CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

U.S. Patents and Innovation

by Renewing America Staff Friday, December 21, 2012
A man talks on a mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai on September 3, 2012 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters). A man talks on a mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai on September 3, 2012 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters).

This week saw more high profile patents in the news. Apple alone saw the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issue initial rejections of its patents on “pinch-to-zoom” and other iPhone features while it fended off a claim from Google’s Motorola Mobility, while in Europe smartphone rival Samsung faces antitrust scrutiny patent lawsuits against Apple. Read more »

The Folly of State Subsidies, Part Two

by Edward Alden Friday, December 14, 2012
A United Airlines airplane at Newark Liberty International Airport (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters). A United Airlines airplane at Newark Liberty International Airport (Gary Hershorn/Courtesy Reuters).

A new study released this week by the Pew Center for the States is further proof of the folly of state tax incentives as a way to attract job-creating business – though in its usual even-handed fashion Pew is careful not to say as much. The report shows that surprisingly few states make serious estimates of the potential cost of tax incentives they offer companies, and very few cap the total benefits, leaving the government exposed to large losses. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Oklahoma City MAPS Out Revitalization

by Jonathan Masters Monday, December 10, 2012
The showpiece of the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City is the Crystal Bridge, a tropical conservatory, home to exotic plants from around the world (Courtesy OKC Newsroom). The showpiece of the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City is the Crystal Bridge, a tropical conservatory, home to exotic plants from around the world (Courtesy OKC Newsroom).

For communities looking to attract the coveted highly-skilled, highly-paid workforce, there is often little substitute for a locale’s livability. Job opportunities, no matter how plum, may fail to lure workers if a city is determined to be undesirable by potential emigrants. In describing what motivates the so-called Creative Class to relocate, urban theorist Richard Florida notes that “quality-of-place”—a city’s built and natural environment, its population diversity and vibrancy—is the deciding factor. Read more »

Playing Fast and Loose With the Debt Limit

by Jonathan Masters Thursday, December 6, 2012
The United States Treasury building, Washington, DC (Courtesy Flickr). The United States Treasury building, Washington, DC (Courtesy Flickr).

It’s still uncertain whether the White House and Congress can cobble together a compromise that would avert the “fiscal cliff” at year’s end. Indeed, some speculate that Washington’s proverbial gridlock will take the nation over the edge, jolting a still fragile economic recovery—if only temporarily. Read more »

The State Subsidies War: Time to Settle Our Own Disputes

by Edward Alden Monday, December 3, 2012
A worker checks a shipment of outgoing boxes at the Amazon.com warehouse facility in New Castle, Delaware (Tim Shaffer/Courtesy Reuters). In 2011, Amazon received $7.5 million in subsidies from the State of Delaware. A worker checks a shipment of outgoing boxes at the Amazon.com warehouse facility in New Castle, Delaware (Tim Shaffer/Courtesy Reuters). In 2011, Amazon received $7.5 million in subsidies from the State of Delaware.

Two decades ago, the United States demanded that other countries in the World Trade Organization (WTO) agree to significant restrictions on “trade distorting subsidies” of various sorts, such as government grants, tax breaks, or other benefits that would allow companies an unfair advantage against others in the international market. All well and good, but as the proverb has it: “Physician, heal thyself.” Read more »