Innovation has long been recognized as the key factor supporting US economic growth and competitiveness. A critical element of the infrastructure facilitating product development and commercialization is the system that protects intellectual property and encourages its widespread adoption and implementation. The current framework that facilitates this process includes the LeahySmith America Invents Act (AIA) and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). The AIA and PTAB reduce the need for and cost of patent litigation, reducing transaction costs and generating substantial economic benefits. Potential expansion of the AIA to further enhance its applicability could lead to notable additional gains.
The current slowdown at the US-Mexico border is causing substantial economic harms. Trade volume has grown substantially, more than doubling over the past 20 years and up 55% between 2010 and 2018. During 2018, total trade volume between the United States and Mexico exceeded $611.5 billion, with $265.0 billion in US exports to Mexico and $346.5 billion in imports from Mexico. In fact, recent data for January and February of 2019 reveals that, for the first time, Mexico is the top US trading partner.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a major toll in terms of human health and wellbeing, as well as the economy. Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have risen recently due to the delta variant, and the spike has caused substantial disruptions. Despite these concerns, there has been massive resistance by some policymakers and individuals around the country to basic protective measures, which is resulting in preventable losses to the economy through reduced employment and decreases in productivity.
The United States recently reached a tragic milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic when the number of lives lost reached 500,000. The suffering and hardships imposed by these losses are incalculable and the primary concern, with few Americans not personally affected in some way
The high human cost and loss of life due to COVID-19 is tragic and staggering. Few people have remained untouched by the disease in one way or another, with over 20 million US cases. As of the end of 2020, the coronavirus had contributed to the death of nearly 345,000 people in the United States. While the suffering and hardships imposed by these losses are incalculable and the primary concern, the economic consequences cannot be ignored.
From an economic perspective, it is rare that Presidents move the needle much on economic growth. Historically, the economy has fared moderately better in Democratic administrations, but the difference is small and not necessarily caused by the President. In terms of policy, the ability to implement major initiatives will be highly dependent on the outcome of the two senate races in Georgia.
The US Supreme Court recently ruled to preserve DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA allows individuals who came to the US as children to remain under certain conditions and was implemented in 2012. Since that time, about 800,000 people have received protection under the act, which requires that recipients either be in school or be employed. Although the decision does not permanently secure the program, it provides critical near-term security to the affected group.
Gazing out over the next few decades, I see at least three major challenges confronting the US economy. First, we have to overcome the consequences of the lingering effects of the pandemic, including getting inflation under control, dealing with the inevitable fallout that effort will involve, and working through ongoing supply chain disruptions. Second, we must confront the chronic worker shortages. Third, we need to fashion a realistic energy policy which both meets climate goals and provides for future essential resources (more on that another time).
The US economy is on fairly solid ground, and our latest forecast calls for moderate growth over the long-term horizon. There are several areas of concern and business cycles are inevitable, but on balance, I expect improvement in the years to come.