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  • Author: David Hoffman
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The recently enacted revisions to China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, and its extensive provisions for regulating China’s “platform economy” – i.e., fintech and ecommerce platforms – are consequential for foreign investors in China, bearing both upside and downside risks. On the one hand, they reinforce the trend of increasing state intervention in China’s economy and commercial markets and raise concerns about a more confined and controlled play-space for the private sector in China, a cohort which includes foreign multinational companies and financial investors.
  • Topic: Governance, Law, Economy, Business , Investment, Monopoly, Private Sector, Commerce
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: David Hoffman
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: Many China organizations of western multinational companies (MNCs) report increasing friction and misalignment with headquarters (HQ) across a range of China issues. We observe three primary sources of tension and misalignment: a differing appraisal of risks, including, importantly, confidence in abilities to protect IP; a differing calculus on the evaluation of opportunities; and concerns, at HQ and Board level, about the control implications of increasingly divergent, if not more autonomous, China operations.
  • Topic: Economy, Business , Multinational Corporations, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: Addressing America’s severe infrastructure needs—finally—must be at the top of the nation’s agenda. Improving infrastructure is one of the few issues that enjoys strong bipartisan support among the American public. Eighty percent of Americans support rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure—more than almost any other top issue facing the nation—and roughly two-thirds of Americans rate their own local roads as in fair or poor condition.1 A similar proportion say that the country is not doing enough to meet infrastructure needs.2 Modern, effective infrastructure is essential for virtually all US commerce and, therefore, for growth and prosperity that is widely shared among all Americans. Transportation and other forms of infrastructure must remake themselves to remain productive as the economy changes around them. But the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the US economy makes improving our infrastructure, keeping America competitive, and getting Americans back to work that much more urgent. The pandemic has forced an accelerated integration of technology into the work, school and personal lives of many Americans. But that has revealed inequities in access to reliable, high-speed internet. This experience is one more example of how our nation’s deficient infrastructure slows our economic growth generally. Around 24 million US households lack access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet. If not addressed, weak infrastructure can deprive many Americans of equal access to opportunity. And at the same time, climate change threatens the foundations of our economy.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Infrastructure, Economy, Transportation, Sustainability, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: With most Americans dependent on reliable, high-quality, high-speed internet services to work, train, consult with doctors, or attend school from home, the COVID-19 pandemic vividly demonstrates that affordability and access barriers leave too many families behind. As America’s leaders in business and policy work toward a postpandemic economic recovery that delivers increasing prosperity for American families and preserves our nation’s economic leadership, they must also build toward a vision of a fully wired nation that meets the internet needs of all its citizens. Innovation and competition in information technology have been essential to delivering a higher quality of life and modern commerce, and they will be integral to lasting solutions that close two stubborn gaps that leave a minority of Americans behind. First, millions of Americans—particularly in the least densely populated areas—lack access to reliable high-quality internet services that could connect them to essential educational, employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Second, large numbers of low-income Americans with physical access to such services cannot afford them at current market prices, leaving them “underserved,” with less economic opportunity than their higher-income peers. In too many areas, a lack of competition among providers contributes to underservice. As needed internet speeds and associated hardware and technologies have advanced, closing these high-speed internet service gaps—increasing economic opportunity and strengthening businesses and communities—is essential. Policymakers must leverage the dynamism and innovation of the private market, increase competition in the provision of services, and invest wisely to close the gaps, boost deployment and affordability, and meet the universal service and critical technologies goals that have motivated nearly a century of federal telecommunications law.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Infrastructure, Internet, Economy, Business
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: Though the US economy is expected to recover to its prepandemic level of production (gross domestic product or GDP) by the second quarter of 2021, the postpandemic economy will be different in many important ways. The pandemic’s acceleration of trends toward remote work, digital transformation, and automation could permanently reduce demand for low-skill jobs. To build a large and fully competitive US workforce and reduce inequality, aggressive reskilling will be needed. Even before the global pandemic’s onslaught, preparing the future workforce to drive rapidly advancing technology in an increasingly competitive global economy—and minimize the adverse fallout from these trends—was one of the nation’s greatest challenges. COVID-19 has made this challenge more urgent. Now, an estimated 40 percent of workers will need short-term training and reskilling by 2025.1 American leadership, prosperity, and competitiveness will hinge on maximizing the skills of our nation’s workers. The pandemic has disproportionately displaced minority workers, women, youth, and workers with lower educational attainment, many of whom are among the near-record 40-plus percent of the jobless who have been unemployed more than six months. Such displaced workers, or the “long-term unemployed,” typically find it hard to get a new job the longer they are without one. For many of them, securing a new job will require training for skills that are in demand.
  • Topic: Partnerships, Economy, Business , Training, COVID-19, Workforce
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented the entire world with its worst public health threat in at least a century. The precise seriousness of the pandemic, of course, could not be known at the outset; and in fact, the pandemic is not yet vanquished as this statement is written. The extent of the damage the virus and its mutations will ultimately cause is not yet fully known. But the near-miraculous efforts to develop vaccines, contain the infection, and treat the infected provide much-needed hope that a return to “normal” is not out of reach. The pandemic had economic consequences as well. And like the public health impact, the shock to the economy was large but impossible to assess accurately at its outset. And like the damage to public health, the economic fallout is still impossible to assess today with complete accuracy. For the first time in 100 years, stay-at-home orders to protect the public health spurred an economic downturn and dramatic job losses—leaving a wide swath of businesses in hospitality, travel, leisure, dining, and retail nearly shut down, with entire occupations, such as personal service workers, facing extended layoffs or even permanent job loss. The fates of these businesses and workers are unpredictable, depending on the uncertain course of the pandemic itself. Another similarity between the public health and the economic threats is that prudent public policy required strong and immediate responses. With the ultimate extent of the damage unknown but potentially catastrophic, executive and congressional policymakers deemed it essential that government react swiftly and robustly. Policymakers and commentators repeated often that the nation should err on the side of action—that it would be better to do too much rather than too little.
  • Topic: Debt, Economy, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: For decades, global supply chains have become increasingly integral to the US economy and have been embraced by business and successive US Administrations because they increase efficiency and US competitiveness. But over the past several years, criticism has grown beyond the argument that US jobs are being exported to include concern about a more hostile and competitive global landscape.1 Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and lockdowns were imposed. Production in general was disrupted, shutting down suppliers and interrupting transportation channels; foreign governments closed their borders or hoarded crucial supplies for their own peoples.2 Prominently, lifesaving supplies—including personal protective equipment (PPE) and pharmaceutical production commodities, often sourced from abroad—were in short supply, putting frontline health care workers at even greater risk and complicating vaccine distribution.3 And then, as the pandemic began to ease and demand for goods increased, the enormous container ship Ever Given was grounded in the Suez Canal for six days, bringing much of goods transport around the world to a grinding halt and raising fears of even greater supply chain bottlenecks and commercial chaos.4 This truly unprecedented turn of events has exposed challenges to US reliance on global supply chains. Critics of the “offshoring” of jobs have assigned much of the economic and even the human pain of the pandemic to unwise and excessive dependence on global supply chains that include countries with “command” economies rather than free-market ones, or hostile nations that are unreliable sources of essential goods. The pandemic has also raised national security concerns about the reliability and resiliency of global supply chains, and businesses have been forced into workarounds of their own practices. Given the size of China’s economy, its extensive role in global supply chains, its growing military strength, and the growing tensions in its bilateral US relationship, China is at the nexus of these major concerns about supply chain resilience. The new administration has responded to this turmoil with a series of policy directives,5 studies on the subject,6 and legislative proposals under active consideration in Congress covering both short-term and medium-term responses, including a twenty-first century industrial strategy—which would be a major change of US policy direction. Global trade in materials, tools, components, and services deserves an immediate assessment of both security and economic needs for the long term.7 Security with prosperity must be the goal, and the nation must fully comprehend the bigger picture to achieve that outcome. This brief will put the role of global supply chains in the US and the world economy in perspective. It will offer recommendations to manage the economic and security challenges of global supply chains in the postpandemic economy to ensure that the US remains an innovative and competitive global leader.
