Center on Economic and Financial Power


The Center on Economic and Financial Power (CEFP) at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) studies national economic security, with a focus on how the U.S. can leverage its economic and financial power to achieve its national security objectives. Experts at CEFP track and analyze changes in the international economy and how allies and rivals are adapting to these developments. CEFP also promotes greater understanding of how the U.S. government can employ its economic and financial authorities to best counter its adversaries.

At present, America and its allies are ill-prepared to address the increasingly sophisticated use of economic warfare by our opponents. There is an urgent need to provide cutting edge research and innovative policy ideas to public officials, the private sector, and the general public.

China’s authoritarian capitalist regime poses the greatest threat to our national economic security. Beijing employs its economic might to coerce and exploit both its Asian neighbors as well as trade partners on every continent. China also aims to undermine U.S. interests by re-shaping the international economic rules of the road. Never before have the United States and its partners had to contend with this kind of authoritarian capitalist adversary. Developing and implementing effective strategies for countering China’s coercion and manipulation should be a key national security priority.

Likewise, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and others are increasingly employing their own offensive economic tools to challenge American interests across the globe. The international financial system also faces increased threats to its integrity from the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other non-state actors who fund their malign activities illicitly by working with and through transnational criminal networks.

While new technologies offer the promise of increased efficiency and transparency for international transactions, rogue actors are rapidly exploiting advances in financial technology to cover their tracks and engage in illicit activities in ways that are harder to disrupt.

To defend its critical national security interests in this new global landscape, the United States must innovate and deploy effective economic security strategies. To that end, building on the expertise formerly housed under FDD’s Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance (CSIF), CEFP’s mission reflects a recognition that our national economic security strategy must now address a broader range of challenges using a more comprehensive set of tools.

As a core part of its research agenda, CEFP promotes a greater understanding of how to sharpen the economic authorities with which the U.S. and its partners can target their adversaries. The center focuses on how to isolate malign regimes and individuals from the global financial system while strengthening the system’s integrity, since it is a primary source of U.S. economic power.

CEFP experts also analyze and propose new defensive strategies to protect the strength of America’s economy and those of its partners and allies, as well as developing positive strategies for targeted investment and trade promotion. CEFP likewise explores the changing technological landscape to understand its effects on financial transparency and accountability, two principles underpinning the integrity of the international financial system.

Armed with open source intelligence, commercial data, and integrated national economic security strategies, CEFP works with government agencies, international bodies, the private sector, and the NGO community to address this ever-evolving economic and technological landscape and the challenges posed by our adversaries.

Elaine K. Dezenski serves as Senior Director and Head of CEFP. The Hon. Juan C. Zarate, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Combatting Terrorism, serves as the co-founder and Chairman of CEFP and its Board of Advisors. Mark Dubowitz, CEO of FDD, serves as senior counselor and co-founder.

CEFP is one of FDD’s centers on American power, which also include FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power and FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation.

CEFP Reports

In-depth research

Read CEFP Monographs

CEFP Congressional Testimony

CEFP experts regularly testify on Capitol Hill

Read CEFP testimonies


CEFP Board of Advisors