As a country, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of our private business sector showing strong signs of growth, despite the complete dysfunction of our federal government. President Obama recently stated, “The greatest nation on earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to the next to see their elected officials cause another.” And he is right.
We are currently in “sequestration,” a bill that has mandated severe budget cuts across the board. We do not have a federal budget approved. If we don’t have an increase of the debt ceiling by May, the United States will start defaulting on our bills. In four years, the U.S. has fallen from No. 1 to No. 7 in the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness rankings. Private business is sitting on almost $2 trillion in cash, hesitant to spend or invest because of the concern over this dysfunction.
But there is a part of our country that continues to perform, and that is the entrepreneurship that drives private enterprise, which in turn drives our economy. Look at the recent numbers. The housing market is finally rebounding nicely. The job market is slowly getting better, and the stock market continues to hit new highs. Companies’ balance sheets are strong, and growth continues to be positive. Consumer spending is also positive, and retailers are opening new stores and trying new concepts.
One main reason for this is the investment in research and development, which is at its highest levels in almost 50 years. State and local governments are doing what our federal government cannot do—adopting sweeping reforms to attract businesses and investment. Reforms that include the abolishment of corporate and personal income taxes, raising dollars for infrastructure spending, and giving schools their biggest revamping in years.
This part of our country is able to remain competitive and continue to grow due to innovation, education, infrastructure, and less regulation.
Think how well this would all work if the federal government joined in.
Alan P. Shor co-founded The Retail Connection LP in 2004. He serves as president and co-chairman and heads up the firm’s investment and merchant banking business. Contact him at [email protected]