July 01, 2014


“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

FDR's words, meant to inspire a nation in the midst of the Great Depression, still resonate today.

At least according to Joel Kurtzman, senior fellow at the Milken Institute and author of "Unleashing the Second American Century," who argues that we’re in surprisingly good shape economically.

But more than 60% of Americans believe we're headed in the wrong direction, according to polls.

Kurtzman says he's scratching his head about the country's malaise. “That sense of gloom cuts across all segments of the economy. It’s people who are working, it’s people who weren’t thrown out of their jobs during the great recession.”

However, echoing Roosevelt’s spirit, Kurtzman argues that we need to stop thinking that we’re in a crisis because it will actually cause problems. “If you are very very strong, and the United States is very very strong, but you make decisions as if you were weak, you’re going to make the wrong decisions.”

Despite dire predictions, many fields are thriving. Biotech is one area to watch, says Kurtzman. Many of the world’s pharmaceutical companies have moved their research bases from Europe to the United States because of all the intellectual hubs that they can take advantage of -- from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts.

“The United States has a hundred years of intellectual infrastructure in place. A community of people who are eager to turn ideas and thoughts into reality,” says Kurtzman.

Certain jobs, Kurtzman asserts, will evolve, but they'll be replaced by whole new industries that we can't even fathom.

“In 1963, they did not know that we would be a computer superpower or that software would be a job category encompassing hundreds of thousands of people,” says Kurtzman.

If you want to hear more reasons why Kurtzman believes that America's fortunes are about to get a lot better, listen to our full interview, above.

Joel Kurtzman, Business, economics

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