“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Charles Dickens wrote those words to describe Europe on the eve of the French Revolution, but they might well apply to 21st-century America.
The United States faces daunting challenges, including racial tensions, horrific gun violence, a polarized citizenry, a broken political system and stagnating wages. Given all that, you might wonder how these can possibly also be “the best of times.”
Part of the answer lies in two things that are sometimes portrayed as negatives — the diversity and youthfulness of our population. We continue to attract and welcome the world’s best to our shores. Smart, driven people from around the globe still see the U.S. as the best place to make their fortune and build a stable life. In 2015, just over half the kids under 5 years old in America were nonwhite. We benefit from this both directly and indirectly. New immigrants bring their own talent and fresh perspectives, and often raise children who burn with the American dream. Did you know Steve Jobs’ biological father was a Syrian immigrant?
And while we love to roll our eyes at the shortcomings (real and imagined) of the millennial generation, the relative youth of our population compared to the rest of the world fuels innovation and growth in our economy. Our younger generations will be coming into their prime when other populations, including China’s, are slowing down.
Bottom line: Our economy continues to dominate the world by nearly every measure, including these:
Gross domestic product: Despite all the chatter about China’s growth, the U.S. economy at $18 trillion remains the world’s largest. China is second at $11 trillion. Japan is third at a measly $4 trillion. Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, comes in at about $3 trillion.
Our economy is so big that we have states with GDPs comparable to entire countries. New York’s economy, for example, is the size of South Korea’s. The Texan economy is on par with Canada’s, and California matches France’s GDP.
Jobs: Employment in the U.S. has grown steadily since the Great Recession and financial crisis. While we still have wage-growth issues and too much underemployment, not every country has enjoyed the job growth we’ve created over the past few years.
Successful companies: The five largest companies in the world are American outfits — Apple, Google, Berkshire Hathaway, Exxon Mobil and Microsoft. Not good enough for you? Seven of the top 10 are American with Johnson and Johnson and Wells Fargo rounding out the U.S. contingent. Keep going? Fifty-three of the 100 largest companies in the world are American. China is waaaaay back in second place with 10.
Nobel prizes:The United States has more Nobel Prize winners than any other country with 257. Where did this number come from? Great Britain is second with 94. China isn’t even in the top 10. Just as an aside, we’re not only smart; we’re athletic, too. Americans have won 1,073 Olympic gold medals, almost double second-place USSR/Russia.
Killer websites: The three biggest websites in the world are American — Google, YouTube and Facebook. Add in Yahoo, Amazon, Wikipedia and Twitter, and we have seven of the world’s top 10 sites. Oh, and one of the other top 10 sites is Google/India.
Entertainment: The U.S. owns the pop culture industry. Nine of the top 10 grossing films of all time worldwide are American, led by “Avatar.” Nine of the 15 best-selling musical artists of all time are American. True, the Beatles are No. 1, but Garth Brooks and Elvis finish second and third.
This list is enough to make you start chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! But this is about more than national pride. There’s an important lesson here for investors. Don’t allow America’s challenges and problems to distract you from her role as the largest and most vibrant economy in the world. I have built the majority of my investment portfolio around quality U.S. investments throughout my entire career.
As Warren Buffett recently noted, “For 240 years, it’s been a terrible mistake to bet against America, and now is no time to start.”
Read the original AJC article here.
This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only. It is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions.