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Easy Street

Reporter’s Notebook: A Pep Talk on the U.S. Economy

Heidi Moore Jun 30, 2011

Chris Hyzy (pronounced high-zee) is the chief investment officer of U.S. Trust. Hyzy looks sporty, like the avid ex-baseball player he used to be. When I asked him why he started to manage money, he told me, “If I couldn’t be a short stop for the Yankees, I thought I’d do this – and I couldn’t be a shortstop for the Yankees.”

Hyzy has been a speaker and moderator on several panels here at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which his firm is co-sponsoring. (Every time attendees log on to the Wi-Fi here, they are automatically redirected to a page managed by U.S. Trust. The company has also papered a number of trees with inspiring quotes.)

Befitting a former sportsman, Hyzy stood out as an optimist on the U.S. economy and our ability to compete, when many others questioned whether we would ever get out of the muck. I talked to him to about the economy and why we’re losing ground to countries like China. He believes the storm clouds will eventually pass. Here is part of our conversation that would make a pretty good pep talk for anyone looking to throw in the towel on the U.S. of A. Hang in there.

“Look, nine percent structural employment is a big change for a lot of people. Will we see 4% full employment in the next few years? No. But will we get back there? Yes – when new industries are created. We’re not going to create jobs in the industries that created the excess.

The mood right now is, ‘we lost our way. We lost our edge.’

But the reality is, we’re number 1 in technological advancement. We are probably the leader in terms of the top 10 schools in the world at the university level. We still have the greatest talent pool out there. We still have manufacturing larger than both Japan and Germany combined. We have an economy three times the size of China.

So the lesson is, let’s not rest on our laurels, let’s not stay on our heels. Let’s continue to move forward. Can we compete? Absolutely. There’s no country better at producing high quality goods in the engineering space, in the materials area, in the energy arena, in the industrial landscape in the Midwest and the Southeast. And that’s what the emerging countries are buying from us. So we’re about to have this manufacturing revolution in the United States. It’s going to take a couple of decades – but we’re moving back up to where we were in the 50s and 60s.”

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