If Joe Biden were to ask for just ONE thing this Christmas it would have to be a new writer or storyteller. I was reading various geopolitical scribes this week describe the poorly-polling Biden’s problem. According to the middle-ground commentariat, the Biden administration is describing an America with fantastic headline achievements on the economy but which the average American is not feeling on Main Street. Well, go ask the rest of the world. In fact, if Biden’s team were to follow through on their belief that “America is an idea, not a geography” then the solution to their messaging woes is staring right at them. Simply put, The USA has never been in a stronger economic or geopolitical relative position in its entire history. So here goes the report card….
The latest GDP print for the US shows an economy roaring along at 5% growth rates. That’s the first time in decades the US growth rate has overtaken China and there’s more relative superiority to report. Other large economies at a European or Asian regional level are not seeing that growth and you will only find US-envy among German or UK voters currently enduring stagflation.
US voters may not know it but international investors have already spotted US relative dominance. US stock markets clocked a stunning 8% monthly gain in a very rocky geopolitical November. The broader S&P 500 index is up almost 20% year-to-date and the tech-heavy Nasdaq indices have rocketed just shy of 50% this year.
We always write about how the cost of money drives asset prices everywhere. A lower cost of money is good news and the US bond market has indicated a 0.75% drop in interest rates in the last few months. In real life terms that’s the equivalent of the central banks cutting rates by 0.25% three times in 6 weeks. It is US businesses and mortgage holders reaping that benefit, not any Europeans.
Oil prices are back below $74 per barrel despite a Middle-East war. Of course, you won’t hear any Trump-cult Republican blowhard talk about the fact that US oil production is currently roaring along at 13.2 million barrels per day. Yep, that’s more than any country has ever produced in history. Not great for the climate, but a historic mark for US energy independence. Hold that climate thought….
On climate and cleantech the US is leading the way in transforming the industrial base of America. The Biden IRA Act is pumping more capex investment into the US economy in this presidential term than in any of the last 3 decades. The nation is at full employment, but to paraphrase Jeff Daniels’ famous monologue in the TV series Newsroom, the average American and all Fox News viewers have “become fearful”. The daily dose of fear on US media is staggering – “deep state”, Qanon conspiracies, baby-snatchers, immigrant hordes storming the borders, lawless cities, race replacement theory, and on and on it goes. No wonder there are more guns owned (350 million) than the number of people living in this fear frenzied nation.
It is clear that Biden’s story must feature the rest of the world. These are challenging times for the whole world, but somebody needs to tell the average American they are doing better than pretty much everyone else. The US is not perfect but it is definitely leading the planet on multiple opportunity metrics. Even better, the “America as an idea” vision is truly happening; eight of the US’s largest corporations including Microsoft, Adobe, IBM and Google have Indian-born CEOs. Incredibly, of the 700 US ‘unicorn’ start-ups with valuations above $1 billion, 100 of those companies have Indian founders. And, the beauty of nation power without borders is that it can drive activity globally.
We already have supra-sovereign corporations with billions of customers from Google to Microsoft to Facebook. Others will want to follow from outside the US. We are now reading about China retailer Shein readying for a potential $80 billion IPO. Elsewhere, in the venture capital world Q3 funding activity globally was up 11% at almost $65 billion(Source: CB Insights). And, for those of us in the start-up universe, we are always watching exit activity. So, check out Q3 M&A activity in acquisitions which were valued at more than $100m each; deals in that $100m + category were up 38%. Also, it was interesting to see VC Q3 activity in retail fintech increasing at a 53% clip.
Back in the US, inflation has been tamed and month-on-month price increases reduced to ZERO %. That will help Biden along with a crippled Russian military, a non-escalation by Iran or Hezbollah over Gaza, and a critical uptick in US consumer confidence. We don’t need Gen AI to write this story, albeit the US controls the 3 largest AI models globally through Microsoft(OpenA)I, Google (Bard) and Amazon (Claude/Anthropic). So, we will put that down as another Biden win too.
In the interim, I will just wait for that call……or write to Santa myself.