Our New Trade Frontier: The Asian-Pacific Rim

In May the 12th round of talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) took place in Dallas, Texas where officials from the nine countries– United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam– met to discuss what could become the single largest jolt to the American economy since the Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2008. If agreed upon, the free trade agreement would strengthen economic relations with a region that currently serves as the fourth largest trading market for the United States.  Also, the TPP could significantly widen what is already an emerging market for NAFTA partners. In 2010, trade with the Asia-Pacific region totaled $775 billion, and accounted for 72% of all U.S. agricultural exports to the world marketplace.

The Obama Administration has made the TPP a central item to its trade agenda for the upcoming election, and has marketed its potential impact as being an “economic stimulus package that doesn’t require the federal government to spend more money (or go deeper into debt). The agreement would formalize trade in traditional sectors such as industrial goods, agriculture, and textiles between the United States and its Asian-Pacific partners, as well as develop universal guidelines to defend intellectual property rights, regulate trade barriers, and enforce labor laws and environmental standards. Additionally, the TPP will address trade and compliance issues to better monitor foreign investment in products and services, streamline the exchange of digital technologies, and allow for the competition of state-owned enterprises with the private sector to protect against American economic disenfranchisement.

Since its conception, there have been strong, varying opinions of the TPP. Some contend that the TPP is just an extension of corporate greed and western expansion, like the Citizens Trade Campaign who argued that passage of the TPP will “do everything from hurt public health to accelerate global warming.” While many in Washington on both sides of the isle see the TPP as a catalyst for building and maintaining the types of jobs Americans need most to remain competitive in the technology and manufacturing industries.

Posted By: Jonathan Sherman

Sources: The Washington Times, Forbes Magazine, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Photo credit: Jefe de Estado participó hoy en la Reunión de Negociaciones del Acuerdo de Asociación Transpacífico (TPP) courtesy of flickr user Presidencia Perú


Is a 4-year college degree still the answer?

In a recent article from the Washington Post, more and more students are finding alternative means of getting an education preferable to going to college. It’s been long since the post-World War II era, where college enrollment spiked from 2.3 million to 12.1 million students. Now, fewer than 60% of college freshman now graduate within six-years. In a recent survey by Public Agenda, 50% of college dropouts cited working as a major factor in their decision, which makes sense seeing that the debt of college dropouts has now topped $1 trillion according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And this amount could increase as more and more students find occupational advantages to dropping out and not taking on the massive amounts of debt needed to complete a four-year degree.

The U.S. Department of Education recently found that college dropout rates have increased by 38% in the last decade, and that dropout rates amongst for-profit, four-year institutions have spiked from 34% to 54% since 2001. So how can a nation with increased dropout rates still compete in today’s global economy? Professor Robert Lerman of American University proposes instituting apprenticeship programs for college students that would pay them to participate in classroom trainings that would give them the skills needed to matriculate into occupation they want to take on. In 2008, 0.3% of the total U.S. workforce participated in apprenticeship programs registered with the Department of Labor. But Berman argues that in the EU, countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland, with much greater reading, writing and math literacy than in the United States enroll nearly 50-70% of their young people in apprenticeship programs.

Although, the Obama Administration has made increasing graduate rates a focal point of his 2012 campaign, today’s “college-crazed” culture, as Robert Samuelson puts it, “cheapens the value of a college degree and spawns the delusion that only the degree — not the skills and knowledge behind it — matters.”


Posted By: Jonathan Sherman

Sources: The Washington Post, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Labor, CNN Online

Photo credit: Harvard University courtesy of flickr user Omer Kabir

You are Invited: Beyond Smart Cities: How Cities Network, Learn, and Innovate

Please join the Comparative Urban Studies Project for a discussion of


Beyond Smart Cities: How Cities Network, Learn, and Innovate


Tim Campbell, The Urban Age Institute

 Neal Peirce, Citiscope Project and Washington Post Writers Group

 Fernando Rojas, The World Bank

Thursday, May 24, 2012

3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

To achieve the real promise of smart cities—that is to create the conditions of continuous learning and innovation that has led cities like Seattle, Barcelona, Ahmedabad and Curitiba to keep pace with economic change—we need to understand what is below the surface of smart and connected places. Yet, city learning is a blind spot in policy on urban development and city innovation. Few cities and even fewer national institutions give much attention to the civil mechanisms behind innovation. Collective learning is one of them, but it is not only what is learned; a key factor is how learning takes place in cities.

