How America’s Short Sightedness Hampers Long-Term Growth!

Four Graphs Showing A Nation in Decline, an Unnecessary and Easily Fixed Decline.

by Fabius Maximus,

Summary: We mock China for their over investment in infrastructure. Gleaming new factories, high-speed trains, subways. Foolish ants. Exceptional America does it better. As a third in this series, we look at some pictures of how much America invests in itself. These are snapshots, not a comprehensive assessment. Still, they tell a chilling story. We can fix this; it takes only our wisdom and will to do so. Probably new leaders, too.

“In a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper hopped about, chirping and singing. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. …”


  1. Corporate profitability
  2. Business Investment
  3. Government Investment
  4. Government investment in infrastructure
  5. For More information

These graphs show totals as a per cent of GDP. All of the investment graphs show declines.

(1)  Corporate Profits After Tax (without IVA and CC Adjustments)

The growth sparked by US corporate profits is exceptional. What did they cut to produce these profits? Among other things, wages and investment. It’s the sort of short-term thinking that has come to characterize American business. It produces a lavish bloom of profits, but long-term decay for America.

% GDP: Corporate profitsClick to enlarge

(2)  Net domestic investment by domestic businesses

This does not include overseas investment by US businesses.

% GDP: Net domestic business investment
Click to enlarge

(3)  Net domestic investment by Government

A nation works only as well as its public infrastructure. Let’s hope elves come to fix ours tonight.

% of GDP: Net government investment
Click to enlarge

(4)  Infrastructure spending: Gross non-defense Federal investment on structures

We’re still living off the infrastructure investments of the 1930s and 1955-1970 eras. Visitors to America often remark about our decrepit third-world-like infrastructure. The recession provided an opportunity to fix that, borrowing at low rates to inexpensively rebuild infrastructure using unemployed workers. We blew it, investing instead in war (e.g, the F-13, conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and a dozen other places).

% of GDP: Gross Federal non-defense investment in structuresClick to enlarge

(5)  For More Information

(a) The 2013 Report Card for American Infrastrstructure”, published by the the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)

(b) Other posts in this series:

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