The NCSL Blog


By Ed Smith

Ron InsanaRon Insana, CNBC anchor and economic analyst, has a decidedly more positive view of the U.S. economy than is popular in some quarters this election season.

Speaking to the opening General Session of NCSL’s 2016 Legislative Summit on Monday, Insana offered an at-times dizzying review of the economic impact of Brexit, militarism and faltering GDP in China, Fed policy, the U.S. energy revolution and even the prospect of Americans living to 150 in the not-so-distant future.

But, he said, “the November election stands as a big uncertainty for the economy. It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen.”

Who wins the presidency, he added, is not as important as what happens after.

“Can we find a way to move forward in cooperation around areas like infrastructure and not making policy mistakes,” he said.

Insana has resurrected the term Fortress America to describe his view of the nation. Unlike the isolationist view that gave birth to the term in the 1920s and ‘30s, Insana sees Fortress America as an economy that has outperformed the rest of the world in the wake of the Great Recession.

He pointed to fracking, 3D manufacturing and the explosion of technological innovation in Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley.

“The U.S. has outpaced the rest of the world,” Insana said. “We have $90 trillion in household net worth. We are outgrowing the rest of the world.

“The country is great and has been great,” he added. “We have problems and some serious ones, problems that need intelligent fixes.”

Those problems include crumbling infrastructure and the need to retrain a significant portion of the work force, but he maintained those are problems we can solve with some political cooperation and resolve.

He noted, however, that we also could see “2016 as the year of living dangerously.” Tensions with Russia, terrorism, China’s military adventurism in the South China Sea and the chaos in Syria and Iraq all have the potential to affect the U.S. economy.

Keep in mind, however, that when people start preaching that the end of the world is coming, it’s a bad bet. After all, Insana said, you have to be right, right on the timing, and if you’re right, you’re not going to get paid.

Ed Smith is the director of digital communications for NCSL.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.