Economy

Can Trump Harness the Private Sector to Stop Violent Extremism?

Eric Rosand and Alistair Millar: “Donald Trump campaigned on the promise that he would use his legendary business experience to solve the most pressing problems facing the United States and its interests abroad; stocking his cabinet with CEOs from corporate America has only raised expectations that he can deliver on this promise. As commander-in-chief, how will President Trump use his commercial know-how to tackle the problem of violent extremism? Will he—complemented by the wealthiest, most pro-business cabinet in U.S. history—do what his predecessors have failed to do and get the private sector to really step up?”

The Places in America Most Vulnerable to a Trade War

Washington Post: “The effect of a trade war on U.S. communities could be significant and widespread, according to research from the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. Nearly 6 million U.S. jobs are directly tied to exports. Another 6 million are indirectly tied to trade — for example, the driver who transports a truck load of widgets to the port.”

“The Brookings data ranks the cities that are most dependent on exports and with the most export-related jobs. Small Midwestern cities that export auto parts and other manufactured goods appear high on the list, as do coastal cities that export chemicals and petroleum byproducts.”

Is the U.S. Economy Too Dynamic, or Not Dynamic Enough?

New York Times: “The economy has become too volatile and uncertain. Perhaps the dissatisfaction is driven by globalization, automation and the decline of employers’ implicit promises to offer workers jobs through thick and thin. These factors have made it harder for people to get good-paying jobs and to hold onto them for decades. High levels of inequality mean many of the benefits of growth don’t accrue for people at the middle and bottom of the pay scale.”

“Robert Johnson, the president of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, argues that the cumulative impact of rapid technological change and shifts in work can have downsides that economists should try to account for more rigorously… In short, one could summarize this set of complaints as the economy’s having become too dynamic for its own good.”

“But a different line of research offers an alternate theory.”

“A new report from the Economic Innovation Group, a research outfit funded largely by technology executives, suggests that the real problem isn’t too much dynamism but too little. The authors describe trends that have blocked the formation of new businesses and jobs and that are having a stultifying effect on the economy.”

School Gun Violence Is Linked to Economic Insecurity

“Episodes of gun violence at America’s schools are both heartbreaking and disturbingly frequent, but the circumstances that inspire them remain elusive. A new Northwestern University study comes up with at least a partial answer,” Tom Jacobs writes for Pacific Standard.

“It finds such incidents are more common during periods of high unemployment. During an economic downturn, the assumption that a diploma leads to a good job is revealed as false (at least for the moment), leading to frustration, disillusionment, and, sometimes, violence.”

U.S. May Export More Oil in 2017 Than Four OPEC Nations Produce

Bloomberg: “U.S. crude exports are poised to surpass production in four OPEC nations in 2017 and may grow even more if President Donald Trump honors pledges to ease drilling restrictions and maximize output.”

“The world’s largest oil-consuming country could sell as much as 800,000 barrels a day of crude overseas this year, according to four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That’s more than OPEC producers Libya, Qatar, Ecuador and Gabon each pumped in December. The U.S. exported 527,000 barrels a day in the first 11 months of 2016, Energy Information Administration data show.”

Stability Is Good for Business. Trump’s Whims Threaten It.

Matt Levine: “This is a widespread pattern. Many people in the business and financial and technology communities listened to what Trump said and cheerily assumed he’d do something completely different. Sure, he talked about restricting trade and banning Muslim immigrants, but what they heard was that he’d enact ‘sensible immigration policy’ and pro-growth trade agreements, reduce taxes, cut back regulation, and generally improve conditions for business. In the runup to the presidential election, billionaire Peter Thiel and other Trump supporters said the candidate should be taken ‘seriously but not literally.’ As I wrote in my Bloomberg View column, taking Trump literally means believing that he’ll do what he says; taking him seriously means believing that he’ll do what you want.”

“The reason the U.S. is a good place to do business is that, for the past two centuries, it’s built a firm foundation on the rule of law. President Trump almost undid that in a weekend. That’s bad for business.”

