Globalization Initiative

NDN's Globalization Initiative was established to promote economic growth and restore broad-based prosperity in our globalized economy. Chaired by Dr. Robert Shapiro, Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs under President Bill Clinton, the program works to address the structural changes affecting the American and global economies. NDN argues that a "lost decade," marked by declining household incomes, remains the most important factor in the American economy and politics.

Our agenda for addressing the structural changes inherent in the era of globalization includes three key components: modernizing our healthcare and energy policies, investing in 21st century skills and infrastructure, and accelerating innovation across the economy. NDN also continues to play a major role in the debate over how to best manage the Great Recession and fosters dialogue around renewing the national consensus on global economic liberalization.


Papers and Memos

A New, Progressive Economic Strategy for America released 5/11: By Robert J. Shapiro
Written over a series of weeks in April 2010, this collection of four pieces lays out a new economic strategy for America that creates broad-based prosperity and addresses the America's great economic challenges in the era of globalization.

 
Building on recent struggles in Congress to do more for the economy than pass the extension of unemployment insurance, NDN outlines a political and policy framework to take steps in 2010 that promote near-term job creation and economic growth.
 
In this white paper, Globalization Initiative Deputy Policy Director Jake Berliner describes the rise of new economic powers and the challenges and opportunities they are presenting the American and global economies.
 
Keeping the Focus on the Struggle of Everyday People: 2010 Edition 1/26/10: By Simon Rosenberg
This memo argues that the nation would benefit from a shift to economic rhetoric and policy geared towards the struggle of everyday Americans. 
Simon argues that the second generation Obama narrative must be a strategic response to the most significant transformation taking place in the world today, what Fareed Zakaria has called the “rise of the rest.” While the true scope of this transformation is only really becoming apparent now, it leaves our new President with the historic opportunity, and tremendous responsibility, to craft a comprehensive strategic response to this global “new politics” of the 21st century.
 
A Lost Decade for Everyday Americans 12/17/09:  By Jake Berliner
In this paper, Jake Berliner, Deputy Policy Director of NDN's Globalization Initiative, argues that everyday Americans are at the end of a “lost decade” and explains the still misunderstood causes of the virulence of the recession.

The Key to the Fall Debate: Staying Focused on the Economy 9/03/09: By Simon Rosenberg
The last few months have not been good ones for Democrats, but there is a road map for how they can get back on track, and it revolves around staying relentlessly focused on the economy and the struggle of every day people.
 
A Stimulus for the Long Run 11/14/08: By Simon Rosenberg and Robert J. Shapiro
Congress and President-elect Obama can use the stimulus not only to create more jobs, but to do so in ways that will drive the development of a 21st century economic infrastructure.

This narrative setting essay argues that leaders must do more to staunch the foreclosure crisis, which was at the heart of the financial meltdown.

The Idea-Based Economy and Globalization 1/23/08: By Robert J. Shapiro
U.S. companies and workers lead the world in developing and applying new intellectual property, a critical advantage in innovation that policymakers should seek to advance in the age of globalization.

Investing in Our Common Future: U.S. Infrastructure 11/13/07: By Michael Moynihan
Michael Moynihan looks at the current state of public investment in infrastructure and proposes a set of measures to restore our national political will and improve funding mechanisms to rebuild and advance U.S. infrastructure.

This presentation details the results of extensive polling conducted by NDN and Benenson Strategy Group in October of 2007 on the American public's opinions about globalization and the changing economy.

NDN Poll: Americans’ Views of the Present and Future Economy - Anxiety and Opportunity 11/6/07: By Pete Brodnitz
NDN, a progressive think tank and advocacy organization, completed a national survey on the economy and globalization on October 15th. This memo is the second of two memos outlining key findings and analysis from the poll.

NDN Poll: Clamoring for Change, Persistent Pessimism, Democrats Dominating on Economic Issues
11/2/07: By Pete Brodnitz
NDN, a progressive think tank and advocacy organization, completed a national survey on the economy and globalization on October 15th. This is the first of two memos outlining key findings and analysis from the poll.

Tapping the Resources of America’s Community Colleges: 7/26/07: By Robert J. Shapiro
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.

We can address the challenges of the 21st century economy without sacrificing the benefits of globalization and technological advance, principally by expanding public investments in critical areas and reforming health care and energy policies.
 
A Laptop in Every Backpack 5/1/07: By Simon Rosenberg
We believe that America needs to put a laptop in every backpack of every child. We need to commit to a date and grade certain: we suggest 2010 for every sixth grader.
 
Voters Deliver a Mandate for a New Economic Strategy 11/10/06: By Simon Rosenberg
The American people want the new Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to focus and pursue an aggressive strategy to help them and their families get ahead.
 
Crafting a Better CAFTA 6/9/05: By Simon Rosenberg
We believe that an agreement with Central America is so important to how Americans approach the 21st century that we must commit ourselves to help negotiate and pass a better CAFTA.

Major Events

Growing the Next Economy 12/7/11
On Wednesday, December 7th, NDN hosted the Director of Multi-State Initiatives in the Office of Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and Karl Agne, a partner at GBA Strategies, for a lunchtime discussion about bottom up economic growth, accelerating the ideas that work, and creating the Next Economy. Joining us were 

A Look at Current Global & Domestic Economic Challenges 7/26/11
On Tuesday, July 26th NDN hosted a morning conversation about the economic challenges facing America and the world featuring views from the United States Senate, House and the British House of Commons.