Join us in a discussion of the findings of Tim Campbell’s latest work. Beyond Smart Cities raises as many questions as it answers. Some of the most important for future work involve a deeper analysis of networks of learning elites, the elements in efficiency of learning, how a market of exchange might be organized and regulated, and longitudinal and cross-city experience of learning outcomes

For more information, click here.


Posted by: PAGE Staff

Press Release–New National Poll: Americans Still Want to be Homeowners

New National Poll: Americans Still Want to be Homeowners

Americans Back Government Support to Preserve 30-Year Mortgages


WASHINGTON – A new survey by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars finds that despite the bursting of the housing bubble, an overwhelming majority of Americans still feel that homeownership is both important to them and a part of the American Dream. A majority also said homeownership should be a national priority.

Despite the importance placed upon homeownership, however, more than 40% of respondents also said the federal government was too involved in developing policies to assist with homeownership. Only 29% of respondents favored the removal of the federal government from mortgage financing when they were informed that this would increase the cost of home loans and eliminate the availability of 30-year mortgages.

Respondents also had unfavorable views of mortgage institutions Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac.

To view or download a copy of the survey results in graph form, click here.

To view the survey results in full, click here.

Notes to Editors

  1. This survey was conducted as part of a conference on that status of homeownership after the 2008 housing bubble burst and current American attitudes towards homeownership. Various stakeholders spoke about the housing market and consumer attitudes, including keynote presentations by Sen. Bob Corker, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, and Jim Millstein, former chief restructuring officer at the U.S. Treasury Department. For a full schedule of the day’s events and video of the keynote presentations, click here.
  2. These key findings are based on telephone interviews with N=1,000 registered “likely” voters nationally. Responses to this survey were gathered May 13-15, 2012, and the confidence interval associated with a sample of this type is + 3.1%.
  3. The Wilson Center provides a strictly nonpartisan space for the worlds of policymaking and scholarship to interact. By conducting relevant and timely research and promoting dialogue from all perspectives, it works to address the critical current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world.

Contact: Drew Sample

Phone: (202) 691-4379


Posted by: PAGE staff

Greece Should Stay with Eurozone

Is exit the only option? The path to the drachma can seem very tempting. But, the reality will prove difficult, damaging, and politically dangerous. Stay or leave, Greece faces a period of real austerity. Government revenues do not cover pension costs, government salaries, or other government expenses.

Can the Greeks weather the economic storm? Can the Greeks create the institutions that will lead to long-term growth—including a tax and spending system that works?

Read the full article by PAGE Director, Kent Hughes, on US News & World Report.


Posted by: PAGE Staff

Photo Credit: Greek flag and the European Union flag by flickr user liako

Watch live @ 9am: Charting a Path in U.S. Education Reform

The Program on America and the Global Economy (PAGE) Presents:

Charting a Path in U.S. Education Reform

View the live webcast here

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

9:00 – 11:00 a.m.


 Paul G. Vallas, Superintendent, Bridgeport, Connecticut; Former Superintendent, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Recovery School District (LA); and Distinguished Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center

 Kenneth Wong, The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor in Education Policy, Brown University

 Moderator:  Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy, Woodrow Wilson Center

Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere

Which way does innovation flow? Traditionally, products and services have been thought of as originating in advanced economies, which have a more suitable environment for technological development than do developing countries. Authors Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble would argue that the reverse is also true.

Deputy managing editor of the Wall Street Journal Alan Murray reviewed Govindarajan and Trimble’s new book Reverse Innovation, which provides a different model of successful product innovation. Rather than taking products designed for developed countries’ demands, businesses have increasingly been doing the reverse – creating “innovative new products for developing countries” and adapting them “to satisfy demands in the developed world.” Murray provides several of the authors’ examples of “reverse innovation” in his article, including General Electric’s inexpensive compact ultrasound medical scanners that were originally developed for the Chinese market, but became successful just about everywhere.

However, “reverse innovation” is held back by the low profit margins of the developing world. To combat this obstacle, Govindarajan and Trimble promote “local growth teams,” which Murray describes as “small, cross-functional, entrepreneurial groups located in emerging markets” that can both effectively utilize advanced technologies and cater to local markets.

Indeed, finding a way to mitigate these barriers to innovation could greatly help developed countries address significant problems such as rising health care costs. Reverse Innocation authors use the example of Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital in India, which had benefited from “process innovation” – the key to lowering the cost of open-heart surgery to around $2000, about a tenth of what it costs in the U.S.


Posted by: Pokyee Yu

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Reverse Innovation

Photo Credit: Reverse Innovation. By Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble. 229 pages. Harvard Business Review Press. $30