Like it or not (and most don't) this is a global economy. The US cannot make itself into a self-sustaining island. Moreover, the idea that we can pay everyone $35 an hour and compete globally is ludicrous.Fairly straight forward, right? The U.S MUST trade with the world, whether one likes it, or believes it. MUST. ALL of us must compete at every level with people that do not have 3 extra bathrooms to pay for, or a bunch of retired police officer's pensions. Ergo, they are pretty competitive (they can work cheap).
As I have said many times, the problem is not wages, but how far wages go. Greenspan and Bernanke have wrecked the US dollar. Financial engineering drove property prices up to insane levels. The US wastes $trillions attempting to be the world's policeman. There are so many student loan programs that the cost of education has soared. This is what happens when one throws money around.
The U.S. has seen its supplies of petroleum products reduced by 2.7 MILLION barrels per day (if you do not consider ethanol a "petroleum product" - and I do not). -------------------------------
So? At this rate of decline, several million people in the U.S. each year FROM THIS POINT FORWARD are going to stop commuting and start working from home (those that will still have a job, that is). That means that the value of commercial Real Estate is going to drop like a stone (Who holds all of those commercial mortgages?
It is simple physics. If you remove an energy input large enough to run Germany from the American economy a certain number of people either are NOT going to have a job or are going to have to work from home and the commercial space they formerly used is going to go vacant. A certain number of hotel rooms will have to go empty and a certain number of jets will have been grounded.
The U.S. was already overbuilt with office, retail, and commercial space. I think it likely that the U.S. will NEVER need any more construction in these products - ever again. The 2 year rate of decline for petroleum imports is over 8% per year. If that continues, and I think it likely to continue AND accelerate, in a addition to no need for further construction, the U.S. will have little demand for cars and trucks, aircraft, etc...
We are in the grips of powerful deflationary forces, yet the stock market has taken off and the US$ has cratered. These things can happen in tandem in the short run, but over the longer haul they are mutually exclusive events. And while the US$ might catch another bid (I had thought that would have happened as I write this... didn't work out that way), over the next 2 years the Federal Budget Deficit is likely to grow by nearly $3.5 Trillion. More than the reserves of China and Japan combined. Will the new American saver have enough savings to finance the difference? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.