CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Why Public Investment?

by Michael Spence Monday, February 23, 2015
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 Thursday, February 19, 2015
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 »

Scott Walker’s Risky College Experiment

by Renewing America Staff Friday, February 13, 2015
Wisconsin Scott Walker Freedom Summit Des Moines Iowa Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker speaks at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, January 24, 2015 (Jim Young/Courtesy Reuters).

Since 2000, the percent of state budgets devoted to higher education has fallen from 13 percent to 9.5 percent. This decline in funding has strained public university finances, reduced pay for many professors, and driven up tuition for students. In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag explains the factors that have led to the dramatic state university budget cuts, and discusses some ways that states can better manage their higher education budgets.

How to Get More Kids Into and Through College

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Barack Obama commencement Worcester Technical High School Students applaud as U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address at the Worcester Technical High School graduation ceremony in Worcester, Massachusetts June 11, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Amir Farokhi, CFR Term Member and COO, College Advising Corps.

Imagine a leaking pipe is flooding your house. What would you do? You would patch it immediately. Yet, when it comes to America’s pipeline of talent, we do ourselves no such favors, allowing too many gifted high school students to give up on higher education. Read more »

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 »