A New Commitment to 21st Century Skills

NDN Plan to Offer Free Computer Training to All Americans Gains Support on Capitol Hill

As readers of the blog probably know, NDN has long advocated a proposal from our own Dr. Robert Shapiro that would offer free computer training to all Americans through the nation's community colleges. House Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson recently offered a bill based on that proposal - H.R. 2060, The Community College Technology Access Act of 2009.

I'm pleased to inform you that H.R. 2060 is recieving strong, bipartsian support in the House. Here are the 25 cosponsors:

Rep Bordallo, Madeleine Z. [GU] - 4/23/2009
Rep Castle, Michael N. [DE] - 4/27/2009
Rep Costello, Jerry F. [IL-12] - 4/27/2009
Rep Edwards, Donna F. [MD-4] - 4/23/2009
Rep Ehlers, Vernon J. [MI-3] - 4/23/2009
Rep Grayson, Alan [FL-8] - 4/27/2009
Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17] - 4/23/2009
Rep Himes, James A. [CT-4] - 4/23/2009
Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] - 4/23/2009
Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] - 4/28/2009
Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13] - 4/23/2009
Rep Markey, Betsy [CO-4] - 4/23/2009
Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 4/23/2009
Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 4/23/2009
Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13] - 4/23/2009
Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] - 4/23/2009
Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 4/23/2009
Rep Polis, Jared [CO-2] - 5/6/2009
Rep Reyes, Silvestre [TX-16] - 5/4/2009
Rep Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana [FL-18] - 5/18/2009
Rep Ross, Mike [AR-4] - 4/23/2009
Rep Sablan, Gregorio [MP] - 4/23/2009
Rep Sestak, Joe [PA-7] - 4/23/2009
Rep Smith, Adam [WA-9] - 4/23/2009
Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 4/23/2009

Urge your member (or boss) to get on board with H.R. 2060 - it's key to creating a 21st century economy.

The Economic Conversation Enters a New Phase: Putting Consumers Front and Center Now

Today President Obama is conducting a town hall meeting in New Mexico focusing on the issue of credit card debt.  This is a welcome turn in the national economic conversation from the plight of big institutions and the financial system to what is perhaps the most important part of the story of the Great Recession still not adequately understood - the weakened state of the American consumer prior to the recent recession and financial collapse. 

We've told this story many times - despite robust growth in the Bush Era, incomes for a typical family fell.  Most measures of consumer health during the Bush went in the wrong direction.  We saw an increase in those without health insurance, in poverty, incomes fell.  The lack of income growth - coupled with a flood of cheap money - helped drive increased consumer indebtedness - mortgages themselves, credit cards, home equity loans.   People borrowed to maintain their lifestyles, and to keep up with the Jones.  The continued consumption and borrowing was justified in the minds of consumers by the power of the wealth effect brought about the rapidly increasing value of homes and stocks.  But we know what happened next.  Assets fell.  Incomes did not appreciably rise.  The debt remained.  People lost jobs.  The already very weakened balance sheet of a typical family grew much much worse. 

And then the inevitable happened - consumption plummeted.  Repeatedly throughout this crisis the "experts" have been surprised by the weakness of the typical American consumer.  They are not acting like consumers in a typical recession because for consumers the recovery they just experienced was not a typical recovery.  Typical Americans have been in their own "recession" for almost a decade.  Look at the Post headlines today: "More Homeowners Getting Aid, But Demand Keeps Rising," and "Weak Retail Sales Dash Recovery Hopes."

The reason that this matters so much is that consumer spending in the US is 70 percent of GDP, and it has been the mighty American consumer who has been fueling the recent global expansion.  The length and depth of the current Great Recession will be driven to a great degree by the ability of consumers to start buying things again.  We maintain that given their weakened home balance sheet that this could be a while.  Which is why the next stage of our recovery will not be so much about liquidity or confidence.  It will be about actually improving the financial position of the typical American consumer, which inevitably lead us to discussions of "deleveraging," or reducing the amount of debt on the balance sheets of American families.

Which is why what the President is doing today is so important.  He is beginning a conversation now about what is happening with American families.  What is best for American families now - to spend or save?  Do we really want, as a matter of national policy, Americans to spend, to take on more debt? Or is it best for them to save, pull back, spend less, pay down their debts, get their own balance sheets in order?  The answer to this question - being put on the table by the President today - will have a lot to do with how the current global recession ends. 

