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Edward Alden

Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow

Expertise

U.S. economic competitiveness; U.S. trade policy; visa and immigration policy.

Bio

Edward Alden is the Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), specializing in U.S. economic competitiveness. In addition, Mr. Alden is the director of the CFR Renewing America publication series and co-author of the recent CFR Working Paper Managing Illegal Immigration to the United States. The former Washington bureau chief of the Financial Times, his work focuses on immigration and visa policy, and on U.S. trade and international economic policy.

Mr. Alden was the project co-director of the 2011 Independent Task Force on U.S. Trade and Investment Policy, which was co-chaired by former White House chief of staff Andrew Card and former Senate majority leader Thomas Daschle. He was also the project director for the 2009 Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy.

Mr. Alden is the author of the book The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11 (HarperCollins), which was named a 2009 finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for nonfiction writing. The judges called it "a masterful job of comprehensive reporting, fair-minded analysis, and structurally sound argumentation." His forthcoming book, Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy, and How to Get Ahead, focuses on the federal government’s failure to respond effectively to the competitive challenges on issues as trade, currency, worker re-training, education, infrastructure and support for innovation.

Mr. Alden was previously the Canadian bureau chief for the Financial Times based in Toronto, and before that was a reporter at the Vancouver Sun specializing in labor and employment issues. He also was the managing editor of the newsletter Inside U.S. Trade, widely recognized as the leading source of reporting on U.S. trade policies. He has won several national and international awards for his reporting. Mr. Alden has done numerous TV and radio appearances as an analyst on political and economic issues, including NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, McLaughlin Group, NPR, the BBC, CNN, and MSNBC. His work has also appeared in Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, the Japan Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Toronto Globe and Mail. He is the coauthor, with Franz Schurmann, of Democratic Politics and World Order, a monograph published by Berkeley's Institute of International Studies in 1990.

Mr. Alden holds a master's degree in international relations from the University of California, Berkeley, and pursued doctoral studies before returning to a journalism career. He also has a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of British Columbia. He was the winner of numerous academic awards, including a Mellon fellowship in the humanities and a MacArthur Foundation graduate fellowship.

Restoring America's Economic Competitiveness

Over the past half century, the United States has gone from being a relatively self-sufficient economy to one that is far more deeply integrated into the global economy. That transformation means that the prosperity and ultimately the security of the United States now depends far more on America's success in global markets. Yet government policy, especially at the federal level, has not adapted well to this new reality. In my forthcoming book, Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy, and How to Get Ahead, I argue that the federal government has repeatedly failed to respond effectively to the competitive challenges of this new era on such issues as trade, currency, worker re-training, education, infrastructure and support for innovation. I am also pursuing these topics through the Renewing America Publication Series, which includes policy papers and progress reports on critical issues related to the competitiveness of the U.S. economy, blog posts, and a roundtable series on American competitiveness.

This project is made possible through the support of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation.

Immigration Reform: Prospects and Challenges

The U.S. government has tried and failed over the past decade to reform its outdated and ineffective policies on immigration. The current system, based largely on a law passed by Congress in 1965, fails to attract immigrants needed by the U.S. economy and is ineffective at discouraging unauthorized immigration. Beginning with my book The Closing of the American Border on how the September 11 attacks affected U.S. immigration policies and continuing through the Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy, for which I was the project director, I have been examining the substantive challenges of creating an immigration system that boosts the U.S. economy while securing its borders. One critical piece of that challenge is better data and research that improves the measurement of enforcement effectiveness, and enhances public understanding of what enforcement can and cannot do to prevent unauthorized immigration. My work on immigration includes a recent CFR Working Paper on border enforcement, speeches, articles and congressional testimony related to immigration reform, as well as a roundtable series on U.S. immigration and visa policies.

This project is made possible through the support of the Bernard and Irene Schwartz Foundation.

Featured Publications

All Publications

Article Author: Edward Alden
Nikkei Asian Review

The government of India filed suit on March 3 in the World Trade Organization (WTO) seeking to overturn a new U.S. tax on high-skilled migrants that India says discriminates against its citizens and would damage some of its most successful companies. The case marks the first time that a country's immigration laws have been challenged using the rules of a trade agreement, writes CFR’s Edward Alden.

See more in India; United States; Trade; International Organizations and Alliances

Book

How America Stacks Up

Authors: Edward Alden and Rebecca Strauss

The line between domestic economic policy and foreign economic policy is now almost invisible, and getting these policies right matters for more than just U.S. living standards. Through insightful analysis and engaging graphics, How America Stacks Up outlines the challenges faced by the United States and prescribes solutions that will ensure a healthy, competitive U.S. economy for years to come.

