Exporting Our Way to Recovery

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One of the early themes of the economic recovery is that the firepower isn't going to come from the American consumer. How could it? One out of ten Americans is unemployed. The figure grows to one out of six, if you count marginally attached workers. And we're still wallowing in debt. As Anal_yst pointed out in this blog, non-revolving debt is still up a whopping 72 percent from ten years ago despite the rumored deleveraging.

So where will the recovery come from? Obama think he knows.


Obama acknowledged that short-term growth might rely on exports. In his words (via White House transcript):

Third, we need to export more of our goods. Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security.

For now a cheap dollar and an early Asian recovery is combining to juice our export numbers and fuel manufacturing's growth. That's a good thing. And now seems like a good time to bring together manufacturers and security officials to reform our export control rules, which haven't changed in decades. That collaboration will begin here.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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