How quickly things can change

Twenty and 30 years ago, many people gave gloomy U.S. economic forecasts, especially when it came to our ability to compete internationally. But are those observations out of date today? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“Indeed, … if you go back and read some of the books — and I still have some of them on my shelves — written in the 1980s and 1990s, people were very gloomy about the U..S economy. They saw that our factories were going overseas. Or energy dependence was increasing. We were running a big, big trade deficit. And many of them said, ‘Hey, we’re just having our lunch eaten by foreign competitors.’

“It’s really interesting how quickly things can change, because when you look at the data now, all of those items have reversed. We’re now seeing some factories come back to the U.S. We’re actually seeing domestic manufacturing, not necessarily in terms of employment but in terms of production, increase. We’re seeing domestic energy production (in) our country skyrocketing — many say that we’re going to become eventually energy independent. And we are seeing our trade deficit go down. It’s about half today than it was five or six years ago.

“I think what this shows … is the great adaptability and flexibility of our economy — one of the big pluses of the United States.”

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