THE BLOG

Glass Half Full, America

10/25/2012 11:52 am ET | Updated Dec 25, 2012

A native Brit, I have lived my whole life in admiration and awe of the way Americans view the glass as half full. Your can-do attitude helped make your nation the leader of the free world.

Since the financial crisis, Americans have seen some incredibly tough times. However, to the rest of the world, America is still exceptional. From your military might to your Silicon Valley visionaries, many of us foreigners would love to have your level of decline right now.

In 1969 the United States' share of world GDP was around 25 percent. It still is. America has a total GDP of more than $15 trillion. China's is around $7 trillion. The United States is very much still world number one.

Since 2008, of the G7 countries, only Canada has debatably done better. This is in no small part down to Canada being the only G7 country to survive the financial crisis without a state bailout for its financial sector. Something to do with regulations...

We live in a globalized, interlinked, economy -- and compared to everywhere else at the moment, America is a good place to be.

At present, Europeans feel like passengers on the Titanic. Those not in the Eurozone are ensconced in first-class. In the middle there are Eurozone countries such as Germany and France (the latter encountering some pesky "pigeons" on deck), while those PIIGS are stuck in steerage.

What of the once much vaunted BRICs? Brazil has manufacturing issues, growth is not what it was and in August it launched a $66 billion stimulus plan. Putin has a glowering demeanor for a good reason. Unless oil is around $117 a barrel Russia can't break even, meanwhile the shale gas revolution is causing the country all sorts of potential problems since it is lowering the global price of gas. Added to which, the Russian middle class is rumbling. India's politicians make America's look functional and the power cut crisis this summer was a timely reminder of the structural problems it faces. Chinese growth has just slowed for a seventh consecutive quarter, as seven of the nine men who rule China prepare to handover power.

America has a bad unemployment rate? Yes. But in a recent report, of the 34 main industrialized countries, only Estonia and Iceland's unemployment rates are expected to fall faster, with rates increasing in most countries.

America's jobless claims have hit a four-year low. The U.S. is industrially competitive -- unit production costs are down 11 percent over the past decade, while costs have risen in almost every other advanced nation. The U.S. still invests more than anywhere else on innovation. A survey released in May by Accenture found that 40 percent of companies moving manufacturing operations in the past two years had moved them to the U.S., compared with 28 percent that moved facilities to China.

Home foreclosure rates in the U.S. are at a five-year low and housing starts are at a four-year high. American families have cut their debts to pre-recession levels, making faster economic growth a realistic possibility as long as America's politicians don't completely mess up the "fiscal cliff."

Owing in large part to issues with global demand, the stock market may have been wobbling over the past few days -- but since Obama took office, the Dow Jones has gained around 67 percent. Only four American Presidents since 1900 have had better results in a similar timeframe.

Small wonder that the latest Brookings Institution-Financial Times tracking index labeled the U.S. as "the brightest spot in the world economy." Surely some credit has to go to the man currently occupying the Oval Office for that?

Obama is under fire for not being specific enough for what he'd do in a second term. But Romney's plans are arguably vaguer and his figures full of holes. The president is at least running with a commitment to deal with the deficit fairly and a track record that currently compares favorably to every other world leader's.

America's glass is still half full. However November 6th will come down to whether Americans believe that it is.