See more in United States; Competitiveness; Innovation

Other Report Authors: Edward Alden and Rebecca Strauss

The United States leads the world in combining innovation quality and quantity, but the challenges are growing, particularly when it comes to scientific research. Addressing gaps in U.S. innovation policy could help ensure that the United States remains the leading innovation center for decades to come. 

See more in United States; Innovation; Competitiveness

Other Report Authors: Edward Alden and Rebecca Strauss

A decade ago the United States had the lowest share of long-term unemployed workers among developed nations. But today U.S. long-term unemployment levels are nearly as high as those in Europe, despite stronger overall U.S. economic performance. This Progress Report and Scorecard demonstrates that U.S. federal employment and training programs that assist job seekers do little to help the long-term unemployed prepare for different careers.

See more in United States; Labor; Education

Other Report Authors: Edward Alden and Rebecca Strauss

In the first installment of the Renewing America Progress Report and Scorecards, "Road to Nowhere: Federal Transportation Infrastructure Policy" provides a critical assessment of federal transportation policy, including background on major policy initiatives and analysis of what's needed to start moving forward.

See more in United States; Infrastructure

Other Report Authors: Edward Alden and Rebecca Strauss

The U.S. system for taxing corporate profits is outdated, ineffective at raising revenue, and creates perverse incentives for companies to shelter profits overseas. It is also, for most U.S. companies most of the time, a pretty good deal, which is one of the big reasons why any serious overhaul will be so difficult to achieve.

See more in United States; Tax Policy

Other Report Authors: Edward Alden and Rebecca Strauss

The United States used to be the trailblazer in regulatory reform. But the rest of the rich world has caught up. This Progress Report and Scorecard from the Renewing America initiative outlines the current state of federal regulation in the United States and charts ways the U.S. regulatory management system could be improved.

See more in United States; Corporate Regulation

Article

The TPP Is the Last, Best Opportunity for New Global Trade Rules

Author: Edward Alden
World Politics Review

There is no other area of global governance—not climate change, not management of the oceans, not monetary policy, not peacekeeping—in which the nations of the world have agreed to cooperate more closely than on the rules governing international trade. But over the past half-century, each step toward greater trade cooperation has been a bit harder than the last.

See more in Global; Treaties and Agreements

News Release

U.S. Must Invest in Scientific Research to Keep Innovation Edge, According to New CFR Report

Authors: Edward Alden and Rebecca Strauss

Although the United States leads the world in technology innovation, it may fall behind if the government does not address emerging gaps in innovation policy and invest more in scientific research, argues a new progress report and scorecard from the Council on Foreign Relations’ (CFR) Renewing America initiative. The report is authored by Renewing America Associate Director Rebecca Strauss and CFR Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow and Renewing America Director Edward Alden.

See more in United States; Innovation; Competitiveness

Article Authors: Edward Alden and Rebecca Strauss
Quartz

Management theorist Peter Drucker famously declared that companies must “innovate or die.” Washington today is full of similar warnings, based on the premise that the US is losing its innovation edge. The fear is that industrial and technological advancements in other countries—and in China in particular—threaten to leave us behind.

See more in United States; Competitiveness

Recent Activity from Renewing America

Press/Panels

Article

Don't Blame Nafta

In The New York Times, Edward Alden discusses the danger of making definite judgements about trade agreements.

Article

Can Congress Strike A Deal On Trade?

In his blog the Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan highlights Edward Alden's assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of opening the United States to more international trade.

Video Interview

Opinion: Rhetoric vs. Reality on Immigration

On the Wall Street Journal's "Market Watch," Edward Alden discusses the gap between rhetoric and reality in the current immigration debate and its role in the 2012 presidential election.

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Panel

Immigration Policy, Deportations, and National Security

At this Princeton University event, "Immigration Policy, Deportations and National Security," Edward Alden discusses the changed relationship between U.S. national and border security after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

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Panel

Panel on Border Security

At this National Journal Conference on Border Security panel, Edward Alden offers commentary on current security and trade issues associated with the U.S.-Canada border.

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Panel

In Search of Secure Borders

Edward Alden offers commentary on the fruitless and potentially harmful quest for a perfectly secure U.S. border as a panelist at the Center for American Progress event, "In Search of Secure Borders."

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