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  • Author: Jefferey Bleich
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: We grew up in a century defined by the Second Industrial Revolution. Today, that revolution is being eclipsed by a Digital Revolution. The uncertainty that we are experiencing in every aspect of our society is the same disorientation that occurred between 1870 and 1910 when the first Industrial Revolution ended and a second one began. It eventually vaulted nations like America and Australia to the top of the world order. But it also produced the Gilded Age, labor unrest, mass migrations, the Great Depression and two world wars. That era is closing, and we are now experiencing the new great dis­ruption that Silicon Valley promised. Digital technology—while solving crucial problems—is creating or compounding others. It has outstripped the capacity of government to control it and amplified the collapse of public confidence in democratic governments. It has inflamed rivalries between those who benefit and those who don’t. It has undermined standards—of altruism and of civility—that are necessary for us to find common ground. To appreciate this, we have to see where we’ve come from. A hundred and fifty years ago, we went through the same thing. Changes in technology revolutionized media, global integration and demographics. The changes were profound. In 1879, during a three-month period, both the electric light and a workable internal combustion engine were invented. Those two inventions alone produced over the next 40 years a dizzying number of new technologies. The telephone, phonograph, motion pictures, cars, airplanes, elevators, X-rays, electric machinery, consumer appliances, highways, suburbs and supermarkets—all were created in a 40-year burst from 1875 to 1915. Technology fundamentally transformed how people live. We’ve known for a while that the structures created by this Second Industrial Revolution were running their course, at least in advanced economies, and that it was being replaced by a new revolution, the digital revolution. Recently, the pace of these advances has started to build exponen­tially, and the pressure has been mounting. Everyone who has had to throw out their CD player for a DVD player for an iPod for an iPhone for Spotify knows what I mean. Further, the pace at which our world is being changed just keeps accelerating. Every year a new massive theory of disruption emerges: “the digital economy,” “the social network,” “the Internet of things,” “sharing economy” and “big data.” Last year, “machine learning”—where machines teach themselves things we do not know—was the buzzword. The word in Silicon Valley this year is “singularity”—where our species itself is altered by technology (gene-editing, bionics, artificial intelligence), creating a new hybrid species.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Digital Economy, Higher Education, Digital Revolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Australia, North America
  • Author: Daniel V. Speckhard
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: After serving for two challenging years in the chaos of a war zone as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Iraq, I received word that I would become the next Ambassador to Greece. To be quite honest, I had mixed feelings. I looked forward to the challenge, but I imagined the post would be too sedate compared with the adrenalin-charged days and world-shaping events in Iraq. It was anything but. Within a year of my arrival, the streets were aflame with violent protests over a police shooting of a teenager. A year later, snap elections brought a socialist government to power. And soon thereafter, the onion was further peeled to expose a financial crisis and a crumbling economic foundation built on a corrupt, oligarchic, and debt-addicted system fed by billions of dollars of public and private EU loans and grants.
  • Topic: Corruption, Economics, Politics, Financial Crisis, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: James Costos
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses and achieve their full potential is in the interest of anyone who wants to foster prosperity worldwide—that’s why it’s an Obama administration priority. Growth anywhere does some good everywhere, and the fact is that entrepreneurs create jobs and drive economic growth both at home and abroad. In the United States, 40 percent of our $17 trillion economy is generated by companies that did not even exist 20 years ago. Two-thirds of our 65 months of consecutive job growth is driven by small businesses. The owners of those businesses—28 million and growing—employ over half of America’s workforce. As our missions work to expand the global economic recovery, one of the most effective tools we have at our disposal is the promotion of entrepreneurship—a quintessential American value. By deepening the connections between the entrepreneurial ecosystems of the United States and our partners overseas, we can grow our economies, create jobs, and support businesses that will have lasting impact and create prosperity. The good news is that this is easy to do, because the world is more interconnected than ever before. We benefit from unprecedented opportunities to help entrepreneurs access the capital, resources, and networks they need to succeed. We also have the strong support and leader­ship of President Obama, who is personally committed to promoting entrepreneurship worldwide. Spain is a country with a strong and growing entrepreneurial spirit, a plethora of talent, and solid business networks. Although it is starting to emerge from economic crisis, there is still much work to be done to ensure Spain’s continued recovery. The United States Mission is doing its part to consolidate the country’s economic progress by helping a new generation of