Department of Commerce

More On Syria, If You Can Stand It
April 29, 2010

This is real inside stuff. No commentary from me. Except to say that this is more proof that American diplomacy is going nowhere.

Reshaping Clusters COMPETES
April 27, 2010

Yesterday, we welcomed the arrival of a clusters-based regional innovation program in H.R. 5116, the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. This development is great news--America’s signal piece of innovation legislation has now been made to recognize the essential role of regional networks in maximizing U.S. competitiveness. Following the proposals of our 2008 clusters policy paper, the act may soon gain a two-pronged cluster effort--grants to local cluster initiatives and a cluster research and information program.

Clusters COMPETE
April 26, 2010

For years now we and many others (ranging from the Harvard strategy guru Michael Porter, the Council on Competitiveness, and innovation scholar Rob Atkinson to the National Governor’s Association, the Rural Policy Institute, Stu Rosenfeld, the National Academies, and the Center for American Progress) have been urging that greater attention be paid to the crucial role that regional industry or “innovation” clusters can play in enhancing economic performance. The U.S., we have pointed out, lags other nations in fostering these distributed, “bottom-up” systems of business development, innovation,

Who Are America's Exporters?
April 14, 2010

In this year’s State of the Union, President Obama made one of his goals the doubling of US exports in five years. The president launched the National Export Initiative in March 2010 at the Export-Import Bank’s Annual Conference. This export promotion policy is focused on increased trade financing, advocacy, and assistance for American businesses, especially small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) interested in expanding their markets abroad. The latest profile of the U.S. exporting companies released this week by the Department of Commerce shows the landscape of U.S. exporters. U.S.

Energy Hubs + Regionalism = A New Vision for Innovation
February 16, 2010

Add energy research to the list of arenas in which Team Obama has recognized the power of regional economies to deliver innovation as well as economic growth. On Friday, the Obama administration announced that no less than seven federal agencies were issuing a combined funding opportunity announcement of up to $130 million over five years to turn one of the Department of Energy’s energy innovation hubs into true a regional innovation center. Centered on the second of DOE’s three energy research hubs, the new Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) initiative is noteworthy because it shows t

A New Day for Export Initiatives in the 2011 Budget?
February 08, 2010

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the creation of a “National Export Initiative,” as part of an ambitious goal of doubling exports in five years. (The real value of exports typically double every 13 years, and a five-year doubling hasn’t happened since the years immediately following World War II, an anomalous period to be sure).

Budget 2011: Driving Innovation Despite the Budget Cap
February 05, 2010

President Obama’s pledge to cap domestic non-defense spending in the FY 2011 budget did not mandate an across-the-board freeze, and nowhere is that fact more welcome than in the area of innovation investments. In lean times the new budget strongly favors basic science and applied research. Because it does, the budget represents an important step toward delivering on Obama’s signal commitment last spring to boost U.S.

Budget 2011: Industry Clusters as a Paradigm for Job Growth
February 02, 2010

From its opening pages, the Obama administration’s FY2011 budget request adopts a stance that pervades this blog. Declares the document: “We need to recognize that competitive, high-performing regional economies are essential to a strong national economy.” (See page 20 of the federal budget.) In line with this recognition, the new budget unveils not one, but several proposals to support regional industry or innovation “clusters” through multiple federal departments. Clusters, as we have noted previously, are a fundamental fact of national economies, and a critical enhancer of regional economi

Do We Even Have a Manufacturing Problem?
December 21, 2009

Matt Yglesias, among others, responds to my piece from Friday about the long-term decline in U.S. managers' competence when it comes to running manufacturing firms by questioning a basic premise of the piece: whether U.S.

Yes, Inequality Really Is Getting A Lot Worse
December 14, 2009

Libertarians and others from the right-ish side of the ideological spectrum have lately been building a compelling case against worrying about income inequality. Here's Will Wilkinson writing on Cato Unbound in October: As far as I can tell, when most people are worried about economic inequality, they’re usually worried about inequalities in real standards of living — in the real material conditions of life. Income plays a crucial role in this story, but it’s a supporting role.