Wednesday, July 16, 2008
America - a developing nation?
Silicon Valley is an odd part of America. For a start most of the people you tend to meet are transplants from either some other corner of the world or some other part of America. So when you live here you tend to get distorted view of what America is really like. I recently got a good chance to observe 'real' America. Not by visiting another part of it but by leaving it for a while. In the last month I did a trip to Europe and witnessed first hand how the Europeans view America. I think it would be fair to say that America is no longer viewed the way it was when I lived there. America used to be a super power with money to throw at any problem. America used to be a place where everyone had a great standard of living. America used to have people that travelled to Europe for a vacation. Instead, America is a place where the banking industry is in turmoil and the economy is 'challenged.' It is the place where people have suddenly realized that SUVs are a dumb idea for most average motorists. It is a place where tourists now go carrying an extra suitcase so they can restock their wardrobes at a fraction of the cost they would at home. Put simply America has become a place that is cheap to visit and yet has pretty impressive infrastructure. Indeed America is perhaps the first highly sophisticated third world country in the eyes of many. It seems hard to imagine that America has become this in such a short space of time. Ten years ago, the economy here was flying and Wall Street was in charge. Today Wall Street is in hiding and the economy is hardly firing on all cylinders. Indeed if it weren't for the weak dollar then the US economy would likely be in a recession of some magnitude. As it is it is prompting people to buy product and services from here as if this were China or India. Only yesterday VW announced it is to open a manufacturing plant in Tennessee. It did this it was said, because of the weak dollar. All I can say is that they obviously assume America is set to have a weak dollar for some time to come as they are spending $1 Billion on this plant. So I return to my observation that America is perhaps becoming a new class of country. It is clearly 'developed' and yet thanks to a weak dollar is now competing for jobs and contracts shoulder to shoulder with the developing nations. Ten years ago, such a thought would have been impossible to imagine.