Mark Muro

Though Washington can’t seem to get enough of it, the debt and deficits fixation continues to feel pretty theatrical. Far scarier, by contrast, is the state of the economy. Notwithstanding some positive signs in the housing and construction sectors, the drifting economy remains troubled. Real domestic product has been growing at tepid rates below 2 percent per year. Pay remains stagnant for most workers.

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Contrary to the claims of some politicians and pundits, we can’t cut our way to a strong economy. We need to get our fiscal house in order, to be sure. But we also need to invest in those key areas that can help boost the nation’s growth, which is still the best way to erase the debt. Which is why, in the midst of its fiscal struggles, Congress should move forward on the permanent authorization of a simpler and more generous research and experimentation (R&E) tax credit. Since 1981, the R&E tax credit has helped guard against one of the foremost enemies of innovation: underinvestment.

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As tax hikes and spending cuts loom, we at the Metro Program will continue to harp on the need also to renew the economy. Put simply, U.S.

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With the 2012 election completed Washington faces a daunting overhang of substantial economic, fiscal, and governance problems. Reform must begin now.  Yet from where will the impetus for progress come? In a different era, the federal government might have launched decisive initiatives on its own to restructure the economy, address the budget, and renew governance.

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So, what’s next? As the fever pitch of the presidential campaign subsides, many Americans are wondering just that—and often with a lot of pessimism. Unemployment still hovers near 8  percent. The federal deficit stands at over $1.1 trillion. The fiscal cliff yawns and after that, the potential for another debt ceiling standoff. Partisan rancor, moreover, convulses an increasingly outmoded federal enterprise. Much, much work needs to be done. And yet, not everything is bleak.

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with Ken Berlin* With Washington mired in unproductive argument this fall, it’s a great time to look elsewhere in America for smart, constructive problem-solving. Specifically, it’s a great time--in the realm of energy policy--to look at what’s going on in U.S.

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My colleague Jonathan Rothwell already reviewed economist Enrico Moretti’s wonderful book, “The New Geography of Jobs,” but I wanted to jump in to highlight one particularly important point among the many Moretti makes.

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Hubs and clusters, institutes and ecosystems: In recent years, we and others have talked a lot about the morphology of innovation systems, which are frequently anchored by major centers of research and comprised of related regional groups of entrepreneurs, orbiting firms, industry actors, and educational institutions. Strengthening that optimal structure was the idea behind our companion proposals for the creation of a network of regional energy discovery-innovation institutes and the establishment of a program to aid and abet nascent clusters with competitive grants.

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The nation is headed for a large scale cleantech subsidy pull-back, so it was gratifying to see our work on that and energy innovation referenced in David Leonhardt’s surprisingly optimistic essay on climate change mitigation in yesterday’s New York Times. The piece provided a refreshing counterpoint to the gloom many in the climate community are feeling this summer given political gridlock, the summer’s insane weather, and the steady flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. According to Leonhardt, an investment-oriented, technology-driven push toward climate sanity is beginning to emerge a

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For three years now the Mountain Monitor—Brookings Mountain West’s Mountain Zone variant of Brookings’ MetroMonitor—has been tracking the region’s protracted, in-most-places anemic, economic recovery. Quarter-to-quarter, the Monitor has reported on a slow healing of the region’s metropolitan economies that has differed starkly from the region’s past boom-bust cycles. Now, though, that reporting is continuing, albeit in a new, web-based interactive tool presenting data through the first quarter of 2012.  The new web-based tool provides not only a more interactive way to track trends in U.S.

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