Tag: United States

Check constructmaterials for United States in 1998.

United States Cinematography in the 1960’s and 1970’s

United States Cinematography in the 1960’s and 1970’s

But all this belongs to a world that was about to end. US anti-communism had lost its luster by the end of the decade, and shortly thereafter, in 1960, JF Kennedy was elected president. It was not so much his ‘new frontier’ slogan that changed things, but his assassination in Dallas (1963), an event that profoundly changed the entire American culture, casting a long shadow of suspicion and uncertainty over the entire country. From that moment there was not a single expression of the nation’s thought about itself that was not conditioned by what that tragedy hid. In fiction, for example, a long chain of paranoid novels opened up (of which Th. Pynchon is probably the most representative author), whose register is recognizable in some films of the Sixties and in not a few others of the following decade. John Frankenheimer, in particular, would have given Hollywood two works in this eloquent sense: The Manchurian candidate (1962; Go and Kill) and Seconds (1966; Diabolical Operation). Neither deals directly with the assassination of JF Kennedy: the first still seems to breathe the climate of McCarthyist hysterical anti-communism in the story of a diabolical plot by the ‘reds’ to push an American into a political attack shortly after the Korean War; the second leaves out any reference of a political nature to describe a world of suspicion and fear that on closer inspection can be read as much as that of the McCarthy period as well as that experienced by the US after the Dallas events.

A cinema, therefore, which in the past had enjoyed attention and success was now obsolete. Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Cleopatra (1963) box office collapse perfectly summarizes the demise of old Hollywood with its superproductive glories, its epic celebration of history and even its star system. Just as a problematic and dramatic social reality had crept into the dreamy world of the musical (West Side story, 1961, by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins), so the heroic one of the western would have given way to a twilight vision of the cowboy (Ride the high country, 1962, Challenge in the High Sierra, by Sam Peckinpah). Science fiction itself changed its tune, abandoning its traditional invasion ghosts: Kennedy’s assassination had shown that danger doesn’t always come from external and that sometimes must be sought within the borders of the country. For this reason the theme of the atomic danger was transformed again into a political fiction, concern for the fate of the planet in the face of the different possible ways of carrying out the nuclear holocaust by crazy splinters of power: examples of this are films such as Seven days in May (1964; Seven Days in May) by Frankenheimer, Fail safe (1964; Foolproof) by Sidney Lumet, The Bedford incident (1965; State of alarm) by James B. Harris and of course the forerunner Dr. Strangelove: or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb (1964; Doctor Strangelove, or: how I learned not to worry and to love the bomb) of that Stanley Kubrick who, like Joseph Losey and others, had preferred to emigrate to Great Britain.

The African American Melvin van Peebles also emigrated to Europe and lived in France for ten years, where he made La permission (1968), based on one of his novels and whirlwindly experimental. Then landed in the US, the film signaled him as a very original promise and earned him a Hollywood production, The watermelon man (1970; The coffee-milk man), but his exceptional work was, the following year, Sweet sweetback’s baadasssss song, an independent production with a very violent character, full of action, but also with a strong criticism of white society.

It was no coincidence that at the turn of the 1950s and 1960s an anti-Hollywood art cinema took root in the US, based on the New Yorker New American Cinema Group by Jonas Mekas, advocate of a cinematography free from the industrial and economic constraints of production. mainstream and willing to bold experimentation (see experimental, cinema). However, that was a phenomenon that, with different nuances, invested more than a Western cinema at that time. We also witnessed the birth of the French New Wave and Free Cinema British, sure signs that something was changing in the culture of the entire planet. These are important events because they testify to much more than an attempt at cinematic renewal. Cinema is only the maneuvering ground for the discomfort that invested the new generations: the Nouveau Roman in French fiction, the Angry Young Men in the British one (and also in the theater, see Great Britain), the Spanish Nueva ola were other contiguous faces. of that discomfort and that desire for renewal, which after all also touched Italy with the formation of Gruppo 63. The problem was now that of renewing models, structures, production methods, taste, forms and contents.

The fall of traditional cultural values, moreover, had invested, especially in the US, also another area of ​​visual operations, that of the figurative arts. Heirs of the formal unhinging of the pre-war avant-gardes, the artists who inaugurated Pop Art were among the pioneers of the new sensibility: a sensibility that was exercised first of all on the ephemeral products of mass culture, by the stars of the news (Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy) to ready-to-eat foods and household products (cans of Campbell soups, Brillo detergent, etc.). The most domestic, simple and banal everyday had risen to be an emblematic cultural object of an entire society and its values.

Cinema, by now undergoing a profound transformation towards the end of the 1960s, operated in the same direction. A new generation of young producers rejected the dictates of the past, rejected the tradition of the studios, financed a series of low-budget films that intended to focus on the restlessness and discomfort of the moment. However, it was no longer the bewildering mythology linked to the advent of rock and roll a decade earlier; the intention was not on the one hand of épater le bourgeois and on the other hand to attract the superficial sympathies of Sunday teenagers with vaguely scandalous little films seasoned with drums, screams and saxophone. This time a vision of the world emerged from that cinema, a sometimes nostalgic perspective that placed the eventual rebellion of his heroes (or rather, anti-heroes) in an existential area of ​​introversion, of interiority, of privacy. In short, it was also a cinema of redemption: redemption from the widespread opinion that the new generations were violent, superficial, stubborn, polemical, aggressive. Of course, in the mid-1960s there had been the riots at Berkeley University (not to mention the Miami convention and the siege of Chicago, so harshly narrated by Norman Mailer’s counter-current voice) and in the early 1970s those of Kent University. But it was precisely from this image of violence that had been glued to it that the new generation wave intended to distance itself. And it was Hollywood itself that gave her a hand. The term Hollywood, however, is at this point inaccurate. New Hollywood. The renewal of the US film capital took place on several levels and in various directions. On the production side, a new generation of investors made their way, focusing on largely low-budget films; on the directorial side there was the arrival of an equally new and young wave of directors, some with a television background (Sydney Pollack, Stuart Rosenberg, Robert Altman himself), others who came out of the university film schools that in the meantime had begun to flourish in the country (George Lucas, for example) or trained through a hard apprenticeship at the Corman group. The latter in particular brought to Hollywood a component that until then was unknown to her: cinephilia. Feed on classic American cinema, these young people translated their culture to varying degrees in their films: P. Bogdanovich, the most sensational example, for a few years made films that were basically (splendid) imitations from Hawks and other masters of the past. In other words, US cinema had reached such a saturation point that it was re-enacted in different forms thanks to the competence and enthusiasm of the new generation of authors.