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J Sanchez at NDN 4/26/11
On Tuesday, April 26, NDN hosted Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco J Sanchez. Sanchez was joined by NDN Globalization Initiative Chair and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs Dr. Robert Shapiro.

National Economic Council Deputy Director Jason Furman on Winning the Future 2/22/11
Following the release of the President's budget, Jason Furman, the Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council joined NDN for a discussion of the budget, the economy, and the President's strategy to make America competitive in the global economy of the 21st century.

Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Robert Hormats on Global Economic Challenges 11/15/10
On November 15, NDN hosted Under Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats for an important address on global economic challenges.

US Ambassador to the OECD Karen Kornbluh on Jobs for the Future 7/27/10
On July 27, NDN hosted the United States' Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Karen Kornbluh. Ambassador Kornbluh, who previously served as Senator Barack Obama's Policy Director and as Deputy Chief of Staff at the Treasury Department, discussed a wide range of issues in creating "Growth and Jobs for the Future," from youth unemployment, to innovation, to U.S. engagement at the OECD.

On Wednesday, June 16, NDN hosted a speech by Congressman Ron Kind (WI-3), Vice-Chair of the New Democrat Coalition and Co-Chair of the NDC Task Force on Innovation and Competitiveness. Kind spoke about the value of innovation to the American economy and the recently released New Dem Agenda for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Kind was joined by NDN President Simon Rosenberg.

Fred Hochberg, Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Speaks at NDN. 6/10/10
On June 10 NDN hosted a speech from the Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank, Fred Hochberg, on the National Export Initiative and the work of the Export-Import Bank. NDN Globalization Initiative Chair Dr. Robert Shapiro moderated a discussion and Q&A following the Chairman's remarks.

Senator Mark Warner on Economic Competitiveness and Innovation 3/18/10
On Thursday, March 18, Senator Mark Warner joined NDN to address America's economic competitiveness in a rapidly changing global economy. He discussed the role of innovation in creating prosperity and offered his perspective on the Senate's work to craft a new economic strategy for America, which includes reforming the nation's health care and financial sectors.

FCIC Chairman Phil Angelides on “Examining Our Financial Past to Secure Our Economic Future” 2/2/10
On Tuesday, February 2, NDN hosted an address from Phil Angelides, Chairman of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Formerly the Treasurer of the State of California, Mr. Angelides has been charged by Congress to lead the effort examining the causes of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He discussed the commission's work, which began in earnest in February with much anticipated hearings. NDN Globalization Initiative Chair Dr. Robert Shapiro introduced Mr. Angelides and opened the event with contextual remarks.

Blogs

Visit the Globalization Initiative blog for more of our ongoing work.

Visit Globalization Initiative Chair Robert Shapiro's blog.

Visit Globalization Initiative Deputy Policy Director Jake Berliner's blog.

Washington — or Its Accountants — Finally Accept the Idea-Based Economy

Today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will put in place a set of critical changes in how it measures America’s gross domestic product (GDP). The most important change reclassifies what businesses spend on research and development, which now will be counted as an economic investment rather than an ordinary business expense. By so doing, the country’s official national accounts finally recognize that ideas play the same role in prosperity and income growth as new factories and equipment. More important, the change signals that Washington — or at least its accountants — accept that the country has an idea-based economy.

I was present at the creation of these changes. In the late 1990s, while overseeing the BEA as Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, I helped them set up the first tests of how to approach R&D as an investment. Then as now, this shift was a no-brainer. Those of us who study what makes economies grow learned as students that innovations drive growth even more than new capital investments. Based on the strict patent protections which the United States has embraced since the time of the Constitution, Americans always have known this intuitively. So for more than 200 years, the world’s most market-based economy has granted temporary monopoly rights to anyone who comes up with a new invention.

Investors clearly believe in the value of patents and the inventions they animate. A new study covering more than eight decades of patents (1926-2010) has found that when a company receives a new patent, its stock market value increases on average by $19.2 million (in 2013 dollars). Even setting aside such blockbuster patents as the core inventions from Apple or Google, the researchers found that the median bump in a firm’s stock market valuation after receiving a patent was $5.9 million.

In fact, intellectual property and, more broadly, intangible assets now virtually dominate American business. Since the mid-1990s, American firms have invested more in new, intangible assets — databases, brands, worker training and competencies, as well as R&D and patents — than they have in new physical assets. That tells us that businesses now expect to earn more from ideas in their various forms than from their plant and equipment.

Here, too, investors agree. In 1984, the “book value” of the 150 largest U.S. corporations — what their physical assets would bring on the open market — was equal to about three-quarters of their stock market value. So, nearly 30 years ago, large American businesses were worth about one-quarter more than the plant, equipment and real estate that generated their profits. By 2005, the book value of America’s 150 largest companies equaled just 35 percent of their stock market value. By that time, about two-thirds of their value came from their intangible assets, because those assets had become the main source of the value and profits which large companies generate.

This shift to intangible assets is not confined to popularly-recognized “idea-based” industries such as information technologies and biotechnology. A 2011 analysis by Kevin Hassett and myself found that by 2009, intellectual property, strictly defined, accounted for at least half of the market value of not only the software, telecom and pharmaceutical sectors, but also such disparate industries as food, beverages and tobacco, media, healthcare, professional services, household and personal products, consumer services, and autos. And when we expand the category to all intangible assets, broadly defined, those idea-based assets accounted for at least 80 percent of the market value of all of the industries just mentioned, plus capital goods, materials, transportation, and consumer durables and apparel. That covers every major industry except retail, real estate, banking, energy, and utilities.

