CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

We Don’t Know If Our Patent System is Working

by Rebecca Strauss Thursday, March 27, 2014
A woman tries the silver colored version of the new iPhone 5S after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters). A woman tries the silver colored version of the new iPhone 5S after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters).

“Innovation” is a hot buzzword in Washington. In a city gripped by partisanship, being pro-innovation is something everyone can agree on. One of the most direct ways the federal government participates in the innovation economy is through the legal protection of tangible innovations themselves, or patents. Yet incredibly, no one has a good grasp of whether the U.S. patent system is doing what it was intended to do—promote innovation. Read more »

How President Putin Has Given a Boost to U.S.-EU Trade Talks

by Edward Alden Tuesday, March 25, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama participates in a G7 leaders meeting in the Hague March 24, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama participates in a G7 leaders meeting in the Hague March 24, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

When President Obama first announced his trip to Europe two months ago, the main topic was supposed to be trade, particularly the difficult ongoing negotiations to form a new Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). But when he meets Wednesday in Brussels for the first U.S.-European Union summit in more than two years, most of the discussion will be about Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. Read more »

An Easy Way to Get Smarter on Infrastructure Finance

by Rebecca Strauss Thursday, March 20, 2014
Vehicles drive on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge in San Francisco, California September 2, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters). Vehicles drive on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge in San Francisco, California September 2, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters).

“The United States has an infrastructure investment problem,” so starts CFR Senior Fellow Heidi Crebo-Rediker’s compelling new policy innovation memo released yesterday. As we lay out in our report on federal transportation policy, the country should be spending one-third more than current levels just to be able to maintain the infrastructure we alrady have. Using more private money is one way to plug the gap. But many state and local governments, who are responsible for paying for and managing most of the nation’s infrastructure, do not have the expertise of using innovative financing structures that share risk, channel private money effectively, and give taxpayers value for money. Read more »

Politics-Proof Economies?

by Michael Spence Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Federal workers demonstrate for an end to the U.S. government shutdown on the west front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 13, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). Federal workers demonstrate for an end to the U.S. government shutdown on the west front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 13, 2013 (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

This post was co-authored with David Brady, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.

MILAN–Governments’ inability to act decisively to address their economies’ growth, employment, and distributional challenges has emerged as a major source of concern almost everywhere. In the United States, in particular, political polarization, congressional gridlock, and irresponsible grandstanding have garnered much attention, with many worried about the economic consequences. Read more »

Investor-State Arbitration in Trade Agreements: A Bad Idea?

by Edward Alden Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dan Ikenson at the CATO Institute has just published a must-read policy memo on the issue of including investor-state arbitration in trade agreements. With President Obama’s ambitious trade agenda stalled in Congress, Ikenson suggests a radical, but to my mind rather sensible, move to break the impasse–drop the provision from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and future U.S. trade agreements. Read more »

After Two Decades, American Trade May Finally Get a Needed Upgrade

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden Wednesday, February 26, 2014
China Shipping containers lie on the dock after being imported to the U.S. in Los Angeles (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters). China Shipping containers lie on the dock after being imported to the U.S. in Los Angeles (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

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

In 1989 the government of Singapore launched an innovative improvement to its trade infrastructure. The project, known as TradeNet, was a “single window” system that allowed exporters and importers to file trade documents and pay government fees through an electronic one-stop shop. Read more »

Overshooting in Emerging Markets

by Michael Spence Thursday, February 20, 2014
Chinese banknotes are seen at a vendor's cash box at a market in Beijing February 14, 2014 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Rueters). Chinese banknotes are seen at a vendor's cash box at a market in Beijing February 14, 2014 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Rueters).

Until relatively recently, countries’ so-called middle-income transitions were largely ignored–in part because what was supposed to be a transition often became a trap. A few economies in Asia–particularly Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan–sailed through to high-income status with relatively high growth rates. But the vast majority of economies slowed down or stopped growing altogether in per capita terms after entering the middle-income range. Read more »

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.