Political gridlock in Washington... the lingering effects of the financial crisis... structural problems such as unemployment and the skills gap of our work force... the mediocre K-12 educational system. Are our best days behind us?
Joel Kurtzman persuasively shows why all the talk about America's decline is not only baseless but dead wrong. Our best days, are, in fact, ahead of us.
Four transformational forcesunrivaled manufacturing depth, soaring levels of creativity, massive new energy sources, and gigantic amounts of capital waiting to be investedhave been gathering steam. When combined they will provide the foundation for a much stronger economy, robust growth, and broad-based prosperity that will propel the United States to new heights.
One endlessly repeated anxiety is that “we don't make anything here, anymore.” The reality, though, is that the US is the world's dominant manufacturing powerand growing. American companies produce 20 percent of the world's goods in the US and perhaps another 15 to 20 percent outside our country. And much of what we make is recession-proofsuch as software, jetliners, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and food.
Kurtzman reveals the stories of the unsung heroes who are the creative force leading the second American century, describing the payoff of the investment in our best minds. American companies have stunning levels of talent and creativity at work in the world's fastest growing economic sectorsbiotech, pharmaceuticals, computer hardware and software, telecommunications, advanced manufacturing, materials science, and aeronautical and space engineering. In these fields, Americans are without peer and consistently break new ground.
We are coming to the realization that America is no longer beholden to the despots of foreign energy. Thanks to advances in technology developed in the US, we now have among the world's largest energy reserves, and are richer in energy resources than Saudi Arabia and second only to Russia.
These three strengthsmanufacturing, soaring levels of creativity, and energy independencewill be magnified and synergistically combined with the unprecedented amount of capital that now lies idle. US companies of all types are hoarding cash and securities worth more than 4 trillionan amount larger than the world's fourth largest economy, Germany. When the money starts flowing and is invested, it will rapidly propel every part of the economy forward.
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About the Author
Joel Kurtzman is senior fellow at the Milken Institute, a member of the editorial board of MIT Sloan Management Review, and a senior fellow at the Wharton School's SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management. Earlier in his career, Kurtzman was the editor-in-chief of Harvard Business Review, founding editor-in-chief of Strategy + Business magazine, and global partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Follow him on Twitter @jkurtzman.
Read an Excerpt
Come walk with me
If we proceed southwest on Third Street, which until recently was an empty, overgrown-with-weeds street in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, MA, we will see the future laid out before our eyes. The old rubber and metal-bending factories in this part of town are long gonebulldozed flat forty years ago to make way for a giant NASA research facility that was planned, laid out, but never built. Interest in returning to the moon waned, budget deficits grew, and, let’s face it, America has always been a country with a preposterously short attention span.
And then something remarkable happened. This Cambridge neighborhood became home to a new wave of American-led innovation that is transforming the world. There are many elements to that waveadvances in digital, robotic, space, and aeronautic technology, for example. But my tour will take you past just one aspect of what is now taking shapethe biomedical corridor.
That means I will ignore Amazon’s, newly leased 100,000 square feet of research space, and Google’s 40,000 square feet of research space, and Microsoft’s, I.B.M.’s, and Nokia’s research centers. These are the still-vibrant remnants of a previous age of American-led invention and creativity. That era spawned a myriad of software and hardware companies, chip developers, the Internet, the electronic economy, ATMs, smartphones, GPS, electron microscopes, and a multitude of apps. For the United States, most of that is a little less than cutting edge.
What’s going on now is different from what went on then. What is taking place now in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, a city of just 100,000 people across the Charles River from Boston, is happening on a different level. And, if in previous eras America’s ferocious creative outbursts changed the world, well, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Not by a long shot.
Table of Contents
Introduction: "No One Ever Made a Plugged Nickel Betting Against the USA" xiii
Chapter 1 A Stroll Through the Innovation Corridor 1
Chapter 2 The Rich Man's Depression 25
Chapter 3 The United States of Creativity 55
Chapter 4 Abundant, Cheap Energy 107
Chapter 5 Money to Burn 141
Chapter 6 America Makes Things 171
Chapter 7 Not Everything's Perfect 213
Chapter 8 California Dreaming 235
Chapter 9 Opportunities Abound 249
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This economic view of the positive and possible future for the US based is uplifting and allows you to feel good about the future, instead of miring in all the negativity in the press and politics. Based on the foundation of innovation, energy, manufacturing and financial strength within the US economy the author leads you down the path of possibilities for our future. It used facts and figures to show the strength and potential within the global and national economies. In a time of negative pundits and overwhelming negativity it is good to see there is a path to a brighter future and that the present is not as bad as it appears and how we have overcome bigger problems in our past.