  • Topic: Economy, Trade, Strategic Competition, COVID-19, Commerce, Supply Chains
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: Major shifts are expected in how New Yorkers work in the postpandemic economy—remotely or in the office. But the COVID-19 pandemic has also dramatically accelerated a shift in the sectoral landscape of New York City and the industries in which New Yorkers will work. Restoring the city’s economic dynamism and creating a postpandemic, locally prosperous, and globally competitive economy will hinge on leveraging the city’s growth sectors and ensuring that New Yorkers have the skills they need to rebuild a thriving, future-focused NYC economy. The city lost almost 900,000 jobs during the initial months of the pandemic and had recovered just over half of those jobs by June 2021. Many of these job losses are in sectors that had seen relative weakness prior to the pandemic, including the city’s historically important finance & insurance and real estate sectors. The recovery in NYC has so far been an unbalanced one, lagging behind other major US city centers. Much of NYC’s ongoing economic recovery has been concentrated in health care, life sciences, and the growing tech industry, sectors that were strengthening prior to the pandemic. Indeed, tech jobs were already driving much of the employment growth in NYC before the pandemic. And while office and residential buildings emptied out during the crisis, Big Tech companies—including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google—have increasingly moved in, expanding their office and warehouse spaces and accelerating hiring.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Finance, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: New York, North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: China’s fast-paced economic rise and defiance of globally accepted market rules—along with the growing and yet unknown economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19)—are driving the next phase of US-China trade negations to the top of the nation’s post-election agenda. While the Phase I US-China trade deal has eased tension, it also set the stage for discussions on other important economic disputes, including forced technology transfer, cyber theft of intellectual property (IP), industrial policies, state subsidies, and new technology, according to a new Solutions Brief, The China Trade Challenge: Phase II, by the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED).
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Global Markets, Economy, Global Political Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Hiba Itani
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Conference Board estimates the Gulf region’s GDP growth to fall at -5.7 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. The slight improvement in oil prices in Q3 along with the easing of production cuts as of August will give oil GDP a small boost. As worries of a possible second wave of coronavirus in Q4 mount, consumer demand will weaken further, netting the rise in oil GDP.
  • Topic: Oil, GDP, Economy, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Bart van Ark, Rebecca L. Ray, Charles Mitchell, Ilaria Maselli
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Japanese regional edition of this year’s C-Suite Challenge™ survey focuses on internal and external stress points faced by businesses, the objectives, barriers and benefits of successful collaboration initiatives, and the importance of data privacy and cyber security. Emphasis is also given on the business strategies Japanese CEOs focus on in order to enhance productivity growth. The shifting priorities between now and in the future reveals CEO awareness to improve productivity as technology evolves and customer demands change.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Privacy, Economy, Business
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia
  • Author: Ilaria Maselli, Bart van Ark
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Conference Board and ERT have established a collaboration to create a new measure of CEO Confidence for Europe. The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence™ for Europe by ERT for the first half of 2020 is 34 (on a scale from 0 to 100). The report examines the survey results including CEO views about business and economic conditions now, conditions in six months, and the prospects for their own industry. The negative sentiment among business leaders resulted from the dramatic impact of the COVID-19 crisis which delivered a severe supply shock to the economy in Europe and around the world.
  • Topic: Economy, Business , COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Hiba Itani
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Gulf countries face a somber outlook, with the GDP of the region expected to contract by 5.9% in 2020 compared to 2019. The Gulf countries whose economies remain highly dependent on hydrocarbon are ahead of “perfect storm” like scenario: a humanitarian crisis, that morphed into a global demand shock and pushed oil prices into a free-fall. A historical oil production cut agreement barely managed to improve prices.
