NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- If you listen to John Chambers on the Cisco ( CSCO) call -- and may I suggest you do so if you want to hear a late-stage-Tom-Landry-meets-a-waning-hours-of-Willie-Mays all in one call -- then you would believe emerging markets are falling off a cliff.
Get these numbers: Brazil is at minus 25%; Mexico is minus 18%; India is minus 18%; China is minus 18%; and Russia is minus 30%.
That's amazingly bad. Of course, Chambers, a perennial cheerleader in a total "wait until next year mode," says he expects to see a return to growth in a few quarters. You may believe that or you may not.
Not for a moment am I excusing Chambers. You don't get that kind of downturn without pushing the wrong product to the wrong people on the wrong days with the wrong management in a wrong way. I put in the "wrong way" element so I could have five wrongs in a sentence, and we know that five wrongs don't make a right.
But I mention those declines because, if there is one thing that's for certain, it's that the U.S. is leading the developing market and maybe even the emerging market in growth, and it is a telling concept to be the leader. We have the most dysfunctional government of any of those, with the possible exception of Brazil -- although I am not even sure that Brazil isn't worse than us.
We have the worst government for business climate of any of these countries. I would regard our government as just plain hostile to what business needs most -- an agnostic Washington that stays the heck out of the way but, perhaps, would at least allow businesses to repatriate without confiscation. We have the worst corporate tax rate of any of those countries. The only thing we are more probusiness on, compared with these countries, is our unwillingness to punish individuals for their actions at the banks. We punish the shareholders. Sometimes I long for Chinese justice.