On a technical level, the new cinema adapted itself magnificently to the different production situation. Leaving the spaces of the studios, it ventured into the body of a country explored in the field in its everyday life and in its contradictions. A film in some ways pioneering like Easy rider (1969; Easy rider – Freedom and fear) by Dennis Hopper represents the new Hollywood situation well. Filmed in the open spaces of the West, it resumed the tradition of the road movie, but moving away from the restrictive dictates of classic Hollywood. New Hollywood cinema was a cinema in continuous motion, which adapted to the mobility of its protagonists. It was not for nothing that the operator Fouan Said invented the Cinemobile Mark IV at the beginning of the decade, a vehicle equipped to facilitate the filming of moving subjects in space. Photography itself could not fail to undergo strong variations compared to the classical tradition: where the Thirties had been characterized by high key lighting (slightly overexposed) and the 1940s by chiaroscuro, in the Seventies coarse-grained film triumphed, as if to give action a rate of realism, of improvisation, of truths normally absent from Hollywood cinema. In turn, the editing became more broken and nervous (Peckinpah’s films are, among other things, famous for the very high number of jump cuts), insinuating in the stories an objective correlative of the neurosis of the characters. The zoom progressively replaced the carriage forward, in order to make the movement more objective, that is, free from the slavery of any point of view (Altmanian zooms in particular are famous).

A radical change in content corresponded to these formal innovations: the revolt against classical cinema took place in a conspicuous way in the historical-moral operation that not a few films carried out. In almost all the works set in a more or less distant past, traditional values ​​were overturned: the Indian emerged as the true and noble hero, mistreated and betrayed by the treacherous white government, the outlaw was represented as a Robin Hood crushed by a power that took it as an alibi for his own misdeeds. In short, Hollywood rewrote national history from the point of view of counterculture (these were the years of the hippy movement) and the vision of the middle class proposed in contemporary films was very different from that, albeit remarkably critical, of the Hollywood of the past: a film like The graduate (1967;

The revolution also touched genres, once stainless structures that gradually lost their rigidity, often contaminating themselves with others in order to make cataloging difficult. This phenomenon must be read within a much broader change, the one that refers to the advent of the postmodern: a vision of the world that renounces any order and classification to present reality as an indistinct mass of the most diverse and irreconcilable components. In the seventies, Western culture became an alternative (and later virtual) universe characterized by the juxtaposition of the incongruous, by careless gratuitousness. It is not difficult to trace on this line eloquent connections between different artistic fields: for example, an evident debt of New Hollywood towards contemporary figurative arts, so that in a film like Taxi Driver (1976) by Martin Scorsese the influence of the American pictorial hyperrealism of the 1960s is easily readable (J. Salt, R. Estee etc..). Indeed, there were filmmakers who, like Bogdanovich, attempted an application of the hyperrealist instances not in terms of simple reproduction, but by constructing the film as an exact repetition of the ‘real’ model: The last picture show (1971; The last show) was indeed a reproduction, not only visual but also stylistic, of the provincial family melodrama a la Minnelli, typical of the 1950s. Differently, but in the same way, in the first films made by Bob Rafelson – Five easy pieces (1970; Five easy pieces), The king of Marvin gardens (1972; The king of the gardens by Marvin) – reality was observed by the camera with such close and calm attention as to bring back moments of the most domestic Italian Neorealism. But a shadow loomed over that cinema, the ghost of the collapse of confidence, optimism, hope that occurred in the early sixties. America was no longer what it once was and she knew well that she could not return to the happy era of her certainties. This explains the very strong nostalgic component of New Hollywood, its continuous reinterpretation of a past that may not always be edifying, but in which the ancient national virtues were still in force. Contemporary America, it was clearly seen in the films that dealt with it, was quite different. In particular, the image of a nation in the grip of powerful and top secret conspiratorial forces. Not only in films like Stuart Rosenberg’s WUSA (1970; A Man Today), Alan J. Pakula’s The Parallax View (1974; Why Murder), David Miller’s Executive action (1973; Executive action), which featured more or less veiled what little was known about the facts relating to the assassination of President Kennedy (in the meantime, ML King and R. Kennedy had also been killed), but also films of other types and invoices clearly revealed a paranoid unease that the explosion of the Watergate case in 1974 had helped to enlarge. Films such as Lumet’s The Anderson tapes (1971; Record Robbery in New York) and Tree days of the Condor (1975; The three days of the Condor) directed by Pollack show a reality monitored by a dark power in which everyone is constantly observed thanks to efficient technologies, or are even in danger of life due to organizations that, colluding or not with power, act underground eliminating all deviant elements. Nostalgic vogue therefore realizes why the Twenties, Thirties and Forties were so popular in this cinema, which deepened them as never before, both in comedy, both in melodrama, and in gangster films.

It should not be forgotten, however, that the 1970s marked a turning point in Hollywood’s attitude towards black audiences. For the first time, in fact, the industry realized that that public existed and that it was a potential and strong buyer. At that time, proposals aimed at it flourished, mostly labeled under the term of blaxploitation, that is exploitation in a black key, with films such as Shaft (1971; Shaft the detective) by Gordon Parks, which had a large number of sequels, or Coffy (1973) by white director Jack Hill, who launched new black stars, from Richard Roundtree to Pam Grier. New Hollywood, however, lasted the space of a morning. In the mid-1970s, two young writers of the new wave, G. Lucas and Steven Spielberg, made two hugely successful science fiction films: respectively, Star wars (1977; Star Wars) and Close encounters of the third kind (1977; Close encounters of the third kind). From that moment a new New Hollywood began, characterized by the relaunch of spectacular superproduction (whose production values ​​were this time technical and not artisanal), but also characterized by the strong revival of science fiction, which, together with horror, would soon become the cinematic genre that marked the end of the century. It was not about escapism or a reaction to the New Hollywood realism of a few years ago. On the contrary, the two phenomena are linked by a red thread: reality meticulously, hyperrealistically reconstructed and observed by so many New Hollywood cinemas, could only dissolve in a space of the mind.

