CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Posts by Author

Showing posts for "Steven J. Markovich"

Driverless Cars

by Steven J. Markovich
A monitor in the back seat displays sensor readings and other information in a driverless car at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University (Kevin Bartram/Courtesy Reuters). A monitor in the back seat displays sensor readings and other information in a driverless car at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University (Kevin Bartram/Courtesy Reuters).

Driverless cars promise great benefits such as fewer accidents, elimination of drunk driving, better utilization of existing highways, and letting commuters work or relax while en route. The technology has developed rapidly over the past decade, aided by research grants from multiple governments and competitions funded by the U.S. military. While several automakers have announced plans to bring cars with limited autonomous capabilities to the market by 2020, there is still a need for a clear legal framework that ensures self-driving vehicles are safe while setting appropriate limits for manufacturer’s liability. A new backgrounder, Driverless Cars, explores this emerging technology, the challenges that remain, and its benefits, which have been estimated at over a trillion dollars annually for the U.S. economy.

Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness

by Steven J. Markovich
With the Earth in the background, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm (Photo provided by NASA/Courtesy Reuters). With the Earth in the background, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm (Photo provided by NASA/Courtesy Reuters).

The Space Race of the 1960s spurred groundbreaking investments in research and education, inspiring a generation of Americans to enter the fields of science and engineering. These investments not only propelled the United States to preeminence in space exploration, but also planted the seeds for future innovation and economic competitiveness in many industries. A new backgrounder, Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness, explores the advancements produced by the U.S. space program, and discusses the challenges and opportunities that the program faces today.

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Questioning the Wisdom of Corporate Tax Incentives

by Steven J. Markovich
The shuttered General Motors Willow Run Powertrain plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, June 2012 (Jeff Kowalsky /Courtesy Reuters). The shuttered General Motors Willow Run Powertrain plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, June 2012 (Jeff Kowalsky /Courtesy Reuters).

Many states and cities offer a variety of tax incentives (credits, exemptions, deductions) to businesses with the aim of spurring growth and job creation, but few carefully analyze the costs and benefits. Some recent research has brought the wisdom of corporate tax breaks into question, and several states are considering reforms to assess the public value of their programs. Read more »

Student Loans and U.S. Prosperity

by Steven J. Markovich
A student walks on the campus of San Francisco State University (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters). A student walks on the campus of San Francisco State University (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters).

Sticker shock was rampant among many freshmen in the class of 2017. The annual price of a private four-year university is now edging toward $60,000. As a result, federal student loans will play a key role in allowing millions of students to afford college. However, as CFR Contributing Editor Steven J. Markovich notes in his new Renewing America backgrounder Student Loans and U.S. Prosperity “many graduates are concerned about encountering a weak job market and the consequences that lingering debt may have on their financial futures.”

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Adaptive Education

by Steven J. Markovich
A first grade student listens during a computer lesson in school (Courtesy Reuters). A first grade student listens during a computer lesson in school (Courtesy Reuters).

If many technology startups and established education firms have their way, the future of education will more closely resemble a one-on-one private tutor than a traditional schoolhouse classroom with a single teacher lecturing to twenty-five students seated in neatly arranged desks. These firms are developing tools for adaptive education, an approach that analyzes data in real-time to tailor a lesson to each student’s needs and strengths, to reinforce concepts not fully absorbed, and deploy techniques effective for that particular student. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: A One-Stop Welfare Shop

by Steven J. Markovich
A young, unemployed teacher works as a babysitter as she looks for a full-time position (Alessandro Bianchi/Courtesy). A young, unemployed teacher works as a babysitter as she looks for a full-time position (Alessandro Bianchi/Courtesy).

The United Kingdom is implementing a major welfare reform, replacing a constellation of social support programs with a single monthly payment, the universal credit. The amount a recipient receives will be based on income level of the prior month, with additional amounts for disability, caring responsibilities, housing costs, and children. Touted as the most significant reform since the 1940s, the universal credit went into pilot phase in April 2013, with broader rollout to run from October 2013 to October 2017. Read more »

U.S. Broadband Policy and Competitiveness

by Steven J. Markovich
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 »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Multiyear Budgeting

by Steven J. Markovich
President Obama's FY 2014 budget proposal is released (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters). President Obama's FY 2014 budget proposal is released (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters).

The U.S. budget process has become increasingly dysfunctional, a large factor in Standard and Poor’s downgrading the U.S. sovereign credit rating in 2011. Budgets were always passed for each fiscal year from 1977 to 1998, but in the thirteen fiscal years since, Congress has failed to adopt a budget five times, including for FY 2013. A continuing resolution—a stopgap spending measure—was passed in late March to fund discretionary programs of the federal government through the end of September, the last month of the 2013 fiscal year. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: New Paths to a Diploma

by Steven J. Markovich
A student reads on the campus of Columbia University in New York (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters). A student reads on the campus of Columbia University in New York (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters).

To most Americans, the typical college experience involves learning from a professor in a lecture hall and spending a set duration of time in class over several semesters. But that could soon change. Almost ten percent of last year’s graduates of Thomas Edison State College (TESC) earned their degree without setting foot on campus or even taking a course offered by the college, because the school uses a competency-based education model. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Teddy’s Big Ditch Grows Deeper

by Steven J. Markovich
A cargo ship waits to pass through the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal (Alberto Lowe/Courtesy Reuters). A cargo ship waits to pass through the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal (Alberto Lowe/Courtesy Reuters).

This summer, a billion-dollar project will begin to raise the road deck of the Bayonne Bridge that links Staten Island to Jersey City, and provides access to Manhattan via the Holland Tunnel. The project is not being undertaken because of safety concerns about the current bridge, but rather to allow larger container ships to pass underneath it and reach the Port of New York and New Jersey. It’s just one of several port projects in anticipation of the widening of the Panama Canal. Read more »