Greg Ip

Articles by The Economist’s U.S. Economics Editor

Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

America’s economy: Points of light

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Amid the gloom there are unexpected signs of boom, especially in energy

Jul 14th 2012 | HAHNVILLE, LOUISIANA, SHANGHAI AND WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition

[Greg Ip]

THE half-finished Shanghai Tower is a hulking concrete wedding cake, rising out of a dusty building site in the central business district. But when it is finished in 2015 the glittering spiral tower will be China’s tallest building and one of its most striking, with two exterior glass skins enclosing nine different climate zones. It will, the developer boasts, “symbolise the dynamic emergence of modern China.”

Less obviously, it also symbolises modern America. The tower owes its design to an American firm of architects, Gensler. Its structural engineer is another American firm, Thornton Tomasetti. Indeed, American companies have left their mark all over Shanghai’s skyline. Ray Yu, a local supervisor for Thornton Tomasetti, points to the nearby Jin Mao tower and then to the Shanghai World Financial Centre across the street, rattling off the names of their architects and structural engineers. All are American.

China has no shortage of architects and engineers; foreign firms are required to partner them. But they have less experience with super-size high-rise towers, says Mr Yu: “We solve problems for them.” China also solves problems for the Americans. Two decades ago, foreign fees were just a sliver of Thornton Tomasetti’s business; now they make up 15-20%, and are dominated by Asia, a vital source of growth at a time when the market at home and in Europe is moribund.

This is a microcosm of a much larger picture. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by gregip

July 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm

The American economy: Comeback kid

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America’s economy is once again reinventing itself

Jul 14th 2012 | from the print edition

[Greg Ip]

ALMOST the only thing on which Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger, agree is that the economy is in a bad way. Unemployment is stuck above 8% and growth probably slipped below an annualised 2% in the first half of this year. Ahead lie the threats of a euro break-up, a slowdown in China and the “fiscal cliff”, a withering year-end combination of tax increases and spending cuts. Mr Obama and Mr Romney disagree only on what would make things worse: re-electing a left-wing president who has regulated to death a private sector he neither likes nor understands; or swapping him for a rapacious private-equity man bent on enriching the very people who caused the mess.

America’s economy is certainly in a tender state. But the pessimism of the presidential slanging-match misses something vital. Led by its inventive private sector, the economy is remaking itself (see article). Old weaknesses are being remedied and new strengths discovered, with an agility that has much to teach stagnant Europe and dirigiste Asia. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

July 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm

American energy trends: Less of a menace from oil

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Jan 23rd 2012, 22:35 by G.I. | WASHINGTON

IF I had to pick the economy’s likeliest spoiler this year, it would be oil prices. Whether it’s Iran trying to close the strait of Hormuz or the Arab Spring wafting through Saudi Arabia, I have no idea; but nothing matches the track record of oil in delivering nasty economic surprises.

But over the long run, something important is happening to the role of imported oil in the American economy: it’s shrinking. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by gregip

January 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm