The current times are disheartening. We are in uncharted waters. Nevertheless, through my columns, I admit to being a cheerleader. I do not apologize for this. As an entrepreneur, I find it useful to think about where we are, where we have been, and where we can go in the future.
The voters have spoken. The U.S. election of November 2012 resulted in very little visible change — Democrats retain control of the White House and the Senate, Republicans the House of Representatives and most governors’ mansions — 30 as of January. The U.S. remains a nation split fairly evenly along party lines, just as it was prior to the election. So what now?
As a small business owner, I knew it was coming. As a skeptic of any pronouncement by the White House relating to healthcare, I knew consumers and small businesses would get socked with higher rates. And as an employer that works with private health insurance providers, I knew they would be able to manipulate Obamacare to make even more money. It has all come to pass as I had feared.
Eliminating short-distance airline flights between regional airports can significantly boost American efficiencies. Plus, airlines can obtain large savings by reducing landing fees, jet fuel consumption and airline service personnel. And this could be possible simply by connecting Amtrak and inter-urban passenger rail travel to many U.S. airports.
An emerging narrative in 2012 is that a proliferation of protectionist, treaty-violating, or otherwise illiberal Chinese policies is to blame for worsening U.S.-China relations. China trade experts from across the ideological and political spectra have lent credibility to that story. Business groups that once counseled against U.S. government actions that might be perceived by the Chinese as provocative have changed their tunes. The term “trade war” is no longer taboo.
While the Obama and Romney campaigns spar over who or what “saved” the U.S. automotive industry, available data indicate that the nation’s frequently overlooked Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) program should be in line for a lot of the credit—without bailout loan guarantees or massive federal appropriations.
Enacted by Congress in 1934, the FTZ program allows producers in the United States to bring foreign merchandise for processing into the United States at reduced or zero tariff duties. The hundreds of foreign-trade zones and subzones established across the country—such as Nissan’s two Tennessee manufacturing facilities—are considered outside U.S. Customs territory even though all health, safety, labor and other U.S. laws fully apply.
Globalization, defined as the integration of national markets through international trade and investment, has boosted competitiveness, productivity, innovation, and living standards around the world. And that’s not all. According to Geoffrey Gertz of the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, globalization is responsible for reducing the world poverty rate by approximately 70 million people each year since 2005, a number equal to the population of Turkey.
What is NAFTA really about? This might seem a silly question. NAFTA is about trade, right? It’s the North American Free Trade Agreement after all.
But what if it’s not really mainly about trade at all? Thinking chiefly in terms of trade might actually obscure the real point.
China’s current administration is in a relatively stable position having engineered an apparently successful soft landing of the economy following the global economic crisis. Its main political objectives have been maintained, while increasingly focusing on the economic transformation to ensure sustainable long-term development.
Looking back 30 years, China was only just emerging from a planned economy. Its retail sector was strictly regulated, commodities were scarce, and a ration system was still in place.
Coupons were issued not only for food and fuel, but also for bikes and televisions. Each coupon specified an item, quantity and sometimes a retail outlet as well. Meat in particular was in short supply, rationed at 0.25 kilogram per person per month, and many Chinese had to eat vegetarian diets. Regardless of financial wealth, without coupons Chinese people simply couldn’t purchase goods.
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