CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

How Warren Would Expand Trade With Asia

by Renewing America Staff Wednesday, June 10, 2015
container ship Bridge of the Americas Panama Canal A container ship sails underneath the Bridge of the Americas in the Panama Canal in Panama City August 14, 2014 (Rafael Ibarra/Reuters).

Over the past half century changes in trade infrastructure, such as the growth of container shipping and increases in the size of ports and canals, have had a huge effect on expanding international trade. In a new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag discusses the impact of better infrastructure on increasing trade, and asks why some opponents of trade deals nonetheless support local projects that would increase imports to their states.

A Big Moment for Trade Politics in the United States and the EU

by Edward Alden Tuesday, June 9, 2015

This is a big moment for trade politics in the world’s largest democracies. The events of the next few days could well determine whether the United States and the European Union find a new way to lead the international trade agenda, or instead turn inward in the face of growing distrust from their own populations. The European Parliament is set to vote June 10 on a set of negotiating objectives for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). And in the United States, the House of Representatives is moving towards a final vote on President Obama’s request for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which he needs to conclude both the TTIP and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deals. In this piece out today in Politico Europe, I argue that critics of the trade deals — rather than walking away from the table — should fight to make them better. Read more »

WikiLeaks and Trade: A Healthy Dose of Sunshine

by Edward Alden Wednesday, June 3, 2015
FedEx Mojave Airport California A FedEx MD-11 takes off from the Mojave Airport in California (Reuters).

I love WikiLeaks. While I recognize that secrecy has its place, I strongly believe that the affairs of the people should, to the greatest extent possible, be conducted with the full knowledge of the people. Secrecy breeds distrust, and feeds claims that governments are only serving narrow corporate interests. Thus I was delighted to see in my inbox this morning that WikiLeaks has yet again purloined and published a series of trade negotiating texts, this time for the pending Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). Read more »

U.S. Aviation Infrastructure

by Steven J. Markovich Tuesday, June 2, 2015
United Boeing 747-400 San Francisco International Airport A United Airlines Boeing 747-400 takes off at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, February 7, 2015 (Louis Nastro/Reuters).

The United States has the most heavily-trafficked aviation system in the world, but its airports and airlines lag other developed countries in performance. While the United States is a leader in aircraft manufacturing, investment in airport infrastructure has stalled over the past decade. However, new technologies could have major implications on the industry as a whole, such as the use of satellite-based air traffic control systems, and the emergence of unmanned drones. A new backgrounder, U.S. Aviation Infrastructure, explores the strengths, shortcomings, and opportunities for air transportation in the United States.

A World of Underinvestment

by Michael Spence Thursday, May 28, 2015
G20 leaders G20 Leaders Summit G20 leaders watch a cultural performance at the G20 Leaders Summit in Brisbane November 15, 2014 (Jason Reed/Reuters).

When World War II ended 70 years ago, much of the world – including industrialized Europe, Japan, and other countries that had been occupied – was left geopolitically riven and burdened by heavy sovereign debt, with many major economies in ruins. One might have expected a long period of limited international cooperation, slow growth, high unemployment, and extreme privation, owing to countries’ limited capacity to finance their huge investment needs. But that is not what happened. Read more »

The TPA Debate: Stuck in a Time Warp on Trade

by Edward Alden Thursday, May 21, 2015
McConnell Warner Ernst exports small business Trade Promotion Authority U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) hold a news conference on the importance of exports to American small businesses and the need for Trade Promotion Authority in the U.S. Capitol in Washington May 19, 2015 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).

The United States concluded into its first bilateral free-trade agreement, with Israel, in 1986. Since that time, it has entered into some 20 other such agreements, most notably the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada in 1993. Yet as Congress debates fast-track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation and the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with Asia, the debate feels stuck in a time warp. Read more »

The TPP: Why It Won’t Address Security Concerns With China

by Guest Blogger for Edward Alden Friday, May 15, 2015
Barack Obama Xi Jinping national anthems U.S. flag Great Hall of the People Beijing U.S. President Barack Obama and China's President Xi Jinping listen to national anthems behind a U.S. flag during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing (Petar Kujundzic/Reuters).

As the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) heats up in Congress, some (including myself) have argued that the trade deal would advance U.S. security interests in the Asia-Pacific. In this guest blog post, Daniel Slane and Michael Wessel argue this view is misguided. The authors serve, respectively,  as a Republican and Democratic Commissioner on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The views they express are their own. Read more »

Congress’s Budget Game Gets Uglier

by Renewing America Staff Monday, May 4, 2015
Chairman House Budget Committee Tom Price House Budget press conference Capitol Hill Washington Chairman of the House Budget Committee Tom Price (R-GA) announces the House Budget during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 17, 2015 (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters).

In recent years Congress has slashed non-defense discretionary spending close to its lowest point in half a century. In his new column for Bloomberg View, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag observes that the new budget that Congress has put forth would continue to cut discretionary spending as a percentage of GDP over the next decade. This means that funding for agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Transportation Security Administration would continue to shrink relative to the economy as a whole–and the country’s growing population. If Congress continues to employ budget games and cut into essential government services, he writes, the result would be an economic disaster.

Re-assessing U.S. Trade Policy on the Eve of the TPA Debate

by Edward Alden Monday, April 13, 2015
CFR Renewing America Trade Investment Scorecard The CFR Renewing America Trade and Investment Scorecard

With the anticipated introduction in Congress this week of legislation that would give President Obama the authority to conclude massive regional trade agreements in Asia and Europe, the issue of trade and its impact on the American economy is about to take center stage in Washington.  To help shine some light on the issues at stake, we have substantially updated and revised, and are re-releasing today, the Renewing America infographic Scorecard and Progress Report on U.S. Trade and Investment Policy. Read more »

The U.S. Trade Deficit: Is It a Problem, or Not?

by Edward Alden Friday, April 3, 2015

The United States has run a trade deficit with the rest of the world every year for the past 40 years. With the U.S. debate heating up over the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we will be hearing a lot over the next few months about the trade deficit and its causes. Recently I hosted here at CFR a panel of four extremely bright economists with different views on the subject — Robert Atkinson of ITIF, Robert Blecker of American University, Dan Ikenson of Cato, and Derek Scissors of AEI. I asked them a simple question: “Is the trade deficit a problem, or not?” The debate that followed was extremely lively, with many areas of disagreement but some surprising areas of consensus as well. Have a look. It is worth your time. Read more »