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The results of my survey of economists will be published in mid September. It's going to take longer than I thought to swim through the data and pull out the good stuff. And I have been advised by smart people that this week is a bad one to compete for attention in the news.  I can tell you that I've seen the raw results and there will be surprises.

Let's do a little experiment here. I asked economists to rank issues by how important they are to the economy. I'm asking you the same thing now. In the comments, tell us what you think is the number one issue for the United States from an ECONOMIC perspective.

I'm guessing your answers will be all over the place, and that says a lot about the challenge of democracy. If you don't know which issue is most important to the economy, it's hard to know which candidate would do the best job.

In your view, what is the most important issue for the economy?
 
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Aug 27, 2008
Energy.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
Broadly: reliance upon energy brought in from distant places. Not just the Middle East, but even within the United States--I feel like it will become increasingly important for individual regions/states to become energy-independent, and from there, individual communities. I know: electricity feasible, oil not-so-feasible. Ergo, unless they get those e. coli pooping oil pretty quick, a dramatic plunge in oil dependency is necessary.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
I'd have to say that our financial system - that is, in particular, the federal reserve and our overall banking system - is probably the number one problem our economy faces today. We really need to totally revamp the way we do money in the United States. Whenever we are circulating far more money than we actually possess, both electronically and simply by printing that extra bills, it's pretty obvious that our country is going to have serious economic problems.
 
 
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Aug 27, 2008
Also, the huge national debt that was created in the lust for oil has devalued the dollar at home and abroad. So the price of oil is a far-reaching issue with broad implications.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
In the short term, I think what happens with the $500 billion worth of Alt-A mortgages will be pretty interesting. If the default rate approaches that of the "sup prime" mortgages, things could get messy (messier?).

Of course, there's no real political solution to that problem...
 
 
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Aug 27, 2008
The cost of oil is one of the biggest economic issues today. All other costs are inflated directly (e.g., production) and indirectly (e.g., transportation) by increases in the cost of oil, and our mad dash to invade Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Iran has driving up our national debt well beyond solvency in the name of "national security" (which really means that, if the oil companies and other favored corporations are happy, then the rest of us can go pound sand).
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
Disposable income.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
The most important componant of our economy is a need for certainty. For lack of a better term there is not enough "Visability" for people to commit to action.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
Short term I believe the impact of the price of crude is the largest impact on the economy. Long term I believe the illegal alien problem is the largest. Both of these factors will overshadow everything else.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
Short Term - A dependable source of energy. This country can't do anything without fuel.

Long Term - Governmental debt. I figure this encompasses not just our national deficit, but also the government's willingness to borrow from other programs, spend frivolously on wars, etc.

Come to think of it, the government has the same mentality towards both these issues: "we'll let future generations deal with the problem later."
 
 
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Aug 27, 2008
Without a doubt education is the most serious issue in the US today. That doesn't mean just higher education, although that is a big and more expensive piece of it. That means trade education as well. It needs to be affordable or *gasp* paid for by the government. I'm not for raising taxes but if I have to take a hit and I know it's going toward this I'd be more accepting of it. Consumer spending is out of control, the housing market is going bust, crime is on the rise - just about anything you point out as needed fixed in the country can be at the very least lessened by a better educated society. Please note - better educated should not necessarily bring into view a stuffy, ivy league, white male, white collar, etc. Also, an educated person is more accepting of change. We have a serious fear of change in this country, mostly because people have grown up only knowing what they think is the only thing they can do and when they face the possibilty of layoff or foreclosure or whatever, they balk at the idea of changing the way things have always been done.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
How are we going to pay for all the 'improvements' proposed if they're also proposing tax cuts?
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
Short Term: Infrastructure
Long Term: Education - we need a better basic 13 years, and a more lifetime approach to gaining skills

The problems with faith and levers on the economy is once everyone knows how they're supposed to work, they lose their psychological/behavioral effectiveness.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
The inability of consumers to grasp the concept of delayed gratification.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
I know it's a little general, but: taxes. For some context, I vote Libertarian.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
Short term - the credit crisis
Long term - Medicare/Social Security/National Debt will cost far more than we can raise with taxes.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
I'm going to go with personal fiscal responsibility. We have an entire generation (maybe two) that is/have been/will be raised to live just outside their means, on debt, on credit, whatever.

There wouldn't be nearly so serious a housing collapse with associated credit crunch if people understood what money is, how to use it, and how to manage it properly (including how not to get in over your head). Parents who know how to manage their money with discipline who teach children how to manage their money with discipline would go a long way, IMHO.

That, and people feeling like bankruptcy was morally reprehensible if at all avoidable (you did, after all, promise to pay all your creditors, and bankruptcy does make you a liar) rather than a get-out-of-jail-free card. But that's just good character values applied to money again.
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
the value of a dollar(influenced by inflation, foreign exchange rates, the perception of the strength of the US economy).
energy costs
perception of stability
 
 
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Aug 27, 2008
Kimpire: The dollar value is strongly tied not just to "faith", but to how much dollars the FED prints (as you print more dollars, a dollar itself loses vale proportinally, unless you're able to generate artificial demand for dollars - like when countries need them to buy petrol)
 
 
Aug 27, 2008
I believe that the number one problem with our ecomomy is the National Debt.
 
 
 
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