My own view is that just as we have tried to figure out how to get the debt off the balance sheet of the banks so they can resume their work, we will have to talk about how to reduce the indebtedness of American consumers, and encourage those nearing retirement to save much more to replenish the losses in their retirement savings.  This may mean a period of slower growth and less consumption of course - but what other choice do we have?

Update: Just found this Christina Romer quote from an interview earlier this week:

The economic recovery, Ms. Romer said, will be driven by business investment in sectors like renewable energy rather than consumer spending. She echoed the views of other economists who expect a long-term economic shift.

“The chance that consumers are ever going to go back to their high-spending ways is not very plausible, nor do I think they should,” she said. “We were a country that needed to start saving more.”

NDN Backgrounder: Rebuilding the American Economy

This week, the White House release results of the "stress tests" and President Obama presented a vision for retraining the American workforce. NDN is pleased to present a number of recommended pieces on rebuilding the financial system, the American workforce, the housing market, and a number of other important items on America's economic future.

  • Short Sales and the Market Meltdown by Dr. Robert Shapiro, 5/7/2009 - Reflecting on a recent speaking engagement with SEC commissioners, Shapiro argues for additional regulation of short sales.
  • Obama: Upgrade Worker Skills Through Community Colleges by Jake Berliner, 5/5/2009 - In a recent interview, President Obama advocated using the nation's community colleges as a resource for worker IT training, an NDN proposal that Rep. John Larson introduced as legislation.
  • Should We Try to Save the Damaged Brands? by Simon Rosenberg, 4/30/2009 - Rosenberg asks if these mainstay, now troubled American brands - AIG, Chrysler, Citi, GM - can be saved by being propped up by the government or if their brands are permanently insolvent.
  • Carbonomics by Michael Moynihan, 4/2/2009 - Moynihan looks at the connection between pricing carbon and the future of the American automobile industry.
  • The Global Economic Crisis and Future Ambassadorial Appointments by Simon Rosenberg, 11/26/2008 - With the mammoth task of rebuilding international financial architecture and recovering from a global recession awaiting the new President, Rosenberg points out the the ambassadors to the G20 nations will be key members of the economic team.
  • A Stimulus for the Long Run by Simon Rosenberg and Dr. Robert Shapiro, 11/14/2008 – This important essay lays out the now widely agreed-upon argument that the upcoming economic stimulus package must include investments in the basic elements of growth for the next decade, including elements that create a low-carbon, energy-efficient economy.
  • Back to Basics: The Treasury Plan Won't Work by Dr. Robert Shapiro, 9/24/2008 - As the financial crisis unfolded and the Bush Administration offered its response, Shapiro argued that, while major action was needed, the Treasury's plan would be ineffective.
  • Keep People in Their Homes by Simon Rosenberg and Dr. Robert Shapiro, 9/23/2008 – At the beginning of the financial collapse, NDN offered this narrative-shaping essay and campaign on the economic need to stabilize the housing market.

Obama: Upgrade Worker Skills Through Community Colleges

In the now oft-quoted and talked about David Leonhardt interview of President Barack Obama in this weekend's edition of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Obama made an argument about worker skills that we here at NDN quite enjoyed:

I think everybody needs enough post-high-school training that they are competent in fields that require technical expertise, because it’s very hard to imagine getting a job that pays a living wage without that — or it’s very hard at least to envision a steady job in the absence of that.

And so to the extent that we can upgrade not only our high schools but also our community colleges to provide a sound technical basis for being able to perform complicated tasks in a 21st-century economy, then I think that not only is that good for the individuals, but that’s going to be critical for the economy as a whole.

NDN couldn't agree more. In fact, just two weeks ago, House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson introduced H.R. 2060, The Community College Technology Access Act of 2009, which is based on a paper written in 2007 by NDN Globalization Initiative Chair Dr. Robert Shapiro called Tapping the Resources of America’s Community Colleges: A Modest Proposal to Provide Universal Computer Training. The legislation offers free computer training to all Americans through the already existing infrastructure of the nation's approximately 1,200 community colleges.

President Obama has a long track record of supporting such proposals. During the presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama endorsed the idea as part of his platform, and we're pleased to see that the idea of community colleges as a crucial resource for improving worker skills is in his agenda for creating economic prosperity.

This proposal is part of a broader argument that NDN has been making for some time, that in the globalized, interconnected, technology-dense 21st century economy, facility with and connectivity to the global communications network is central to the life success of any worker or child. The 21st century economy is idea-based, in that most of the value of the large companies at the center of U.S. economy is now determined not by their physical assets, but by their intellectual property. Thriving in such an economy requires 21st century skills.

