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With its innovators, industrial might, even oil, it has a bright future

On the one-year anniversary of the worst financial market crash in more than eighty years, it might be useful to reflect on where our country is financially and economically and, more importantly, where it might be going.

Obviously, we still face several major problems.  We continue to deal with stock and real estate market uncertainties, a serious recession and the worst unemployment in more than 25 years. As far as the future outlook is concerned, the present economic problems could be dwarfed by a government running budget deficits and increasing the national debt on a scale never seen before in this country.

Yet, even though much of the popular media dwells on current negatives while ignoring future problems, I am going to let my personal and professional life be guided by the many positives that I see in America.

Let me start on a personal level by saying that there’s no better country on earth where I would rather face these economic and financial challenges. I have this faith in America because both my wife and I came to this country as poor immigrant kids who didn’t speak a word of English, and we, like many others, used the opportunities to build a prosperous life for our family.

Which other country has America’s initiative, spirit and the ability to get through even the most difficult economic and political times? None.

I also have faith in this country’s innovative capabilities. A recent edition of the Technology Review, MIT’s alumni magazine, featured 35 innovators, all under the age of 35. From advances in nano-technology and DNA analysis to synthetic biology and solar combinations, these young innovators covered an unbelievable range of future technologies to cure diseases, improve our world and our lives.

Now, if we only could keep our politicians from interfering with true, life-changing innovation, we might really have something to get excited about.

My faith in our economic strength is unshakable.  For example, we should realize that the U.S. gross domestic product in 2007 was about $14 trillion compared to the global GDP of about $54 trillion. While Americans make up about 4 percent of the world’s population, they produce approximately 26 percent of all goods and services. The next largest economy is Japan with its $4.4 trillion GDP. As a matter of fact, the American economy is so huge that it is larger than that of the next four countries – Japan, Germany, China and the United Kingdom – combined.

Let’s also not forget to look at our industrial might. Yes, you are reading this correctly. While the decline of our domestic automobile and steel industries over the last thirty years has often been cited as the primary example of our deindustrialization, the U.S. is now left with an industrial production of about $2.8 trillion (in 2006), still the largest in the world, and more than twice the production of the next industrial power, Japan, and larger than Japan’s and China’s industries combined.

Finally, let’s talk about our energy situation. With all of the talk about our more or less voluntary dependence on oil imports, did you realize that the U.S. is the third-largest oil producer in the world behind Saudi Arabia and Russia? The 8.4 million barrels a day that we produce represent 85 percent of Saudi Arabia’s output and makes us larger than Iran, Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates.

With these examples in mind, who wants to focus singularly on the short-term problems that our country faces? I, for one, can accept an uncertain (though temporarily difficult) future for the long-term security, freedom and opportunity that our unique and great country offers.

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Dieter Thurow, MBA, CPA/PFS, is the owner of Thurow Wealth Management Inc. He is located in Healdsburg and welcomes your comments at dieter@dthurow.com