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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

The North American Summit: Robert Pastor’s Roadmap for Progress

by Edward Alden Tuesday, February 18, 2014
A monument marks the border between the U.S. and Mexico in Laredo, Texas (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters). A monument marks the border between the U.S. and Mexico in Laredo, Texas (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters).

This week’s meeting in Toluca, Mexico between President Obama and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts offers a long overdue opportunity to jump start a new North American agenda. What should it look like? No one has given better answers to that question than the late Bob Pastor of American University, whose vision of a “seamless North American market” is if anything more relevant today than it was during his enormously productive career. His passing last month after a long battle with cancer was a huge loss. Read more »

Volkswagen’s Tennessee Gambit: Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Union?

by Edward Alden Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga ,Tennessee, is shown (Billy Weeks /Courtesy Reuters). The Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga ,Tennessee, is shown (Billy Weeks /Courtesy Reuters).

I have long been a strong advocate of foreign investment in the United States, and have argued against discriminatory tax rules, short-sighted security restrictions, or other government measures that discourage foreign companies. Now Volkswagen, the German carmaker, has given me one more reason to like foreign investors; the company could play a role in changing what has become a self-destructive anti-union ideology that permeates too much of American business and political culture. Read more »

Marrying Your Equal Boosts Inequality

by Renewing America Staff Wednesday, February 5, 2014
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Chen, 23, from Lakehurst, New Jersey, kisses his new bride Victoria Chan, 25, from Manhattan, as they pose for photographers after they were married in a civil ceremony at New York City's Office of the City Clerk (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class John Chen, 23, from Lakehurst, New Jersey, kisses his new bride Victoria Chan, 25, from Manhattan, as they pose for photographers after they were married in a civil ceremony at New York City's Office of the City Clerk (Mike Segar/Courtesy Reuters).

Americans are increasingly marrying people of similar income and educational backgrounds. In a new column for Bloomberg, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag discusses the effects of this phenomenon, including increased inequality, changes in women’s participation in the workforce, and reduced geographical mobility.

The New GOP Immigration Principles: A Historic Shift

by Edward Alden Friday, January 31, 2014
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks at his news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington January 16, 2014 (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks at his news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington January 16, 2014 (Yuri Gripas/Courtesy Reuters).

The decision yesterday by House Republicans to release a broad set of principles for immigration reform may or may not lead to successful legislation this year. There are still many political and substantive hurdles to overcome to reach a bipartisan deal. But regardless, the announcement should be recognized for what it is – a huge and consequential change in the Republican Party’s approach to immigration reform. Read more »

Obama’s State of the Union: A Missed Opportunity for Progress

by Edward Alden Wednesday, January 29, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington January 28, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington January 28, 2014 (Larry Downing/Courtesy Reuters).

President Obama has been nothing if not a model of consistency in his State of the Union speeches, focusing again and again on the critical need to lift up America’s struggling middle classes. There is no more important issue on the agenda today. But in any political leader, consistency and conviction need to be twinned with a sense of opportunity and timing. And last night’s State of the Union speech was a big missed opportunity in that regard. Read more »

New Harvard Study: U.S. Social Mobility Is Not Decreasing

by Rebecca Strauss Friday, January 24, 2014
Jason Howe and Adrian Perez (L) hold their one-year-old twin daughters Clara (R) and Olivia at a playground in West Hollywood, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters). Jason Howe and Adrian Perez (L) hold their one-year-old twin daughters Clara (R) and Olivia at a playground in West Hollywood, California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

There is no question that income inequality has been increasing since the 1970s in most of the world. And it has been the general assumption that as inequality went up, class mobility between generations would go down. This relationship, cleverly named the “Great Gatsby Curve,”  was thought to hold across nations, and previous studies about domestic U.S. trends had reinforced that conclusion. Read more »

The Real Challenges to Growth

by Michael Spence Thursday, January 23, 2014
A man looks down as he waits in line to enter a government-run employment office in Madrid (Sergio Perez/Courtesy Reuters). A man looks down as he waits in line to enter a government-run employment office in Madrid (Sergio Perez/Courtesy Reuters).

Advanced economies’ experience since the 2008 financial crisis has spurred a rapidly evolving discussion of growth, employment, and income inequality. That should come as no surprise: For those who expected a relatively rapid post-crisis recovery, the more things stay the same, the more they change. Read more »

How Obama’s NSA Reforms Could Help TTIP

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden Wednesday, January 15, 2014
A mobile phone simulating a call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel next to a tablet computer showing the logo of the United Staes' National Security Agency (NSA) is seen in this multiple exposure picture illustration (Kai Pfaffenbach/Courtesy Reuters). A mobile phone simulating a call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel next to a tablet computer showing the logo of the United Staes' National Security Agency (NSA) is seen in this multiple exposure picture illustration (Kai Pfaffenbach/Courtesy Reuters).

This is a guest post by Robert Maxim, research associate, competitiveness and foreign policy, for the Council on Foreign Relations Studies program.

On Friday President Obama will unveil his plan to curb the surveillance practices of the National Security Agency (NSA). When he does, he could inadvertently give a boost to the ambitious U.S.-European Union free trade negotiations. Read more »

Is There a Skills Gap? It’s Less Clear-Cut Than You Think

by Rebecca Strauss Thursday, January 2, 2014
Case worker Jessica Yon discusses job eligibility for unemployed people at a jobs center in San Francisco, California (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters). Case worker Jessica Yon discusses job eligibility for unemployed people at a jobs center in San Francisco, California (Robert Galbraith/Courtesy Reuters).

Closing the “skills gap” is high on the list of priorities for Washington policymakers. But the debate behind the skills gaps—whether it exists, how large it might be, and what to do about it—is much less clear-cut than a casual reading of the papers would suggest. Read more »

The Distributional Challenge

by Michael Spence Tuesday, December 31, 2013
A pedestrian looks at an electronic board displaying various stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo (Yuya Shino/Courtesy Reuters). A pedestrian looks at an electronic board displaying various stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo (Yuya Shino/Courtesy Reuters).

Assessing the recent past and looking forward to the near term is a natural end-of-year exercise. When it comes to the global economy in 2013 and 2014, it may well be a necessary one as well.

In the past year, systemic risk declined. Europe came together around the need to stabilize the eurozone, with the European Central Bank and Germany playing the leading roles. Read more »