NASHVILLE, Tenn. — “Bits” and “atoms” will play a big role in future economic growth in the United States, the publisher and editor-at-large told delegates to the 79th Annual Truckload Carriers Association convention Monday.
“Since the end of the last recession, the economy has been growing, but slowly, at 2 percent a year,” global futurist Rich Karlgaard said. “[Former President Barack] Obama called it the new normal, but 2 percent a year is not normal.”
Karlgaard pointed out that between 1933-40 after the Great Depression, the average annual GDP growth was 7 percent.
“Peter Thiel (founder of PayPal) said it this way: ‘The American economy is underperforming because it is out of balance. There are too many ‘bits’ companies and not enough ‘atom’ companies,’” Karlgaard said.
Among others, “bits” companies include Facebook, Google, Uber and Airbnb.
Karlgaard said Facebook had a market cap to revenue ratio of 20, Airbnb 18, Uber 15 and Google 7.
Among others, “atoms” companies would include Dana, Cummins, Delphi and GM.
As for market cap to revenue ratio, Delpi is 1.0, Cummins .9, and both Dana and GM at .3.
One reason President Donald Trump won the election is because he was favored by voters who live in the world of “atoms” and Hillary Clinton was favored by voters who live in the world of “bits.”
In addition to an accelerated ROI, another example of why investors are leaning to “bits” companies are the annual tax, trade and regulatory costs per employees.
For “atom” companies, the figure is $45,000, for “bits” companies it is $20,000.
“Does Trump have a mandate to do something about slow economic growth,” Kaarlguard asked rhetorically. “Yes, and it is a mandate to fix the economy at a faster rate of growth and to fix non-residential fixed investment. If this is not corrected, the country is headed for 1 percent growth or a flat rate of growth.”
“He (Trump) could be bad … or good,” Karlgaard said. “He will be unpredictable.”
Investor Wilbur Ross and University of California economist Peter Navarro have studied Trump’s economic plan, saying it will “significantly increase America's real GDP growth rate” resulting in trillions of dollars of additional revenues, according to a new study authored by Ross and Navarro.
“When evaluated as a single integrated whole, the Trump plan is revenue neutral and fiscally conservative," Ross and Navarro wrote in the study.
Based on the study, Karlgaard listed what he said were Trump’s priorities — trade (more bilateral), regulation (radically reduce), taxes (reduce, simplify) and currency (cheaper dollar).
Karlgaard said Trump had assembled an economic team of “rivals” and that the team will fight and appear dysfunctional at times, but it will be motivated to improve economic growth, jobs and wages.”
Karlgaard predicted that if Trump’s first two years lead to faster growth, more jobs and higher wages, the Republicans could make significant gains in the Senate in 2019.
The GOP could have between 56-62 seats, which is veto-proof, because of the 10 most vulnerable incumbents, nine are Democrats.
As for the country’s economic future, Karlgaard had three observations.
First, keep an eye on U.S. population growth trends. U.S. business growth will occur in the south and west, around tech and financial centers, and in large university and capital cities.
Observation No. 2 is that home entrepreneurs can make a region’s image in one generation. That occurred in Seattle. He displayed a billboard in Seattle that read “Will the last person leaving Seattle — turn out the lights.” Now, Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks Coffee call Seattle home, just as does the Seattle Seahawks football team.
The third observation is that the country is headed into a long era of cheap energy because of incredible advances in exploration and drilling technology. Karlgaard said oil could be selling for $20 a barrel by 2021.
TCA’s convention continues through Wednesday morning.