CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

How to Fix America

by Renewing America Staff Friday, May 31, 2013

In the Foreign Affairs article, “Can America Be Fixed?” (January/February 2013), CNN’s Fareed Zakaria makes the case that the American democratic system has been growing increasingly dysfunctional since the 1970s but has masked underlying problems through a series of temporary solutions and lucky breaks. After the financial crisis, the system is now more dysfunctional than ever, he writes, and policymakers should summon past successful policy initiatives to get back on track. Read more »

Pork and Politics: Chinese Investment in the United States Keeps on Growing

by Edward Alden Wednesday, May 29, 2013
A package of Smithfield Bacon (daves cupboard/Flickr). A package of Smithfield Bacon (daves cupboard/Flickr).

Another day, another major acquisition of a U.S. firm by a Chinese company. The $4.7 billion deal announced today in which China’s Shuanghui Group has agreed to buy the world’s biggest pork producer, Smithfield, is the largest such transaction to date, and nearly double the price paid last year by Dalian Wanda to acquire the U.S. movie theater company AMC. But in every other respect it is just another in a growing string of large, and only moderately controversial, Chinese purchases of U.S. firms. Read more »

The Sino-American Decade

by Michael Spence Tuesday, May 28, 2013
President Barack Obama shakes hands with then-Vice President of China Xi Jinping in the Oval Office on February 14, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). President Barack Obama shakes hands with then-Vice President of China Xi Jinping in the Oval Office on February 14, 2012 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

HONG KONG – The California summit between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 7-8 comes at a time of heightened tension between the world’s two preeminent powers. But divisive issues – from computer hacking to America’s “pivot to Asia” – must not claim all of the attention. If Obama and Xi lift their heads above the parapets and begin charting a jointly agreed course through the coming decade, they may find that they have much in common. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Employing Post-9/11 Veterans

by Jonathan Masters Friday, May 24, 2013
U.S. Marines on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan (Courtesy USMC). U.S. Marines on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan (Courtesy USMC).

On Monday, Memorial Day, Wal-Mart will begin fulfilling its promise to hire any recent, honorably discharged veteran that wants a job (at least part-time). The world’s largest retailer says its pledge, part of the Obama administration’s “Joining Forces” initiative, will result in the company hiring more than 100,000 vets over the next five years. “Wal-Mart is already the largest private employer of veterans — and we want to hire more,” says the company’s website. Read more »

Apple and the Taxman: Why Treasury Always Loses

by Edward Alden Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Apple CEO Tim Cook testifies before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on May 21, 2013 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). Apple CEO Tim Cook testifies before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on May 21, 2013 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Watching the Senate hearing yesterday with Apple chief executive Tim Cook, I came to the conclusion that there are some things the government should not be trying to do even if the reasons for doing so are obviously good ones. And one of those things is taxing corporations. Read more »

Learning About Growth from Austerity

by Michael Spence Monday, May 20, 2013
U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks in front of the "national debt clock" in New Hampshire, September 2012 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters.) U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks in front of the "national debt clock" in New Hampshire, September 2012 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters.)

MILAN – In a recent set of studies, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff used a vast array of historical data to show that the accumulation of high levels of public (and private) debt relative to GDP has an extended negative effect on growth. The size of the effect incited debate about errors in their calculations. Few, however, doubt the validity of the pattern. Read more »

U.S. Broadband Policy and Competitiveness

by Steven J. Markovich Wednesday, May 15, 2013
An internet cable is seen at a server room (Kacper Pempel/Courtesy Reuters). An internet cable is seen at a server room (Kacper Pempel/Courtesy Reuters).

Experts agree that broadband internet is a critical piece of 21st-century infrastructure. The Federal Communications Commission has stated that “broadband is a foundation for economic growth, job creation, global competitiveness and a better way of life.” Read more »

The U.S. Demographic “Advantage” Reconsidered

by Rebecca Strauss Monday, May 13, 2013
President Obama holds up a baby after speaking in Las Vegas (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters). President Obama holds up a baby after speaking in Las Vegas (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

In the litany of Washington debates about current and future U.S. economic competitiveness, demographics is consistently placed on the advantage side of the U.S. competitiveness ledger. A broad view of the macro demographic trends—taking into account only population growth and age-profile—would indeed seem to support this claim. Yet this ignores other U.S. trends that could strike a blow at worker productivity, undermining the potential economic advantage of favorable demographics. Read more »

Despite Economy, American Values Hold Strong

by Edward Alden Wednesday, May 8, 2013
An attendee prays during the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters). An attendee prays during the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters).

There are many remarkable findings in the polling cited by Andrew Kohut and Michael Dimock in their new working paper for Renewing America, entitled “Resilient American Values: Optimism in an Era of Growing Inequality and Economic Difficulty,” but the most remarkable I thought is a set of side-by-side pie charts. In the first, the Pew Research Center asked Americans if they “admire people who are rich,” and just 27 percent said yes. But then Americans were asked if they “admire people who get rich by working hard,” and fully 88 percent said they agreed. Read more »

U.S. Debt Ceiling: A Plan to Kick the Can?

by Renewing America Staff Monday, May 6, 2013

House Republicans are looking at legislative options that would couple a hike in the federal debt ceiling, likely due in the fall, with progress on corporate tax reform, writes CFR’s Robert Kahn on his blog “Macro and Markets.” However, significant disagreement between the two parties on major policy points, including on rate levels and the taxing of foreign profits, would probably preclude a grand bargain in the coming months, he says. Read more »