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New U.S. Department of Commerce Reports Demonstrate Exports Continue Helping Spur U.S. Economy and Supporting Jobs

September 8, 2014 Comments off

New U.S. Department of Commerce Reports Demonstrate Exports Continue Helping Spur U.S. Economy and Supporting Jobs
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce

The U.S. Department of Commerce today released new data highlighting for the first time the number of jobs supported by goods exports from each of the 50 states, as well as a report on goods exports from the nation’s 387 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) in 2013. The Commerce Department research shows that U.S. goods exports supported 7.1 million jobs whereas overall goods and services exports – which totaled $2.3 trillion — supported more than 11.3 million American jobs in 2013.

At the same time, U.S. metropolitan areas exported more than $1.4 trillion in goods to the world in 2013, accounting for nearly 90 percent of all U.S. goods exports. Texas exports supported more jobs – an estimated 1.1. million – than were supported by the exports from any other single state. Houston topped metropolitan area rankings for a second consecutive year with $115 billion in goods exports.

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Portfolio Assessment of the Department of State Internet Freedom Program

September 5, 2014 Comments off

Portfolio Assessment of the Department of State Internet Freedom Program
Source: RAND Corporation

The struggle between those promoting Internet freedom and those trying to control and monitor the Internet is a fast-paced game of cat and mouse, and the DRL Internet freedom program seeks to fund projects that promote preserving the open character of the Internet. Employing portfolio analysis techniques, the authors assessed DRL’s Internet freedom portfolio for fiscal year 2012–2013. The assessment showed good alignment between the State Department’s strategy and the cumulative effect of the 18 funded projects. Additionally, the portfolio was assessed to be well balanced with an unrealized potential for supporting emergent State Department needs in enlarging political space within authoritarian regimes. The assessment revealed that the investment in developing Internet freedom capacity and capabilities would likely have residual value beyond the portfolio’s funded lifespan, with positive, but indirect, connections to civic freedom. Moreover, promoting Internet freedom appears to be a cost-imposing strategy that simultaneously aligns well with both U.S. values and interests, pressuring authoritarian rivals to either accept a free and open Internet or devote additional security resources to control or repress Internet activities. Finally, the authors determined that the value of such analysis is best realized over multiple stages of the portfolio’s lifecycle. Among the authors’ recommendations were for DRL to enhance the synergy within the portfolio and among its grantees and to maintain a relatively balanced Internet freedom strategy that includes projects working on access, anonymity, awareness, and advocacy.

CRS — Small Refineries and Oil Field Processors: Opportunities and Challenges (August 11, 2014)

September 4, 2014 Comments off

Small Refineries and Oil Field Processors: Opportunities and Challenges (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The last refinery constructed in the United States opened in 1977. Since the mid-1980s, some 150 have closed as part of an industry-wide consolidation. Over the same time, the remaining refineries expanded their operational capacity by 23% to keep up with increasing demand. Current U.S. refining capacity appears to satisfy if not exceed demand as the increasing export of refined petroleum products would seem to suggest. Notwithstanding the current surplus capacity, opportunities for new refineries appear to have emerged as the result of the rise in production of U.S. light-sweet crude oil from unconventional resources such as North Dakota’s Bakken and Texas’ Eagle Ford formations. These new resources have revitalized some refinery operations that formerly depended on imported light crude oil, thereby making the smaller refineries more competitive with large refineries that process more widely available heavy-sour crude oil. Rising domestic crude oil production has not only led U.S. refineries to export their petroleum products, but has led some oil producers to attempt to bypass refining and export crude oil condensates directly. However, Department of Commerce regulations currently restrict crude oil exports. Whether condensates fall under a refined product classification or crude oil remains an unresolved issue, and one that Congress may choose to take up. Congress may also consider whether small businesses face inherent disadvantages in entering an industry dominated by large complex refinery operators.

How Far Away Is a Single European Labor Market?

September 2, 2014 Comments off

How Far Away Is a Single European Labor Market? (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

A Single European Labor Market, particularly involving the free movement of workers within Europe, has been a goal of the European community since the 1950s. Whereas it may entail opportunities and drawbacks alike, the benefits – such as greater economic welfare for most citizens – are supposed to outweigh the losses. However, over fifty years after the aim was first established, a Single European Labor Market has not yet been achieved. This paper gives an overview of current European macroeconomic trends, with a particular focus on the Great Recession, and also explores the drivers of and obstacles to labor mobility. Complementarily, it analyzes the results of a unique opinion survey among labor market experts, as well as formulates policy recommendations to enhance mobility. The development of a Single European Labor Market is also discussed in relation to the German model.

New From the GAO

August 29, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Export-Import Bank: Monitoring of Dual-Use Exports Should Be Improved. GAO-14-719, August 28.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-719
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665477.pdf

The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations

August 29, 2014 Comments off

The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations
Source: Brookings Institution

This report uses a new database on foreign student visa approvals from 2001 to 2012 to analyze their distribution in the United States, finding that:

  • The number of foreign students on F-1 visas in U.S. colleges and universities grew dramatically from 110,000 in 2001 to 524,000 in 2012. The sharpest increases occurred among students from emerging economies such as China and Saudi Arabia. Foreigners studying for bachelor’s and master’s degrees and English language training accounted for most of the overall growth.
  • Foreign students are concentrated in U.S. metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, 85 percent of foreign students pursuing a bachelor’s degree or above attended colleges and universities in 118 metro areas that collectively accounted for 73 percent of U.S. higher education students. They contributed approximately $21.8 billion in tuition and $12.8 billion in other spending—representing a major services export—to those metropolitan economies over the five-year period.
  • Most foreign students come from large fast-growing cities in emerging markets. Ninety-four (94) foreign cities together accounted for more than half of all students on an F-1 visa between 2008 and 2012. Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai, Hyderabad and Riyadh are the five foreign cities that sent the most higher education students to the United States during that time.
  • Foreign students disproportionately study STEM and business fields. Two-thirds of foreign students pursuing a bachelor’s or higher degree are in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) or business, management and marketing fields, versus 48 percent of students in the United States. Both large (San Jose, Calif.) and small (Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas) metro areas figure among those with the highest shares of their foreign students in STEM disciplines.
  • Forty-five (45) percent of foreign student graduates extend their visas to work in the same metropolitan area as their college or university. Metro areas that retain high shares of their foreign graduates under the temporary Optional Practical Training (OPT) program tend to be either large diversified economies (e.g., New York, Los Angeles), or specialized labor markets that align closely with foreign graduates’ training (e.g., Honolulu, Seattle, Las Vegas).

CRS — Iran Sanctions (August 19, 2014)

August 28, 2014 Comments off

Iran Sanctions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Strict sanctions on Iran’s key energy and financial sectors harmed Iran’s economy. The economic pressure—coupled with the related June 14, 2013, election of the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president—contributed to Iran’s accepting a November 24, 2013, six-month interim agreement (“Joint Plan of Action,” JPA) that halts expansion of its nuclear program in exchange for modest sanctions relief. On July 18, 2014, the interim agreement was extended until November 24, 2014.

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