CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Growth in a Time of Disruption

by Michael Spence Wednesday, July 27, 2016
A man walks past various currency signs (Yuya Shino/Reuters). A man walks past various currency signs (Yuya Shino/Reuters).

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA – Developing countries are facing major obstacles – many of which they have little to no control over – to achieving sustained high growth. Beyond the headwinds generated by slow advanced-economy growth and abnormal post-crisis monetary and financial conditions, there are the disruptive impacts of digital technology, which are set to erode developing economies’ comparative advantage in labor-intensive manufacturing activities. With the reversal of these trends out of the question, adaptation is the only option. Read more »

GOP Has Abdicated Leadership on Homeland Security

by Edward Alden Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters). Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 18, 2016. (Mike Segar/Reuters).

“Homeland Security” was an idea largely conceived and implemented by the Republican Party. But at the opening night of the Republican convention in Cleveland, built around the theme of “Make America Safe Again,” it was depressingly clear that the GOP has forgotten everything that it learned during the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That memory loss could have serious and damaging consequences for the United States. Read more »

Donald Trump’s Trade-Talk Trickery

by Edward Alden Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Alumisourse Building in Monessen, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 28, 2016 (Reuters). Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech at the Alumisourse Building in Monessen, Pennsylvania, U.S., June 28, 2016 (Reuters).

After months of campaigning on nothing but the most banal of generalities about lost American greatness and crooked opponents, Donald Trump got down in the weeds last week. Way down.

In a major speech on trade in what’s left of the steel-making region near Pittsburgh, he promised to use every available presidential power to go after foreign trade cheaters, including “Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.” Read more »

Brexit in Context

by Michael Spence Monday, June 20, 2016
Two activists with the EU flag and Union Jack painted on their faces kiss each other to protest against British exit from the European Union (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters). Two activists with the EU flag and Union Jack painted on their faces kiss each other to protest against British exit from the European Union (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters).

MILAN – I do not believe that foreigners contribute usefully by issuing strong opinions about how a country’s citizens, or those of a larger unit like the European Union, should decide when faced with an important political choice. Our insights, based on international experience, may sometimes be helpful; but there should never be any confusion about the asymmetry of roles. Read more »

Reigniting Emerging-Economy Growth

by Michael Spence Tuesday, May 31, 2016
People are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the picture of various currencies of money (Kacper Pempel/Reuters). People are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the picture of various currencies of money (Kacper Pempel/Reuters).

HONG KONG – It is no secret that emerging economies are facing serious challenges, which have undermined their once-explosive growth and weakened their development prospects. Whether they return to the path of convergence with the advanced economies will largely depend on how they approach an increasingly complex economic environment. Read more »

Why Paul Ryan Should Not Endorse Donald Trump

by Edward Alden Thursday, May 26, 2016
U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan takes questions at a news conference after his meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Jim Bourg/Reuters). U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan takes questions at a news conference after his meeting with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (Jim Bourg/Reuters).

House Speaker Paul Ryan is reportedly still trying to decide whether to endorse the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump. Asked this week at a news conference whether he was ready to back Trump, he would say only “I have not made a decision.” While pressure is growing for Ryan to jump on the GOP bandwagon starting to form behind Trump, the answer should be obvious: No. Read more »

Jeff Immelt of GE Gives The Most Important Foreign Policy Speech of the Year

by Edward Alden Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric (Mike Segar/Reuters). Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric (Mike Segar/Reuters).

The most important foreign policy speech of the year so far was delivered not by any of the presidential candidates, nor by any of their advisors, nor by President Obama or his officials. It was given last week by the chief executive of General Electric, Jeff Immelt, who may be the most influential American CEO of his generation. And the message, to graduating students at NYU’s Stern Business School, was stark: if America is turning against the global economy, business will have to follow. Read more »

Managing Debt in an Overleveraged World

by Michael Spence Wednesday, April 27, 2016
A woman holding an umbrella walks in front of an electronic board displaying various countries' stock price index outside a brokerage in Tokyo  (Issei Kato/Reuters). A woman holding an umbrella walks in front of an electronic board displaying various countries' stock price index outside a brokerage in Tokyo (Issei Kato/Reuters).

MILAN – What ever happened to deleveraging? In the years since the 2008 global financial crisis, austerity and balance-sheet repair have been the watchwords of the global economy. And yet today, more than ever, debt is fueling concern about growth prospects worldwide. Read more »

How to Solve the Global Steel Glut

by Edward Alden Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Employees work at a factory of Dongbei Special Steel Group in Dalian, Liaoning province. (China Daily China Daily Information Corp-CDIC/Reuters). Employees work at a factory of Dongbei Special Steel Group in Dalian, Liaoning province. (China Daily China Daily Information Corp-CDIC/Reuters).

The steel industry is once again in crisis. Led by China, global steelmaking capacity has doubled in the past 15 years, while demand has slumped. The consequences in many countries are falling prices, idled production, bankruptcies and job losses. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last week called it “a truly global challenge”. Read more »

What the Trade and Minimum Wage Debates Have in Common

by Edward Alden Tuesday, April 5, 2016
California Governor Jerry Brown (C) signs a bill hiking California's minimum wage to $15 by 2023 (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters). California Governor Jerry Brown (C) signs a bill hiking California's minimum wage to $15 by 2023 (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters).

The election-year debates over trade and the minimum wage would appear to have little to do with each other. The growing concern over trade, on the one hand, has focused mostly on the impact of global competition on U.S. manufacturing, sectors in which most employees make far more than the minimum wage. The historic move by California and New York this week to raise their minimum wages to $15, on the other hand, will mostly boost pay for restaurant and retail workers – sectors that do not face international competition. Read more »