Race to Innovate

Competitiveness, Manufacturing, and Trade Policy Analysis

TVs

What’s the difference between an engineer and a half-priced TV?

President Obama’s recently announced immigration reforms, which in addition to offering deportation amnesty allow foreign graduates of U.S. universities to stay and work longer, are a step in the right direction for U.S. companies desperate for high-skilled workers with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills. However, despite overwhelming evidence of a STEM shortage, Hal Salzman, a Research Associate with the Economic Policy Institute,once again claims that workers are available if companies are only willing to pay for them, stating “[Companies] may not be able to find [high-skilled workers] at the price they want. But I’m not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV.”

After reading this, I was able to come up with a few reasons why engineers are not comparable to half-priced TVs, why this analogy falls apart, and one very important similarity which Salzman’s argument overlooks.

First, while the hypothetical TV was half-priced, companies are already paying top dollar for skilled workers. STEM workers earn twice the national average, with a median wage of $78,270 in 2012.

Second, TVs, as consumer goods, are usually not essential. … Read the rest

union-jack

Preempting International Harmony: The New British Tax on Overseas Profits

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom announced a new “diverted profits” tax on the profits of foreign companies operating in the United Kingdom. The government’s parliamentary majority will allow the government to implement the tax with few delays. Doing so would be a mistake, however. Although the new tax tries to address a real problem with the implementation of corporate taxes in the modern economy, a new international process led by the OECD already exists to deal with exactly this kind of issue. The effort recently issued a series of major reports and is scheduled to make final recommendations next year. The British government should delay implementation of its new tax so that it can act within a multilateral context designed to deal with the larger issues involved.

The issue of tax competition, like that of inversions, has become confused recently, with both legitimate and illegitimate activity getting thrown into the same category. Despite the unease of some countries, there is nothing illegitimate about a sovereign country lowering its corporate tax rate in order to attract foreign companies. It is immaterial whether in doing so they reduce the size of … Read the rest

canada

New Evidence from Canada: Tax Policy Does Affect Research Spending

In a new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, three economists study the effect of a recent change in Canada’s research and development (R&D) tax credit on subsequent spending by small companies. The question is especially interesting because small firms may lack sophisticated tax advisors, earn few profits and thus have a lower tax liability against which to deduct tax credits, and have a harder time financing the fixed costs that come with additional research.

In “Do Tax Credits Affect R&D Expenditures for Small Firms? Evidence from Canada,” the authors find that firms that qualified for a larger tax credit did spend more on R&D in the following years compared to firms of similar income whose tax situation did not change. They also find evidence that the refundable nature of the credit made a significant difference.

According to the paper, Canadian tax law allows all countries to deduct 100 percent of research performed in Canada from their taxable income. It also provides all firms with a non-refundable tax credit of 20 percent of qualifying expenditures. However, for small- and medium-size companies (determined by the previous … Read the rest

tina-fey-amy-poehler

Piracy is Unstoppable (Like MySpace)

On Tuesday, Swedish officials shutdown the notorious illegal file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, striking a serious blow against the content thieves that have sucked millions of dollars out of the U.S. economy. Rushing to defend The Pirate Bay, however, was Caitlin Dewey, a blogger at the Washington Post focusing on Internet and digital culture. On her the blog The Intersect, she wrote an article alleging that the removal of The Pirate Bay from the Internet will do nothing to stem the rise of online piracy. Indeed, she argues that The Pirate Bay, “has done something a bit more significant, and a bit more permanent, too: It’s made digital piracy a casual, inarguable part of the mainstream.”

First, her argument that because piracy is common today, it will be common tomorrow reflects a surprisingly poor understanding of the history of the Internet (especially for a tech blogger). If there is one lesson from the Internet economy it is that nothing is permanent. This applies not only to website like MySpace, but also online behavior: how often are you instant messaging these days?

Second, by alleging that piracy is an inevitable part … Read the rest

exim

Think the Trade Deficit Couldn’t Get Any Worse? Think Again

For a country that has not run a trade surplus since Gerald Ford was in office 40 years ago, the United States is surprisingly optimistic in its widespread belief that the trade deficit is going to eventually correct itself. After all, as tidy macroeconomic models of international trade show, a nation’s trade deficit should lower the value of its currency, lowering the cost of exports and raising  the cost of imports, thereby gradually reversing the deficit. After all, the models show that in the long term, current accounts must balance.

As Martin Feldstein, former Chairman of the Reagan administration Council of Economic Advisors, predicts:

“The United States cannot continue to have annual trade deficits of more than $100 billion, financed by an ever-increasing inflow of foreign capital. The U.S. trade deficit will therefore soon have to shrink and, as it does, the other countries of the world will experience a corresponding reduction in their trade surpluses. Indeed, within the next decade the United States will undoubtedly exchange its trade deficit for a trade surplus.”

Unfortunately, Feldstein wrote this in 1987.

