Publications

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For the first time since the global financial crisis, every major economy in the world is projected to grow, and President Trump says the US is “open for business.” As of early 2018, business leaders have been generally buoyant. The Global CFO Survey conducted for this report found CFOs to be optimistic about the economic outlook for the US; 61% of respondents indicated they are confident or extremely confident about investing in the US, and 71% expect continued improvement in the US business environment in the next one to three years.

Get beyond those exclamation points, though, and you start to see the question marks and concerns — about global shifts in power, a potential wave of protectionism, and warnings that business leaders and policymakers should be “on guard” for the next recession and that global growth may be masking systemic financial, social and geographical risks. Economic volatility and policy uncertainty in the first quarter of 2018 have only increased those concerns.
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The United States faces threats from outside its borders, but also from within. While domestic issues including healthcare, immigration, and tax reform occupy the media, a more sinister threat exists underfoot. The political system that once created a strong, prosperous, and united nation now sows division. Many of the country’s public institutions, most notably Congress, seem increasingly inept and dangerously dysfunctional. Permanent campaign mode is distracting the country’s institutions from their responsibilities, alienating the public from civic processes, and leaving the country vulnerable to foreign interference.

 
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No one can know the future. China and Russia—who are currently challenging, albeit in different ways, the Western liberal order—face difficulties at home and could become inward-focused and disengaged. Nonetheless, almost thirty years after the end of the Cold War, geopolitics looks like it is poised for another turn of the wheel that may not be as favorable to Western interests.

 
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If the twentieth century could be characterized as the “Trans-Atlantic Century,” the twenty-first century may well become known as the “Trans-Pacific Century.” According to some projections, the majority of all global economic activity could take place within Asia by 2050. Military might often follows economic power, and Asian countries are already spending more than European states on defense. Both of these developments reflect a broader shift in global power from West to East.
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No one can be complacent about geopolitical risks these days. The shocks and surprises of the past few years show how easily assumptions about liberal markets, international relations, conflict, and democracy can be shaken. Geopolitical volatility has become a key driver of uncertainty, and will remain one over the next few years.

 
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Keeping America’s Innovative Edge lays out a strategic framework for how the United States can reinvigorate its innovative edge. As global competition in the tech space increases, this comprehensive roadmap comes at a critical time for the country. The report includes detailed policy recommendations spanning a wide range of key areas: research and development, emerging technologies, national security, education, skills training, diversity and inclusion, intellectual property, and more. Based on research conducted on-the-ground in US tech hubs, this in-depth study is relevant to stakeholders across federal, state, and local governments; scientists, engineers, and lab workers; university officials, administrators, and educators; and entrepreneurs, business leaders, and venture capitalists.

 
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Sixty years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, Europe faces its greatest challenges, and possibly its sharpest turning point, since World War II. The spectrum of possible futures for Europe is wide, encompassing everything from rebirth to disintegration. But, a strong leap toward greater EU-wide integration—as was sometimes the outcome of earlier crises—seems unlikely at best. Instead, this seems a time for smaller steps toward more integration, most likely in response to specific challenges, including: stronger external border controls; enhanced eurozone governance; or a more capable Common Security and Defense Policy. If the positive option is modest integration, the alternative future is one dominated by a clear break with past integration. A presidential victory in May by France’s Marine Le Pen could splinter the European Union, sending it into a tailspin toward disintegration. Even if this dire forecast is avoided, Europe—and especially the European Union (EU)—will face challenges that push it into entirely new directions. If the United States withdraws from Europe, for example, will Europe be forced to accommodate Russian demands? Or will that challenge foster stronger security cooperation among a core set of nations, to counterbalance a weakening NATO? And if Europe’s economy continues on a slow-growth path, will it be able to afford to respond to the challenges it faces?

 
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As the new administration considers ways to ensure US national security and economic growth, a newly engaged Latin America presents a wealth of opportunity on myriad fronts: urbanization, human capital, open markets, energy reform, technology, and the fight against corruption. Diverse sectors of the United States are already on board: businesses investing in the region; NGOs working on the ground; and local and state governments with trade partners across the border.

 
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The Trump administration should not take up its work under the assumption that the United States, with only 5 percent of the world’s population and around a quarter of the world’s economy, can continue to be an indispensable presence on the world stage. America’s relative decline since 1945 seems to be a byproduct of the post-World War II system it created along with its allies and partners, in which the United States worked to bring millions out of poverty, give other nations incentives to strengthen their governance structures and institutions, and establish global norms of behavior. That effort sought to ensure no worldwide conflicts recurred. However, fostering an environment where states, groups, and individuals could be further empowered naturally eroded America’s once-monopolistic strength; the United States has brought humanity to a new era where many are powerful and many can potentially lead.

 
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America’s future, and that of other nations and peoples, will be most secure in the long term with an emphasis on future prosperity unlocked by the Internet.
The problem is that there is no guarantee that the future of the Internet, and the larger entirety of cyberspace, will be as rosy as its past. It is possible, even likely, that the Internet will not remain as resilient, free, secure, and awesome for future generations as it has been for current ones. 

 


    

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