Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Amid sluggish growth and high unemployment, the economy has emerged as the central issue of the 2012 presidential campaign, as the candidates debate the role of government in jumpstarting the economy and creating jobs.

See more in Elections; United States

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney accuse China of currency manipulation and unfair trade practices and support an expanded U.S. presence in Asia, but Romney dismisses the president's efforts as inadequate.

See more in Elections; United States

President Obama is generally supportive of the UN mission while raising questions about its effectiveness, but GOP candidate Mitt Romney is harshly critical of the organization.

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President Obama has expanded sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear ambitions while making attempts to engage with it, but Mitt Romney has criticized the engagement policy as weak.

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Author: Steven J. Markovich

Income inequality is generating high-level attention and debate in the United States, but the causes are complex and the policy remedies so far are modest, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Poverty

Renewing America

Renewing America

The Dodd-Frank Act

Author: Steven J. Markovich

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank"), signed into law in July 2010, is one of the most significant regulatory reform measures since the Great Depression.

See more in United States; Financial Regulation

Author: Steven J. Markovich

In the face of persistently high unemployment, policymakers and workers look to innovation and entrepreneurship to create new jobs. This Backgrounder discusses how entrepreneurs create and finance the startups that power U.S. job growth, and the ramifications of policies such as the JOBS Act.

See more in United States; Entrepreneurship; Financial Markets

Campaign 2012

Campaign 2012

U.S. Trade Policy

Authors: Christopher Alessi and Robert McMahon

Trade accounts for an increasing portion of the U.S. economy, and the Obama administration has embraced a ramped up export strategy. But debate persists over the merits of a vigorous free trade agenda.

See more in United States; Trade

Renewing America

Renewing America

U.S. Rail Infrastructure

Author: Elizabeth Dovell

Rail infrastructure is a critical component of a transportation network capable of helping the United States compete in global markets. Efforts to expand and modernize U.S. rail, particularly to include high-speed trains, are under debate as lawmakers weigh costs and benefits.

See more in Infrastructure; United States