USA Inc.: Red, White, and Very Blue

Mary Meeker says that if the U.S. were a corporation, it would be sick—but fixable. Ideas for solving the U.S.'s long-term fiscal mess

The bottom line on USA Inc.? Cash flow and net worth are negative, profits are rare, and off-balance-sheet liabilities are enormous. The "company" has underinvested in productive capital, education, and technology—the very tools needed to compete in the global marketplace. Lenders have been patient so far, but the sky-high rates on the sovereign debt of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal suggest what might lie ahead for USA Inc. shareholders and our ... Full Story »

Posted by Fabrice Florin - via Joey Baker (t), Donica Mensing (t), Johan Jessen (t), Wil Kristin (t), Seth Roberts Farber (t), Tshiung Han See (t)
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Posted by: Posted by Fabrice Florin - Feb 26, 2011 - 11:30 AM PST
Content Type: Article
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Edited by: Fabrice Florin - Feb 26, 2011 - 11:58 AM PST
Fabrice Florin
4.0
by Fabrice Florin - Feb. 26, 2011

Thought leader Mary Meeker presents an insightful look at the federal government as if it were a business. This short essay summarizes her 400+ page report (see PDF link), with an in-depth examination of USA Inc.’s income statement and balance sheet. By focusing on financial data and verifiable facts, it helps inform the debate about America’s economic crisis and outlook. I like that this report involved a variety of individuals from across party lines: Al Gore, Meg Whitman, Peter Orszag, George P. Shultz, Paul Volcker, Michael Bloomberg, etc. Very informative.

This analysis is helping me gain a better understanding about our country's financial situation. I like this report's practical approach to solving some of the problems we face, as if this were a business turn-around challenge.

See Full Review » (12 answers)
Patricia Blochowiak
2.7
by Patricia Blochowiak - Mar. 8, 2011

This story ignores humanity and discusses finance. Both must be considered if we are to find a good solution.

A businessman once addressed a grow of teachers. He spoke of making blueberry ice cream, selecting only the best blueberries. A teacher responded with a discussion of the public schools' responsibility to teach all children. Ms. Meeker's faux letter to US shareholders includes some relevant details, but excludes so many essentials. It includes high medical expenses and the cost of expensive care in the last year of life, including tort reform as a possible solution, but ignoring ... More »

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Fred Gatlin
3.8
by Fred Gatlin - Mar. 8, 2011

This long article is tied to an even longer power point. It does a good job of presenting the budget issues for America. However, the story and power point fail to include discussion of how to accomplish needed changes or include issues that need to be overcome. One such issue is cost of health care. Regardless of personal positions one issue in that area that needs to be overcome is the need to address beginning of life and end of life costs. Nobody said the effort to balance the nation’s budget would be easy.

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Ellie Kesselman
4.0
by Ellie Kesselman - Feb. 26, 2011

Ms. Meeker is a securities analyst and states that she is not an expert in government finance nor policy. This is a thought experiment, one that Ms. Meeker spent a great deal of effort researching, with facts and historical context. Ms. Meeker analyzes the U.S.A. as if it were a corporation, rather than a sovereign entity. Her conclusions are straightforward and not surprising. They cut across policy lines. Many would not be easy to implement in practice, as she acknowledges. Yet some would be.

Mary Meeker is an expert in her field. Her yearly report on technology and the internet is highly regarded and welcomed for the depth of factual coverage provided. I think it is always helpful to have experts in one field look at another, because of their difference in perspective. For example, criteria for venture capital for start-up's in dot Net companies is very different than for high performance computing a.k.a. supercomputers. But when an analyst expert in one does a study of ... More »

Are good performance metrics and financial controls in place? Why not hire a compensation consultant to see whether federal workers are overpaid vs. private-sector ... More »

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    Imagine for a moment that the United States government is a public corporation. Imagine that its management structure, fiscal performance, and budget are all up for review. ...
    Posted by Fabrice Florin
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    Some senior Democrats are claiming that Social Security does not contribute "one penny" to the federal deficit. That's not true. The fact is, the federal government had to ...
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