fact of the week logo image

As the U.S. economy evolves and globalizes, top industries are becoming less focused on extracting and working with raw materials and more focused on knowledge industries, traded services, and information and communication technologies. As a result, a highly skilled workforce is more important than ever, as top companies increasingly invest in human rather than physical capital.

Mercantilism is spreading in part because some mercantilist practices actually do work and help these countries—at least in the short term. China’s mercantilist practices have clearly been the principal factor in enabling it to generate enormous trade surpluses. For example, China’s share of world exports jumped from 7 percent to 10 percent between 2006 and 2010. As a result,the Beijing...

In the last few years we have seen rapid innovation in the mobile and digital payments markets. New competition has continued to evolve in this space from digital payment firms like Square and PayPal, culminating this month in Apple’s announcement for ApplePay. In the next few years we will see increased adoption of mobile wallets and online payments as consumers get used to using their phones...

A serious decline in U.S. triadic patents is the latest warning sign of diminished American innovation in advanced industries. Overall, these patents, designed to give the holder strong intellectual property protections worldwide and to make patents internationally comparable, have declined by 3 percent from 1999 to 2011.

Federal funding for biomedical research, much of it channeled through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), plays a vital role in supporting America’s life sciences innovation ecosystem. NIH devotes the vast majority of its budget to funding grants for basic biomedical research into the causes and treatment of human disease. The results of this research feed directly into the development of...

Much of the nation has been slow to adopt educational standards that include computer science courses as core math and science graduation credits. In addition, most state programs focus on computer "skills" as opposed to more intricate computing "concepts" that develop critical thinking and problem solving ability. 

High levels of industry funding for university researchers is indicative of successful applications and commercialization of academic research. In the United States, academics performing applied research often face a disconnect between the knowledge they are creating and its end use. Encouraging more public/private partnerships between universities and industry can increase knowledge flows...

America's roadways experience 5.5 million traffic accidents per year. The toll they take is immense: approximately 35,000 fatalities annually (almost 100 per day) and close to $1 trillion in economic losses. The $277 billion in direct costs alone are equivalent to approximately $897 for eachperson living in the United States, or 1.9 percent of U.S. GDP. With human error the "definite or...

U.S. manufacturing value added has still not recovered from the Great Recession. In fact, excluding computer and electronics, from 2007 to 2012, real value added produced by durables manufacturing fell by 2.9 percent while non-durables fell by 10.6 percent.  Meanwhile, economy-wide real value-added has grown by 4 percent. The lag of manufacturing growth behind overall economic recovery...

Despite the critical role export credit financing plays in helping to boost America's exports and empower its traded sector competitiveness, virtually all U.S. competitors are investing significantly more as a share of their GDP than the U.S. in providing export credit assistance in the form of loans and guarantees to help foreign buyers purchase their nations' products and services. This...