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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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Showing posts for "Infrastructure"

Finally a Highway Bill, But Big Financing Problems Remain

by Rebecca Strauss
CFR RoadToNowhere 20151202

For the first time in a decade, Congress has cobbled together a highway bill that guarantees transportation infrastructure funding for several years. House and Senate negotiators announced a deal this week, and the final votes are expected shortly. Unfortunately, the bill does nothing to fix the terrible infrastructure financing system, nor does it increase current spending levels enough. Read more »

A Hard Look at a Soft Global Economy

by Michael Spence
Cranes and workers are seen at a construction site at a main pier of the Hutong Yangtze River highway and railway bridge above the Yangtze River, in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China, April 25, 2015 (China Daily China Daily Information Corp  - CDIC/Reuters). Cranes and workers are seen at a construction site at a main pier of the Hutong Yangtze River highway and railway bridge above the Yangtze River, in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China, April 25, 2015 (China Daily China Daily Information Corp - CDIC/Reuters).

MILAN – The global economy is settling into a slow-growth rut, steered there by policymakers’ inability or unwillingness to address major impediments at a global level. Indeed, even the current anemic pace of growth is probably unsustainable. The question is whether an honest assessment of the impediments to economic performance worldwide will spur policymakers into action. Read more »

Katrina at 10: Reflections on a Human-Made Disaster

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden
Great Wall Louisiana New Orleans Hurricane Katrina levee The so called "Great Wall of Louisiana", a 1.8-mile long concrete wall located east of downtown New Orleans, United States, is seen from the air August 19, 2015. This barrier was designed to reduce the risk of storm surge in many parts of the city that were flooded during Hurricane Katrina due to levee or floodwall failures (Carlos Barria/Reuters).

The following is a guest post by Stephen E. Flynn, Professor of Political Science, Director of the Center for Resilience Studies, and Co-Director of the George J. Kostas Research Institute at Northeastern University. He can be reached at s.flynn@neu.edu Read more »

China’s International Growth Agenda

by Michael Spence
Xi Jinping Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank launch ceremony China's President Xi Jinping (R) meets with the guests at the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank launch ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 24, 2014 (Takaki Yajima/Reuters).

For most of the past 35 years, China’s policymakers have set their focus on the domestic economy, with reforms designed to allow the market to provide efficiency and accurate price signals. Though they had to be increasingly aware of their country’s growing impact on the global economy, they had no strategy to ensure that China’s neighbors gained from its economic transformation. Read more »

U.S. Aviation Infrastructure

by Steven J. Markovich
United Boeing 747-400 San Francisco International Airport A United Airlines Boeing 747-400 takes off at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, February 7, 2015 (Louis Nastro/Reuters).

The United States has the most heavily-trafficked aviation system in the world, but its airports and airlines lag other developed countries in performance. While the United States is a leader in aircraft manufacturing, investment in airport infrastructure has stalled over the past decade. However, new technologies could have major implications on the industry as a whole, such as the use of satellite-based air traffic control systems, and the emergence of unmanned drones. A new backgrounder, U.S. Aviation Infrastructure, explores the strengths, shortcomings, and opportunities for air transportation in the United States.

A World of Underinvestment

by Michael Spence
G20 leaders G20 Leaders Summit G20 leaders watch a cultural performance at the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane November 15, 2014 (Jason Reed/Reuters).

When World War II ended 70 years ago, much of the world – including industrialized Europe, Japan, and other countries that had been occupied – was left geopolitically riven and burdened by heavy sovereign debt, with many major economies in ruins. One might have expected a long period of limited international cooperation, slow growth, high unemployment, and extreme privation, owing to countries’ limited capacity to finance their huge investment needs. But that is not what happened. Read more »

Why Public Investment?

by Michael Spence
M-1 light rail Woodward Avenue Detroit Michigan Construction on the M-1 3.3-mile light rail transit project is seen along Woodward Avenue near downtown Detroit, Michigan, November 7, 2014 (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters).

The world is facing the prospect of an extended period of weak economic growth. But risk is not fate: The best way to avoid such an outcome is to figure out how to channel large pools of savings into productivity-enhancing public-sector investment. Read more »

A Bridge Too Far: Made in Detroit, Paid for by Canada

by Edward Alden
Ambassador bridge Detroit Michigan Windsor Ontario Commercial trucks line up on the Ambassador bridge crossing over to Detroit, Michigan from Windsor, Ontario (Rebecca Cook/Courtesy Reuters).

There are two possible reactions to the news that Canada and the United States have finally ironed out the last wrinkle and can now move ahead with the much needed new International Trade Crossing of the Detroit River.  It will create thousands of short-term construction jobs (far exceeding the much better-known Keystone pipeline project) and will speed movement of goods and people between Michigan and Ontario . I know I should celebrate it as a creative example of cross-border cooperation to solve a thorny problem. It is, as the Department of Homeland Security noted, an “innovative approach.” But mostly I’m just deeply embarrassed. To cut to the conclusion: we are getting a new bridge, but our neighbors to the north are putting up every penny for it. Read more »

Dumb Government and Smart Government

by Edward Alden
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 »

Obama’s Disappointing Legacy on Transportation Policy

by Rebecca Strauss
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about transportation infrastructure during a visit to the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, New York May 14, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about transportation infrastructure during a visit to the Tappan Zee Bridge in Tarrytown, New York May 14, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

We’ve seen it all before. Today Vice President Biden gave a speech calling for more infrastructure investment, but without offering a way to pay for it. We heard the same from President Obama this past July, May and February. While the message echoes over and over again, not much in the way of actual policy is changing. Now that we are nearly six years deep into the Obama administration, it is becoming clearer that Obama’s transportation legacy is sizing up to be a disappointment. His initiatives have fallen flat or were obstructed by Congress, and he (along with Congress) has done little to solve the fundamental problem of federal transportation policy—finding the revenue to pay for all the infrastructure investment he’s calling for. Read more »