As America is the world's growth engine, it's critical to know what its buyers are saying. The news is not just good; it's great. Manufacturers were discouraged by the poor winter weather, but they got over it; the index is now back to the heights seen last fall, and rising. New orders are leading the charge, up sharply in the last three months.
The Obama administration, the Harper government and the Peña Nieto administration in Mexico all hope to boost economic growth and create jobs by opening up global markets and letting the best North American firms and workers compete. Before stepping into the ring with the world's heavyweight economies, North America needs to listen to Muhammad Ali.
During recessions, American sentiment is typically volatile. One of the most remarkable recent developments in the world economy is the change in U.S. sentiment. After three failed attempts, the Conference Board Index of Consumer Confidence has finally and convincingly popped back into the "normal" zone.
The bottom line? Fiscal policy is already a drag on growth, and will be, but perhaps not for as long as many now believe, given the speed with which fiscal dynamics can flip around. Monetary policy is generally expected to tighten, but in a way that does not undermine, but rather lend support to nascent economic growth.
In a few days the "fiscal cliff" deadline will arrive and potentially bring massive automatic spending cuts and tax increases to the U.S. Even if Congress and the President agree to avoid the cliff, the next crisis awaits. It has long been said that when the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold. So why have these debt-related ailments in the U.S. not afflicted the Canadian government? The answer is that Canada has been practicing what the U.S. always preached. That is why we Canucks are not jumping off cliffs or smashing into ceilings.