CAT's CEO Sees Slowdown and Worries About Trade

Jim Owens, Caterpillar's CEO -- and an economist by training -- spoke earlier in the month on the domestic economy at MIT. Dr. Owen's views and forecasts -- the man even has a PhD in the dismal science -- are not overly optimistic, owing in large part to one major trend in sees in the US: a populist, bi-partisan move to trade restriction and protectionist policy. According to Owen, "Trade has become a bad word [in the US]. That is very, very disconcerting ... Very few business executives are out there talking about the benefits of trade and very few politicians have enough knowledge or courage to try to educate the public. Instead they're fanning the flames of public apprehension."

Owens believes that we are going to see a "domestic slowdown" in economy growth sometime in 2007. But global organizations take heart. "Probably for the first time in the last 15 years, the United States is going to grow slower than most of the rest of the world," he believes. Owens and I are of similar mindsets when it comes to the dangers of restricting global commerce and trade. By way of example, we both agree that the Democrats storming congress and the "nationalist" RINOs (Republicans in name only) within the GOP will only further hurt the nation's economic prospects.

For all you rhetoricians in the Spend Matters audience, yes, I did twist around Owen's logic in the last sentence a bit for my own devices, but trust me, the man is a free-trader in the spirit of Goldwater and Reagan -- not the current administration. And we both forecast significant dangers to the domestic economy -- not to mention the world's -- by de-liberalizing US trade policies to protect the special interests of business and unions. Because after all, if the invisible hand is to thrive and improve the standard of living for all of us, it should not be subject to the whims and fancies -- and changing partisan breezes -- of politics and special interest groups.

Jason Busch

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