CFR Presents

Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

Renewing America Progress Report: U.S. Trade and Investment Policy

by Edward Alden Thursday, December 5, 2013
The CFR Renewing America Trade and Investment Scorecard The CFR Renewing America Trade and Investment Scorecard

The Renewing America initiative is releasing today a new Progress Report and Infographic Scorecard, “Trading Up: U.S. Trade and Investment Policy,” which looks at the challenges and accomplishments of the Obama administration in international trade policy. As I wrote in an op-ed for Reuters today, “The Obama administration has quietly embraced the most ambitious agenda on trade and investment liberalization in the past two decades.” Read more »

America’s Place in the World: It Depends on Where You Stand

by Edward Alden Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Airline tycoon Richard Branson and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore hold a globe in central London (Kieran Doherty/Courtesy Reuters). Airline tycoon Richard Branson and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore hold a globe in central London (Kieran Doherty/Courtesy Reuters).

Are Americans becoming more isolationist? That appears to be the top-line conclusion from a fascinating new poll released this week by the Pew Research Center and my organization, the Council on Foreign Relations, called America’s Place in the World 2013. In the survey, 52 percent of Americans said that the United States should “mind its own business internationally,” the highest percentage since the question was first asked in 1964, and up from just 30 percent a decade ago. Read more »

Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness

by Steven J. Markovich Tuesday, December 3, 2013
With the Earth in the background, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm (Photo provided by NASA/Courtesy Reuters). With the Earth in the background, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm (Photo provided by NASA/Courtesy Reuters).

The Space Race of the 1960s spurred groundbreaking investments in research and education, inspiring a generation of Americans to enter the fields of science and engineering. These investments not only propelled the United States to preeminence in space exploration, but also planted the seeds for future innovation and economic competitiveness in many industries. A new backgrounder, Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness, explores the advancements produced by the U.S. space program, and discusses the challenges and opportunities that the program faces today.

What’s Stopping Robust Recovery?

by Michael Spence Friday, November 22, 2013
People walk past screens at the bourse in Madrid, as they are reflected on the surfaces of tables (Andrea Comas/Courtesy Reuters). People walk past screens at the bourse in Madrid, as they are reflected on the surfaces of tables (Andrea Comas/Courtesy Reuters).

MILAN – The growth map of the global economy is relatively clear. The U.S. is in a partial recovery, with growth at 1.5 to 2 percent and lagging employment. Europe as a whole is barely above zero growth, with large variations among countries, though with some evidence of painful re-convergence, at least in terms of nominal unit labor costs. China’s growth, meanwhile, is leveling off at 7 percent, with other developing countries preparing for higher interest rates. Read more »

New Zealand Offers Lessons for the U.S. Housing Bubble

by Renewing America Staff Monday, November 18, 2013
New Zealand resident Brett Plumer nails a national flag to his house in Auckland (Bogdan Cristel/Courtesy Reuters). New Zealand resident Brett Plumer nails a national flag to his house in Auckland (Bogdan Cristel/Courtesy Reuters).

The Federal Reserve may have lessons to learn from New Zealand about managing a mortgage market. In an op-ed for Bloomberg, CFR Adjunct Senior Fellow Peter Orszag explains that by imposing limits on high loan-to-value mortgages, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is helping to manage housing prices.

The High Stakes in Regional Trade Talks

by Renewing America Staff Friday, November 15, 2013
European Union chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero (left) and U.S. chief negotiator Dan Mullaney (right) address a joint news conference during the second round of EU-US trade negotiations for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Brussels November 15, 2013 (Francois Lenoir/Courtesy Reuters). European Union chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia Bercero (left) and U.S. chief negotiator Dan Mullaney (right) address a joint news conference during the second round of EU-US trade negotiations for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in Brussels November 15, 2013 (Francois Lenoir/Courtesy Reuters).

International trade negotiations are at a crucial stage. The multilateral front, with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at its center, is facing a foundational crisis. In a new expert brief, The High Stakes in Regional Trade Talks, Jaime Zabludovsky Kuper and Sergio Gómez Lora explain that the future of international trade, at least in the short and medium term, depends heavily on the outcome of regional agreements such as the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

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 »