The U.S. Is Still the Center of the World

Posted by Brad McMillan, CFA, CAIA, MAI

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This entry was posted on Oct 22, 2014 10:32:00 AM

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U.S. Is Still the CenterI am currently attending a Goldman Sachs conference, and I was struck by one key point made by the agenda: The U.S. is still the center of the world. Why do I say that? Well, the conference starts here in New York and then moves around the world—to Tokyo, Sydney, Hong Kong, and London—before ending up back here in New York. Kind of a neat idea.

The fact that the conference starts and ends here is more than symbolic. Global speakers are, by and large, at the New York sessions. Indeed, most of the conference sessions are hosted here. And it’s no accident that the headquarters of most (though not all) of the investment profession’s speakers are here as well.

For all the changes the world has undergone over the past few decades, and for all the problems and issues we continue to face here in the U.S., this is still where people and businesses want to be.

This has not always been the case. Boston, where I live, refers to itself as the “Hub of the Universe.” That was never true—and certainly isn’t true now—and I am well aware that me saying that the U.S. is the center doesn’t make it so either. China, for example, refers to itself as the “Middle Kingdom,” referencing its status as the center and super-dominant power throughout most of its history. China is rising, no doubt about it, but it hasn’t yet made it back to what the country’s leaders see as their rightful place.

Still, the U.S.’s dominant role is evident from multiple perspectives. The dollar is strengthening. Oil production is rising. U.S. naval forces patrol the globe. And in both Europe and Asia, people care more about what the U.S. will do than any other nation.

A new American century on the horizon?

A number of people have reached out to me, asking questions about a new round of doomsaying. Make no mistake: There is a lot wrong out there in Europe, in China, and elsewhere—even here in the U.S. Collapse is quite possible somewhere, but I don’t believe it will be here. Troubles will weigh heavily on other places around the world, but the effects for us will, I believe, be much more indirect.

This is a topic I will be writing a great deal about in the future. You can see the outline of a new American century starting to appear. It certainly is not guaranteed (and we could mess it up), but the possibility is there. And it’s something to think about when the headlines all focus on the doom and gloom.

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