My partner Tim, hammered me today on a recent post where I thought I had been sharing my optimistic view of the future, when in fact I apparently only underscored the notion that if this is optimism, who needs pessimism.
So, I thought that maybe I should look into the Milken Institute‘s annual Global Conference, which was held this week in Los Angeles and was attended by many of the world’s most influential investors, economists, CEOs, innovators and policymakers, who met to discuss some of the most imminent and dire problems facing America and the world.
These same people were asked what makes them most optimistic about the America today. There was a predictably wide-range of responses, but it certainly was all positive.
Here’s what they said:
Professor, Harvard University
“The thing that makes me optimistic about the United States is technology and the ability of the United States still to be at the cutting edge. But of course that is quite geographically localized. That is a Silicon Valley story.”
Founder, BP Capital
“It’s energy. I mean, today the United States has the cheapest energy in the world. We got the cheapest oil. We got the cheapest gas. And we got the cheapest gasoline.”
See? If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t know Mitch Daniels from Mitch Williams.
“The resilience of the American economy over time. We still give birth to more new businesses than other places [and] that we still have a core of innovation.”
Professor, University of Chicago
“I think the strength of corporations [and] how much cleaning up they have done of their balance sheets, their work force and improving productivity is a hidden upside for the U.S. economy. If we can realize that over the years to come, I think there is substantial potential for growth.”
Senior Finance Fellow, Milken Institute
“I would agree (with Rajan) but I think that strength depends upon eliminating a lot of uncertainty. I think that’s the biggest barrier right now to the growth and after all it is an election year and one would expect a lot of uncertainty. There’s much more than there needs to be.”
Dallas Federal Reserve President
“We are growing our population. We have an enormous Hispanic population that’s coming in. We are still the magnet for anybody that wants to work hard in the world. And we create, and we innovate, and we are masters of creative destruction. As long as government won’t interfere with that adjustment, and let the American genius go to work, we’ll win.”
Author, Coming Apart: The State of White America
“The Tea Party to me is certainly as originally developed was this utterly spontaneous movement and all of my connections were that these were not racist, these were not Homophobes, all those social issues were off the table. They were talking about free enterprise, opportunity, liberty in very traditional ways. And that that much energy could be sparked with no direction just welled up is for me…wonderful. That’s my source of optimism.”
But, when they were asked if there are any future events that might impact their outlook, they all said that the one caveat to their answer, was the hindrance of political dysfunction in Washington and its negative drag on prosperity in America.
What? You don’t feel good about Technology? You don’t live in magical Silicon Valley, where the wealth just trickles down like an endless river? You don’t love that cheap gas, which is on its way to a $4 national average? All those new businesses and that core of innovation got you down? You don’t believe in the strength of those corporations you love? Come on now, just look at how strong and powerful Goldman-Sachs has become. I mean we’re talking insane productivity and ridiculously clean balance sheets. How can you not love that?
And, the population growth? The Hispanic population doubles every year. Making babies, man. Creating and innovating. That’s where its at. What about letting that American Genius get back to work. That’s happening, right? All that energy sparked with no direction, welling up everywhere. And gosh, that Tea Party WAS a thing of beauty. And, no Homophobes. Can’t beat that with a stick.
OK. I’m just being silly now, because finally they did actually say, “There’s always that pesky Iranian problem and our probable backing of Israel’s inevitable bombing of that country, and the resulting spike in global oil prices, along with the coming European breakup and flight from the Eurozone, Germany’s probable rise to supremacy in the wake of the collapse, global warming and the probability of a double-dip recession here at home, which will exacerbate the current unemployment problem and drive civil unrest, and the unchecked corruption of Wall Street bankers and the Congress”.
But all in all, according to these brilliant thinkers, the future looks pretty bright.