Now that the official accounts for the American economy finally treat the R&D that leads to most patents and innovations as economic investments, we can also better track and compare their value. For instance, we now know that U.S. businesses have spent less on R&D in recent years than they did in the 1990s — and that nevertheless, the United States spends more on R&D than all of Asia and Europe combined.

U.S. companies and individuals hold about 25 percent of the world’s patents, a share close to America’s 22 percent share of worldwide GDP. America’s real advantage in this area, however, probably lies in its outsized willingness to fund the young enterprises that often develop new, patented advances. So, while the United States claims 25 percent of all patents, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reports that we also account for roughly half of all worldwide venture capital investment.

America’s shift to an idea-based economy inevitably will shape much of our economic future. The information and Internet technologies so integral to creating and managing ideas have spread across every economic sector. Within each industry, those firms most adept at applying those technologies to their operations will, on balance, be the ones most likely to succeed. That has already become gauge for investors to use and watch. More important, a widening gap has opened between the incomes of most Americans and the incomes of the top 20 percent of workers who are already adept at creating and managing ideas or at least operating in workplaces dense with information and Internet technologies. Finding new ways to enable most Americans to prosper in an idea-based economy is now the most pressing economic challenge facing Washington policymakers.

This post was originally published in Dr. Shapiro's blog

As the Economy Improves, Give Some Credit to Globalization

The economic news and data have turned distinctly upbeat. With unemployment down, consumer confidence up, and personal debt back to normal levels, it was no surprise when last week's revised report on first quarter GDP showed consumer spending rising at twice the rate of the preceding three quarters. Housing investment is now increasing at a 14 percent rate, following a 25 percent drop in home foreclosures compared to the first quarter of 2012 and many months of rising housing prices. Business investment is still sluggish, but corporate profits are strong, and the stock market is setting new records. These positive reports also explain why markets barely moved when Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke noted recently that the Fed's aggressive program to keep interest rates low might wind down sooner than expected.

The biggest drag on the economy, as usual, is government. If not for Washington's misguided sequester cuts, tax increases and continuing layoffs by state and local governments, GDP would be growing at a healthy three to five percent annual rate.  Even so, conditions are improving enough to sharply drive down the deficits projected for the next two years. With Europe stuck in a double-dip recession, the United States once again finds itself a prime engine of global growth.

Credit for much of this turnaround goes to the Fed, and some of it is luck. But business attitudes and orientation count here, too. In particular, American policymakers and businesses have been committed to globalization for the last two decades, especially compared to their European counterparts.  And this deep engagement in global markets is a critical factor in the economy's renewed strength. Not only are exports one of the brighter points in the current recovery.  In addition, years of sustained competition in global markets have made many U.S. industries markedly more efficient and innovative than their rivals in other advanced economies.

Bill Clinton deserves some thanks for all this.  He not only articulated the need for Americans to actively engage in world markets, clearly and convincingly. He also made that attitude concrete by corralling bipartisan majorities to enact NAFTA, create the World Trade Organization, and draw China and other large developing nations into a global trading system. American multinational companies may be best known today for their byzantine strategies to minimize their U.S. taxes. But their many years of investing in foreign markets at higher levels and rates than firms from other major economies count for a lot more.  Once there, they have had to compete with lower-cost producers in markets those producers know better than they do. This intense competition has forced U.S. multinationals to come up with new efficiencies and innovations, which they also have applied to their U.S. operations and markets.

The falling U.S. trade deficit provides clear evidence that all of this matters. In the first quarter of this year, for example, our trade imbalance was $22 billion less than it was a year earlier. This may seem remarkable, since stronger growth here than in Europe and Japan would suggest a rising U.S. trade deficit as imports rise and exports fall. It's true that some imports are up - but so are most exports, including high tech goods that account for 19 percent of all U.S. exports.  The main reason, though, is globalization as U.S. companies that have spent years setting up shop around the world now tap into fast-growing markets across the developing world.

Consider whom we now trade with.  Our traditional major markets of Europe and Japan now account for just 25 percent of U.S. exports. They're overshadowed today by the 32 percent share of our exports which go to our NAFTA partners, Canada (19 percent) and Mexico (13 percent). Another 12 percent of U.S. exports go to the rest of Latin America, seven percent to China, and 13 percent to the rest of non-Japan Asia. In fact, American firms export nearly half as much to Africa and the Middle East as they do to Europe.

President Obama is now doubling-down on the commitment to globalization. Last term, he got Congress to approve new free trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. This term, he's pressing for a major new trade deal with Pacific Rim countries and another with the European Union. The negotiations for the first deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) began in 2010. Now, the President is pressing all interested parties - Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, along with the United States - to complete the deal within one year. That's an ambitious deadline, since TPP would lower or end many thorny domestic barriers to open trade.  Among these are  regulations and other impediments to competing in service-sector businesses, with state-owned enterprises, and in areas of government procurement, as well as health and safety regulations targeted at foreign competitors. And if we and the 10 other Pacific Rim countries can strike the deal on TPP, Japan and South Korea would probably join too, and further expand its impact.

Completing a new free trade pact between the U.S. and the EU within the President's two-year deadline will be equally daunting. Here, too, the issues include many of the toughest for trade in the 21st century, encompassing barriers rooted in the domestic regulation of services as well as health and safety, labor and environmental rules, agricultural subsidies, data privacy, and anti-trust policy. These are very difficult matters not only for the regulation-prone countries of continental Europe, but for the United States as well. Nevertheless, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel and the UK's David Cameron are both on board with Mr. Obama. Alas, France's President Francois Hollande is less enthusiastic, and the president of the European parliament, Martin Schulz, has warned that any deal must "put the European model at its core," especially with regard to "labor unions and social rights."

