Having saved the world from itself over 60 years ago and put a man on the Moon 25 years later, Americans are a proud lot. But, time waits on no one. As the country's vaunted financial infrastructure reports over $400 billion in write-offs and credit dries up, the transportation infrastructure watches its airlines charge for carrying a suitcase while bridges collapse, and its social security infrastructure sinks slowly into the abyss of insolvency, dare we ask, “what's next”? Try energy. Meeting America's energy needs and moving toward a low carbon future look increasingly distant.
This article could as easily be about the financial or transportation infrastructure as it is about energy. Or education or healthcare or immigration. We're reasonably good at fixing specific problems, considerably less adept at developing policy over broader areas. The reasons are many but one is key: our central government has sought—and failed—to fix and do everything. Blame it on the media, personalities, or simply good intentions gone bad. But, debate, compromise and principled consensus have become ever more difficult in Washington. The end result is the country's real challenges remain unsolved.
Economic policy covers a multitude of topics—interest rates, employment, inflation, and GDP growth to name a few. It’s about the environment, agriculture, and energy. But, mostly, it’s about budgets: deciding how much money goes where and then how to raise it.
As the US ponders its economic future, PT spoke with three different sources about their take on what lies ahead: Wilbur Ross, one of the country’s experts on bankruptcies and restructuring; Georges Sudarkis, an investment officer with ADIA, the world’s largest state fund; and Vic Miller, a leading authority on federal budgets. To read what they had to say, check out the three new articles in this May 2008 issue of Policy Today.
Highly regarded within the field or bankruptcies and restructuring, Wilbur Ross is Chairman and CEO of W R Ross and Co. of New York. His successes include automotive, coal, and steel manufacturers. Now, Ross is focusing on the financial services sector.
At a recent conference, Ross provided a very sobering view of the financial black hole that American banks and consumers have dug for themselves.