Net U.S. investment in Europe has slowed considerably in the past decade, J. Bradford DeLong, professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, told directors of RiskProNet International Inc., at recent conference.
At home, he said, the U.S. economy “is very much alive, if well-hidden.”
“The recession of 2001 does not look like a huge event. Even counting the recession, the overall growth rate of the U.S. economy has been faster than that of Europe, and production growth here is much better than in Japan,” he added.
A major consideration for U.S. firms is China’s focus on preventing unemployment, DeLong said. Steel, in particular, is being affected by
competition from lower-priced Chinese exports. The plus for U.S. companies, however, is that China has a strong political desire to buy American products in order to keep the trade surplus in balance.
He told the audience to “prepare for a world in which not just manufacturing, but also white collar service work can be done anywhere as long as the appropriate controls and monitoring are in place. It will be one to two more generations, though, before this shift reaches its promise.”
DeLong, a columnist for Project Syndicate, also served as deputy
assistant secretary for economic policy from 1993 to 1995.
His presentation was in keeping with the international theme of the San Diego gathering, a joint meeting for members of RiskProNet and principals in IBA, the international association of brokers with which RiskProNet members work.
About three dozen members of IBA, whose affiliates have more than
300 offices in 110 countries, attended the conference. It was the second joint meeting of the groups and the first for many members from Russia and other former countries in the Soviet Union.
The meeting included breakout sessions to discuss the best ways to
approach international companies based in the United States and workshops on client needs in Australia, China and Hong Kong; directors and officers and employment practices liability in the United States, and the best uses of captives.
RiskProNet members also discussed the marketing successes that have resulted from the association and its affiliation with IBA.
For example, Diversified Risk Insurance Brokers in Emeryville,
Calif., had a client who needed coverage in 22 countries. “With the help of our IBA partners, we were able to provide the information in four days,” said Michael P. Flynn, Diversified president. “The speed with which we turned that around blew our client away.”