CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

The “Strong Dollar” Policy: Back to the Future

by Edward Alden Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Jacob Lew AT&T Foundry U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew listens during a tour of the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto, California (Beck Diefenbach/Courtesy Reuters).

The “strong dollar” has been a mantra for the United States for decades. Recently, as the euro has fallen to an 11-year low against the dollar, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has once again been paying homage. “I have been consistent in saying, as my predecessors have said, that a strong dollar is good for the United States.” Read more »

Obama’s Speech: The Conundrum on Trade

by Edward Alden Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Barack Obama State of the Union 2015 President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015 (Mandel Ngan/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama urged Congress last night in his State of the Union address to “give me trade promotion authority” to complete “strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe.” If Congress agrees – and it probably will – it will be the first time in his administration that the president has had the authority to move forward on trade. The potential results – a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Japan and 10 other countries, and a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe – would be the farthest-reaching trade agreements in a generation. Read more »

Obama Should Push to Give Workers a Stake

by Renewing America Staff Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Ford workers Ford Rawsonville Ypsilanti Michigan profit sharing Ford Motor production workers assemble batteries for Ford electric and hybrid vehicles at the Ford Rawsonville Assembly Plant in Ypsilanti Township, Michigan (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama should promote shared capitalism in his State of the Union Address. In his new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag recommends that the president make a push for policies that encourage stock-ownership plans or profit-sharing schemes for corporate employees. Shared capitalism plans have been shown to reduce turnover, improve workers’ job satisfaction, and raise their compensation. They also raise productivity, which boosts companies’ bottom lines. As concern about wage stagnation grows, shared capitalism plans are a good way to begin reversing its negative effects.

Getting Americans Back to Work: A Long Way Still to Go

by Edward Alden Tuesday, January 13, 2015
CFR Renewing America Federal Worker Retraining Policy Scorecard The CFR Renewing America Federal Worker-Retraining Policy Scorecard

For the first time since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, the United States is finally creating a lot of new jobs–252,000 jobs in December, and nearly 3 million over the whole of 2014. Unemployment has fallen to 5.6 percent, the lowest rate since June of 2008. Read more »

Five Reasons for Slow Growth

by Michael Spence Tuesday, January 6, 2015
storm clouds Capitol dome Washington Storm clouds approach the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington (Gary Cameron /Courtesy Reuters).

A remarkable pattern has emerged since the 2008 global financial crisis: Governments, central banks, and international financial institutions have consistently had to revise their growth forecasts downward. With very few exceptions, this has been true of projections for the global economy and individual countries alike. Read more »

2014 by the Numbers: A Pretty Good Year

by Edward Alden Monday, December 22, 2014
Falls Church Virginia December 2014 gas prices A taxi passes a gas station in Falls Church, Virginia December 16, 2014. For the first time in more than a decade, U.S. gasoline prices are tumbling toward $2 a gallon even as the economy grows and unemployment shrinks (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

The Washington Post’s Outlook section last week declared that President Obama had the “worst year in Washington,” dissecting the trifecta of election defeat, foreign policy missteps and falling popularity. But if judged by the standards that actually affect the lives the most Americans – the state of the economy and the state of their pocketbooks – 2014 was perhaps the best year of Obama’s presidency. It wasn’t all good by any means, and some of the biggest problems saw little improvement, such as the number of part-time workers who would prefer full-time work and those who have given up entirely. But many of the indicators are finally pointing strongly in the right direction. Read more »

Don’t Get Too Excited About the Budget Deal

by Renewing America Staff Thursday, December 11, 2014
moon Capitol dome The moon is seen rising behind the dome of the U.S. Capitol building (Jim Bourg/Courtesy Reuters).

If Congress can pass the spending bill it has negotiated, it will succeed in avoiding another costly and embarrassing shutdown. However, as CFR Adjunct Fellow Peter Orszag explains in a new column for Bloomberg View, that doesn’t mean it’s good policy. The “CRomnibus,” as it is colloquially referred to, continues to cut discretionary spending to the bone, but Congress makes no effort to evaluate where cuts can be made without doing further damage to the economy.

Obama’s Immigration Action Shows the Limits of Executive Power

by Edward Alden Friday, November 21, 2014
rally immigration reform Capitol Hill Washington Latinos rally in favor of comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill in Washington (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which will temporarily legalize as many as 5 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, is being criticized by opponents as an unprecedented abuse of presidential authority. But as the details are coming out, what the action shows instead is how sharply limited the president’s powers actually are. What has been true for many years remains true today: the real problems with U.S. immigration laws simply cannot be solved without congressional action. Read more »

Dumb Government and Smart Government

by Edward Alden Monday, November 17, 2014
Kevin Spacey House of Cards Alice Tully Hall Lincoln Center New York City Actor Kevin Spacey arrives at the premiere of Netflix's television series "House of Cards" at Alice Tully Hall in the Lincoln Center in New York City (Stephen Chernin/Courtesy Reuters).

There were two stories in the paper over the weekend – both of them local to the Washington, DC area – that perfectly captured the difference between smart government spending and dumb government spending. Let’s start with the dumb first.

Since 2012, the Maryland state government has been offering increasingly generous tax credits to persuade filmmakers to locate their productions in the state, most notably the Netflix series “House of Cards.” A new report from the non-partisan Maryland Department of Legislative Services concludes that the state has wasted more than $60 million to encourage productions that create only a handful of short-term jobs and bring little revenue back to the state. For every dollar the state spends on tax incentives, the report found, about 10 cents comes back. Read more »

A New Do-Nothing Congress

by Renewing America Staff Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Obama Boehner U.S. President Barack Obama sits with Speaker of the House John Boehner during a memorial service for former Speaker Tom Foley (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

If Republicans take the Senate, will it lead to productive compromise or just more obstruction? In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag discusses the range of scenarios that Republican control of the Senate could produce in areas like healthcare, trade, and the federal budget.