Both sets of negotiations will test everyone's patience and political limits. But the process will recommit the United States to the path of liberal internationalism that has helped drive American prosperity for more than 65 years. And if they succeed, the result will not only reassert America's global economic leadership.   The new agreements should also permanently raise the incomes of tens of millions of people here and abroad, along with the sales and profits of tens of thousands of U.S. and foreign companies.

This post was originally published in Dr. Shapiro's blog

How Much Credit Can Obama Claim on the Economy?

Presidents regularly get the credit or blame for developments beyond their control.    Sometimes, they also get no credit or blame for the decisions they do take.  Barack Obama fits both molds.   A fresh example of the second pattern is the President’s surprising semi-breakthrough on European debt, at this week’s G20 meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico.  For months, President Obama and Treasury officials have quietly urged Eurozone leaders to do what it takes to avoid a sovereign debt meltdown, before they tackle long-term reforms.  This week, it looks like it might pay off.  According to reports, Obama emerged from a private huddle with German Chancellor Angela Merkel with her grudging agreement to use Eurozone funds to directly support Spanish and Italian bonds.  For the first time since the crisis began more than two years ago, the country with the deepest pockets has tacitly agreed to stand behind the full faith and credit of its member countries.  If these reports are true, this week’s agreement should hold off a full-blown debt crisis for a while, and with it the prospect of a deep global recession this year.   Yet, how many Americans will give Obama any credit for all this, come November?  

In a similar fashion, Mr. Obama inherited an economy seized by an historic financial meltdown.  His predecessor mismanaged the crisis so badly that it drove the country into the worst recession in 80 years.  Steeling himself against opponents united only by their partisanship, the President unleashed a flood of fiscal and monetary stimulus to arrest America’s downward spiral towards genuine depression.  Six months later, growth resumed and private employment began to increase.  Yet, in November, how much credit will voters give the President for avoiding the worst case scenario?

Instead, the President finds his reelection threatened by an economic reality he can do little to change — namely, that an economy shaken by financial crisis usually recovers very slowly.  In principle, to be sure, his administration might have done more to overcome the economic drag he inherited from Bush.  He might have pressed harder to stabilize the housing market with short term loans for homeowners facing foreclosure.  He might have tried harder to nail down a grand bargain for long-term fiscal balance.  

But the President also recognized the new political reality following the 2010 elections.  However hard he pressed or pushed Congress, neither deal was possible with Tea Party members calling the shots in the House, and Tea Party activists threatening to take down any Republican willing to work with the “enemy.”  Obama did successfully block the hard right program of slash-and-burn budget austerity, which almost certainly would have plunged the economy back into recession, as it did in Britain.  But once again, come November, how much credit will he get for avoiding another downturn? 

This President has shown that he can take care of himself politically.  He may not be able to point to the dismal hand he inherited from Bush, at least not without seeming to whine.  But he can point voters to the numerous troubling aspects of Romney’s economic record in Massachusetts and Bain Capital.  Obama also has the political advantage in many policy areas, since the public generally favor his approach to taxes, Medicare and Medicaid, higher education, and the deficit.

Unhappily, however, the economy is still far from safe and sound.  This week’s news from the G20 meeting will not settle the Eurozone’s economic problems. That leaves the President’s reelection still hostage to the sovereign debt crisis. On top of the Obama-Merkel meeting of minds, the other good news is that Greece’s new government should be able to avoid a precipitous default and chaotic exit from the Euro.  Eventually, Greece almost certainly will default and leave the Euro, but hopefully not before the Eurozone has prepared for it.  

The question remains, then, of what additional arrangements Frau Merkel will accept to reassure international investors that Spain and Italy will not follow Greece’s path.  Time is short, because Europe is already in recession, and such deals are usually pricey.  Moreover, at this moment, European leaders cannot even agree on whether the next step should be uniform banking regulation, a fiscal union, or expanded political authority for the Eurozone.  All of these measures are important for the Eurozone to become a stable economic entity.  But first, the Eurozone has to survive.  That will require what the President has called for all along – measures such as Eurobonds or central bank authority to guarantee that after Greece, no other Eurozone country will ever have to default.

The Truth about Job Creation under Obama and Bush

Everyone knows that unemployment is high today and unlikely to fall by much soon. Yet, a longer view of the official jobs data would startle most people, including virtually everyone in the media. Nearly three years into Barack Obama’s presidency, his record on private job creation has actually been much stronger than George W. Bush’s at the same point in his first term. Whatever the public perception, the real record provides strong evidence for both the relative success of Obama’s economic program and how hard it now is for American businesses to create large numbers of new jobs — as they did once so effortlessly, and without political prodding.

Let’s go to the numbers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In the first 33 months of George W. Bush’s presidency, from February 2001 to October 2003, the number of Americans with private jobs fell by 3,054,000 or 2.74 percent. Perhaps Americans were too distracted by Osama bin Laden to pay attention, or everyone was lulled by the dependably strong job creation of the 1980s and 1990s.  Whatever the reason back then, Americans are certainly paying attention to jobs now. Yet, few seem to have noticed that Barack Obama’s jobs record has unquestionably been much better. In the first 33 months of his presidency, from February 2009 to October 2011, private sector employment fell by 723,000 jobs or 0.66 percent. That means that over the first 33 months of the two presidents’ terms, jobs were lost at more than four times the rate under Bush as under Obama. 

