United States Economic Conditions

United States Economic Conditions

GDP per capita in the US was close to $ 39,000 in 2004, but its distribution appeared to be characterized by growing inequality: from the mid-eighties of the 21st century, in spite of several expansive economic cycles that allowed 1 % richer to double their incomes, the resources available for the poorest 60 % remained substantially unchanged. Although the official level of unemployment was contained in the years 1999-2006 on an average of 5 %, thanks to a marked flexibility in employment relationships, the most powerful economy on Earth still counts a 13% of the population below the poverty line (and this share rises to 20 % among African American citizens and Latinos); it is above all the states of the South and South-East that have the largest contingents of low incomes. At the top of the economic pyramid, however, the assets of some families equal the wealth accumulated annually by entire states.

The rise in GDP, estimated at an annual rate of 2.9 % in the period 1999-2006, presents some profiles of ambiguity, because it is mainly financed by the increase in foreign debt, which has exceeded 20 % of the product. The debt volume expands due to the heavy negative balance of trade, which began to manifest itself clearly at the beginning of the 21st century. and that only in 2004 it reached 750billions of dollars, under the imposing competition of the emerging Chinese giant. Moreover, more than a fifth of this imbalance has matured precisely in the context of trade with China, which has invested a large part of its surpluses in financing the US Treasury, becoming its main creditor. The state budget deficit, which has also worsened, is affected not a little by the spending levels imposed by the Bush administration’s war operations, which in 2006 reached 2 billion dollars a day.

With the use of slightly less than 2 % of the labor force, the primary sector contributed in 2004 for the ‘ 1 % to the formation of total income. The modernization of farms and breeding towards medium-large sizes, with the use of cutting-edge techniques (including the large-scale introduction of GMOs), has been defined for some time. Despite the strong expansion of domestic consumption linked to very rich diets, the high yields of the sector are able to sustain persistent flows towards foreign countries, in particular of wheat, corn and soybeans; overall, wares, along with fishery products and the products of a thriving agribusiness activities, represented in 2005 the 12% of exports. If both remain aligned on 22 – 23 % of the employment shares and those of income provided by the industry, is the industry’s internal structure that continues to change profoundly. The dismantling of the old heavy industry hubs, which have been partially relocated out of US soil, is now complete. Leading sectors, on the other hand, are consolidated, such as aerospace, biotechnology, information technology, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, supported by public and private spending in the research branch which in 2004 reached 2.7% of GDP: it is no coincidence that almost two-fifths of sales abroad are represented precisely by products with a high technological content. Also for these innovative industries, the tendency to reduce costs in order to face fierce European and, increasingly, Asian competition leads to keep the nerve centers of companies above all on US soil, decentralizing various stages of production processes abroad. A significant example is offered by the approximately 4000 companies that have set up their factories just beyond the Mexican border, in order to benefit from cheaper labor costs and taxation. Other branches of activity that increase their breath, especially in the great creativity ganglia, such as New York or Los Angeles, are those linked to a particular lifestyle: from the high fashion industry to that of entertainment to the cultural one.. Many of these sectors border the tertiary sector, which, with 75% of employees and income, now firmly dominates the US economy. The main pillars are the banking and financial activities that regulate immense flows of money from offices concentrated mainly in some world-class stock exchanges, first of all New York, San Francisco and Chicago. The contribution of the communications and transport branch is also noteworthy: the international components in the movement of some large commercial ports (such as the system of docks between New York and Newark and that between Los Angeles and Long Beach) and of an extensive complex of airports (with the main nodes in the New York airports and in the ganglia of Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas).46 million admissions in 2004, are the third destination in the world for current visitors (here mainly Japanese and Mexicans).

Although the country has immense energy resources, with 270 million annual t of oil, 540 billion m 3 of gas, 900 million coal t, which is flanked by higher hydroelectric production in the world and the contributions of a hundred plants nuclear power, the immense consumption linked to the dominant models of life make it indispensable in this strategic field to resort to external supplies. In particular, for oil, foreign dependence approaches 60%, offering a valid interpretative key of the political-military intervention of the US in many chessboards better equipped in terms of energy sources and on the crucial routes for their passage. The amount of energy consumption represents a delicate point also in terms of environmental balances, heavily compromised by other polluting factors as well. Although they did not adhere to the Kyoto Protocol, the US have undertaken, from the central level to the peripheral ones, an extensive battle to safeguard the natural frameworks and urbanized spaces, sometimes subject to high risks for public health; but each generation significantly increases its land use and a US citizen continues to produce 5,500kg per year of carbon equivalent, against a critical threshold of 500 kg.

United States Economic Conditions

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