In everything from batteries to solar panels, the energy sources of tomorrow depend on inputs from China. The good news is that it it's not too late. The US, its allies, and its partners can still compete. But they will have to start with the upstream.
For decades, bad habits have become entrenched. The country has allowed itself to auction off long-term economic prosperity in exchange for short-term profits. Now, the US must break its habits, not take false shelter in them.
If the US is to have any hope of a productive economic future – and if the US is to compete effectively with China – it needs to shift from a focus on R&D to a focus on application and industrialization.
It’s the Fourth of July, a day to celebrate the United States of America. The US was able to secure that independence, against all odds, in large part because it was able to support itself militarily and economically; because during the Revolutionary War, Washington and Congress doubled down on developing American manufacturing.
The answer to inflation is not to ease tariffs. It is to stop with the band-aids. The US should see inflation as the motivation to invest in domestic production; tariffs as the market opportunity to do so.
The United States needs to reclaim control over international industry. Doing so requires working with its allies and partners. But the United States will have to do so from the ground up, through countless compromises, and skirmishes, with the private sector. This is not an efficient method. But it is the only way to be effective.
US industry – powered by scale and global reach – fueled the country’s rise. The US needs that industrial strength now. But today, it will come from tech not from steel. And it will only come if that tech operates on big platforms.
If Secretary Granholm wants more energy production, she should orient her relationship to industry around reshaping incentives to align tomorrow’s demand with today’s supply. She should make clear that incentives for increased production will continue next month, and the months after.
The baby formula shortages shows the US entering an era of industrial dislocation, and competition, not seen in decades. The way for America to win in an era of shortage and a competition for supply chains is to recognize the hot spots – and then open the floodgates for industry to do its thing.
Washington needs to invest not only in next-generation technological advance, but also into semiconductor production itself, and the materials necessary for it. Such investments are critical for a robust industrial base. They would also be diplomatically advantageous.
The answer to inflation is not to ease tariffs. It is to stop with the band-aids. It is to keep tariffs up, but also to take the proactive measures that they are supposed to encourage: The US should see inflation as a push to invest in domestic production; tariffs as the market opportunity to do so.
The optimistic take is first, that Washington sits at the perfect inflection point to adjust economic policies that contributed to this imbalance – and, second, that early indications suggest the private sector may already be taking the lead, whether Washington adjusts or not.
The green economy constitutes a multi-trillion dollar market opportunity. It’s also an opportunity for geo-economic power: With appropriate and sufficient investments, a country can maneuver to control tomorrow’s supply chains and manufacturing capacity, and therefore to project influence internationally.
What if, in addition to immediate, demand-side monetary policy quick fixes, Washington was to set about investing in production of critical inputs, manufacturing facilities, and improved logistics systems? It’s entirely possible, and necessary.
The US needs to start thinking about food as a strategic resource, investing in and protecting supply accordingly, and doing so in a way updated for the realities of modern agriculture. That is what defending today's global order demands.
We need a gameplan for domestic resilience so that today's inflation crisis does not continue indefinitely and does not recur. We need to rethink our permissive approach external dependencies; to make sure that we can make more – and more of what is foundational to economic functioning -- at home.
In its board rooms and on the ground, Amazon is deliberately adopting frameworks and investments designed to foster long-term competitiveness, even what that comes at the expense of quarterly returns or shareholder enthusiasm.
China’s COVID-19 debacle could be precisely the impetus the US needs to get serious about rebuilding supply chains. These should provide markets a prod to start pricing in the real costs of offshoring – and Washington justification for dedicated, emergency investments in domestic industry.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown that the US cannot afford to depend on geopolitical adversaries for critical factors. Instead, the US should be investing in domestic production that can not only prop up national resilience, but also that of allies and partners.
Producing things is difficult and Washington has been out of the game for some time. But producing things is also possible. And Washington needs to get back into the game, yesterday. We can start with LNG -- and actually help Europe in the process.
American national defense faces a very different threat than it did in when the Defense Production Act was implemented in 1950. But mobilization of domestic production may be even more critical to today’s challenge – and to the future of the United States – than it was seven decades ago.