To be fair, new presidents shouldn’t be held responsible for job losses or job gains in the first five or six months of their administrations.  Bush’s signature tax cuts, for example, weren’t enacted until June 2001; and while Congress passed Obama’s signature stimulus program earlier in his term, it didn’t take effect for several more months. But the story is the same when we start counting up jobs without the first five months of each president’s term. The BLS reports that from July 2001 to October 2003 under Bush’s program, U.S. businesses shed 2,167,000 jobs, or about 2 percent of the workforce. Over the comparable period under Obama’s policies, from July 2009 to October 2011, American businesses added 1,890,000 jobs, expanding the workforce by 1.75 percent. In fact, private employment in Bush’s first term didn’t begin to turn around in a sustained way until March 2004, 38 months into his term. By contrast, private employment under Obama started to score gains by April and May of 2010, 14 to 15 months into his term.

The same dynamics have played out with manufacturing workers. While they have taken a beating under both presidents, they suffered much harder blows under Bush than Obama. Setting aside, once again, the first five months of each president’s term, the data show that under Bush, 2,141,000 Americans employed in producing goods lost their jobs by October 2003, a 9 percent decline. Under Obama, job losses in goods production totaled 183,000 over the comparable period, a 1.0 percent decline.

Public perceptions, especially of Obama’s record, may be skewed by the collapse of the jobs market in the months before he took office. In the final, dismal year of Bush’s second term, from February 2008 through January 2009, American businesses laid off an astonishing 5,220,000 workers, 4.5 percent of the entire private-sector workforce. Obama and the Fed managed to staunch the hemorrhaging. But the huge job losses in the year before he took office have become a political hurdle which Obama must overcome before he can take credit for putting Americans back to work.

Apart from the obvious disconnect between conventional wisdom and what actually has happened with jobs, the data also speak to certain features of the labor market and the policies we use to affect it. For example, both presidents began their terms with large fiscal stimulus programs, backed up by more stimulus from the Federal Reserve. So, the record now shows clearly that when the economy is depressed, spending stimulus has a more powerful effect on jobs than personal tax cuts.

Beyond that, why couldn’t either president restore the much stronger job creation rates of the 1990s and 1980s? Obama’s economic team can point to the long-term effects of the 2008 housing collapse and financial crisis, especially the impact of four years of falling home values on middle-class consumption. But another factor also has been at work here, one which contributed mightily to the slow job creation under both presidents, and will similarly affect the next president.

The tectonic change from strong job creation of the 1980s and 1990s to the current times is, in a word, globalization. From 1990 to 2008, the share of worldwide GDP traded across national borders jumped from 18 percent to more than 30 percent, the highest level ever recorded. Intense, new competition from all of that additional trade has made it harder for American businesses to raise their prices, as competition usually does. That’s why inflation has remained tame for more than decade, here and nearly everywhere else in the world. The problem that American employers have faced — and still do — is that certain costs have risen sharply over the same years, especially health care and energy costs. Businesses that cannot pass along higher costs in higher prices have to cut back elsewhere, and they started with jobs and wages.

One irony here is that the Obama health care reform should relieve some of the pressure on jobs, by slowing medical cost increases. The administration’s energy program, still stalled in Congress, also might slow fuel cost increases, at least over time. So, if he does win reelection in the face of high unemployment, there is a reasonable prospect of stronger job creation in his second term than in his first one — or in either of George W. Bush’s terms.

This Week's Debt Deal Is George W. Bush's Revenge – But It Won't Last

There is plenty of blame to go around for the recent debt and deficit shenanigans, but who should get the credit? I nominate George W. Bush.  Not only did his administration’s negligence secure the foundations for the financial upheavals which ultimately created much of the short-term deficit.  The role of his tax cuts in driving much of the medium term deficits is also certainly well-known.  But the last month’s budget warfare also highlights the significance of his distinctive innovation in fiscal policy:  Unlike FDR and LBJ, W established a major new entitlement – Medicare Part D prescription drug benefits for seniors – without a revenue stream to pay for it.  This unhappy innovation also helped shape the austerity plan the President signed this week.

Consider the following.  The only certain budget cuts in the deal are $915 billion in discretionary program reductions over ten years.  In fact, those cuts very nearly match the $815 billion in unfunded costs for Medicare Part D over the same period.  And Bush’s dogged resistance to paying for those benefits has now revealed the priorities of those in both parties who think we do have to pay for them.  Since those priorities dictate no new revenues for Republicans and no cuts in Part D benefits for Democrats, that leaves only the large-scale cuts in discretionary programs in this week’s deal.

But this also creates a quandary that is certain to become very prominent, very soon.   The plan says clearly that avoiding entitlements and taxes trumps everything else in the budget.  Yet, the arithmetic, both budgetary and political, says that Congress and the President cannot deal with the long-term deficits and debt without venturing deeply into both areas. So far, the Tea Party’s acolytes in both houses have vetoed any new revenues, which in turn has locked in the progressives’ veto on entitlement changes.  Yet, this week’s deal also sets up a choice down the road that will very likely isolate the Tea Party’s denizens in Congress.

The President and Harry Reid in the Senate have already vowed that unless revenues are part of the next, $1.5 trillion tranche of fiscal changes, they’re prepared to let across-the-board cuts go forward – and blame the other side.   And when that tranche of deficit reductions comes due, the Tea Party won’t have the leverage of an expiring debt limit.  Instead, progressives will have more leverage, because the across-the-board cuts would slice through the fat at the Pentagon and well into the muscle.  If history is any guide, conservative Republicans hate deep cuts in defense spending even more than they abhor tax increases.

