Monday, March 24, 2003

The US is surprisingly vulnerable. 24/3/2003

It is throwing its weight around militarily and in questions of trade, but its economic underbelly is very soft.

And, I told Geraldine, not just when it comes to being a very big debtor to the rest of the world.

Most of the US's exports are intangible, entertainment and drugs among them. I mention drugs because most of the value in them is the intellectual property.

The countries the US sells to don't actually need to buy US music, drugs, films, TV programs etc.

They could copy them.

Think about it. The bulk of exports from the US are only worth something if the rest of the world agrees to pay something.

Or the rest of the world could pay less, or less than the US wants. Against Australia's financial interest we agreed to extend the patent life on drugs a few years back. The US would like us, and the rest of the world, to extend the term on copyright.

We could refuse. And the more the US throws its weight around worldwide the more likely it is that that someone will.

The US has a very soft underbelly.