Frayed in the U.S.A.
THE SOURCE: “What Export-Oriented America Means” by Tyler Cowen, in The American Interest, May–June 2012.
To those who fret about America’s economic future, have no fear: “Export success will resurrect the United States as a dominant global economic power,” declares Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University (and a member of the WQ board of editorial advisers). The downside is that an export-led rebound will not improve the incomes of most Americans.
After wavering in the age of outsourcing, U.S. exports are now growing at a clip of 16 percent per year. Cowen is sanguine that the momentum won’t fade. The growing use of artificial intelligence and computing power in manufacturing portends good things for the United States. “The more the world relies on smart machines, the more domestic wage rates become irrelevant for export prowess,” he says. At the same time, the recent shale oil and natural gas discoveries on U.S. territory will supply domestic industry with fuel, create jobs, and provide a valuable export product. And as incomes improve in the developing world, the appetite for the higher-quality goods the United States exports—not to mention its energy—will grow.
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