As I See It

by

Published: November 25,2002

Americans tend to think that the world revolves around America and little of significance occurs outside our borders. We have been insulated from most of the world by two oceans and friendly neighbors to the north and south.

But nothing lasts forever and the age of mass communications and economic globalization has erased our isolation from the rest of the world. There is no denying how interconnected our economy has become with the economies of other countries.

U.S. economic growth is expected to be higher next year, but not a stellar recovery. Many of our trading partners are bogged down in financial mire and their predicament may slow our recovery. So much of our growth is tied to other countries that one must take a look at the economic health of our trading partners to assess how things will go for us.

Brazil and Japan are fragile and unlikely to solve their financial problems soon. Both of these countries are important trading partners with the U.S. and we are therefore concerned about their situation. The Japanese miracle so touted in the 1980s has collapsed and several more years will be required for economic stabilization to return for them. Brazil is teetering on the brink of default on their International Monetary Fund credit line, which comes up for renewal at the end of this month.

Europe is bogged down with governmental policy problems that just won’t go away. Canada’s current economic expansion is slowing to a more moderate pace and is unlikely to regain the momentum they have enjoyed this year.

Mexico is an oil-producing country and has benefited from higher oil prices. Though their economy is moving along at about a 4% clip, they are facing increasing problems with jobs being lost to China.

This sprinkling of economic statuses of some of our trading partners is not intended to confound you with statistics, but rather to point out that understanding American economic health requires consideration of more than just our own situation.

Looking long range at Mississippi’s future, there are several important factors that will likely move our economy forward over the coming years. Our location is ideal for product distribution. Interstate highways crisscross the state and we have a good deep-water port on the Coast. Rail transportation is expanding in our state.

The Nissan plant and related suppliers, along with the automotive manufacturing facilities in Alabama, are forming a cluster of manufacturing activity that will help our economy a bunch. Additionally, successful operation of these plants will encourage other manufacturers to locate here.

Mississippi raises lots of chickens and chickens are popular with our trading partners. Once their economies are back in gear, our poultry exports will expand dramatically.

The only dark cloud over Mississippi’s future is education. We have not created a culture that values education and that will continue to frustrate efforts to move us off the bottom of the pile. Only time will tell whether Mississippians will be educated enough to handle the sophisticated jobs that our state government is trying so hard to attract.

Nonetheless, this is Thanksgiving week and we should all be thankful for the privilege of being an American. Millions, if not billions, of people in other countries would give everything they have just to come here and enjoy a small measure of our freedom and prosperity. Today is a good time to pause and be thankful for the blessing of being an American. Our system is not perfect, but it is by far the best ever conceived by mortal man (or woman).

Thought for the Moment — Thanksgiving. Enjoy friends and family. Feast on our abundance. Be thankful to God for the opportunities we have been given. Pledge to help someone else along the way.

— Joe D. Jones, publisher

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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