George W. Bush never had to choose between defense and taxes, because Bill Clinton left a big budget surplus to spend.   When it ran out, W. opted for his legacy of large, structural deficits.  Ronald Reagan started out the same way, but the deep recession of 1981-1982 brought on his big deficits quickly.  And when that happened, Reagan opted repeatedly for new revenues to protect his defense spending.   Today’s Tea Party Republicans are no Reaganites:  As John Boehner discovered when he tried to cut a deal with Barack Obama that included higher revenues and limited defense cuts, Tea Party House members have been determined to avoid new revenues even if it means much less for defense.

Limited defense cuts – $350 billon over ten years – are already part of the initial round of cutbacks.  When the additional $1.5 trillion comes due, defense’s share of across-the-board cuts will draw dire predictions and protests – all with the administration’s tactical blessing.  When that happens, what can conservatives like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell do but follow Ronald Reagan’s example.  So, whatever the rightwing flank of the GOP says today, next time out Republicans will be forced to accept revenue increases.  And since Medicare is on the line with defense, Democrats will also be forced to accept some changes in entitlements.  The combination will leave the Tea Party with no choice but to howl and take their case into the 2012 elections.

Photos: Tuesday, July 26th Sen. Chris Coons, Rep. Adam Smith and Shadow Foreign Secretary Alexander Discuss Global/US Economies

Photos from yesterday's panel discussion on global and US economies with Senator Coons, Rep. Adam Smith and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander. Opening remarks made by Dr. Rob Shapiro, Chair of NDN's Globalization Initiative. Panel moderated by Nelson Cunningham, Chair of NDN's Latin America Policy Initiative.

 

Sen. Chris Coons, Rep. Adam Smith and Dr. Rob Shapiro

 

 

Nelson Cunningham, Chair of NDN's Latin America Policy Initiative moderating the panel

 

 

Rep. Adam Smith

 

 

NDN President/Founder Simon Rosenberg and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander

NDN President Simon Rosenberg and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander

 

 

Sen. Chris Coons

Senator Chris Coons

 

 

Panel with Rt. Hon. Alexander and Rep. Adam Smith

Foreign Shadow Secretary Douglas Alexander and Rep. Adam Smith during the panel discussion

 

 

NDN President Simon Rosenberg

NDN President Simon Rosenberg

 

 

Rt. Hon. Douglas Alexander

Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander

 

 

 

Globalization- Weekly Roundup, June 21, 2011

The G20 Summit for Agricultural Ministers is meeting in Paris today.  Luckily, on the East coast of the U.S. we are six hours behind Paris so there is already plenty of news.  Below are some highlights and key issues:

  • FOOD SECURITY.  The main reason for this meeting is to discuss ways to combat volatile food prices and rising levels of hunger.  According to recent U.N. statistics:
    • "...although the world would need to produce 70 per cent more food by 2050 to feed its population, agricultural production was expected to slow to 1.7 per cent a year in the decade to 2020."
  • The continued debate over using farmland for biofuels or crops; is it exacerbating rising food prices and thereby world hunger?  Or is it a necessary component of combating global warming that will actually stimulate food production by boosting agricultural investment?  This blog by Caroline Henshaw for the Wall Street Journal details the arguments on both sides.

 Some U.S. Industries on the 3FTAs:

The three free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia are being vigorously opposed by the United Steelworkers.  Their letter to Congress can be found here.  Their position is:

"These three FTA’s will undermine our economic recovery, further decimate American manufacturing and jobs and deepen the economic insecurity and devastation faced by workers across the country."

On the other hand, major dairy groups support the measures.  The CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, Mr. Rick Tolman also spoke out in support of the FTAs, saying:

"Developing new markets for our country’s agricultural products will help our sector lead the nation in economic growth and international competitiveness.”

On globalization and health:

  • Yanzhong Huang recently published an article for the Council on Foreign Relations on the globalization of food safety issues, especially as it relates to China.  Continuing on the theme, the FDA fears that spending cuts will threaten its ability to ensure food safety.

Globalization, human rights, and business:

  • Ulrike Mast-Kirschning with Deutsche Welle interviewed John Ruggie, professor of international affairs at Harvard Law School and the UN secretary general’s special representative for business and human rights on his "guiding principles" for protecting human rights in a globalized economy, which the UN Human Rights Council recently endorsed.  The interview can be found here and the full text of Ruggie's guiding principles here.

According to Edward Glaeser's Bloomberg article, even in today's globalized internet age spatial proximity still matters, as evidenced by many companies moving back to the big cities despite all their electronic innovations that allow them to do so much remotely.  Glaeser's article explains why.

And finally, even baseball, long considered to be America's pastime is becoming more globalized as well.

Globalization- Weekly Roundup, June 15, 2011

The latest on "the rise of the rest": curbing inflation in India and China, the effort to keep IMF leadership in European hands, business ventures courting Latin American online audiences and Indonesia's globalization vision

There have recently been troublesome indications in some of the world's fastest-growing economies: rising inflation coupled with slowing growth in India and the central bank in China raising the reserve ratio for the 6th time this year to counter its own inflation problems...if there are two stories about it in the New York Times on the same day (the links to which are embedded above) it's probably worth keeping an eye on.