United States Cinematography in the 1960's and 1970's

United States Economy and Finance

United States Economy and Finance

The growing political tension in Europe during 1938 and the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939 contributed, more than any other domestic measure, to relieve the US economy from that phase of depression which, which began in the last quarter of 1937, it had reached its maximum severity in May 1938, with an index of industrial production reduced to 78% of the average for the five-year period 1935-39 and a total of about 10 million unemployed.

As a consequence of the fears of the approach of the conflict there was, starting from September 1938, a growing influx of gold, due in part to the transfer of capital in search of refuge and in part to the greater exports of goods to European countries. prepared for war. After September 1939, the inflow of gold through the movement of capital was considerably reduced, owing to the limitations imposed in the belligerent countries on private transfers; on the other hand, imports of gold increased more and more in the face of exports of goods to the struggling countries, part of which was paid for with the liquidation of assets in the USA following these operations, the official gold reserves of the country, which in the end in 1937 did not reach 13 billion dollars, they went to 17.

In September 1939 the War Resources Board was established to study the needs and sources of supply of defense materials; this was followed, in May 1940, by the Office for Emergency Management for the elaboration of the entire defense program; the assets in the US of citizens of the various occupied countries or in any case entered the orbit of the Axis were then gradually blocked; finally, in March 1941, with the Lend – lease act) the sending of materials of all kinds to countries fighting against the Axis was authorized. At the same time, the financing of the defense program was ensured and measures were taken to minimize the inflationary repercussions of the increase in production for war purposes. Defense spending, which in July 1940 did not yet reach 200 million per month, exceeded 500 million in the following January, reached 900 million in July 1941, and reached 1.7 billion per month on the eve of Pearl Harbor. Part of these expenses was met with an increase in taxation (in 1940 the minimum income tax exemptions were reduced; companies, in addition to subjecting to an increase of about a third of the ordinary tax, were affected by a new tax on excess profits; the rates of other taxes were increased on average by 10%; in March 1941 all new state issues were subject to federal income tax; finally, with Revenue act of September 1941 the entire system of income tax was changed; all these changes ensured the tax authorities increased revenue of about 5 billion); a greater part through the issuance of public debt securities, mainly long-term, which efforts were made to preferably place among private individuals (between June 1938 and June 1941 the public debt increased by almost 12 billion); finally another part through the bank financing of state contracts, allowed and regulated by a law of October 1940.

The policy of the Federal Reserve System (FRS) aimed at achieving two main objectives: to keep government bonds stable on the market – in order to facilitate the placement of new issues – and to reduce the circulating average to a minimum compatible with the needs of defense. The interventions to achieve the first objective were very limited; Instead, legislation aimed at containing the expansion of credit had greater development. Especially important is Regulation W. of the FR Board (August 21, 1941) which established restrictions on installment sales, and the increase, also decreed by the Board, starting from November 1, 1941, of the compulsory reserves of member banks up to the maximum permitted by law (26% of sight deposits for banks in New York and Chicago; 20% for those located in cities where RF banks are located; 14.4% for others; 6% of term deposits for all types of banks). Parallel to the action of the FRS was that of the government, aimed at combating inflation through price control and rationing, implemented through the OPA (Office of Price Administration and Civilian Supply, established in April 1941),

Thanks to the measures reviewed, the US found themselves in December 1941 in the best conditions to start the war. The economic-financial situation of the country at that time can be summarized in the following figures: industrial production index (base 1935-39) = 167; unemployment about 4 million (December 1938 about 9 million); wholesale price index (base 1938) = 111; cost of living index (base 1938) = 104; circulation = 9.6 billion (December 1938 = 5.8 billion); sight deposits = 39 billion (December 1938 = 26 billion); public debt = 49 billion (December 1938 = 37.2 billion), with an interest charge of 1.3 billion (1938 = 1.1 billion); national income for the year 1941 = 97 billion (1938 = 64 billion).

With the participation of the US in the conflict, the whole mechanism set up to channel the available resources towards the purposes of war began to work at full capacity.

Control over war production was entrusted to a new body, established in January 1942 with very broad powers, the War Production Board; the price control became more rigorous with the enactment, in the same month of January, of the Emergency price control act and with the publication, in the following April, of a regulation that bound the prices of most of the goods intended for civil consumption, services and leases to the level of March 1942. With a provision of March 1942 the state guarantee was granted to loans made to finance war production; through various offices several million workers were directed to war production and conveniently trained. Public spending in the four years between July 1941 and June 1945 reached the total figure of 305 billion, over 90% of which directly or indirectly attributable to the war. Thanks to the tax increases decreed by Congress in 1942, to the improvements in the assessment and collection systems made in 1943 and to the higher revenue deriving from the increase in national income, the state was able to collect for taxes in the four years the amount of 125 billion, equal to approximately 41% of the total expenditure. Faced with the imperious need for money to cover the remainder, the Treasury offered for subscription securities with characteristics capable of satisfying the needs of the various categories of investors, and the FRS pursued a complex policy aimed at keeping the rate of interest low. . Depending on the various measures adopted, between June 1941 and December 1945 the banking system absorbed 93 billion of government bonds (22 of which purchased by the FRS), that is to say more than 40% of the issues of the period.

Subject to the needs of financing the war, however, the FRS did not fail to take measures to curb the race to inflation as much as possible. In this regard, the further restrictions on the installment sale credit in the first half of 1942 deserve special mention; the efforts made, in collaboration with the Treasury, to place the largest possible quantity of government bonds offered for subscription among private individuals; the persuasion carried out at the banks to induce them to limit credit in sectors not directly affecting war production; finally, the increase in the coverage margins for transactions in securities, which were brought in February 1945 to 50% of the market value of the securities and further increased to 75% from 5 July 1945.

The heavy expenses incurred by the government for purchases of goods and services abroad and the foreign expenses of the troops determined during the war an exodus of gold from the US and an increase in the availability of dollars in many foreign countries, especially in the United States. Latin America. The official gold reserves of the US fell at the end of 1943 to 21.9 billion and fell to 20.1 billion at the end of 1945. Much of the gold, however, did not physically leave the country, but remained credited to it, earmarked, at the Reserve Banks in favor of governments or central banks of foreign countries (2.2 billion at the end of 1941 and 4.2 billion at the end of 1945). Foreign dollar holdings increased by about 3 billion during the war, reaching 6.4 billion at the end of December 1945.

The unfavorable trend in the US balance of payments for the period under review, in addition to the causes already mentioned, was largely influenced by the fact that during the whole war the majority of US exports were under the rent and loan law and therefore under the law. mostly free. (For the extent of the supplies see rents and loans ; foreign loans in this Appendix).

