Economy of the United States

national economy of the United States
(Redirected from American economy)

The economy of the United States is a highly developed mixed economy. It is the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and the second-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). It also has the world's eighth-highest per capita GDP (nominal) and the tenth-highest per capita GDP (PPP) in 2018. GDP measures recessions by two negative quarters of growth. The United States has the most technologically powerful economy in the world and its firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances. The U.S. dollar is the currency most used in international transactions and is the world's foremost reserve currency, backed by its economy, its military, debt reimbursement, and the petrodollar system. Several countries use it as their official currency, and in many others, it is the de facto currency. The largest U.S. trading partners are China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany, South Korea, United Kingdom, France, India, and Taiwan. The U.S. is the world's largest importer and the second-largest exporter. It has free trade agreements with several nations, including NAFTA, Australia, South Korea, Israel, and few others which are in effect or under negotiating stage.

[T]he chief business of the American people is business. They are profoundly concerned with producing, buying, selling, investing and prospering in the world. ~ Calvin Coolidge
Only during two periods since 1776 has the government mostly left the economy alone: during the early years of the federal republic; and in the two decades previous to the Civil War. The political economist Condy Raguet called the first period of economic freedom, from 1783 to1807, "the golden age" of the republic: Trade was free, taxes were low, money was sound, and Americans enjoyed more economic freedom than any other people in the world. Sumner thought the years from 1846 to 1860—the era of the independent treasury, falling tariffs, and gold money—was the true "golden age." ~ Scott Trask