Solar Employs More People In U.S. Electricity Generation Than Oil, Coal And Gas Combined

Forbes: “In the United States, more people were employed in solar power last year than in generating electricity through coal, gas and oil energy combined. According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Energy, solar power employed 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation sector’s workforce in 2016, while fossil fuels combined accounted for just 22 percent.”

“Just under 374,000 people were employed in solar energy, according to the report, while coal, gas and oil power generation combined had a workforce of slightly more than 187,000. The boom in the country’s solar workforce can be attributed to construction work associated with expanding generation capacity.”

Trump’s Ban Isn’t Just Inhumane—It’ll Make America Dumber 

Emily Dreyfuss: “Universities and colleges across the US have come out in condemnation of Trump’s ban because of this threatened brain drain, from Harvard to the University of California. Former Republican governor of Indiana Mitch Daniels, now the president of Purdue University wrote: ‘The President’s order related to immigration is a bad idea, poorly implemented, and I hope that he will promptly revoke and rethink it.'”

“Reza Kahlor, a green card-holder, is an Iranian scientist at Harvard who before this week was deciding between applying for professorships at top US universities or starting a company in Boston based on his biological discoveries. But if this ban restricts his ability to travel, he says he’d maybe rethink and go to Germany, or France, or Canada. That would be one less entrepreneur the US gets to claim as its own, one less potential discovery that could turn into an industry-changing technology that could generate jobs.”

Quartz: Graduate Schools Will Be Hardest Hit by Trump’s Immigration Ban

If Trump Gets His 20% Tax on Mexican Imports, These Are the US Household Staples That Will Be Hardest Hit

Quartz: “The Trump administration has today suggested it would force Mexico to pay for the wall by implementing a 20% tax on all Mexican imports. Such a move by the White House—which isn’t allowed—would hit Americans hard in their grocery carts.”

“It would be difficult for Republicans to engineer a situation in which food companies would not pass the extra cost of doing business to consumers. There isn’t an easy replacement source for these foods, as in many cases Mexico is by far America’s biggest supplier. Over time, the US has grown more dependent on Mexican imports of fresh produce, which rose by 264% between 1999 and 2014.”

Trump Could Really Mess Up Mexico’s Economy

“Remittances, however, are just the beginning of the risk Trump’s presidency could pose to the Mexican economy. If he follows through on his proposed policies, Trump could change the calculus for doing business in Mexico, and thus endanger the economic prospects of the whole country,” Lucia He writes for FiveThirtyEight.

“Among his proposed policies, Trump has threatened to renegotiate or completely withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and impose a 35 percent tax on businesses that ship goods to the U.S. after relocating out of the country. Either policy could be devastating for the Mexican economy.”

How to Make America’s Robots Great Again

Farhad Manjoo: “In 2013, China became the world’s largest market for industrial robots, according to the International Federation of Robotics, an industry trade group. Now China is working on another big goal: to become the largest producer of robots used for factories, agriculture and a range of other applications. Robotics industry experts said that goal could be a decade away, but they see few impediments to China’s eventual dominance.”

“There’s a way to address this problem, but it’s politically perilous: The United States should invest in robots.”

“If we don’t, robot scholars said the president’s plans for a resurgence in manufacturing could backfire. Today, we buy a lot of stuff made in China by Chinese people. Tomorrow, we’ll buy stuff made in America — by Chinese robots.”

Will Trump Go After NAFTA With Tweezers or a Hammer? 

Neil Irwin: “Trade experts say there really is room to make major change in the two-decade-old agreement. A renegotiation could well lead to a better deal for all three countries. But it will require the United States to make concessions that the Trump administration may be wary of offering.”

“If not approached carefully, revamping an agreement that has created the economic underpinning of major industries would risk American jobs as well as higher prices for consumers. And the closer the Trump administration gets to blowing up the deal, the larger those risks loom.”