Tuesday, January 05, 2010


The answer may hinge on two things: trade and entrepreneurship. Most economists see stronger exports as a substitute for weaker consumer spending. Unfortunately, that depends heavily on economic growth and trade policies abroad. By contrast, entrepreneurship is a sleeper issue that depends on what Americans do.

If you doubt its importance, consider this: All net job creation from 1980 to 2005 came from firms that were five years old or less, according to a study by economists John Haltiwanger of the University of Maryland and Ron Jarmin and Javier Miranda of the Census Bureau. In any one year, that may not be true; but over time, mature firms lose more jobs than they create. "It's not small firms but young firms that count," says economist Robert Litan of the Kauffman Foundation, which sponsored the study.

There's a warning here for the Obama administration: Complex regulations or high taxes may discourage startups and job creation