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  • As institutions influence behavior and incentives in real life, they forge the success or failure of nations. Individual talent matters at every level of society, but even that needs an institutional framework to transform it into a positive force. Bill Gates, like other legendary figures in the information technology industry (such as Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Jeff Bezos), had immense talent and ambition. But he ultimately responded to incentives. The schooling system in the United States enabled Gates and others like him to acquire a unique set of skills to complement their talents. The economic institutions in the United States enabled these men to start companies with ease, without facing insurmountable barriers. Those institutions also made the financing of their projects feasible. The U.S. labor markets enabled them to hire qualified personnel, and the relatively competitive market environment enabled them to expand their companies and market their products. These entrepreneurs were confident from the beginning that their dream projects could be implemented: they trusted the institutions and the rule of law that these generated and they did not worry about the security of their property rights. Finally, the political institutions ensured stability and continuity. For one thing, they made sure that there was no risk of a dictator taking power and changing the rules of the game, expropriating their wealth, imprisoning them, or threatening their lives and livelihoods. They also made sure that no particular interest in society could warp the government in an economically disastrous direction, because political power was both limited and distributed sufficiently broadly that a set of economic institutions that created the incentives for prosperity could emerge.
    • Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (2012)
  • Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is our religion.[1]
  • When the economy falls over, we won’t be jellyfish. We’ll still have backbones and teeth, white teeth, and double standards to equalize the equilibrium that is never the same.
  • [T]he stakes for America are never small. If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the vulnerable will suffer most.
  • The story of neoliberalism is quite familiar to the millions across the USA whose lives have been ravaged by the "financial crisis of 2007-2008," which led to countless families losing their life savings, homes, and businesses. Commercial media attempted to neutralize the nastiness of neoliberal policies that led directly to this unseemly situation by calling the global emergency "a financial crisis" or "economic downturn," as if these events were unfolding as part of a historical movement or a cyclical part of economic laws. Yet, it was clear that the situation was a direct and logical outcome of the corporate wilding of America, where years of neoliberal policies have resulted in the greatest wealth gap to date in this country. The resulting scenario is violence - but not necessarily the type of violence that media outlets portray. I am not talking about muggings, robberies, or even shootings. I am pointing to a much deeper and sinister type of violence: the type of violence that can be prevented easily, such as the violence of forcing people, especially children, to go perpetually hungry in a society of great abundance; the violence of having people sleep on the streets unprotected from the harsh elements when millions of homes are vacant across the country; and the violence of paying people such low wages that they are unable to secure basic human needs such as clean water, healthy food, dental and medical care, a decent home, affordable transportation, and quality education.
    • Jung Min Choi, "Neoliberalism and Education: The Disfiguration of Students," published in Neoliberalism, Economic Radicalism, and the Normalization of Violence. Springer (2016) ISBN 978-3319251677
  • The object of this new American industrial empire, so far as that object was conscious and normative, was not national well-being, but the individual gain of the associated and corporate monarchs through the power of vast profit on enormous capital investment; through the efficiency of an industrial machine that bought the highest managerial and engineering talent and used the latest and most effective methods and machines in a field of unequaled raw material and endless market demand. That this machine might use the profit for the general weal was possible and in cases true. But the uplift and well-being of the mass of men, of the cohorts of common labor, was not its ideal or excuse. Profit, income, uncontrolled power in My Business for My Property and for Me—this was the aim and method of the new monarchial dictatorship that displaced democracy in the United States in 1876.
  • We do not believe that the American economy is a zero-sum game―in other words, if I have more, that means someone else will have less. What we said in that forum is that we believe in a growing pie. Just because I have a certain slice of the pie does not exclude anyone else from it by design. Unfortunately, the opposite view is held by many people in the West today. They do think it is a zero-sum game, that there's only so much to go around and that it has to be shared more fairly. They do not comprehend expanding wealth or creating wealth; they view it as limited and finite and want to redistribute it. It pains us greatly that we are not able to get our message across that the great prosperity so many people in this country enjoy is available to everybody―if you are just taught to avail yourself of it, how to believe in yourself, how to be self-sufficient, and how to escape government dependency.
  • The U.S. economy was organized differently from the New Deal until 1973. As incomplete, uneven, and racist as it was, social welfare and public housing worked to ameliorate the grossest injustices of the capitalist system. Capitalism was organized in a way that was less mean than it is now. The world can be organized such that it doesn’t simultaneously produce the people we call homeless and the thinking that we have to get rid of them.
  • The blood, sweat, tears, and suffering of Black people are the foundations of the wealth and power of the United States of America. We were forced to build America, and if forced to, we will tear it down. The immediate result of this destruction will be suffering and bloodshed. But the end result will be perpetual peace for all mankind.
    • Huey Newton, "In Defense of Self-Defense", The Huey P. Newton Reader, p. 137
  • Part of the US success was how its massive economic power intersected with the daily lives of American citizens. Other rising powers in history had seen their rise mainly benefit their elites, while ordinary people had to be satisfied with the scraps left at the table of empire. The United States changed all that. Its economic rise created a domestic consumer society that everyone could aspire to take part in, including recent immigrants and African-Americans, who were otherwise discriminated against and had little political influence. New products offered status and convenience, and the experience of modernity through goods produced by new technology defined what it meant to be American: it was about transformation, a new beginning in a country where resources and ideas fertilized each other through their abundance.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A World History (2018),
  • We’ve had an economy that never really escaped the crash of 2008. In a way, the last 10 years have been an economy on life support: vast amounts of money pumped into the economy; record drops in interest rates, inviting everybody—business, individuals, governments—to borrow money—a debt-sustained situation. And after a while, you can’t mount up the debt on the basis of an economy that hasn’t really gotten going. And we’re seeing the eventual break. You know, the capitalist system has a downturn every four to seven years. It’s had that for centuries. And the last big downturn was 2008 and '09. So, if you do four and seven, and you add it to nine, we're due for one. And every major stock market observer, bank and so on predicts that we’re having a downturn. So it’s really only a question of exactly when. And the stock market anticipates this. And so we’re having, in a way, economic chickens coming home to roost. And the notion that it’s just the Fed’s policy that explains this is really the kind of remark that would get a student a very low grade in any economics course.
  1. "Book of Business Quotations". Ridgers, Bill, ed. The Economist. July 31, 2012.