CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Foreign Student Numbers Growing: The Good News and the Missed Opportunities

by Edward Alden Tuesday, November 12, 2013
A student walks along Boston University's campus in Boston, Massachusetts (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters). A student walks along Boston University's campus in Boston, Massachusetts (Jessica Rinaldi/Courtesy Reuters).

While it is easy to despair at the many failings of the U.S. political process, it is important sometimes to celebrate the amazing resilience of American society. My cause today is the latest annual Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education, which examines foreign students studying at American universities and U.S. students studying abroad. The encouraging news is that last year nearly 820,000 international students attended U.S. colleges and universities, a record high and an increase of 7 percent over the previous year. New enrollments were up 10 per cent. That’s nearly a million smart young people who will either remain in the United States after they graduate and strengthen this country, or return home and bring with them the values and skills they learned at some of the world’s greatest schools. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Questioning the Wisdom of Corporate Tax Incentives

by Steven J. Markovich Friday, November 8, 2013
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 »

What’s Behind Obama’s Push to Attract Foreign Businesses?

by Rebecca Strauss Wednesday, November 6, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama at the SelectUSA 2013 Investment Summit (Courtesy Reuters).

Last week the Obama administration hosted the first-ever national summit showcasing the United States as an attractive place to do business, part of a newish initiative called SelectUSA. The event was sold out. In attendance were hundreds of representatives from foreign companies along with U.S. local and state government officials looking to attract their business. The speaker lineup was stacked to impress. President Obama and the secretaries of Commerce, Treasury, and State all separately graced the podium. Panels were filled with big-time CEOs from companies like Dow, Caterpillar, and Walmart. The event’s message: the United States is “open for business” and the Obama administration is serious about it. Read more »

The Renewing America Interview: Jon Huntsman on the Wisdom of Boosting U.S.-China Economic Ties

by Jonathan Masters Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (Courtesy Reuters). Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman (Courtesy Reuters).

Later this week the U.S. Department of Commerce will host its inaugural SelectUSA Summit, an annual convention intended to promote overseas investment in the United States. The sold-out, two-day forum will connect international businesses with U.S. economic development leaders at the federal, state, and local levels. With lingering high unemployment in the wake of the financial crisis, the White House has made attracting foreign investment and insourcing jobs a top economic priority. Read more »

What Is Wrong With American Business?

by Edward Alden Friday, October 25, 2013
A street sign for Wall Street hangs in front of the New York Stock Exchange (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters). A street sign for Wall Street hangs in front of the New York Stock Exchange (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

It was Vladimir Ilyich Lenin,  an astute student of the system he was determined to destroy, who is purported to have said: “The capitalists will sell us the rope by which we will hang them.” After reading the Washington Post story this week on corporate political donations to Republicans, it seems he may have been on to something. Read more »

Student Loans and U.S. Prosperity

by Steven J. Markovich Monday, October 21, 2013
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.”

Washington’s Gridlock and Foreign Investment

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden Friday, October 18, 2013
A 100 yuan banknote is placed next to $100 banknotes (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters). A 100 yuan banknote is placed next to $100 banknotes (Petar Kujundzic/Courtesy Reuters).

Thilo Hanemann is Research Director at the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm based in New York. Jacob Kirkegaard is leader of Rhodium Group’s advanced economies practice and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Read more »

America the Reckless

by Michael Spence Thursday, October 17, 2013
The statue of Grief and History stands in front of the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters). The statue of Grief and History stands in front of the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

MILAN–The world’s developed countries face growth and employment shortfalls, while developing countries are confronting huge challenges in adapting to increasingly volatile capital flows while adjusting their growth patterns to sustain economic development. And yet America’s political dysfunction has come to marginalize these (and other) crucial issues. It is all very difficult to fathom. Read more »

What Does Adult Mediocrity Mean for U.S. Competitiveness? It’s Complicated

by Rebecca Strauss Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Thomas Michel, a professor at Harvard Medical School, waits for the start of the 360th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 26, 2011. (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters) Thomas Michel, a professor at Harvard Medical School, waits for the start of the 360th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts May 26, 2011. (Brian Snyder/Courtesy Reuters)

It is old news that average American student performance is mediocre on international tests. With the recent release of the OECD’s first survey of adult skills, we now know that American adults continue that mediocre track record. And once again, the big achievers are Japan and small Nordic countries like Finland. Read more »

New Energy and U.S. Economic Vulnerability

by Edward Alden Tuesday, October 15, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama walks past a pumpjack on his way to deliver remarks on energy independence in New Mexico, March 21, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters) U.S. President Barack Obama walks past a pumpjack on his way to deliver remarks on energy independence in New Mexico, March 21, 2012. (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters)

One of the promises of the fracking revolution that has sharply increased oil and gas production in the United States is that it might help to free this country from the economic ups and downs associated with a volatile world energy market. But a new Council on Foreign Relations Energy Brief, “The Shale Gas and Tight Oil Boom: US States’ Economic Gains and Vulnerabilities,” suggests that promise is over-stated. Even as U.S. reliance on foreign oil has diminished, it is still vulnerable to price shocks that could result from events in the Middle East or elsewhere. Read more »