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New CFR Ebook Evaluates U.S. Economic Competitiveness

February 1, 2016


February 1, 2016—In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said, “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” Some of Obama’s critics have countered that the United States’ standing in the world is slipping and that the country is losing out to rivals like China. So how does the United States actually measure up? 

A new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) ebook, How America Stacks Up: Economic Competitiveness and U.S. Policy, examines how the United States has responded to global economic competition and benchmarks the United States against other advanced economies. The ebook is an invaluable resource in the 2016 presidential election cycle for assessing the Obama administration’s economic legacy and looking at priorities for the next administration.

Clear infographic charts rate the United States against its competitors in eight areas: education, transportation, trade and investment, debt and deficits, worker retraining, corporate taxes, regulation, and innovation.

Renewing America Innovation Infographic 

Authors Edward Alden, CFR’s Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow, and Rebecca Strauss, Renewing America publications associate director, find that while the United States has lost ground in some areas, such as high school and college completion and financing transportation infrastructure, the country is well ahead of other advanced economies in other areas such as technology innovation.

“Government policies that help build on those strengths while addressing some of the growing weaknesses are needed to ensure that the United States becomes a more competitive economy and continues to create the prosperity at home that allows for a robust national defense and an outward-looking, engaged foreign policy,” write Alden and Strauss.

The ebook is available on most devices. Download a copy of How America Stacks Up: Economic Competitiveness and U.S. Policy at

CFR’s Renewing America initiative generates policy recommendations on revitalizing the U.S. economy and replenishing the sources of American power abroad. Scorecards provide analysis and infographics assessing policy developments and U.S. performance in such areas as infrastructure, education, international trade, and government deficits. The initiative is supported in part by a generous grant from the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation.

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