The long-term economic dominance of the U.S.

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Staggering around at a drunken party last night, I got into a conversation with an economic graduate turned political philosopher. The discussion turned to world affairs, and in particular, the economic dominance of the U.S.



So the question is: do people think that the U.S.' current economic dominance can last ? or is the current system of strategic deficits combined with social spending cuts and environmental disaster inevitably going to lead to a collapse in the US' socio-economic dominance?



For my own part, I wonder about the long-term stability of the US version of late-capitalist democracy...

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    haraldharald Posts: 2,152member
    Hi Staph.



    We had just this debate in here a little while ago. I'd heard similar stuff off a top analyst a big merchant bank. Noone took it seriously ...
  • Reply 2 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Harald

    Hi Staph.



    We had just this debate in here a little while ago. I'd heard similar stuff off a top analyst a big merchant bank. Noone took it seriously ...




    Hmm, the guy I was talking to (a private-school boy) had been thinking about it after a conversation he had with an American oil baron (friend of the family) about the future of the energy industry...



    Given that it's a generational issue, I suppose it's not surprising that it's not really weighing on people's minds atm, 'tho.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    I think there are some big areas up ahead that the U.S. could really either win at or lose with regard to their competitiveness. Bioengineered farming is one area. They are creating plants that can remove the salinity from a soil and grow without requiring the tilling of the soil for example. The could dramatically improve food production. Energy is another huge area. I have seen GM state repeatedly they are betting the company on hydrogen fueled cars which don't pollute and don't rely on gas. Those are a couple of areas that could provide dramatic leaps to U.S. competitiveness or against it if someone else develops it first.



    Nick
  • Reply 4 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    Bioengineered farming is one area.



    A bit OT but: Isn't basically all bio-engineering explicitly aimed at, not to put too fine a point on it, ****ing over small and third-world farmers?



    For example, 'terminator' seeds that only grow for one year and prevent you growing cops from the resultant seeds, or genetically modifiend (edit: freudian typo #1) crops that only grow with certain brands of fertilizer, and taking nature and patenting it so that no-one can benefit from it.



    I simply can't believe that farming isn't efficient enough today when most of the world's famines are caused by first word overproduction that leads to dumping of grain in the third world and the subsequent destruction of the market for home grown goods in nations already destabilized because of political turmoil.



    Having said that, someone did post a link here in a previous destruction (edit: freudian typo #2, I think I meant discussion!) all about a guy who was campaigning for more efficient food production and some of his points seemed good and he had great credentials and big name support.



    However, I'm still highly dubious when I hear anyone claim that the farmers in Africa can't grow enough food for purely agricultural reasons.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    thttht Posts: 3,929member
    As long as the USA maintains its science and technology lead, it'll be the dominant economy in the world.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    Has social spending been cut or is this one of those things we make up because they prove we're "right".
  • Reply 7 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    Has social spending been cut or is this one of those things we make up because they prove we're "right".



    Wow, an ad hominem argument.



    Whether or not this is the case is part of the topic of discussion; you're welcome to bring figures to the table, if you really want to positively engage in discussion.
  • Reply 8 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by stupider...likeafox

    A bit OT but: Isn't basically all bio-engineering explicitly aimed at, not to put too fine a point on it, ****ing over small and third-world farmers?





    It's possibly both more and less invidious than that ? there are some pretty outstanding examples of first-world farmers being prosecuted by biotech firms (for example, in Canada a couple of months ago) because their crops were cross-pollinated by GM crops, and their seed became polluted with GM IP.



    At the same time, the biotech firms have clearly underestimated the difficulty of controlling the use of their crops in developing nations. In India, for example, there's a pretty impressive black market for hybrid GM seed.



    Ultimately, its only the complete development and bona fide implementation of treaties like TRIPs which are likely to cause a huge problem for farmers in developing nations... whether or not these countries will genuinely enforce first-world IP rights is open to serious question.



    Of course, this is kind of on-topic, because the US is clearly moving towards making IP exports an important part of its economy.



    Oh: and consonant with this trend, apparently Levi's are shutting down their remaining four US factories! Not that this is generalisable, but its certainly symbolic.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by staphbaby

    Wow, an ad hominem argument.



    Whether or not this is the case is part of the topic of discussion; you're welcome to bring figures to the table, if you really want to positively engage in discussion.




    Well you're the one saying it's true so you go first. Otherwise I'll consider it retracted on your part.
  • Reply 10 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by THT

    As long as the USA maintains its science and technology lead, it'll be the dominant economy in the world.



    Disagree. Here's my take.



    As long as the US maintains/brings back free market practices, it will be the dominant market in the world. I think that the reason why our science and engineering are way up there is because of our [almost] free market.



    Western Europe: a continent of nations with rising taxes and a decreasing tax base. Bad.



    China: Needs a constitution based on freedom and a big culture change. i.e. stealing must be looked upon negatively.



