CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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 »

Guest Post: Lessons from Abroad for U.S. Education

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden Thursday, October 10, 2013
A woman is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters). A woman is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters).

The following guest post was written by Curtis Valentine, a CFR Term Member and a 2013-2014 International Affairs Fellow (IAF). Curtis will be posted to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of International Affairs as a Resident Fellow for a portion of his IAF.   Read more »

What the Government Shutdown Could Do to the Federal Workforce

by Edward Alden Monday, October 7, 2013
U.S. Park Ranger Melanie Turner posts a sign on the gate of the Paramount Ranch to close the National Park Service site at the Santa Monica Mountains in California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. Park Ranger Melanie Turner posts a sign on the gate of the Paramount Ranch to close the National Park Service site at the Santa Monica Mountains in California (Lucy Nicholson/Courtesy Reuters).

It may be too soon to start talking about the long-term consequences of the government shutdown, since it could go on for a lot longer. But here’s one that worries me a lot and is getting no attention: the lasting damage it will do to the federal workforce. Read more »

The Government Shutdown: Tell Me How This Ends

by Edward Alden Tuesday, October 1, 2013
National Park Service employee Richard Trott places a sign barring visitors to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on October 1, 2013 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters). National Park Service employee Richard Trott places a sign barring visitors to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on October 1, 2013 (Jason Reed/Courtesy Reuters).

Now that the government has actually shut down, the conventional wisdom is that it will be fairly short. The House Republicans, realizing they have overplayed their hand and are on the wrong side of public opinion, will back down and accept a clean, short-term continuing resolution to get the government back to work. I am not so optimistic. Read more »

Foreign Investment and U.S. National Security

by Jonathan Masters Friday, September 27, 2013
A cleaner wipes the glass door of a Huawei office in Wuhan, Hubei province (Courtesy Reuters). A cleaner wipes the glass door of a Huawei office in Wuhan, Hubei province (Courtesy Reuters).

The United States is both the world’s largest foreign direct investor and the largest beneficiary of foreign direct investment (FDI). But like every sovereign country, it has sought to temper its embrace of open markets with the protection of national security interests. Achieving this balance, which has shifted over time, has meant placing certain limitations on overseas investment in strategically sensitive sectors of the U.S. economy. Read more »

Travel and Tourism: Small Investments, Big Returns

by Edward Alden Monday, September 23, 2013
A traveler has his fingerprints scanned at the international travel entry point at JFK International Airport in New York on March 25, 2008 (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters). A traveler has his fingerprints scanned at the international travel entry point at JFK International Airport in New York on March 25, 2008 (Shannon Stapleton/Courtesy Reuters).

Whenever I fly back from a trip outside the country, I’m always relieved to be carrying a U.S. passport, because the customs and immigration inspection lines for those who are not Americans or permanent residents always look an awful lot longer. A new report out last week shows just how long those lines sometimes are. Read more »

The Blurry Frontiers of Economic Policy

by Michael Spence Friday, September 20, 2013
A man walks past displays of the Japanese yen's exchange rates against the U.S. dollar and the euro in Tokyo on May 2, 2012 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters). A man walks past displays of the Japanese yen's exchange rates against the U.S. dollar and the euro in Tokyo on May 2, 2012 (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters).

Milan — Around the world, policies, technologies, and extended learning processes have combined to erode barriers to economic interaction among countries. Pick any indicator: trade relative to global GDP, capital flows relative to the global capital stock, and so forth – all are rising. Read more »

The Renewing America Interview: Bill Bradley on Leadership and U.S. Tax Reform

by Jonathan Masters Thursday, September 12, 2013
(Courtesy Bill Bradley) (Courtesy Bill Bradley)

Months of relative calm on the U.S. fiscal front are set to end this month as Congress returns from summer recess, staring down the barrel of a possible government shutdown on October 1 (start of FY 2014), and another likely debt-limit fight shortly thereafter. Read more »

The Tobacco Problem in U.S. Trade

by Renewing America Staff Thursday, September 5, 2013

In the context of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pending trade deal between the U.S. and eleven other countries, the White House has a tremendous opportunity to forge a new approach on tobacco that balances U.S. mandates on trade with its obligations to promote public health at home and abroad, writes CFR Fellow Thomas Bollyky in this CFR Expert Brief.