The Long View
Listening to cable news, it’s easy to conclude that the world is going downhill fast, especially in an election year. But economist Jeff Thredgold reminds us, in his semi-annual Happy Talk blog posting, that the general direction of the world is up, not down, and there are plenty of reasons for optimism. Here are a few of Jeff’s points that jumped out at me:
· The country’s net petroleum imports peaked at 60.3 percent in 2005 and dropped to 49.3 percent in 2010. North Dakota this year is expected to supply more oil for domestic use than Saudi Arabia. For every dollar of U.S. economic output generated today, we burn less than half as much oil as 30 years ago.
· Productivity of U.S. workers rose an average of 2.4% annually during the past 10 years, some of the strongest gains in 40 years. The average U.S. worker is 10-12 times more productive than the average worker in China. Americans won 30 Nobel prizes in science and economics during the past five years, while China took home one.
· U.S. GDP has climbed by more than 210 percent since 1970, while aggregate emission of six principal air pollutants has plunged by 60 percent.
During the early 1960s, the five-year survival rate from cancer for Americans was one in three. Today it is two in three – the highest in the world – and continues to climb.
· Donations to charity rose 3.8 percent in 2010, with $291 billion donated by individuals, foundations and corporations. As a percentage of GDP, Americans gave twice as much as England, the next most charitable nation.
Here is some more immediate good news: Consumer spending, seasonally adjusted, soared by 0.8 percent in February, boosted by favorable tailwinds including warm weather, pent-up demand, stronger job creation and stock market gains. The caveat is that income growth remains sluggish, up just 0.2 percent last month, and the wide gap between income and spending growth is unlikely to last.
Have a great weekend.
SVP, Chief Economist
Grubb & Ellis
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