Chasing Value: The US will lead the global economy
Considering all the positive indicators, the conditions for US business success are remarkable.
By Sheldon Liber
Yes, you read that right! The United States is in the best position to be the catalyst for a global economic recovery. While our nation is slowly lifting its head from a drunken stupor the rest of the world still has its head spinning.
And as U.S. markets are rallying on the unexpected drop in the unemployment rate, the case for U.S. leadership is even stronger than before.
Right now we are in the midst of a heated battle between presidential candidates with differing views on many issues. However, neither person's policies will be rubber stamped by a conflicted congress and there will be compromise. What surprised me most during Wednesday night's debate wasn't that Governor Romney made such a good showing, or that President Obama lacked his usual vigorous demeanor, but the many times and the many issues they actually agreed with each other.
There is general consensus that the corporate tax level needs to be cut about 10%. There is also bipartisan support to overhaul the tax treatment of foreign income. Regardless of the actual details, improvements in these two areas will be a springboard toward growth. The economic cliff being screamed about louder with each passing day will not be one either party wants to jump off. When this is accomplished and businesses knows where they stand, they will be less afraid to act.
When you consider that inflation is feeble, interest rates are at rock bottom, that we are importing a lower percentage of our energy then we have been, that rents are still low, construction is still very cost competitive, labor costs have been generally flat, workforce housing prices have come down 30% and the market is stabilizing -- the conditions for business success are remarkable. Add the aforementioned improved tax basis and what more could you ask for?
More positive energy is still building up, supporting our growth and leadership. Over the past four years corporate America has been piling up cash at a gargantuan rate. We are talking $2 trillion. The most recent reports I have read state that Apple (AAPL) is sitting on $117 billion by itself. Staggering sums in the tens of billions have been banked by Microsoft (MSFT), Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), Intel (INTC), Google (GOOG), General Electric (GE), Oracle (ORCL) and many others.
Guess what, even our inflated greenbacks remain in high demand. Remember back a few years when there was discussion about not using the dollar exclusively as the defacto international currency. Not much talk about the euro taking its place any more.
Now, what might Corporate America use all that money for? Perhaps we will see a return of manufacturing. It is likely that merger and acquisition activity will increase with Europe still in a quagmire, enticing some to go shopping. I think this is highly likely. I would also add that U.S. banks are much stronger than they have been in a long time and much better off than their European or Asian counterparts.
Given all the turmoil around the world and recapping that taxes, energy, interest rates, housing costs and labor cost could not be more beneficial, while cash is available to allow for action, I believe when the elections are behind us, we will be in the best position to lead.
Sheldon D. Liber is the CEO/CIO of Chasing Value Asset Management, Inc., and General Partner of the Chasing Value Fund. You can follow him on Twitter @chasingvalue
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The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
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