This argument is expounded upon in a paper written by NDN President Simon Rosenberg and Alec Ross, then with the One Economy and now a Senior Advisor on Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, that would put A Laptop in Every Backpack of American sixth graders. Additionally, Tom Kalil, now Associate Director for Policy of the White House Office of Science and Technology, continued this narrative, authoring a paper entitled, Harnessing the Mobile Revolution, for NDN’s affiliate, the New Policy Institute. This paper argued that the explosive growth of mobile communications can be a powerful tool for addressing some of the most critical economic, political, and social challenges of the 21st century.

Stay tuned to NDN's Globalization Initiative for additional work on 21st century skills and technology. We believe, just as President Obama started to spell out in his recent interview, that tapping the resources of America's community colleges, putting a laptop in every backpack, and ultimately connecting all Americans and the rest of the world to the global communications network can and must be a hallmark of the economic agenda going forward.

Tapping the Resources of America's Community Colleges

Publish Date: 

It is time that America ensures that all workers have real opportunities to build the skills necessary to operate one of the most important new technologies of our time, computers. Young Americans are increasingly adept at working with computers, but many American workers still lack those skills. Here, we propose a direct, new approach to giving U.S. workers the opportunity to develop those skills, by providing federal government grants to America’s community colleges to keep open their computer labs three nights every week, staffed by instructors who will provide basic instruction to any person in the community who walks in and requests it.

The primary way any nation can ensure that its people enjoy broad-based upward mobility is to raise the productivity of its workers and businesses. Achieving that goal, as the United States has done throughout most of its history, depends largely on three critical factors. First, the economy must promote the development and spread of new technologies, new ways of organizing and operating businesses, and other innovations that create new value and new efficiencies. Second, companies must invest in those technologies and in other business and economic innovations, so workers can use them to perform their jobs more productively. Finally, workers, companies, and the government must provide continuing support for all workers to acquire the skills to operate new technologies and perform well in innovative business environments. The program proposed here, fully implemented, could provide that support and enable all American workers to learn basic computer skills at a total annual cost of less than $125 million a year.

