Unquestionably, infrastructure in the United States is falling apart. It’s everywhere around the nation and impacting everyone.
The current facts prove this assertion. For example, the average American loses 42 hours stuck in traffic each year. Our airports and air traffic control systems are so degenerated that the nation squanders $9 billion each year in lost productivity from flight delays. America’s interstate highways were last updated in the 1960s, while our inland waterways are operating with 100-year-old locks and dams.
The economic toll of our crumbling infrastructure is accelerating to new levels as such costs will rise close to $10 trillion in the next decade for American businesses. Because previous U.S. administrations ignored our avoidance of this approaching disaster, the urgency of remake totality has never been greater.
This year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has approached this neglect. Chamber President Tom Donohue testified before Congress March 6 to encourage lawmakers to move immediately on bipartisan legislation to revitalize this critical foundation of our economy. It will require a unified political approach that understands the economic urgency.
While former President Eisenhower was the last president to tackle successful infrastructural approaches at the height of the Cold War with Russia, our presidents since then have ignored the issue. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce proposed the following four fundamentals:
1. Congress must end the disastrous gridlock that has shoved infrastructure to the bottom of its politically oriented necessities.
2. The U.S. government must use innovative financing solutions to pay for major critical infrastructural projects, including public and private funding.
3. Congress must permanently streamline the “go-ahead” timetable so that the usual congressional bickering is set aside by the critical urgency of this already too-long-delayed necessity.
4. It is of utmost urgency that the accelerated number of skilled workers are rapidly developed to prohibit such delay.
Although congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle agree with this need in principle, they must join together for the good and welfare of the United States. For once, they must show they can put this nation’s increasingly urgent needs ahead of political advantage.
When the Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell recanted his previous tendency of raising quarter-annual interest rates another 0.25 percent in 2019, he was yielding to pressure from President Donald Trump, who had appointed him.
This came after the U.S. stock market collapsed in the first months of 2018, falling from a high Dow Jones Industrial Average of near 29,000 to less than 23,000 as the year ended. This was met by an enraged President Trump, who blamed Powell. Trump charged him as being responsible for this stock market crash and criticized his appointee’s “indifference” to the financial market.
While Powell’s flip-flop from the Federal Reserve Board’s independence by recanting future quarterly interest rate increases unleashed criticism by Democrats, it seemed to moderate the U.S. stock market volatility.
The zig-zag of the financial market’s reaction put Powell in an untenable position. It happened even though President Trump’s remake of former U.S. strength in expanding domestic manufacturing, which the Trump administration was well on its way to accomplishing, met with increasing resistance.
Although President Trump’s first two years had successfully upgraded the manufacturing jobs market, and economic strength in general, increasing hostility came from conglomerates who had shifted many of their divisions overseas, thereby lowering retail pricing and keeping much of their monetary liquidity in foreign banks. Also acting as negatives were import/export tariff remakes leading to ultra-high U.S. trade deficits.
While the Federal Reserve Board has always prided itself on independence from political confrontation, the upcoming 2020 presidential election will play an increasingly important part in these financial machinations. You can be assured that Democrats will focus heavily on the higher prices at the retail level already occurring.
Unfortunately, this will be putting merciless pressure on Chairman Powell and the Federal Reserve Board as it fulfills its job of maintaining a national interest rate balance, taking into consideration the potential of higher inflation and the fear of a disastrous U.S. employment and economic growth reversal.
Space: The New Economic Frontier
It’s been more than 50 years since Neil Armstrong took that one small step onto the moon’s surface. But no one at the time imagined that this breakthrough would one day become an integral part of the earth’s economy. Although in its earliest stages, there are enough incipient innovations with the economic potential to certify that “space” will soon become a major part of thousands of companies within our current generation.
Already, leading corporations and multibillionaire entrepreneurs are determined to make space tourism a reality and are getting ever closer as the calendar moves forward. Biotechnology companies, such as those in the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries, conduct research and development on the International Space Station because of the experimental advantages of micro-gravity.
Other examples quietly at work across industrial sectors, such as the global positioning system made possible through satellites, has applications throughout the economy in general. It’s no surprise that the commercial space industry has grown from $175 billion in revenues in 2005 to $385 billion in 2017. As more private investors jump into the industry, growth will continue to skyrocket. U.S. Chamber of Commerce economists project that commercial space will be at least a $1.5 trillion industry by 2040.
The group recently enhanced U.S. space policy efforts to help all types of businesses take advantage of new opportunities and navigate the risks that will inevitably appear. The strong U.S. government showing at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce events reflect the administration’s integrated strategy for a national space policy with private sector collaboration.
The Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with U.S. government leaders to establish an effective regulatory regime and confront emerging challenges, such as space debris and traffic management.
Harnessing the economic potential of space will continue to be a difficult task. However, similar to other seemingly impossible hardships to overcome, the unlimited possibilities of success for the United States in space economies will likely improve with the effort.