One of the talking heads on the cable news networks used a term yesterday that I really like. The discussion was on the country's financial state--and she used the phrase "We are entering the NEW, New Economy". You might be familiar with the OLD New Economy--where the US moved away from manufacturing things other people wanted to buy and instead became reliant on service provided to each other. That New Economy also depended heavily on the Internet--the wonder product that provides plenty of info--but no real "things".
Here's what I hope to see in the NEW New Economy:
--The end of the Four-dollar-fifty cent cup of gourmet coffee as an essential part of life. No more will we hear "I just can't get anything done until I get my morning Starbucks." That shot of caffeine will be replaced by the kick start of a brisk walk or bike ride to work (especially in a Wisconsin winter).
--Smaller SUV's that can haul small loads and still provide headroom for tall people all while using less regular gasoline. Americans will accept small, fuel-efficient vehicles for one ownership cycle--but after that they will say "Give me some room to breathe in here, please!!" After that, the car company that can provide the most room and power for the MPG will be the big winner. GM, Ford and Chrysler might want to work on that right now. You might not be able to haul the 18-foot boat anymore--but no one can afford gas to use that on the water anyway--so why have it?
--Cell phones will make calls--and calls only. People will eventually realize, we really only need them to talk to other people. Not to download ringtones, play video games, upload the internet, take pictures, play movies and text message people in new language that threatens to destroy proper English.
--People will eat better and work out more often to avoid the mounting costs of heatlh care. And those workouts will be old-time exercises like running the sidewalks, biking the trails and doing pushups in the basement--instead of driving to the gym with electronic equipment because we really don't need to know the exact number of calories we burned walking in place.
--The 7 shopping channels tying up space on the cable systems will fold--to be replaced by the Big Ten and NFL Networks.
--Only those who can truly afford a house will be in houses. No more sub-prime mortgage crises in the NEW, New Economy. This is an added bonus to all of those developers who are building all of those condos on the Fox River in every city with any waterfront--so long as they switch to rental units and lower the price to something people can still afford.
--And the big one: People will turn their backs on retailers that force manufacturers to move their plants to China to meet artificial price points. That might just return production jobs to the US--starting a NEW, NEW New Economy where Americans make great things for Americans to buy.