Far from his predictions coming true, the U.S. trade … Read the rest

the-mindy-project-2-main

Newsflash: You Don’t Have to Pirate Content

Today, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) launched its innovative new Website: WheretoWatch.com (WTW).  The search engine is a simple way for consumers to find all the movies and television they are interested in viewing — from new episodes of The Mindy Project to classics like Casablanca and even Oscar contenders still in theaters, such as The Theory of Everything. Indeed WTW allows consumers to:

  • Search for movie/TV show availability on digital downloading sites, streaming sites or in stores;
  • Find theater times and locations for every newly released movies nearby;
  • Receive notifications when the content they are interested in becomes available from their favorite providers.

The site works by aggregating content from a range of outlets, including Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, Xbox and smaller indie sites such as Snag Films and WolfeOnDemand. By simplifying the search process, consumers will be able to find exactly what they are looking for exactly when they want it: it marries accessibility to content for customers with protection of the intellectual property for creators of the content.

Even more importantly, however, WTW reaffirms the commitment that Hollywood is making toward more legally available content. … Read the rest

india-flag

Hallelujah, Forward Progress on Trade Facilitation

This afternoon, the United States and India resolved their differences over New Delhi’s insistence for an interim mechanism for public stockholding programs for food security to continue until members reach a permanent solution – paving the way for breaking the impasse over implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The TFA seeks to create binding commitments across 159(+) WTO Members to:  1) expedite the movement, release and clearance of goods; 2) improve cooperation among WTO Members on customs matters; and 3) help developing countries fully implement these obligations. In addition, the agreement promises to increase customs efficiency and effective collection of revenue, and help small businesses access new export opportunities through measures like transparency in customs practices, reduction of documentary requirements, and processing of documents before goods arrive.

Consequently, the TFA’s potential impact on facilitating global trade should not be overlooked. One study estimated the TFA could increase global output by about $1 trillion, while adding as many as 21 million new jobs, most of which would have flowed to developing nations such as India. The OECD estimated that it would cut global trade … Read the rest

trade

Trade Promotion Authority A Vital Component of U.S. Trade Policy

On Wednesday, October 29, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation hosted an event exploring whether the United States needs a new approach to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which featured keynote remarks from U.S. Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) and remarks from former Congressman Phil English, now Senior Government Relations Advisor at Arent Fox; former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro; Grant Aldonas, Principal Managing Director, Split Rock International; and Tim Keeler, a Partner at Mayer Brown.

ITIF believes that Trade Promotion Authority plays an important role in enabling the United States to pursue 21st century trade agreements—such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)—that support and create U.S. jobs while helping American manufacturers and service providers increase U.S. exports and compete in a highly competitive, globalized economy.

These next-generation trade agreements matter particularly because, as an economy, U.S. comparative advantage increasingly lies in innovation-based industries—such as life sciences, information and communications technologies (ICT), digital services, music and film, aerospace, advanced manufacturing, etc.—and these agreements are being intentionally designed to ensure that America’s innovation-based enterprises can fairly compete and thrive in global markets.

They do so … Read the rest

much ado

WikiLeaks-leaked TPP IP Chapter Much Ado About Nothing

Over the past week, critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement—a free trade agreement (FTA) currently being negotiated by the United States and 11 of its trading partners across the Asia-Pacific region—have made a large hue and cry regarding a draft chapter of the agreement leaked on WikiLeaks pertaining to the TPP’s intellectual property (IP) provisions. Critics have lodged a litany of complaints against the TPP in general and the IP sections of the agreement in particular, including that the TPP has been negotiated “in secret,” that America’s TPP negotiators are attempting to surreptitiously circumvent existing U.S. law in negotiating the agreement, that the “onerous” protections for innovative products such as novel biologics would compromise access to medicines in the developing world, and that the TPP is likely to lead to much greater surveillance by Internet service providers (ISPs) on citizens’ online surfing habits. Yet each of these criticisms is either downright unfounded or significantly overblown, and the reality is that the “leaked TPP IP chapter” is really much ado about nothing, despite its scandalous trumpeting by those who wish to sow fear, doubt, and uncertainty regarding the TPP.… Read the rest

search

The Best Search Results are the Legal Ones

Last Friday, Google published its new How Google Fights Piracy report with details of the improved methods Google is using to combat piracy across a variety of its services. While the report itself is an impressive overview of the many policies and protocols Google has put in place, as well as the results of such protocols, most notable are the three ways Google has reformed search over the last year: demoting sites with many DMCA takedown notices, removing piracy-related autocomplete terms, and improving ad formats.

The report notes that in 2013, Google received just over 224 million DMCA requests for Google search results and they removed over 222 million of them, with an average turnaround time of six hours or less. But in addition to removing these infringing pages from search results (whether through its content removal webform or the Trusted Copyright Removal Program that allows trusted content owners to submit bulk takedown requests), Google has improved and refined its search algorithm to rank sites in part by how many removal notices it has received. Consequently, sites with high numbers of removal notices are demoted to lower search results. This … Read the rest