It was Warren Buffet who said: "Never bet against America." Having recently returned from Florida, I wholeheartedly agree with the Sage of Omaha: if anywhere shows the resilience of the free enterprise system, it's the USA.
America led the West into the downturn, and is now staging a comeback. This year it could grow as much as 3 per cent — a rate of expansion any constituent of Europe can only dream about. Its intrinsic strengths are reasserting themselves, as they always do.
For a start, the US has scale — a population of 300 million occupying an enormous and fertile land mass. It remains the place immigrants desire more than any other — so the world's talent flocks there to study, to work, to invest and to try to get rich. Its robust democracy, defence of property rights, rule of law and protection of free speech combine to make it the most civilised large nation on earth. They also make it an incredibly attractive market — to export to and invest in.
The demographics of the US are the best of any Western nation, and indeed much better than many in the East. Within 20 years, thanks to immigration and reasonable birth rates, US citizens will on average be much younger than the Chinese. And it will have a dramatically younger population than states like Japan or Germany, which will become gerontocracies. This vigour is essential for any country to maintain its prosperity in the longer run.
The Great Recession that started in late 2008 was caused by the first nationwide property collapse in modern American history — previous real estate busts had been regional. But in typical fashion, the Americans have set about fixing the problem, rather than deferring it. So home prices have been sharply reduced, mortgages reset, owners have become renters, and the country is in the process of moving on.