  • Topic: Oil, Natural Resources, GDP, Economy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Gulf Nations
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: High quality education is a critical pathway to career success and economic mobility, particularly for students from low-income backgrounds.1 An education system that invests in children beginning at the earliest ages and supports their development as both citizens and skilled workforce entrants of the future—with both in-demand cutting-edge abilities and knowledge and the tools to continue to upgrade their education and training across the course of their career—is a necessity to ensuring that US employers remain globally competitive and that all Americans share in broad-based and growing prosperity in the 21st century. Pre-pandemic, even with low measured unemployment, there were reasons to be worried that US education was failing to live up to its full potential to better serve many students. Employers remained worried about the preparedness of the workforce, with nearly 40 percent of employers reporting that they couldn’t attract workers with the skills they needed, even for entry-level jobs.2 Despite the lure of higher average wages and employment rates for college graduates, a third of recent high school graduates did not enroll in college in October of 2019, and based on past studies, only about forty percent of students who do enroll in college will complete a degree within six years.3 In 2018, nearly a quarter of full-time workers aged 25 to 64 were earning less than $15 per hour and the labor force participation of American workers between the ages of 25 and 54 remained stubbornly low.4 Policymakers, educators, and business leaders were already faced with the task of improving the status quo; as outlined in Early Education and Child Care: The Essential Sector and Developing the Future Workforce: Revitalizing Postsecondary Education and Training After COVID-19, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the nation’s education and training at every level. Elementary and secondary education is no exception. The disruption to date has already set back student learning, widened existing educational disparities, and placed K-12 schools under enormous pressure to chart a viable path forward through the end of the pandemic even as local conditions remain subject to rapid change.
  • Topic: Education, Reform, Economy, Economic Mobility, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has left tens of millions of Americans out of work or uncertain about the future of their current jobs, and thousands of firms urgently reassessing their own viability and path forward. Much remains unknown about the economy that will follow COVID-19. But clearly the pandemic’s whirlwind destruction has, first and foremost, hurt less-educated workers the most, with most of the job losses occurring in manual services, and has accelerated the innovative use of technology in the workplace. These two trends threaten to deepen inequality and add to the urgency of the upskilling and training challenge. Even before the pandemic led to the highest national unemployment rate since the Great Depression, American businesses and workers were anxious about how emerging technologies could potentially change which skills are in demand, and challenge workers to navigate careers requiring continual learning and adaptation.1 Both public policy and private sector leaders must prioritize support for building a US workforce with the necessary skills to outmaneuver this disruption. During pandemic-induced mass unemployment, the first task of policy is to restore as many Americans as possible to gainful employment as soon as the public health emergency allows. But after what is clearly the US’ second sizable economic downturn in barely a decade, workers cannot afford a slow recovery or one that leaves them just as vulnerable as they were before COVID-19 to technological innovation and job displacement. With innovative programs, this current crisis that has idled so many workers can be turned into an opportunity to meet this training and upskilling challenge.
  • Topic: Employment, Economy, Training, COVID-19, Workforce, Skills
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The 2020 general election is already underway, with absentee ballots being mailed out and collected in some states. And what seemed worryingly possible in the spring is now inevitable: the COVID-19 pandemic will be an important factor in the conduct of this fall’s election. Every community must address the public health threat and facilitate safe participation. Policymakers, election officials, and business leaders must ensure that voters need not choose between exercising their franchise and protecting their health, and that the election itself does not further spread COVID-19.1 The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED) strongly believes that transparent, fair, and accessible elections are fundamental to the confidence of US citizens in their government and its leadership, and to the long-term health of the US economy. In May, June, and July, CED called on Congress to provide states with funding to conduct a safe, accessible, and credible election in the midst of a pandemic. With the election in progress, and Election Day less than two months away, the states and local communities, with or without federal support—including leaders in the business community—must act to meet those goals. As explained in this Solutions Brief, there is still time to protect voters and poll workers and maintain trust in the conduct and outcome of elections. Fortunately, effective measures are already in force in pockets of the country, with states and election officials needing only to replicate the best preparations and practices nationwide. This brief outlines recommendations policymakers should adopt to improve operations in their jurisdictions. Given the public health challenges involved, business leaders will also play a critical role in protecting their employees, customers, and communities during a successful election. To the extent possible, business leaders should take the concrete steps outlined in the brief to assist in the election effort.
  • Topic: Elections, Economy, Business , Domestic politics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board prepared the following analysis and recommendations in the spirit of our founding members, America’s foremost business leaders during World War II, who came together to solve our nation’s crucial postwar economic and social challenges. Similarly, business leaders today, hand-in-hand with policymakers and the American public, must provide a thoughtful response to the COVID-19 crisis and restore confidence in capitalism and our democratic institutions. CED respectfully offers its nonpartisan analysis and recommendations for the first 100 days of the new administration to build a stronger, more resilient, and more responsive economy that provides opportunity and prosperity for all Americans. The objective is to overcome the public health challenge, safely reopen the economy, and get our nation on a path to high levels of employment, production, and consumption—to put our country back to work safely, making capitalism benefit all Americans.
  • Topic: Employment, Capitalism, Economy, Public Health, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on industries where women are heavily concentrated combined with the virus’s debilitating impact on child care options and in-person schooling threatens progress in the integration and representation of women in the US economy. Even if the reversal proves temporary, as is likely, the career consequences of the pandemic for individual women could have long-lasting effects and slow future progress.1 When talented workers sit on the sidelines or are prevented from fully contributing to the workforce, those workers are not the only ones affected. The economic strength of the entire nation suffers for the duration of those workers’ entire careers, and employers miss out on an important competitive resource. Thus, the impact of COVID-19 on women is a first-order national concern. Women are a vital part of the American labor force, both as nearly half of workers, and, as the primary facilitators of work by others through formal and informal caretaking roles. Even if progress in more fully integrating women into all aspects and levels of the economy has, at times, been slow, it has also been one of the most important sources of strength for the American economy over the past half century.3 The continued lowering of barriers and further economic integration of women into all fields and roles in proportion to their talents remains one of the surest paths to increasing the size, skill, and contributions to innovation of the American workforce.4
  • Topic: Women, Employment, Inequality, Economy, COVID-19, Workforce
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: Few issues enjoy such broad bipartisan consensus as the failings of American infrastructure. Roughly two-thirds of Americans rate their own local roads as only in fair or poor condition, and a similar proportion say that the country is not doing enough to meet infrastructure needs, making infrastructure a top-tier issue in 2020. With Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaling that infrastructure spending is a priority for the administration if economic stimulus is required to address slowdowns in the economy due to COVID-19, the US approach to infrastructure projects is poised to become an even more pressing issue. Modern, effective infrastructure is an essential requirement for national commerce—and for growing and widely shared prosperity—even as changes in technology drive changes in infrastructure requirements. While definitions vary, a 2019 Trump administration executive order defined infrastructure projects as those relating to surface transportation; aviation; ports; water resources projects; energy production, generation, storage, transmission, and distribution; broadband internet; pipelines; stormwater and sewer infrastructure; drinking water infrastructure; and cybersecurity. Efficient investment in cutting-edge infrastructure connects businesses and workers to more opportunities, increases productivity, and undergirds American competitiveness. Thus, US infrastructure is vital to sustain capitalism and maintain US economic leadership. However, the US routinely lags other advanced nations in infrastructure quality and, when considering the size of its economy, infrastructure investment.
  • Topic: Economics, Infrastructure, Economy
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has put regulation issues front and center in every American’s life. Within a few short weeks, 41 out of 50 states have issued stay-at-home orders,1 and regulations governing many other aspects of all Americans’ public lives are now imposed because of COVID-19. Among a long list of constraints, nonessential businesses, many of them small businesses, have been required to cease or sharply curtail their services. Schools have been closed, access to parks and outdoor spaces has been restricted, and other staples of all Americans’ public lives, including large gatherings, have been restricted. On the other hand, and more than ever before, Americans have seen other regulations lifted rapidly, particularly in the heavily regulated health care sector. Constraints on testing, laboratories, out-of-state health care workers, vaccine R&D, telemedicine, ventilator production, and infrastructure expansion have been relaxed. Even more extensive relief has addressed the unprecedented havoc that COVID-19 has unleashed on American society, public health, and the economy. Restrictions on work at home, online courses at colleges and universities, the transport of food and alcohol, and hours truck drivers can be on the road are all being lifted or relaxed to meet the demands of the crisis. Restrictions on the production of hand sanitizer and the amount that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows passengers to carry on airplanes have also been relaxed.
  • Topic: Regulation, Economy, Business , COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America