Morris (The Trillion-Dollar Meltdown, 2008, etc.) presents a persuasive, upbeat forecast of economic growth, starting now, for the United States.
The author has a companionable voice, affable and easy, but with words chosen for maximum clarity. He tackles three elements of the American economy that he identifies as the driving forces of recovery: hydrocarbons from shale; investment in infrastructure and manufacturing; and health care. Each of these forces has received black eyes and body blows of late, from both the left and right of the political spectrum, but Morris, though not starry-eyed, optimistically assesses all three. He walks readers through the controversial process of extracting oil and gas from shale, providing a highly entertaining minicourse in geology. Fracking has gone badly wrong, he writes, acknowledging spillage, leakage, emissions and compromised aquifers, but there are ways to contain this damage, if not eliminate it, through responsible drilling practices. Our crumbling infrastructure calls out for a Keynesian infusion, Morris writes, but the level of investment relative to GDP "has fallen off dramatically, to the point where it could actually inhibit the industrial recovery.” That recovery must be based on jobs created at home, writes the author, citing a consulting group that estimates “an American company will save only about 10-15 percent of costs by manufacturing a kitchen appliance in China, which is too little to justify the long delivery lead times and other aggravations that come with offshoring.” Health care, long hostage to vested interests, is a huge employer and also makes important contributions to biotech industries and innovation-driven productivity growth. Our taxes, pitifully low by historical standards, could be put to better use than endless warfare, he argues—infrastructure, old-age security and education, for example.
Serious bureaucratic, technological and environmental issues, unpacked with facility, provide digestible food for thought.