A new development in the race to suceed Dominique Strauss-Kahn as managing director of the IMF has further exemplified the European countries' willingness to try every tool at their disposal to keep management out of the hands of non-Europeans.  With the Bank of Israel governor and India's candidate now both removed from the running and the Mexican candidate as a self-described "long-shot candidate" behind the French favorite, it is likely that their efforts will be successful.

Portada, a leading source for Hispanic marketing and advertising news and resources, published an interesting analysis article on whether it makes sense to invest in ventures targeting global Latin American audiences. (Hint: their short answer is yes.)  For example, the rationale behind many companies' decisions to invest in such firms:

“the Hispanic and Latin American audience online has gotten to critical mass and continues to grow rapidly. It has substantial buying power but is underserved..."- Greg Sands, Managing Director of Sutter Hill Ventures, 2006

And:

...Spain’s Grupo Prisa’s Paul Westhorpe, Managing Director Global Digital Sales & Strategy, assert[ed] that by 2015 Prisa expects 70% of its digital revenues to come from the U.S Hispanic market and Latin America.

The Jakarta Globe wrote a very blunt article on Monday on why the globalization genie can't be put back in the bottle.  Below is the President of Indonesia's statement on how countries should be responding:

...the solution is for business leaders to work with government to  drive growth through innovation and push for greater economic openness.

He also expresses a need for Asian governments not to revert to short-term thinking and protectionist policies.

On modernizing policies to keep up with globalization: women's empowerment, ending protectionism, skill-building and worker protection programs

Arnab Chakraborty with India Blooms reports on U.S. Consul General Elizabeth A. Payne's belief that efforts towards women's empowerment are imperative to keep up with globalization and the challenges it brings.  Below is an excerpt from the article on the main areas of women's empowerment that she believes must be focused on:

...three prime areas demanding immediate attention as they are necessary requisites for empowering women in all spheres of society, namely – education, economic self-sufficiency and political voice.

Continuing the fight against protectionism: a new statement from India's Minister of Labour and Employment on why labor standards are no excuse for enacting protectionist trade policies (as well as India's plans for instituting programs on skill building and protection for workers)

 

The Cost of Playing Games with the Full Faith and Credit of the United States

I spent last week in Rio attending a meeting of the IMF’s advisory board for the Western Hemisphere — and returned this week to Washington for the latest round of threats and charges over raising the U.S. debt limit. The contrast was, at once, disturbing and farcical. At the IMF meeting, former finance ministers, prime ministers and other ex-economic policy officials tried to unravel the grim implications for all of us if (when) Greece, Portugal or, in the worst case, Spain is forced to default on their sovereign debts. Back in Washington, congressional Republicans laid out their terms for not driving the United States into a voluntary default on its sovereign debt. Perhaps holding onto a child-like faith that bad things don’t happen to the United States, under God, they spelled out terms which everyone knows will never be accepted by President Obama and a Democratic Senate. The irony is that the GOP gambit of holding out a potential debt default if they don’t get their way could, in itself, make long-term control over deficits much harder.

The reason lies in the powerful influence of worldwide investors on our interest rates. Thankfully, global capital markets still have confidence that our two political parties can settle this dispute on reasonable terms, and that in time the United States will regain control over its deficits and debt. We know that confidence is still there, because the interest rates and yields on U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds all remain near historic lows. If there were real doubts about our capacity to control long-term deficits, those interest rates would be rising as investors demanded higher returns to offset the risk that we’ll fail. This confidence makes sense, because we succeeded at the same task twice before, in the 1980s and again in the 1990s. It took several years of squabbling and compromise, but President Reagan and a Democratic House agreed to raise taxes, cut defense and reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending in the 1980s — and the same pattern played out again a decade later with President Clinton and, first, a Democratic House and then a GOP one. That combination of revenues, defense and health care was, and remains today, inevitable, since those are the only pieces of fiscal policy big enough for cuts and reforms that can make a significant difference for deficits.

But neither Reagan nor Clinton faced opponents prepared to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to their own partisan approach to the deficit. To make this gambit appear respectable, House Majority Leader Cantor even claimed last week that major players on Wall Street had assured him that a U.S. default would be a matter of economic indifference. The only explanation is that Mr. Cantor, without realizing it, was talking to short-sellers getting ready to bet billions that U.S. stocks and bonds might crash — as they will if we actually do default.

Happily, worldwide investors are probably correct that the likelihood of a U.S. debt default is still very, very small. If it ever came close to that, the real players on Wall Street would face down the U.S. Congress. But cutting it close may turn out to be very expensive, too.

Let’s perform a small thought experiment. A Tea-Party infused GOP takes us to the edge of default and then pulls back. A really close call, however, would almost certainly make worldwide investors nervous. They would begin to question whether our politics truly are up to the task of dealing with our deficits, so they add a small risk premium to our interest rates. Let’s say — and this would be optimistic in this scenario — that short-term rates on Treasury bills go up one-half of a percentage-point; medium-term rates on Treasury notes rise three-quarters of a percentage-point, and long-term rates on U.S. bonds increase by 1.25 percentage-points.

