Reacting to America-in-decay articles like "American Decline - This Time It Is for Real" and "Can America Be Fixed?", Janney Montgomery Scott bond analyst Tom Kozlik, citing less jaundiced observers like Robert Kagan (who compares the U.S. to high-Victorian Britain), sent clients a paper this morning arguing our problems "are nowhere near as noteworthy" as those of the Depression or the Cold War.
Kozlik argues we hear that kind of sunset talk every time the stock markets fall, unemployment rises and Congress jams -- which is to say, about every ten years -- and that, despite all the data charts laid out to support the various cases, the motivating factors for those analyses are reactive, not predictive.
Against the pessimists he lists ten "Inherent Strengths" that won't be changed by the rise of China and other longterm world trends:
- "The most important factor that has facilitated the U.S. rise... is its strategic geographic advantages" behind two oceans and atop vast farmland, forests, mine resources and waterways. That's what makes the U.S the 'Land of Opportunity'...
- Manufacturing renaissance: As China labor costs rise, U.S. capital and technology and world shipping costs makes U.S. production more attractive -- though many makers are so efficient they won't be hiring a lot o fpeople.
- Technological Innovations: U.S. universities and corporations are powerful developers of new technologies and products - and will remain so if we are able to raise or, often, import more engineers.
- Panama Canal: We gave it back, but we're helping make it wider, which will cut shipping costs and boost trade between both coasts and the rest of the world.
- Education: Yes our public schools have fallen behind. There are expensive efforts underway "trying to fix poor U.S. performance."
- "Power of Tax-Exempt Bonds to Provide U.S. Infrastructure," though that raises the question, why are we holding back and letting our bridges and rails deteriorate to developing-country quality?
- Labor market: We welcome immigrants. Sometimes. Also, we have more babies than Europeans or East Asians, which keeps our worker/retiree ratio from going too far out of whack.
- Energy: New gas and oil technology have helped make North America a major energy exporter independent of the politically volatile Middle East.
Kozlik also notes a pending "favorable demographic kick" and "unique military, political, economic and social aspects of the U.S.," which I hope he'll detail in updates.