What are the biggest global opportunities and threats for the
America is home to less than 5% of the world’s population.
Despite that, America is the worldwide leader in aerospace, medical research, software, big data analysis, defense technologies,
microchips, drilling technologies and many other cutting-edge
segments. The United States is also still home to the world’s
greatest collection of research universities and research laboratories. I believe America’s greatest opportunity lies in pushing
the edges of science.
The most significant threat is the emergence of other nations
that are increasingly capable of innovating. America’s share of
published scientific articles has been shrinking. Increasingly,
nations like China, India and Germany have been accumulating
more global patents, and research and development budgets
are expanding more rapidly outside the United States.
What are the biggest economic challenges facing rural com-
munities? how might they be addressed?
The economic challenges to rural communities are too numerous to list, but two significant factors are depopulation and the
opioid epidemic—a social pathology once considered unique to
inner cities. At the same time, rural America is packed with entrepreneurs specializing in wineries, the implementation of new
farming techniques, horticulture, tourism and other activities that
attract capital, create jobs and keep land prices stable. The key
to supporting rural communities is to attract and embrace
these entrepreneurs, including while they are still in school.
We see robots performing some work faster, more precisely,
and at lower cost than humans, but robots will cost some
workers their jobs. do you see these outcomes balancing?
nirban Basu, chief executive officer of Sage Policy Group in Baltimore, Md., and a nationally recognized
economist, will speak with telco executives in Austin at the NTCA Annual Meeting. We sat down
with him in advance of the meeting to ask a few questions about economic trends and conditions.
A Q&A With Anirban Basu
Mark Marion is
Contact him at
director of training
at NTCA–The Rural
da YS Insights From NTCA’s Training & Development Team
With economic expansion surpassing the 100-month mark
Robots will become ever more apparent in our lives. So too will
artificial intelligence, driverless vehicles and 3D printing. This will
occur because of the profit motivation, which requires that
businesses be cost minimizers. Many humans will be replaced
in the process, and the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots”
will likely continue to expand. The implication is that while mech-
anization will be a net plus for the competitiveness of the U.S.
economy, many additional people will be displaced.
as we speak, how much longer can it continue?
Economists are fond of saying things like “economic recoveries
don’t die of old age.” The fact that it is already the third-longest
recovery does not imply an immediate end. Still, no recovery
has lasted indefinitely. They have all ended. This one will likely
end due to a rise in inflation, prompting meaningful increases
in interest rates and significant declines in stock, bond and
commercial real estate valuations.
how much of a threat to long-term economic growth is the
deficit currently, and what would be the future impact of a
substantial increase in the size of the deficit?
Current federal budget deficits and the expanding national debt
represent a threat over the intermediate and long term, as
opposed to the short term. Presently, there is plenty of demand
for U.S. Treasuries, which allows the U.S. to continue to inexpensively finance its debt. However, roughly a decade from
now, the Medicare Trust Fund will become insolvent. A few
years after that, the Social Security Trust Fund will become
insolvent. At that time, bondholders may become nervous, and
may demand meaningfully higher interest payments. That
would lead to a fiscal crisis, resulting in rising taxes and curtailed federal spending on infrastructure and entitlements.