    Russia: These people are so bizarre yet so capable. Somewhat like the french in that respect except that they have a streak of toughness in their gene pool. Russia could be a big player, but something cataclysmic needs to happen.



    Rest of Eastern Europe: I feel good about this region for some reason. when they start joining NAFTA V2.0 it's going to cause some interesting economic and political situations.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    haraldharald Posts: 2,152member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    Disagree. Here's my take.



    As long as the US maintains/brings back free market practices, it will be the dominant market in the world. I think that the reason why our science and engineering are way up there is because of our [almost] free market.



    Western Europe: a continent of nations with rising taxes and a decreasing tax base. Bad.



    China: Needs a constitution based on freedom and a big culture change. i.e. stealing must be looked upon negatively.



    Russia: These people are so bizarre yet so capable. Somewhat like the french in that respect except that they have a streak of toughness in their gene pool. Russia could be a big player, but something cataclysmic needs to happen.



    Rest of Eastern Europe: I feel good about this region for some reason. when they start joining NAFTA V2.0 it's going to cause some interesting economic and political situations.




    The free market is what will end US eco-dominance if it's truly free. The Chinese can do it cheaper, quicker and smarter. QED.



    Russia / France: it seems to me you've been to neither. Those are BS stereotypes, not a socio-economic analysis.



    Rest of E. Europe: They DID join 'NAFTA V2.0' ... it's called the "European Economic Community." Cross reference your point 2 above: Europe just grew by dozens of millions people in high-birth rate countries with low taxes.
  • Reply 12 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    Well you're the one saying it's true so you go first. Otherwise I'll consider it retracted on your part.



    In the naïevity of my youth, I once thought that I wouldn't have "Is so, is so, IS SO" arguments as an adult.



    Frankly, the point you seem to be making about burden of proof not only brings nothing positive to the discussion (and I would like to hear your views and the reasoning supporting them, since you clearly hold them strongly), it also assumes that I have a strong agenda, and that I'm trying to prove something. I'm not - what I'm interested in is hearing people's views... I've already "gone first" in saying something actually topical.



    Anyway, as for statistics, good repositories for those interested include:



    http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statc...002/supp02.pdf

    ? US government figures on social spending for 2002, including unemployment, old age, disability and other welfare payments.



    http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty.html

    ? statistics on poverty



    http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/2002174.pdf

    ? report on cost of education to individuals



    http://www1.oecd.org/els/stats.htm

    ? OECD comparative figures on a wide range of social indicators.



    The outcome of these is open to debate; positives for the US include generally high overall education expenditure and stable/stagnant social spending (as against population/GNP/inflation); negatives include high and increasing cost of education borne by individuals, and surprisingly high rates of poverty (which are significantly unequal between the largest sectors of the population) for the richest country in the world (10% for WASPs; 24% for AAs; 22% for Hispanics; and 26% for single females (!))



    Social wealth transfer spending is also low in the US:



    General government transfers (1995)

    \t 3 bottom deciles\t4 middle deciles\t3 top deciles

    Australia\t 62.3\t 31.1\t 6.5

    United Kingdom 55.0\t 32.8\t 12.2

    United States 41.4\t 35.5\t 23.0

    for comparison, in 1985

    United States 43.8\t 34.2\t 21.9

    (from OECD figures, above)



    and the US has the highest incidence in the OECD of full-time workers earning less than 2/3 of the median wage (24.5%); the ratio of the minimum wage to median earnings isn't exactly special either (although not the lowest in the OECD).



    Japan, Turkey, Korea, Mexico are the only countries in the OECD with a lower rate of social spending as percentage of GDP (1997).



    Quite honestly, given that we're talking about a counterfactual future scenario, perhaps it would be better to focus on the future, which is after all the topic of the discussion?
  • Reply 13 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Harald

    The free market is what will end US eco-dominance if it's truly free. The Chinese can do it cheaper, quicker and smarter. QED.



    That, or radically change the structure of the US economy. It goes without saying that the Chinese will destroy the Americans in most manufacturing industries because of low labour inputs.



    Whether they can catch up in IP production is another question and highlights the importance of education to the future of the US economy; although the success of countries like India in software engineering suggests that its not impossible.



    As for the Euro-zone ? if only my father had been Scottish, not just my grandfather... mmm, European passport...
  • Reply 14 of 15
    whoops. double post.
  • Reply 15 of 15
    haraldharald Posts: 2,152member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by staphbaby

    Whether they can catch up in IP production is another question and highlights the importance of education to the future of the US economy



    The Chinese government has an aggressive policy of home-grown IP use in domestic markets, or co-owned by joint developments with foreign countries. Cases in point Chinese 3G, Aisan Linux, semiconductors, even bio- and nano-technology.



    You can't do biz or tap their millions of smart, cheap graduates without leaving some of that IP in Chinese hands ... it's working very well.



    And they're hoping that the defacto-standard approach which worked so well with WinTel will work for them too.



    The only thing they can't do is make sitcoms we want to watch.
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