Monday, May 12, 2008

America on Sale!

Betinha and I just love to visit New York City and while she could probably be enticed to live there, it would be the last place that I would want to live. There is an incredible vibrancy to the city and we spent hours just roaming the streets of the city.

Two things that impressed us both about this visit were the number of foreigners that were here and the amount of shopping that everyone seemed to be doing. There were lines at every checkout and while everyone talks about how the credit meltdown impacted NYC as much as anywhere, you sure couldn’t tell it at the theaters, restaurants or stores.

The city has always attracted people from all over the world, but the falling dollar has probably enticed even more of them to come here for the bargains. Foreigners spent $120 billion in the USA last year and are expected to spend even more in 2008. This compares to a peak of $100 billion in 2000 and a low of $80 billion in 2003 as fears of another 9/11 kept many at home. Canadians are our most frequent visitors, followed by guests from Mexico, Britain, Japan and Germany. But, the fastest-growing increase in visitors is coming from India, France, Venezuela, Brazil and Spain. Chinese visitors will be in this classification soon.

The fall in the value of the dollar makes our goods less expensive to foreigners even as it makes our imports more so. Over time the dollar rises and falls in value. We saw a similar fall in value in the 70s and 80s and there was great concern then that the Arabs (70s) and Japanese (80s) would end up owning America. It didn’t happen then and I’m convinced that it won’t happen now. Meanwhile our farmers, equipment manufacturers and others are reaping the benefits of increased export values from the value of the dollar.

How could this increase in foreign visitors impact rural areas? In talking with several foreigners over the years, I’m convinced that some of them are looking for very unique experiences here and would love to have authentic American experiences. Surely some rural region can figure out how to package a number of such experiences like working on a farm/ranch. If you know of an area that is doing this, please let me know what they have done.

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