At the end of the war, the economic-financial situation of the US had undergone the following changes: the industrial production index, after the maximum of 239 (1935-39 = 100) reached in 1943, had dropped to 203; unemployment, after falling to insignificant figures in the autumn of 1944, numbered about one million; the wholesale price index had reached the level of 134, the cost of living index had passed to 128, circulation to 26.5 billion (December 1945); sight deposits at 75.9 billion (December 1945); the public debt of 278.1 billion (December 1945), with an interest charge of 3.6 billion (financial year 1944-45); the national income (year 1945) to 161 billion.

With the end of hostilities almost simultaneously new, complex problems arose to be solved: reconversion of the economy from the organization of war to that of peace; limitation of the increase in prices, which tended to grow strongly due to the imbalance between a large demand, boosted by the liquidity accumulated in the hands of the public during the war years, and a limited supply due to the initial scarce availability of goods and services; various financial problems, internal and external.

The reconversion, which began in many cases before the war ended, and favored with various measures (tax breaks and reimbursement of taxes paid during the war, suspension of rationing and controls in some sectors, sale of state-owned companies to private individuals, etc.) it generally took place without excessive difficulty and in a shorter period of time than expected. The industrial production index, which fell between February 1945 and February 1946 from 235 to 152, increased under the pressure of the strong demand which was postponed to 182 (end of 1946) and 200 (end of 1947).

Less satisfactory results, also due to the influence of opposing interests, were instead obtained in the fight against inflation. In the period between September 1945 and June 1946, thanks to continued government controls, the official wholesale price index only increased from 134 to 144; however, following the almost complete abolition of price controls and subsidies, between July and November 1946, and the abolition, from 1 November 1947, of credit controls for installment sales – both wanted by Congress, despite the contrary warning of the monetary authorities and the repeated calls for more powers to fight inflation made by President Truman – the index rose to 179 at the end of 1946 and to 208 at the end of 1947, highlighting a devaluation of over 50% of the dollar’s purchasing power in terms of wholesale goods. This happened despite the government and FRS interventions to curb inflation through the use of the limited means at their disposal. State spending sharply decreased with the cessation of hostilities, the Treasury used, in the course of 1946, most of its ample cash available for the repayment of short-term public debt (mainly held by the banks), which decreased by 20 billion, helping to limit the expansion of bank credit; with the need to encourage government issuance gone, the FR Board abolished, in the spring of 1946, the 1/2% favor rate introduced during the war for advances on government bonds; in July 1947, as the signs of inflation increased and therefore the need for more vigorous measures increased, the provision that obliged the FRS to purchase bills of exchange from the Treasury banks at a rate of 3/8% was also abolished. At the same time, a policy of increasing the cost of money was initiated, the main steps of which were: the gradual increase in the interest rate on short-term Treasury securities up to 1.16% for three-month and 1-month issues., 25% for those at one year; the gradual increase in the official discount rate up to 1½ per cent, from 13 August 1948; lowering the level of price support for long-term government bonds. The FRS also made use of the other means of market control at its disposal, raising the coverage margins for securities transactions to 100% in January 1946 (which were however brought back to 75% in February 1947) and increasing the required reserves of member banks located in New York City and Chicago in the first half of 1948 from 20 to 24%. These measures proved insufficient, the FRS, having obtained the necessary powers from the Congress, in September 1948 Regulation W with some temperaments and increased the required reserves to 26.22 and 16% of sight deposits respectively for the three categories of member banks and to 7½% of term deposits for all member banks.

In the field of public finance, even astonishing was the speed with which the balance of the state budget was restored, as can be seen from the following figures:

In fact, the 1947-48 budget closed with a surplus of 8.4 billion, thanks above all to the persistence of a high level of taxation and despite the fact that the expenses directly connected with the war still amounted to 22.3 billion. The budget deficits for the years 1948 and 1949 are mainly attributable to the tax relief approved by Congress in April 1948; the main items of expenditure include those for defense (29 and 34% respectively for the two years), for aid abroad (18 and 16%), for assistance to veterans (17 and 13%) and for interest on public debt (13%).

With the end of the war, the US balance of payments underwent a radical transformation. Once the free allocations for rent and loans had ended and expenses abroad decreased sharply, the growing demand for American goods by foreign countries gave rise to the problem of financing export surpluses, which amounted to about 22.5 billion over the three-year period. 1946-48. A part of these continued to be financed with free allocations to the various bodies set up within the UN for assistance to war-damaged countries (first among these UNRRA, which received US contributions for 2.7 billion) or through direct aid, such as aid to the civilian populations of the territories occupied by American troops (2.5 billion until 30 September 1948), Economic Cooperation Act of April 3, 1948, currently being disbursed in favor of the countries participating in the OEEC, according to a four-year plan which provides, for the first year, free allocations for about 4 billion and long-term loans for about one billion (v. economic plan: Marshall Plan). Another part of the exports was financed with the use of dollar holdings and with transfers of gold. In the course of the three-year period 1946-48, net foreign funds held by the banking system decreased by 2 billion, reducing to approximately 4.5 billion; in the same period of time the official gold reserves, despite a payment of 687.5 million to the Interfund, increased by 4.1 billion, passing to 24.2 billion; part of the gold was withdrawn from that deposited on behalf of foreign countries, which fell at the end of 1947 to 3.8 billion. The third source of export financing was loans. Faced with the need to meet war-damaged countries also with this form of help, with the law of July 31, 1945, the lending capacity of the Export-Import Bank was increased from 700 to 3500 million. At 30 June 1948 the Bank had outstanding loans for approximately 2.9 billion, of which 2.2 billion actually disbursed. The main borrowers were France (1.2 billion), Canada (300 million, of which 160 still to be disbursed) and Holland (192 million). Italy had loans for 109 million, of which almost 33 were disbursed. The Bank was also recently commissioned to administer ERP loans. Other loans were granted to complete the rental and loan supplies (pipeline credits) for an amount of approximately 1.2 billion, for the sale in foreign countries of the remnants of war (1.3 billion), to meet the special needs of some countries. Among the loans of the latter category, the one of $ 3,750 million granted to Great Britain in December 1945, to help it overcome the transition period, deserves special mention.

Finally, also in the field of international financial activity, the work carried out by the US to create the Bretton Woods institutes (see) and to ensure their functioning should be remembered. The US participates in the Fund with a share of 2750 million dollars, equal to approximately 34% of the total amount subscribed so far, and in the Bank with a share of 3175 million, equal to 38% of the total current subscriptions, and therefore exercise a predominant influence in both organisms. In order to coordinate the international financial activity with the internal one, the National Advisory Council on international monetary and financial problems was established by law of 31 July 1945 (the same that authorized the participation of the US in the Bretton Woods institutes).

At 31 December 1948 the economic and financial situation of the US was thus modified with respect to that at the end of the war: the industrial production index had dropped to 189; the number of unemployed had increased to about 1.9 million; the wholesale price index had further risen to 206; the cost of living index had risen to 170; circulation had dropped to 25.7 billion; sight deposits had gone up to 85.8 billion and term deposits to 57.3 billion; public debt had further decreased to 252.8 billion and was composed of 45.9 billion short-term Treasury securities, 111.4 billion medium and long-term Treasury certificates, for 55, 4 billion from savings certificates (capitalization securities similar to Italian interest-bearing postal bonds) and the remainder from special issues, tax certificates and non-interest bearing debt; the national income, on the basis of the data of the first three quarters of 1948, was estimated for the whole of 1948 at 221.5 milliards.

United States Economy and Finance 2

US Enemies – from the Soviet Union to Islam

US Enemies – from the Soviet Union to Islam

An important component of foreign policy after 1945 was the balance of terror. The United States has always been leading the nuclear armament, from the Manhattan World War II project that involved developing nuclear weapons to their use against Japan in the final phase of the war.

The first nuclear bombs were carried by long-range bombers. Only in the late 1950’s did it become practically possible to use long-range rockets as means of transport for the strategic nuclear weapons. In a few years, the superpowers developed rockets that could target the opponent’s territory with great accuracy. Both World War I and World War II were endurance tests, which were largely determined by the participants’ ability to mobilize their resources for war purposes. An atomic war, on the other hand, will be decided by the weapons immediately available at the outbreak of war. The superpower’s nuclear weapons, therefore, were always in high readiness until the late 80’s. The nuclear weapons stockpiles thus made the strategic assessments a central part of the superpower’s foreign policy in the post-World War II period.

1945-55. During this period, the United States was completely superior to nuclear weapons. But the Soviet Union had great conventional forces that were perceived as a threat to Europe. At this stage, US security policy consisted of three measures: economic reconstruction of Europe, military reconstruction of Europe, and the development of long-range nuclear weapons bombers to give credibility to the doctrine of massive retaliation: If the USSR attacked the United States or some of the US allies, North Americans would respond with full nuclear war. As the North American bombers had limited range, this deterrence depended on an extensive network of foreign bases.

1955-62. At this stage, the Soviet Union expanded its nuclear weapons stockpiles so that the nuclear threat became reciprocal and a beginning terrorist balance between the superpowers developed. With the Russians’ open threat to intervene in the Middle East during the Suez crisis (1956) and the successful launch of the Sputnik satellite (1957), this development led North Americans to place more emphasis on the development of nuclear missiles. At this stage, the doctrine of massive retaliation was heavily criticized because US nuclear weapons were developed at the expense of conventional forces: The doctrine only gave the United States the choice between total nuclear war or surrender, and was useless against limited warfare, it said.

At the end of this phase, President Kennedy put forward the doctrine of flexible response. It aimed, in part, to develop flexible intervention units, adapted to the entire scale of limited warfare, from conflicts between nations to guerrilla actions. In part, it aimed to fight (and win) a nuclear war by directing the attacks against the opponent’s weapons (counterforce strategy). The contingency was sharpened with bombers that were always on the wings and with the posting of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. When the Soviet Union tried to balance the relationship of strength by placing its own missiles with nuclear weapons in Cuba in 1962, the world was brought to the brink of nuclear war (see Cuba crisis).

1962-72. After the Cuba crisis, the United States was apprehensive that the Russians had developed the ability to win a nuclear war by surprise attack. The United States then sought to diminish the Soviet leaders’ willingness to war – not their ability to strike. This strategy provided the Soviet Union with the knowledge that the United States could withstand a massive surprise attack and yet have enough nuclear weapons left to direct a devastating attack on the Soviet Union. This ability was called Second Strike Capability.

According to commit4fitness, the US nuclear defense consists of bombers, land-based intercontinental rockets (ICBMs) and submarine-based intercontinental rockets (SLMBs). This forms the strategic triad that is the basis of the United States’ resilience. Because even though one leg of the triad is wiped out, each of the other two has enough rockets to launch a devastating attack. The strategic triad was the ultimate means of sanction in the foreign policy of the two superpowers and the basis for the balance of terror.

1972-91. In the 1970’s, the USSR gained some of the US lead in strategic weapons. President Nixon’s security policy adviser, later Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, advocated a policy known as detente, or relaxation. The policy consisted, among other things, in agreements with the Soviet Union on the types of strategic weapons that could be allowed to be developed and how many were to be scrapped (see SALT). Kissinger’s central concept was linkage: the Soviet Union was to be spun into a network of advantageous trade and cooperation that the country would not be able to afford to break with time. But at the same time, the development of new strategic weapon systems continued, and the counterforce doctrine was re-launched in 1974.

For Kissinger and Nixon, the SALT agreements were elements of a larger building. President Jimmy Carter detached the SALT II agreement from its context and demolished large parts of Nixon-Kissinger’s foreign policy structure by boycotting important parts of trade with the Soviet Union in protest against the inmate in Afghanistan in December 1979. At the same time, Carter acknowledged the People’s Republic of China and escalated military spending.

Several elements of the Kennedy period doctrine were brought back again by Carter. By the early 1980’s, plans had been devised to develop new types of long-haul transport aircraft that could quickly transfer special forces – Rapid Deployment Forces, or RDF – to troubled corners of the world. The plan to also develop cargo vessels full of weapons – Maritime Preplacement Ships, or MPS – to be deployed in the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and Persian Gulf showed that RDF was developed specifically with a view to defending the oil-rich areas of the Middle East.

The so-called Roll-back strategy towards the Soviet Union was reinforced during the 1980’s. As early as 79, NATO had adopted its double resolution, which involved the deployment of 572 Pershing II atomic missile missiles in Europe. At the same time, the United States increased its support for counter-revolutionary movements around the world to roll back the Soviet influence. In particular, the NATO double-decree triggered one of the strongest post-war peace movementsin Europe, but it was only when Gorbachov came to power in the Soviet Union that the superpower understood how to exploit this situation. By offensive disarmament in 1986-88, the Soviet succeeded in sabotaging the Roll-back strategy. The political costs of rejecting the Soviet manifestly genuine disarmament proposals were too high. In this way, the United States was forced to agree to a significant disarmament, with the Soviet Union openly giving the largest concessions.

Since 1991. The Soviet Union ceased to exist on December 31, 1991, and Russia’s defense spending in 1998 represented only 5% of Soviet spending. The threat from the “Empire of Evil,” as the United States president in the 1980’s, Ronald Reagan referred to his ideological opponent, had largely disappeared. It had different consequences for the United States. First, to ensure that the remaining Russian nuclear weapons and weapons plutonium did not fall into the “wrong” hands. Second, the need to develop another form of legitimization of NATO’s existence. The Warsaw Pact was disbanded in 1991 and the Soviet Union disappeared. In an attempt to legitimize US continued military dominance in Europe and the North Atlantic, the alliance turned on an aggressive containment of Russia through the conclusion of so-called Partnership for Peace deals with Russia’s peripheral states and subsequently accepts a number of these as actual NATO members – mhp. provoking Russia so vigorously that it could legitimize continued NATO existence. Third, the United States needed to develop a new enemy image, to replace the communist ghost that the superpower had used since World War II. The new enemy that the US now invented was Islam.

Religious fundamentalism has undoubtedly been on the rise since the current capitalist economic crisis broke through in the early 1970’s. In the United States, it is Christian fundamentalism in particular that has characterized the fundamentalist landscape. Right from militant abortion opponents who kill abortion doctors to Christian militias on the far right. In Israel, there have been primarily Jewish fundamentalists – such as Baruch Goldstein, who in 1994 killed dozens of Palestinians at a mosque in Hebron to kill the country’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin committed by a fundamentalist Jew in November 95. In India, there has been primarily Hindu fundamentalism targeting the country’s Muslim and Christian minorities. Among the various forms of fundamentalism, the United States has selected the Muslim – personified throughout the Arab world. Interestingly, in the 1980’s, a number of the most extreme groups and individuals were trained and financed by the United States themselves, as the superpower needed them in Afghanistan to fight the Soviet invasion forces.

US Enemies

The 10 longest rivers in the world

The 10 longest rivers in the world

Around 2/3 of the earth’s surface is covered with water. But it is not only the seas and lakes that play an important role. Rivers also occupy a large area of ​​the earth. Find out here which are the longest rivers in the world and what distinguishes them.

10th place: the Amur

The Amur, derived from the Evenk word “Tamur”, which means “Great River”, flows through China and Russia and, with a length of 2,824 kilometers, takes tenth place in the ranking of the largest rivers. The entire length of this river is navigable and travelers can admire the inspiring nature around the coastal mountains of Sichote-Alin. Wild animals such as the Siberian tiger or brown bear can be admired there.

9th place: The Jenissei

This river, which is more than 3,487 kilometers long, flows through Siberia with its entire length and, with its tributary, the great Jenissei, even forms a total length of around 4,092 kilometers.

Place 8: The Ob

Number 8 in the ranking for the longest rivers in the world also flows through Siberia, if only here through Western Siberia. The Ob, which has a length of 3,650 kilometers, has its origin in the Mansi and Khanty languages ​​and is derived from the term “Ac”, which is synonymous with the term “large water”. The peculiarity of this river is that it is covered with ice in its middle lower reaches about 220 days a year.

7th place: The Mississippi

Not only known from many films and songs, the Mississippi has a total length of 3,778 kilometers, making it one of the top ten longest rivers in the world. The river that flows through the United States originates in Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota.

6th place: The Congo

The Congo is not only a name for a city-state in Africa but also the name of one of the longest rivers in the world. With a length of 4,347 kilometers, the Congo is probably the sixth largest river in the world and at the same time the second largest river in Africa.

5th place: The Mekong

The 4,350 km long Mekong River, which means “turbulent river”, crosses six countries in its length in Southeast Asia. The origin of the Mekong is unclear, it is believed to originate in hard-to-reach areas of the Tibetan highlands.

4th place: The Yellow River

The Yellow River, also known as Wade-Giles, is a stream in China and has a total length of 4,845 kilometers. Only the Yangtze River makes it slip into number two in China’s longest rivers.

3rd place: The Yangtze River

With a length of 6,380 kilometers, the Yangtze River is the longest river in the People’s Republic of China and at the same time the longest river in Asia.

The Yangtze River

2nd place: The Amazon

Its total length of 6,448 kilometers makes the Amazon the second largest river in the world. With a water flow of 206,000 m³ / s, the Amazon is one of the richest rivers in the world and extends its water into seven smaller tributaries.

1st place: The Nile

Egypt is not only known for its high-quality tradition and majestic buildings such as the pyramids and the Sphinx. Here, in otherwise barren Egypt, is the longest river in the world. With a length of 6,852 kilometers, the Nile leads the ranking of the top ten longest rivers and is the only river on earth to cross one of the two subtropical dry belts, the Sahara.


Las Vegas – casinos, entertainment and star splendor

Las Vegas – casinos, entertainment and star splendor

The bustling casino city is a place that many want to experience even once in a lifetime.


Las Vegas is a holiday destination where you will have fun. In the city you can enjoy gambling at casinos, entertainment shows and first-class food.

A city full of festive atmosphere

In the US state of Nevada , Las Vegas is known for its spectacular casinos. The city is a popular celebration destination for weddings, stag / hen parties and birthdays.

Casino hotels are primarily focused on downtown Las Vegas and further afield on The Strip. The Strip’s casino hotels are full-service entertainment centers with everything you could imagine. They have restaurants, bars, pool areas, gyms and even golf courses. Many of the largest casino hotels have luxury brand stores.

In addition to playing at the casino, you can visit Las Vegas to watch concerts and musicals, for example. The city’s restaurant offers fine dining restaurants, international cuisine and traditional American fast food outlets.

Desert hot summers

Desert hot summers

Las Vegas is located in the Mojave Desert, which affects the city’s climate. Summers are really hot. The hottest months are from June to July, when daytime temperatures can approach as high as 40 degrees. In the evening, however, the weather cools down.

The winter is clearly cooler than the summer months and during the winter months the temperatures move around 15 degrees during the day. Since the city is located in the desert, there is no need to fear rain. Although winter is cooler in Las Vegas, the city is still a great destination all year round.

Versatile entertainment

Casinos are the biggest attraction in Las Vegas and many travelers are eager to try their luck at the gaming tables. The age limit for casinos is 21 years and especially in the evening, some are expected to dress neatly. Casino game selections usually include a large number of different table games, some of which can only be played for large sums of money. In addition, casinos have slot machines where you can test your luck with smaller amounts.

Las Vegas is called the entertainment capital of the world because the city has a huge number of performances, concerts and events. Top-class artists, musicals and performances by magicians are on offer. Tickets for the city’s most popular shows can be expensive, so it’s worth looking for deals once you’ve decided what you want to see.

One popular way to fill your stomach in Las Vegas is to dine at the bursting buffet tables of the city’s restaurants. Buffet meals are available at various Price Range restaurants. Las Vegas has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, from famous chefs to regular fast food chains. In some restaurants the portion sizes are huge and in many of them the main course can be shared between two people. Las Vegas restaurants tend to leave a tip of 15-20 percent of the total bill.



The flight takes time

There are no direct flights to Las Vegas from Finland. You can fly to the city by changing planes in either European or US cities – many choose flights via New York, for example, because then the longest leg can be folded on a direct flight.

Those traveling on a tight budget should keep in mind that the cheapest flights typically have multiple exchanges. When planning a holiday, it is good to remember to set aside time to travel, because the flight to the city from Finland is quite long and also recovering from the time difference takes its own tax.

Accommodation in Las Vegas

There are numerous quality casino hotels in Las Vegas, most of which are located along The Strip. However, there are more common hotels in the city for those who do not want to stay in the middle of the casino bustle. There are also many motels in Las Vegas where you can stay cheaply.

If you are on the move with a hotel reservation in time or you are not traveling during the high season, you can get a room at a good price from even the finer casino hotels. Of course, low-cost offers are meant to attract visitors to the hotel’s casino.

Getting around in Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, you should choose a vehicle based on where you are going. On The Strip and downtown, you can move on foot, but then make time for the transitions, as progress can be slow due to both crowds and hot weather.

The easiest way to get between the areas is by taxi or car. You can travel between destinations on The Strip along the Las Vegas Monorail. You can also rent a limousine in the city, for example.



The Strip

The Strip is the entertainment hub of Las Vegas. The finest hotels and casinos in Las Vegas are located along The Strip. Each of these has more grandiose decorations and performances outside the hotel. Walking along the street, you can experience Venice, Paris, New York and Egypt.

Casino hotels are also worth a visit for their ornate interiors, including shops and restaurants. At the Bellagio Casino Hotel you can stop to admire a show with fountains, with lights and music coloring the movement of the water. Depending on the time of day representation is either at intervals of 15 minutes or half an hour.

Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas is the city’s oldest area. It was a center of casinos and entertainment before The Strip was built. In the center, you can visit older casinos that are centered around Freemont Street. In the evenings, there is a fantastic sound and light show on Freemont Street. The downtown area and the city’s museum offerings are also worth exploring in the downtown area.

Stratosphere Tower

The Stratosphere Tower is part of the Stratosphere Casino Hotel. At the top of the tower is an observation deck overlooking The Strip. At the top are also some of the world’s tallest amusement park equipment where ferocious heads can test their courage.



The best casino hotels

1. Venetian Resort Casino Hotel
2. Bellagio Las Vegas
3. Wynn Las Vegas
4. Aria Resort & Casino
5. Palazzo Resort Casino Hotel

The best buffet meals

1. Bacchanal Buffet
2. The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas
3. The Buffet at Bellagio
4. Studio B
5. Wicked Spoon


United States Business

United States Business

According to abbreviationfinder, US is the 2 letter abbreviation for the country of United States.

Business and Economics

Since the 1920s, the US economy has been the largest in the world. In 2015, the country’s GDP accounted for 24.2 percent of the world’s total income from goods and services, and it was more than twice the size of the subsequent country, China, and almost as large as the entire EU. The country also has the largest foreign trade, despite the large domestic market. The United States is a world leader in research and development in most areas, and in the United States new trends in the economy and business, consumption and lifestyle are at the earliest. But in several important industrial sectors, the United States is no longer a world leader, and a large deficit in foreign trade and a very large foreign debt continue to grow. In manufacturing and service, computerization and automation have resulted in high unemployment among low-skilled.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States

Already in the mid-1900s, half of the employed were in the service industry and the United States was a leader in the development towards a service society. In 2012, less than 10 percent worked on commodity production, just under 4 percent on construction and some percent on commodity extraction and agriculture. All other employment is found in the service industries.

The United States has a market economy where the interaction between producers and consumers determines what is to be manufactured and on what scale it takes place. More than 90 percent of employment in the country is in the private sector. But the state plays an active role in strategically important industrial sectors such as the defense industry, and so does agriculture. With increased awareness of sustainable development and of the negative environmental consequences of raw material extraction and “dirty” industry, more regulation and other state and state interference also follow.

Since the 1990s, China has become an increasingly prominent place on the world market and has now crossed the US in several important industrial sectors. But the United States is still a world leader in high-tech industries such as the aerospace, defense, and pharmaceutical industries. Extremely large, private companies play a prominent role, as before, also globally. In 2010, more than a quarter of the world’s 500 largest companies had headquarters in the United States, and US foreign investment was almost twice that of any other country.

A number of conditions have worked together to give the United States such a special economic position. It is a vast country with large assets of good arable land and most of the minerals and energy needed for food supply and industrialization. Long coasts and inland waterways have enabled cheap transportation of heavy raw materials and finished products, and not least facilitated contacts and relocations. Immigrants from the 16th century onwards came with a willingness to work and entrepreneurial spirit, and gradually venture capital was invested in construction and industrialization. Already in the early 1900s there was a large domestic market, and growing demand propelled an increasingly large-scale business and new forms of production such as conveyor belts. Even then, there were very large companies with operations in various branches of business. Foreign trade was small, because both commodities and markets existed within the country and the United States pursued an isolationist foreign policy that protected its own business. Domestic policy involved private business with free competition in most respects, which promoted innovation and technological development.

Business expansion and differentiation became prominent in the northeastern United States and the Midwest. The area from Pittsburgh to the east via Cleveland and Detroit and west to Chicago was, until the 1970s, the world’s most important center for the iron, steel, machinery and transportation industry, among others. The Center for Financial Life and Research was located east of it from the beginning, in the stretch from Boston to the north and south to Philadelphia.