entrepreneurs achieve their full potential, and generate jobs and eco­nomic growth. We have established a strong partnership with TeamLabs, an organization that teaches the concept of entrepreneurship and engages with thousands of high school students across all regions of Spain. We have produced animated videos for youth called You®Company which tell real life stories of Spanish and US entrepreneurs while exploring the values of motivation, innovation, corporate social responsibility, failure, and critical thinking. We have also organized an Alumni Mentoring Program that we use to link up business leaders, prominent entrepreneurs, and alumni of United States Embassy exchange programs to coach aspiring entrepreneurs and help them build their network of contacts. This past June, we took our entrepreneurship programs to a new level with the launch of IN3 (IN-cubed)—Innovators, Investors, and Institutions—in partnership with Google and Chamberi Valley, a Spanish entrepreneurship association. Aimed at promoting entre­preneur­ship and investment in Spain, IN3 was the first community event hosted at Campus Madrid, one of only a handful of Google spaces around the world where entrepre­neurs can learn, connect, and build companies that will change the world. In August 2015, the International Monetary Fund released a report stating that Spain has more obstacles to entrepreneurship than any other European country. IN3 directly addressed these challenges by bringing together Spanish and American innovators, investors, and institutions to discuss common challenges and solutions for scaling-up interna­tional companies. The event provided Spanish entrepreneurs the opportunity to hear from leading US counterparts and tech investors on how to overcome institutional and investment challenges that inhibit business growth. It also offered US entrepreneurs the chance to explore areas of potential collaboration with their Spanish counterparts and learn from their experiences expanding into other European and Latin American markets. It provided a forum where entrepreneurs and policymakers exchanged ideas on the best ways to promote the creation of new businesses and help successful companies grow. Finally, it allowed US and Spanish innovators the opportunity to discuss their experiences with senior Spanish government officials. Through these interactions, IN3 helped to equip entrepre­neurs with the tools they need to overcome the challenges of expanding their businesses—from finance, to mentorship, to regulations. I was honored to be joined at IN3 by the Administrator of the United States Small Business Administration Maria Contreras-Sweet, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain, and leaders from the Spanish government. With their support, we elevated the importance of entrepreneurship and the crucial role entrepreneurs play in driving growth and creating jobs in Spain. Our message reached an audience of 53 million people in Spain through local media exposure, another 3.25 million on Twitter, and became a top-trending topic on US social media. Not only did the conference promote entrepreneurship and bilateral investment opportunities to a diverse audience, but IN3 generated real investment and new business growth for Spanish and US firms. For example, Opinno, the consulting and events firm that produced IN3, established new ties with US design thinking firms and academic institutions and plans to partner with these organizations to propel their international expansion. Several new investments were made in small and medium-sized Spanish companies, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the Embassy continues to hear of additional business sparked by the conference.
  • Topic: Economics, Entrepreneurship, Recovery, IMF
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Spain, North America
  • Author: Susan G. LeVine
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: One of the core priorities for the State Department and for the Obama administration overall is shared prosperity because, as Secretary Kerry frequently points out, “Economic policy is foreign policy.” The United States firmly believes that, by growing bilateral economic ties, the United States as well as the host country will prosper. The metrics around our economic relationship with Switzerland are a perfect example of that: Switzerland is one of the top ten foreign direct investors in the United States and number one in research and development; the United States has been the largest growth market for Swiss exports over the past five years; and Swiss companies generate almost half a million jobs in the United States—really great jobs with an average salary of $100,000 per year. With those ties in mind, I set out to meet with Swiss companies of all kinds to understand how they do business in Switzerland and how to deepen their investment in the United States. What I learned in the course of that exploration will, I believe, profoundly and positively affect both countries economically, and also have a positive effect on the world.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Economics, Economic Cooperation, Job Creation
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Switzerland, North America
  • Author: Molly Bordonaro
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Within the space of a few weeks earlier this year, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta further advanced its integration into European Union institutions by adopting the euro currency and joining the Schengen zone. Malta has the distinction of being the first and only EU member state to adopt the euro and join Schengen at the same time. This achievement is even more impressive when you consider the fact that Malta joined the European Union less than four years earlier, in May 2004.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe