Betting on America's Competitive Spirit

By Frank Holmes, CEO and Chief Investment Officer

SAN ANTONIO ( U.S. Global Investors) -- One of the few things that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney can agree on is that our economy is still struggling to regain its strength.

Stubborn unemployment and sluggish growth at home combined with a slowing China and a dysfunctional eurozone have cast a dark shadow on America's eternal optimism. The media favors negative news and the 24/7 cycle of gloom and doubt can be dispiriting.

We are always looking for the economic points of light around the globe and strive to provide a counterpoint to the pervasive pessimism. As Warren Buffett once said, "It's never paid to bet against America. We come through things, but it's not always a smooth ride."

I moved from Toronto to San Antonio more than 20 years ago, a Canadian pursuing the American Dream. I bought a business that became U.S. Global Investors. I believed back then, as I still do today, that there is nowhere else in the world where opportunity abounds and initiative is rewarded as it is in the U.S.A.

"Despite all its setbacks, the U.S. remains at the center of world competiveness because of its unique economic power, the dynamism of its enterprises and its capacity for innovation," according to IMD, a well-regarded Swiss business school.

IMD recently released the findings of its annual World Competitiveness Yearbook. Its rankings survey more than 4,200 international executives and measure how well countries manage their economic and human resources to increase prosperity. The top three most competitive of the 59 ranked economies in 2012 are Hong Kong, the U.S. and Switzerland.

Barron's editorial page editor Thomas G. Donlan wrote, "It's worth contemplating the advantages that a group of international business executives and analysts still can find in the U.S. economy. At the top is access to financing, following a strong research-and-development culture, an effective legal environment, dynamism of the economy, a skilled workforce, and reliable infrastructure. At the bottom, they find the U.S. lacks competency of government and a competitive tax regime."

During tough times, Americans must be vigilant in safeguarding our competitive edge by continuing to be a compassionate and generous nation while resisting the siren calls of socialism. A system that strangles private property rights and sponsors excessive bureaucracy, regulation and taxation cannot deliver on a promise of prosperity to its people.