Executive Summary    It is time that America ensures that all workers have real opportunities to build  the skills necessary to operate one of the most important new technologies of our time,  computers. Young Americans are increasingly adept at working with computers, but  many American workers still lack those skills.  Here, we propose a direct, new approach  to giving U.S. workers the opportunity to develop those skills, by providing federal  government grants to America’s community colleges to keep open their computer labs  three nights every week, staffed by instructors who will provide basic instruction to any  person in the community who walks in and requests it.    The  primary  way  any  nation  can  ensure  that  its  people  enjoy  broad‐based  upward mobility is to raise the productivity of its workers and businesses.  Achieving  that goal, as the United States has done throughout most of its history, depends largely  on three critical factors. First, the economy must promote the development and spread  of  new  technologies,  new  ways  of  organizing  and  operating  businesses,  and  other  innovations that create new value and new efficiencies.  Second, companies must invest  in those technologies and in other business and economic innovations, so workers can  use them to perform their jobs more productively.  Finally, workers, companies, and the  government must provide continuing support for all workers to acquire the skills to  operate new technologies and perform well in innovative business environments.  The  program proposed here, fully implemented, could provide that support and enable all  American workers to learn basic computer skills at a total annual cost of less than $125  million a year.    1  We gratefully acknowledge the invaluable assistance and insights of Aaron Banks, former Chief Editor at  NDN and now Online Campaign Coordinator at the One Campaign.  America’s Productivity Record     America  is  enjoying  an  extended  period  of  strong  productivity  growth.    The  1950s  and  1960s  were  a  period  of  historic  upward  mobility  for  the  United  States,  largely  because  productivity  marched  up  at  an  annual  rate  of  more  than  3.2  percent.2    This  progress  slowed  sharply  from  the  early‐1970s  to  the  mid‐1990s,  with  annual  gains  averaging  just  1.5  percent.    This  critical  trend  has  moved  upward  again  since  1996,  averaging 2.8 percent annual gains over the last decade.  The sources of these impressive  productivity  gains  are  not  mysterious.    Economists  and  other  experts  generally  agree  that  the  most  important  factor  in  the  resurgence  of  productivity  growth  has  been  the  spread of information technologies across the U.S. economy.    The  Department  of  Commerce  tracked  the  link  between  the  spread  of  IT  and  productivity  growth  in  a  series  of  landmark  reports  on  the  “Digital  Economy”  issued  from 1997 to 2003.  The 2003 report noted,    The widespread dispersion of productivity growth across major sectors of  the economy – largely paralleling the spread of IT – suggests that massive  IT  investments  by  U.S.  industries  are  producing  positive  and  probably  lasting  changes  in  the  nation’s  economic  potential.  These  conclusions  add  to  recent  findings  by  other  economists  concerning  the  widespread  and  lasting impacts of IT on the revival of U.S. productivity growth.3      Those  productivity  gains  are  continuing  as  American  businesses  adopt  and  adapt  to  successive  new  generations  of  digital  technologies  and  the  rapid  expansion  of  global  communications  networks.    In  addition,  some  parts  of  the  U.S.  economy  have  lagged  behind  others  in  adapting  to  information  technologies,  including  such  major  sectors  as  health  care,  education,  construction,  and  the  public  sector.4    As  operations  in  these  sectors  become  increasingly  digitally‐based  and  other  sectors  adopt  the  latest  generation  of  IT,  anyone  who  hopes  to  improve  his  or  her  economic  conditions  must  possess the capacity and skills to operate in an IT‐intensive workplace.     In  the  latter‐1990s,  the  strong  productivity  gains  of  the  overall  economy  were  matched  by  equally  strong  progress  in  average  wages  and  salaries,  as  well  as  in  overall  growth,  business  investment  and  corporate  profits.    Over  the  last  five  years,  however,  this  pattern  has  changed.    Since  2001,  the  nation’s  strong  productivity  growth  has  been  matched  by  healthy  gains  in  overall  growth  and  historically‐high  corporate  profits,  but  most  workers  have  experienced  little,  if  any,  real  (inflation‐adjusted)  wage  progress.  In  2  Bureau of Labor Statistics database, http://www.bls.gov/lpc/home.htm.   3  Digital Economy 2003, Economics and Statistics Administration, December, 2003.  4   “Will  We  Build  It  and  If  We  Do  Will  They  Come:  Is  the  U.S.  Policy  Response  to  the  Competitiveness  Challenge  Adequate  to  the  Task?ʺ  Remarks  by  Robert  D.  Atkinson  at  the  2006  American  Association  for  the  Advancement of Science Policy Conference, April 21, 2006, Washington, DC.      fact,  the  combination  in  recent  years  of  stagnating  wages  for  most  Americans  and  corporate  profits  that  have  doubled  since  2000  has  reduced  workers’  share  of  total  national income to its lowest level since the early 1930s.5  The unexpected decoupling of  productivity gains and wage growth also has occurred while prices have risen sharply  for many middle‐class necessities, including health insurance, electricity, gasoline and  college tuitions.6  In the midst of historic productivity progress, life is getting harder for  tens of millions of Americans; and the median income of American households fell  almost 6 percent from its record high level in 1999.7    These developments, especially the critical decoupling of productivity growth  and wage gains, reflect pressures generated by economic globalization and technological  change – and the failure of our government to respond urgently and creatively.  For  today’s  Americans  to  enjoy  the  upward  mobility  experienced  in  much  of  the  last  century, we will have to address some very difficult issues. We urgently need serious  reforms to contain the rising costs of health care and energy, because when intense  global competition limits the ability of U.S. companies to pass on those rising costs, the  result is often depressed wages for ordinary Americans. We also need new approaches,  as soon as possible, to ensure that every American worker can have the skills he or she  needs to operate with the information technologies that are mainly responsible for our  strong productivity gains.     Throughout  the  last  decade  of  strong  productivity  gains,  both  when  overall  wages rose in the late 1990s and then stalled in the last six years, Americans with the  largest gains were those in the top 10 to 20 percent of the workforce, by income, with the  most  developed  information  and  communications  technology‐related  skills.  But  computers and online communications technologies have become part of most jobs in  the  U.S.  workforce,  from  tax  accounting  to  trucking  and  across  manufacturing  and  service industries.  It is already virtually impossible in America to find and hold a  higher‐paying job without proficiency in computer and communications skills.  To help  address  this  challenge  for  the  next  generation,  the  NDN  Globalization  Initiative  proposed recently to provide every Americans schoolchild a laptop computer and basic  computing skills.8     Here, we propose a simple and effective way to provide every worker today with  an opportunity to build the same skills.  Tens of millions of Americans graduated high  school or even attended college in the years before computers and the Internet became  ubiquitous.  Many of them are now entering, or are already in, what should be their  most productive and highest‐earning years.  But without basic information technology  5  The Bush Economic Record, NDN Globalization Initiative, September 2006.  6  Ibid.  7  Ibid.  8  Alex Ross and Simon Rosenberg, “A Series of Modest Proposals to Build 21st Century Skills: A Laptop in  Every Backpack,” www.ndn.org/advocacy/globalizaiton/laptoppaper.html.       skills,  many  workers  are  trapped  in  dead‐end  jobs,  and  as  non‐wired  employment  becomes obsolete, they face being locked out of the mainstream workforce entirely.    The United States has a cost‐effective and ready‐to‐deploy infrastructure already  in place to provide universal access to basic information‐technology skills: The computer  labs of the nation’s vast network of community colleges across the country.  A relatively  modest investment of federal grants for community colleges can make these on‐campus  computer  facilities  into  powerful,  part‐time  community  resources  for  workforce  training.      A Modest Proposal to Provide Universal Access to Computer Skills     The United States maintains a network of 1,202 accredited community colleges  across the country.  They are located in major cities and quiet suburbs, and new efforts  such as the Ford Foundation’s Rural Community College Initiative are extending these  critical  educational  resources  to  rural  Americans  as  well.9  Virtually  all  of  these  community colleges already have created and staffed computer labs for their students.  We should take advantage of these sunk costs to help every working American build  critical IT‐related job skills.     Since the establishment in 1901 of Joliet Junior College, the first two‐year college  in the United States, the missions and scale of America’s community colleges have often  changed  in  response  to  the  nation’s  needs.    In  the  1930s,  hundreds  of  community  colleges  added  workforce  training  to  their  existing  liberal  arts  curriculum,  to  help  Americans who had lost their jobs in the Great Depression.  Following the Second World  War, the system expanded greatly to meet the new demand from the influx of students  supported by the GI Bill. Similarly, community colleges expanded their campuses and  facilities in the 1960s and 1970s to accommodate the rising demand for higher education  from baby boomers.      Community colleges are now going through their next period of reinvention, in  which most of them have already placed new emphasis on incorporating technology,  computers  and  advanced  communications  skills  into  their  curricula.  The  American  Association  of  Community  Colleges  has  identified  background  and  competency  in  information technologies as critical to students’ success in finding jobs after graduation.   In  response,  computer  labs  have  become  a  universal  feature  of  community  college  campuses, and the numbers of students graduating with degrees in IT and IT‐related  fields have risen.       9  American Association of Community Colleges, “Fast Facts” and “Rural Community College Initiative,”  www.aaec.nche.edu.       The typical community‐college computer lab is open and used by students 66.5  hours per‐week.10  These hours are highly concentrated in the daytime of weekdays,  when  most  working  people  are  on  their  jobs.  Under  our  proposal,  the  federal  government would provide grants to defray the costs of keeping these labs open and  staffed by community college instructors an additional 30 hours each week, on evenings  and weekends when these labs are generally closed or little‐used. During those hours,  any person would be able to walk in and receive instruction in computer‐related skills,  at no cost.  We estimate that if two‐thirds of community colleges participate, and each  provides three instructors for 30 hours a week, 48 weeks a year, Congress could provide  every worker in America access to IT training for about $125 million a year.11    Each community college would be able to determine the specific content of the  instruction, based on its own assessments of local needs and what people walking in ask  for.  The most likely areas of instruction would include basic computer operations, word  processing,  spreadsheet  construction  and  manipulation,  Internet  research  and  communication, database entry and operation, and basic graphic design.  Gaining these  skills can open up new job opportunities for people currently in low‐paying fields and  help millions of other workers improve their productivity in their current jobs. Most  important,  this  new,  21st  century  partnership  between  the  federal  government  and  America’s community colleges can help transform the careers and lives of millions of  Americans.      This effort can also build on recent initiatives in places like Arizona to develop  community‐driven curricula, in which businesses, community colleges and government  collaborate on new approaches to worker training.  As reported recently by the Arizona  Capital Times,      An  extensive  workforce  study  by  the  Maricopa  County  Community  Colleges and Salt River Project examined current and future needs of  employers and employees, with an eye toward the role of the colleges. In  the next two years, the study forecasts a 33 percent increase in technician  hires in science, software manufacturing and application development,  drafting, design and product development …. At the Arizona Association  of  Industries,  Stuart  Banks,  president,  is  working  with  the  Arizona  Department  of  Commerce  on  a  plan  to  help  small  and  mid‐sized  manufacturing companies obtain job training funds.12      10  This estimate is derived from micro‐data collected by NDN based on a random sample of community  colleges nationwide.  11  The average wage of computer instructors at junior and four‐year colleges is about $27‐$34/hour.  Based  on those wages and the assumptions enumerated above, we estimate the total labor costs for the program at  roughly $103 million.  We assume 20 to 25 percent additional overhead costs for the use of the facilities and  other expenses incurred by participating community colleges.  12  “Building a Talent Pipeline,” Arizona Capital Times, November 24, 2006.      In the Arizona project and similar efforts elsewhere, community colleges are  planning  their  curricula  to  help  students  prepare  for  well‐paying  jobs  in  their  communities.  Our  proposal  would  enable  community  colleges  to  provide  similar  benefits for working people in their communities, focusing on the IT skills that are most  central to productivity and wage gains in this period.        The United Kingdom also recently launched a large, new private‐public initiative  in collaboration with the Microsoft Corporation to train 100,000 Scottish workers in basic  IT and communications technology skills.13 Microsoft surveyed 600 employers in 10  European Union countries and found that computer and Internet‐related training was  needed not just in traditional IT fields, but across the economy.14  The project, which  Microsoft is helping to fund, is part of the broader “Unlimited Potential” campaign  spearheaded by Microsoft to provide IT and communications training to 100 million  people around the world.15  That campaign and our proposal share the fundamental  insight  that  expanding  training  in  information  and  Internet‐related  technologies  is  critical to both future productivity growth and wage gains.    The benefits from this new initiative will go far beyond the millions of American  workers who will gain access to computer and Internet‐related training.  The program  also will expand demand for IT instruction, raising incomes and creating new jobs for IT  instructors.    Some  of  these  instructors  will  come  from  the  ranks  of  those  currently  teaching at the community colleges; others may come from the growing numbers of self‐ employed  IT  professionals  doing  free‐lance  work,  or  current  undergraduate  and  graduate students with these skills.  Improving the IT‐related skills of current workers  can  also  enable  firms  to  adopt  and  adapt  to  the  next  generation  of  information  technologies,  potentially  increasing  their  efficiency  and  even  their  own  capacity  for  innovation.     Most important of all, this initiative can help us deliver on the basic promise of  progressive  politics,  that  anyone  willing  to  apply  themselves  and  work  hard  can  improve their lives.  In a technologically‐driven economy adapting to the pressures of  accelerating globalization, progressive government has a responsibility to ensure that  everyone has real access to the means to achieve that goal.  This initiative can help our  government meet that responsibility.  13  “Scots to receive IT training,” Financial Times, January 30, 2007.  14  Ibid.  15  “Getting to Work: Computer Skills Help Untapped Labor Force,” San Jose Mercury News, March 2, 2007.     About the Author      Robert J. Shapiro is the chairman of the NDN Globalization Initiative.  He is also  chairman and co‐founder of Sonecon, LLC, a private firm that advises U.S. and foreign  businesses, governments and non‐profit organizations on market conditions and  economic policy. Dr. Shapiro has advised, among others, U.S. President Bill Clinton and  British Prime Minister Tony Blair; private firms including MCI, Inc., New York Life  Insurance Co., SLM Corporation, Google, Nordstjernan of Sweden, and Fujitsu of Japan;  and non‐profit organizations including the American Public Transportation Association,  the Education Finance Council, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  He is also Senior  Fellow of the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and a director of the Ax:son‐Johnson  Foundation in Sweden. From 1997 to 2001, he was Under Secretary of Commerce for  Economic Affairs. Prior to that, he was co‐founder and Vice President of PPI.  Dr.  Shapiro also served as the principal economic advisor to Bill Clinton in his 1991‐1992  presidential campaign, senior economic advisor to Albert Gore, Jr. and John Kerry in  their presidential campaigns, Legislative Director for Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, and  Associate Editor of U.S. News & World Report.  He has been a Fellow of Harvard  University, the Brookings Institution and the National Bureau of Economic Research. He  holds a Ph.D. from Harvard, as well as degrees from the University of Chicago and the  London School of Economics.

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