Major North American industrial firms Caterpillar and Eaton (FT) have strong expectations for market growth in the United States despite recent warnings from the IMF of a global economic slowdown. Caterpillar anticipates real U.S. construction spending to rise for the first time since 2004, while Eaton says the growth of its U.S. market will outpace the rest of the world for the first time since the mid-2000s.
Hopes of High-Speed Rail
The White House would still like to connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail by 2036, says Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, despite a number of political setbacks including halted projects in Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio. However, he's doubtful Congress will be able to compromise on a surface transportation bill this year (TN).
Infrastructure. Upgrading the nation's aging network of roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems as well as infrastructure related to energy security is seen as essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness. Experts at the forefront of policy discussions recommend how to pay for this.
Education and Human Capital
Youth Cites STEM Ed Problems
According to the annual Invention Index, a survey conducted by the Lemelson-MIT program, 60 percent of Americans between the ages 16 and 25 said there are reasons that could prevent them from pursuing an education or career in STEM fields. Respondents said that the education system needs to find creative new ways to encourage young people to keep studying science and engineering.
A new report from the Center on Education Policy says that states view the new set of student learning standards as more rigorous than previous years, and do not expect to implement them until the 2014-15 school year or later. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia apply the core set of standards in English language arts and mathematics.
Education and human capital. An education system beset by falling student performance and a flawed immigration system threaten U.S. capacity to develop a competitive workforce. Experts spell out ways of improving education and immigration policies.
Corporate Regulation and Taxation
Pitching Corporate Tax Reform to Progressives
Writing for the New America Foundation, Bruce Stokes urges progressives to consider corporate tax reform a potential "cornerstone of their economic agenda in the 2012 election campaign." Reforming both tax rates and loopholes, he says, should be done with a focus on leveling the international playing field. Currently, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate among major economies at 39 percent.
Corporate regulation and taxation. Regulatory burdens, offshore employment, and tax-shelter abuses have fed debate over the scope of rules for U.S.-based businesses. Top economists and business experts offer solutions for addressing corporate taxes.
International Trade and Investment
Denizens of Davos Eye China
At the World Economic Forum, Chinese foreign investment has drawn the increasing attention of international financial leaders as they discuss a potential cure for the ailing global economy (MNet). China's economic power, while viewed by some governments as a boon in sustaining global growth, is perceived by others as opaque and exploitative.
China remains the primary source for counterfeit and pirated goods seized by U.S. customs officials, according to a new DHS report, representing 62 percent or $124.7 million of total seizures. The total number of seizures climbed to 24,792 in FY 2011, a 24 percent increase from 2010.
International trade and investment. Some policymakers say trade deals offer unfair advantages to foreign firms but others see free trade as a way to spur economic growth and job creation. Leading analysts examine the debate over next steps in U.S. trade policy.