Americans are losing sight of the reality that their nation’s creativity, resourcefulness, and economy are still the strongest in the world, said international affairs analyst Michael Moran.
In a keynote address at the ULI Spring Meeting in Vancouver, he said, “There’s a real negative, almost resigned sense.” An award-winning journalist Moran is now the managing director at the company Control Risks for global risk analysis.
A recent Pew survey showed that Americans think China’s economy is bigger than their own. There also is a belief that the United States is mired in such political deadlock that it is immobilized. And there’s a pervasive sense that the conflict in Iraq and the combined housing-market and financial collapse wounded the country mortally.
But that pessimism ignores current realities, he said.
Even in the depths of the Great Recession, the United States was still producing impactful, adaptive inventions that have taken the world by storm: Facebook and Twitter, smartphones, and weaponized drones, among others.
And, although it seemed briefly as though emerging economies were the only places to which capital was flowing, that has changed.
“Capital flows from the big, emerging powers . . . are now flowing this way,” said Moran.
The new immigrant-investor program in the United States, EB-5, has drawn money back to American projects.
And, even without that, “the realities are . . . that it is still the most dynamic economy in the world,” he said. “The idea [people have] that the U.S. economy is in some kind of death spiral . . . is hard for me to fathom.”
Moran’s 2012 book, The Reckoning: Debt, Democracy, and the Future of American Power, argued that the United States—in spite of some body blows to its economy—has powerful cultural and demographic advantages that other nations lack.
Moran didn’t downplay the huge increase in the economies of other countries—not just the much-touted BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) nations, but also places like Nigeria.
But even dramatic increases in the output of those nations’ economies are nowhere near, in dollar numbers, what even a 1 or 2 percent increase in the U.S. economy amounts to.
And many of the emerging economies don’t have the cultural makeup or the reliable political and economic foundation to be as dynamic as the United States.
For instance, Russia is experiencing a brain drain, he said, because “it’s not a place where Russians feel they can plot their own future reliably.”
And trying to innovate in that country is difficult, with the cumbersome system it has in place. “This kind of revolutionary capitalism is not in their DNA.”
For the tens of thousands of people involved in the real estate industry, he also had positive messages.
For starters, the middle class is exploding in many countries around the world and middle-class suburbs are being built in cities where that would have been unimaginable ten years ago.
And in the United States, he said, the empty houses sitting on the market won’t be there for long.
Also, the United States still attracts thousands of immigrants every year.
“Believe me, someone’s going to live in those houses—the people are coming.”