Now, let’s be optimistic again and assume that Congress and the President eventually agree to cut the 2012 deficit by 10 percent — $108 billion off of the current projection of $1.081 trillion. That will leave a 2012 deficit of $973 billion to be financed. The small increases to interest rates would add about $7 billion just to the first-year interest costs of the 2012 deficit. And that’s just the beginning: All publicly-held Treasury bills also have to be refinanced in 2012 — nearly $2 trillion worth at last count. The tiny 0.50 percentage-point increase in those rates would add another $10 billion to next year’s interest costs. That comes to $17 billion in extra interest costs in just the first year, and just on publically-held debt. Those premiums would become embedded in those interest rates, adding much more to our interest costs, year after year, as additional deficits have to be financed and some $7 trillion in publicly-held Treasury notes and bonds come due for refinancing. A single refinancing of that current stock of publicly-held Treasury notes and bonds, with the new risk premiums, would add more than $50 billion, per-year, to interest costs. And the actual risk premiums demanded by global investors could be significantly higher than we assume here, and so that much more expensive.

These incremental increases in interest rates also wouldn’t be confined to U.S. Treasury rates; they would be transmitted immediately to other interest rates, from mortgages to credit cards. That means the expansion would further slow, American incomes and the government’s revenues would grow less, and, lo and behold, the deficits would be even bigger.

That’s the math. Even if congressional Republicans don’t mean it, the political games they’re playing today with a U.S. debt default, purportedly in the name of fiscal responsibility, could make U.S. deficits and debt even more unmanageable, and U.S. prosperity more problematic.

The Aftershocks for the U.S. Economy from the Disaster in Japan

As the damage to Japan and its economy from the recent natural disasters deepens, we can begin to see serious potential aftershocks for our own economy. In certain respects, the United States relies on our broad and intricate financial and trading relationships with Japan. China has surpassed Japan as the world’s largest buyer of U.S. Treasury securities. But Japan remains the world’s largest, diversified investor in the United States, counting its large holdings of U.S. stocks, corporate debt, real estate, and plants and factories, as well as government securities. Now, in an unanticipated downside to globalization, the aftereffects of the natural disasters are beginning to disrupt the two countries’ normal financial and trading relationships. And that will create new upward pressures on U.S. interest rates, put new downward pressures on U.S. stock prices, and cause unexpected losses for many U.S. companies.

These concerns reflect the prospect that the terrible earthquake and tsunami will prove to be unusually destructive for the Japanese economy. The damage to the country’s power grid may extend the economic costs far beyond the communities directly devastated by the disasters, slowing agriculture and industrial activity across up to one-third of the country. And with the frightening news that Tokyo’s water supply contain radioactive iodine dangerous to infants, the radiation from crippled nuclear power facilities could bring economic activity to a halt in much more of the country, and for some time to come.

If this comes to pass, the aftershocks for the U.S. economy could be quite serious. The disaster and its disruptions for the Japanese economy have already begun to cut into the earnings and incomes of Japanese companies and citizens. To cover rising debts and other unexpected expenses, Japanese investors have been converting some of their foreign assets to yen, and then bringing those yen back home. Most of these liquidations involve American assets: Japanese investors hold some $211 billion in U.S. stocks and another $134 billion in U.S. corporate debt. Moreover, if the earnings of Japanese companies and the incomes of Japanese investors continue to shrink with the crisis, private saving in Japan will fall — and that’s just as Japan’s budget deficit soars. The result will be that most of the savings that Japanese companies and individuals manage to accumulate will go to finance their own government’s deficits, not to buy our assets. And if the crisis deepens and persists, rising outflows of Japanese holdings will depress U.S. stock prices and raise the interest costs for U.S. corporate borrowers.

The largest Japanese investor in the United States, of course, is the government in Tokyo, which holds some $1 trillion in U.S. government securities. As a long crisis drives up government spending in Japan and drives down revenues, a budget deficit already equal to over 8 percent of the country’s GDP will rise sharply. At a minimum, Japanese government purchases of U.S. Treasury securities will dry up. And if the crisis worsens, Japan may become a major seller of U.S. government securities. This will put considerable pressure on U.S. interest rates, potentially increasing our own deficit (through higher interest costs), and almost certainly slowing our economy.

The potential problems are not limited to finance. Japan accounts for about 5 percent of U.S. exports; and major exporters will feel the pinch. Those likely to feel it first include makers of aircraft and their parts, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and computers. It’s not all bad news for U.S. exporters, because the current strong yen tied to Japanese investors cashing out some of their foreign financial assets will leave Japanese producers less competitive in other markets. More grimly, while U.S. exports of foodstuffs also are taking an early hit; U.S. food producers will step into the breach if more of Japan’s domestic food supply becomes contaminated.

The potential costs for the U.S. economy also include disruptions in U.S. supply chains that involve Japan. With holdings of $260 billion in U.S. industrial and commercial operations, Japan is the second largest foreign direct investor in the U.S. economy, just behind Britain. Sony, Toyota, Honda and other large Japanese enterprises operate here to serve the American market; but they still produce most of their most sophisticated parts in Japan. Japanese production of many of those parts already is disrupted. If conditions worsen, it will cost U.S. jobs as Japanese production and assembly here slows or even stops. And by the way, American companies are also the largest foreign direct investor in Japan, so a deepening crisis in Japan also will reduce the earnings of U.S. businesses operating there.

The United States is not the only economy exposed to economic aftershocks from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Japan is the largest foreign direct investor in China, having transferred a good part of its manufacturing base there over the last decade. Unlike U.S. companies which have invested in China mainly to serve the Chinese and third-country markets in Asia, Japanese enterprises in China produce mainly for the home, Japanese market. The sharp downturn already beginning to unfold in Japan, then, will cost China jobs and growth, especially in southern China.

In the end, it’s the American economy that is most interconnected with Japan’s, so the United States is most exposed to collateral economic damage from the recent, terrible natural disasters.

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