from Renewing America

Morning Brief: Could Japan Join TPP Trade Talks?

Newly produced trucks are seen at an industrial port before they are loaded onto a cargo ship in Yokohama, Japan (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters).

August 30, 2012

Newly produced trucks are seen at an industrial port before they are loaded onto a cargo ship in Yokohama, Japan (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Courtesy Reuters).
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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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This report from the bipartisan Congressional Research Service analyzes Japan’s possible entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a potential regional free trade area, and the implications. TPP participation is under debate in Japan, with opposition from agriculture and others with vested interests. The United States has said it will support Japan's entry if Tokyo lowers restrictions on beef imports, increases access to its car market, and reduces preferential treatment for Japan Post’s express delivery and insurance businesses.

In this Policy Innovation Memorandum, CFR Senior Fellow Thomas J. Bollyky describes regulatory reforms the United States should make to ease trade flows, including international standards in food, drug and biotech, and pursuing trade talks such as TPP.

International trade and investment. Read more from leading analysts on the debate over next steps in U.S. trade policy.

Debt and Deficits

Central Falls Prepares to Exit Muni Bankruptcy

Rhode Island’s smallest city, Central Falls, expects to successfully exit a 13-month municipal bankruptcy soon (Bloomberg). The state-appointed reviewer said "there are great lessons to be learned here.  [Chapter 9 bankruptcy] can be effectively utilized to fix what appeared to be a broken city." While the state provided $2.6 million to cushion city workers’ pension cuts, the cuts will be hard on many. One former fire department battalion chief said: "I will never be able to retire because they had to protect their precious bond rating."

Two state’s efforts to prevent municipal bankruptcies were subjects of Policy Initiative Spotlights: North Carolina’s Local Government Commission and Michigan’s Fiscal Accountability Act.

Debt and deficits. Read more from experts on the challenges in reducing U.S. debt.

Education and Human Capital

Pursuing an Effective Model for Online Higher Ed

Online college courses promise to remove barriers to high quality courses, but concerns remain about the depth of instruction and the lack of a revenue model ( While accreditation may remain a challenge, the possibilities for cheaply expanding human capital are tantalizing: "This could enable a wave of innovation because amazing talents can be found anywhere. Maybe the next Albert Einstein, or the next Steve Jobs, is living in a remote village in Africa," said Coursea’s co-founder, Daphne Koller.

The recent expansion of free, online university education by several elite U.S. institutions was the subject of a recent Policy Innovation Spotlight by Renewing America contributor Steve J. Markovich, who examined these initiatives and argued they hold potential to control costs for students while multiplying the impact of America’s universities.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.

Corporate Regulation and Taxation

Wall Street Wants Dodd-Frank Reformed, Not Repealed

While bank executives believe the Dodd-Frank financial oversight reform act overreached in the Volcker Rule and in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, most prefer reform over repeal (Bloomberg). "There’s this perception that banks hate everything in Dodd-Frank, and that’s just not true," said a former top Republican aide on the Senate Banking Committee. "From a bank’s perspective, you’d rather have piecemeal reform of Dodd-Frank, not only because there are things in the law you want to keep, but also because you’re going to have more control over the process."

The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act—one of the most significant regulatory reform measures since the Great Depression—continues to arouse debate over its methods, goals, and implementation. This Backgrounder by Steven J. Markovich examines the financial oversight bill.

Corporate regulation and taxation. Read more from top economists and business experts on solutions for addressing corporate tax reform.


Raising a Bridge

The Port Authority of New York plans to raise the road deck of the Bayonne Bridge to open area ports to large container ships (Star-Ledger). To accelerate development, the Port Authority decided to develop its construction design and plans in-house—with some assistance from consultants—instead of contracting the project out. Rather than building a new bridge, a higher road deck will be build for the existing bridge, and the bridge will remain open during construction.

The first Renewing America Progress Report and Infographic Scorecard, provides a critical assessment of federal transportation policy, including a description of major policy initiatives and important steps policy makers must take to revitalize critical infrastructure.

Infrastructure. Read more on how upgrading the nation’s aging network of roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness.

The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.

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