USA – Still King of the Hill?

An illustration of horizontal drilling

Tom Friedman, the New York Times columnist, wrote a book a few years ago titled The World is Flat, where his thesis was that national and geographical separations had gone away. A factory in Thailand is the same as a factory in Tupelo and a call center in India can do the same things as one in Indianapolis.

The events of 2011 have shown us that he misunderstood the hills and depressions still separating the inhabitants of our planet.

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan is still affecting Toyota and Honda. They are under social and political pressure to keep production in Japan even if it is uneconomic. The floods in Thailand are screwing up their infrastructure even more.

Japan is also slogging through the impediment of a 77 yen to the dollar exchange rate that damages its ability to export goods.

In Europe, the grand experiment of the Euro as common currency for countries as different as Greece and Germany appears to be failing.

Events like the Japanese earthquake and the financial earthquake rumbling through Europe should not be underestimated. These events make North America more interesting to invest in for multinationals.

The horizontal drilling boom for oil and gas, which will probably make United States energy independent in a decade, is a huge serendipitous event that coincides with the realization that long supply lines do matter, and they can fail.

The media tells us that people in America are depressed and pessimistic. Probably true. But the world that I see favors the U.S. right now if we find the right leadership and pull together for a decade.

The drop of 25,000 people per month on Government payrolls shows that the country is starting to self correct. The steady reduction in personal debt is another hopeful sign of correction. Lower real estate prices are also on the whole a positive rebalancing of asset values. Used re-priced homes are finally selling and prices are stable to up in half of the major markets in the country. Retail sales are solidly up at Home Depot, which would not be the case in a deteriorating home market.

I think we spend so much time staring at our own warts that we miss the bigger picture. The world is not flat. We may not be king of the hill, but if not us, who is?

Question: Which country do you think is “King of the Hill?”

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4 thoughts on “USA – Still King of the Hill?

  1. EchEm

    I haven’t read the “World is Flat” but here I think, Yes a factory in Thailand can do the same things as a factory in Tupelo, or in fact better, if they are given the needy resources. I worked for a company in my home country of Sri Lanka, and you know what? Customer’s were requesting, sales to sell them the product made in Sri Lanka. When we polled them as to why they were preferring these supposedly “get what you pay for product”, most of them replied, that they got more than what they expected from the product that was made way cheaper, cost-wise, not quality-wise. Before my company invested in Sri Lanka they did some thorough research, and after a couple of years of fact-finding the decided to open the factory. So, what I think is wrong here is that just because it is cheap to assemble something, or cheap for someone to answer the phone doesn’t necessarily matter that it’s going to be of the same quality, BUT, if the company did some research, actually invested some money, they can surpass the quality they require. For example, there is a joke about how Dell call centers are in India, well of course their accent is going to be different!! What can Dell do? They could have English classes, elocution classes for the call center rep’s so they actually speak good english, pronunciate properly and know what they are talking about. I think we’ve come to the age where companies are needed more to balance cost and quality more and more.


    King of what. If we talk technology are the factors research and development, Designing tools and machines to produce the developments, Establishing work rules and profit to benefit all investors (workers and capital) Do our ideas profit the population or just entertain them. Will we leave this world better than we found it. Is there extra for those who are unable to be a part of the mainstream. King of what hill, America certainly is not technically.

  3. Jim Betland

    Sorry Jack but totally disagree with you. I beleive that we “Working Americans” are developing the technology that is creating a better world for everyone. I am not one to believe in global warming or carbon footprints, but I am more incouraged about the advancement’s in the medical field, and technogically that make this a “Better Place” for all. I guess that I am one of the few fortunate ones that gets to experience this each and everyday.


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