”: Time to Abolish a Silly Notion

by Edward Alden Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney makes a point as U.S. President Barack Obama listens during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida on October 22, 2012 (Scott Audette/Courtesy Reuters). Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney makes a point as U.S. President Barack Obama listens during the final U.S. presidential debate in Boca Raton, Florida on October 22, 2012 (Scott Audette/Courtesy Reuters).

I have a suggestion for everyone who writes about international trade: it is time to bury, once and for all, the concept of a “trade war.” The phrase is so ubiquitous that it will be awfully hard to abolish; I have probably been guilty myself from time to time. Indeed, it is almost a reflex that every time the United States or some other nation takes any action that restricts imports in any fashion, reporters and editorial writers jump to their keyboards to warn that a trade war is looming. But it is a canard that makes it far harder to have a sensible discussion about U.S. trade policy. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Building A New Manufacturing Base, Layer By Layer

by Steven J. Markovich Friday, October 19, 2012
Three-dimensional printer "The Replicator" by MakerBot (MakerBot Industries LLC Handout/Courtesy Reuters). Three-dimensional printer "The Replicator" by MakerBot (MakerBot Industries LLC Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

In the beginning of the twentieth century, “manufacturing” brought to mind burly men shaping metal with forges or stamping presses; in the twenty-first century, that mental image may become workers typing at a computer terminal as a laser shapes a product tiny layer by tiny layer.  Additive manufacturing—also known as 3D printing—is expected to revolutionize production, and a new public-private partnership aims to accelerate change. Read more »

American Decline or Economic Renewal?

by Renewing America Staff Wednesday, October 17, 2012
A teacher reads to students at an elementary school in Walla Walla, Washington (Dick_Morgan/Flickr). A teacher reads to students at an elementary school in Walla Walla, Washington (Dick_Morgan/Flickr).

On October 15, the Renewing America initiative hosted the BBC’s The World Tonight radio program at CFR in Washington for a special event, “American Decline or Economic Renewal?,” which was broadcast as part of The World Tonight’s program, “Rebuilding America.” Panel members discussed issues highlighted by CFR’s Renewing America initiative including education, innovation, and the state of U.S. infrastructure, as well as the ability of the U.S. political system to address these challenges. Read more »

Tackling the Real Barriers to U.S. Business Abroad

by Edward Alden Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Delegates arrive at the eighth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Geneva on December 15, 2011 (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters). Delegates arrive at the eighth World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Geneva on December 15, 2011 (Denis Balibouse/Courtesy Reuters).

The U.S.-China Business Council’s just-released survey on the environment for U.S. companies doing business in China is far more striking for what it doesn’t say than what it does. Of the top ten problems for business in dealing with China, there is no mention of tariffs, or quotas, or even of China’s undervalued currency, which has featured so prominently in the presidential election campaign. Instead, the problems are things like licensing approvals, intellectual property theft, foreign investment restrictions, competition with state-owned enterprises, and unfair regulatory standards. Read more »

Emerging Market Resilience

by Michael Spence Monday, October 15, 2012
Workers crawl along a steel pylon on top of a building under construction in central Beijing (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters). Workers crawl along a steel pylon on top of a building under construction in central Beijing (David Gray/Courtesy Reuters).

NEW YORK – With most of the world focused on economic instability and anemic growth in the advanced countries, developing countries, with the possible exception of China, have received relatively little attention. But, as a group, emerging-market economies have been negatively affected by the recent downturn in developed countries. Can they rebound on their own? Read more »

Expensive and Long U.S. Campaigns: A Competitive Disadvantage?

by Rebecca Strauss Friday, October 12, 2012
A member of the audience yawns behind a copy of her program at the Franklin County Lincoln Day Dinner, where U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered remarks (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). A member of the audience yawns behind a copy of her program at the Franklin County Lincoln Day Dinner, where U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered remarks (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Of the competitive disadvantages faced by the United States, its democratic system is not supposed to be one of them. Quite the opposite. The stability of the U.S. democratic process and the trusted legal system it has produced have long been a competitive advantage. It is a big reason why so many global business powerhouses are headquartered in the United States. Read more »

The Immigrant Exodus: Why Washington Needs to Listen

by Edward Alden Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Entrepreneur turned scholar Vivek Wadhwa (Courtesy Wadhwa.com). Entrepreneur turned scholar Vivek Wadhwa (Courtesy Wadhwa.com).

I had the pleasure of hosting an event last week for Vivek Wadhwa to discuss his important and troubling new book, The Immigrant Exodus. Wadhwa, an entrepreneur turned scholar, has done more than anyone else to call attention to the critical role that immigrants played in the rise of Silicon Valley and the vibrant tech economy that is rightly such a source of pride for many Americans. And his warning that we are now in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg needs to be widely read and addressed with urgency in Washington. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Some HOPE for College Tuition

by Jonathan Masters Monday, October 8, 2012
The University of Georgia in Athens (Courtney McGough / Reuters). The University of Georgia in Athens (Courtney McGough / Reuters).

Having yet to take a finance or economics course, most high-school juniors and seniors could be forgiven for an ignorance of the principle of “return-on-investment” (ROI). However, the concept could scarcely be more practical as many young people prepare to make one of the most important investments of their lives. Decisions over where to go to college, how much to spend, and whether to take on debt will almost certainly influence their economic futures for decades to come. Read more »

Guest Post: Ralls vs. CFIUS: What Are the Implications for Chinese Investment?

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden Friday, October 5, 2012
Windmills at a wind farm in Palm Springs, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters). Windmills at a wind farm in Palm Springs, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

The following is a guest post by two of the leading experts on Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States, and on the U.S. government’s investment review process. Thilo Hanemann is Research Director at the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm based in New York, and Daniel Rosen is China Practice Leader at Rhodium and a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Read more »