CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Delivering on Promises to the Middle Class

by Michael Spence Tuesday, April 4, 2017
General Motors assembly workers work on an all new 2013 ATS Cadillac luxury vehicle (Rebecca Cook/Reuters).

This article was co-authored with David Brady, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.

MILAN – US President Donald Trump owes his electoral victory largely to the older white middle- and working-class voters who have missed out on many of the benefits of the economic-growth patterns of the last three decades. Yet his administration is preparing to pursue an economic program that, while positive in some respects, will not deliver the reversal of economic fortune his key constituency was promised. Read more »

Immigration Enforcement and the Impact on Higher Education

by Edward Alden Wednesday, March 22, 2017
University students listen while classmates make a presentation (Stephen Lam/Reuters).

I delivered a short talk yesterday, March 21, at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, as part of a panel discussion arranged by Professor Al Teich on the impact of the Trump administration’s immigration and visa policies on foreign students, scientists, and other researchers. My remarks are below: Read more »

Trump’s 2017 Trade Agenda: Signs of a Sensible Direction

by Edward Alden Wednesday, March 1, 2017
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) swears in Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce as his wife Hilary watches (Joshua Roberts/Reuters).

Since the Trade Act of 1974, Congress has required the administration each year to submit an annual “trade policy agenda” outlining its goals for the coming year. It has long been a welcome exercise in transparency, forcing the administration to articulate for the Congress – which retains the constitutional authority over foreign trade – its trade policy priorities. Read more »

Europe or Anti-Europe?

by Michael Spence Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Euro coins are seen in front of displayed flag and map of European Union (Dado Ruvic/Reuters).

MILAN – A knowledgeable friend in Milan recently asked me the following question: “If an outside investor, say, from the United States, wanted to invest a substantial sum in the Italian economy, what would you advise?” I replied that, although there are many opportunities to invest in companies and sectors, the overall investment environment is complicated. I would recommend investing alongside a knowledgeable domestic partner, who can navigate the system, and spot partly hidden risks. Read more »

Trump, DHS and Immigration: The New Memos That Ignore Political Realities

by Edward Alden Tuesday, February 21, 2017
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent (Mike Blake/Reuters).

A nation’s laws are not handed down from on high – they are the creation of flawed human beings working through flawed political processes. Successful political leaders understand this reality, and try to work within its limitations. Those who ignore it risk creating damaging social conflict. And that is what the Trump administration is risking with its new approach to enforcing U.S. immigration laws, which were outlined in a series of memos just released under the signature of General John Kelly, the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Read more »

Trump May Threaten a Trade War Over NAFTA, but His Options Are Limited

by Edward Alden Thursday, February 16, 2017
Trucks wait in a long queue for border customs control to cross into the U.S. at the Otay border crossing in Tijuana, Mexico (Jorge Duenes/Reuters).

When then-President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in a White House ceremony in December 1993, he called it “a defining moment” for the United States and praised Mexico and Canada as “our partners in the future that we are trying to make together.” All three countries had made what then seemed like an irreversible decision to marry their economic futures. Yet today, less than a quarter-century later, those bonds are badly fraying. Read more »

Trump and Borders: A Different, and Dangerous, Direction

by Edward Alden Thursday, January 26, 2017
A view of perimeter security fences which have been installed, and that are now too small for a foothold, at Los Angeles International Airport September 7, 2011, as part of new security enhancements following the 9/11 attacks (Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters).

President Donald Trump’s multi-pronged campaign to address the potential threats posed by refugees and migrants has a familiar ring. New border barriers with Mexico, a sharp reduction in refugee admissions, a crackdown on so-called “sanctuary cities,” and new restrictions on travel from countries thought to pose a terrorist threat—all these and more were part of the U.S. reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Read more »

Trump and the TPP: Giving Away Something for Nothing

by Edward Alden Monday, January 23, 2017
Opponents of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement protest outside of the White House in Washington (Gary Cameron/Reuters).

President Donald Trump likes to claim that he is a smart negotiator. “He’s an amazing negotiator, probably the best in this world,” his attorney Michael Cohen boasted during the campaign. “He will deal with trade and deal with issues.” Read more »

Taking on Trump: A Lesson from the Japanese

by Edward Alden Friday, January 13, 2017
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses media following a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in Manhattan, New York, U.S. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters).

Having watched Japan in trade negotiations with the United States for more than a quarter century now, I would never have described the Japanese approach as direct. When confronted with a difficult trade negotiating problem, they always tended to obfuscate, delay and otherwise try to muddy the waters. Read more »