The United States’ position as the world’s dominant economy was most prominent immediately after World War II and up to the 1960s. Business was widened, mainly in the south and west, where economic growth became noticeable during the remainder of the 20th century and then continued after 2000. More and more of the investments went to the Sun Belt. The trend was reinforced by the emerging computer industry that was headquartered in California and by other high-tech manufacturing, such as the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries, closely related to universities and research institutes on the Pacific coast, in Texas, and on the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

The recession of 2008–09 turned out to be the deepest and longest economic crisis in the United States since the Great Depression in the early 1930s. It began as a real estate crisis. rising oil prices and deepened into a banking and financial crisis that spread to most countries with which the US had economic relations. The US economy shrank by nearly 4 percent in 2009 and unemployment rose to close to 10 percent. The federal government decided on a number of measures to stimulate business such as tax relief and infrastructure expansion. Initially, the recovery slowed, but in the mid-2010s it picked up. In 2015, GDP increased by 2.4 percent and unemployment was 5.3 percent.


Year Change in GDP (%) Government debt share of GDP (%) Budget deficit’s share of GDP (%) Inflation (%) Unemployment of total workforce (%)
2016 2.4 107.5 3.4 0.8 4.8
2015 2.4 105.8 3.0 0.1 5.3
2014 2.4 105.0 3.4 1.6 6.2
2013 1.5 104.8 4.0 1.5 7.4
2012 2.2 102.5 6.1 2.1 8.1
2011 1.6 99.0 8.1 3.2 8.9
2010 2.5 94.7 9.4 1.6 9.6
2009 -2.8 86.0 7.6 -0.3 9.3
2008 -0.3 72.8 5.9 3.8 5.8
2007 1.8 64.0 4.0 2.9 4.6
2006 2.7 63.6 3.2 3.2 4.6
2005 3.3 64.9 3.8 3.4 5.1
2004 3.8 65.5 4.7 2.7 5.5
2003 2.8 58.5 4.6 2.3 6.0
2002 1.8 55.4 3.6 1.6 5.8
2001 1.0 53.0 1.4 2.8 4.7
2000 4.1 3.4 4.0

Source: IMF, OECD and World Bank


US agriculture and livestock production account for just over 1 percent of employment and GDP. Despite this, agriculture produces enough basic food for the entire population and the country is also the world’s largest exporter of agricultural products.

US agriculture underwent a major structural transformation during the 1950s-1970s, when the area cultivated declined significantly. At the same time, production nearly tripled between 1950 and 2005. An employed person in agriculture in 1950 was estimated to feed 15 people, while the corresponding number in 2005 was 103. The agricultural export value more than five-fold during the period, and there was also a significant overproduction periodically. This meant low producer prices and thus problems for mainly smallholders, which became even more difficult to cope with rising production costs.

About 2/5 of the US land is agricultural land. Of this, 44 percent go and an equal share of pasture. Of the approximately 2.2 million farms, the vast majority are smaller family farms. Almost half of the farmers have agriculture as their main employment and many farmer households need supplementary income.

The natural conditions for different crops differ considerably between different parts of the United States. The country encompasses both temperate and subtropical areas (Florida and the areas west along the Gulf of Mexico as well as Southern California) and tropical areas (Hawaii). Cultivation also varies as a result of transport conditions and proximity to the metropolitan areas’ huge demand for fresh food.

The United States is by far the world’s largest producer of corn and soybeans, mainly used as animal feed. The crops are primarily grown in the so-called corn belt, which has its center in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana. Further west, where the climate is drier (from North Dakota to Kansas), wheat cultivation dominates instead. The US comes in third in the world in terms of wheat cultivation. The same goes for cotton. It is still an important crop in the Southern States; the largest production is in Texas. After a downturn, cotton cultivation has increased since the 1990s, as consumers are now increasingly choosing cotton over artificial fiber.

Tobacco cultivation, on the other hand, has greatly reduced in recent decades and is mainly found in Kentucky and North Carolina. In the arid and mountainous states of the west, agriculture is mainly conducted in the valleys as irrigation is required. In the United States as a whole, however, only 1/8 of the agricultural area is irrigated.

Fresh fruits and vegetables come from Florida, especially during the winter months and 2/3 of the citrus fruits. The remainder is grown in California and from there also comes more and more wine every year. The United States is one of the two largest producers in the world of most kinds of berries, fruits and vegetables and is a world leader in fresh milk and beef and poultry meat.

The Great Lakes region and neighboring part of the northeastern United States have the best conditions for raising dairy cows and are the center for the production of milk and dairy products. In the “corn belt” south of this, pig breeding is extensive. In the drier states to the west and southwest, carnivores are kept on the vast pastures. The high standard of living in the country means high consumption of animal products, and it increases every year. But increased awareness of dangerous cholesterol levels has led to a fall in demand for some animal foods.

Since the beginning of the 1980s, the use of artificial fertilizers has remained at about the same level, partly as a result of better knowledge of farming methods and the consequences of eutrophication. The use of chemical pesticides decreased during the 00s. The use of gene-refined seed has increased; In 2010, such was used for almost all cultivation of soybeans and cotton and for most of the maize cultivation.

The capital contribution per unit area continues to increase, but now relates mainly to advanced aids, e.g. computers and robots. Through contract cultivation and contract breeding for large food groups at predetermined retail prices, the financial risks to the farmer decrease when there are strong fluctuations in commodity prices on the world market. It is estimated that 1/3 of the total production value comes from such contracted operations.

US agriculture is subject to widespread federal influence. However, direct price support and government purchases have been used only exceptionally and since the 1970s, agricultural policy has been clearly market oriented. Export of surplus has been stimulated, as has contract cultivation, which means that the market has a greater impact on the farmers’ choice of crops. Since 2002, farmers have been paid to use methods that conserve soil, water and natural plant and animal life. Growers also receive compensation for removing less profitable areas from production.

Agricultural products account for only about 1/10 of the US total export value, but exports still play an important role in the US agricultural industry. The most important export goods therefrom are soybeans, maize, wheat, chicken meat, cotton and pork. The high productivity and wide breadth of what is grown mean that agricultural imports are small and most include quite special branded products such as wine and other alcoholic beverages, cheeses, cakes and special meat products as well as things that, after all, cannot be grown in the country such as natural rubber, coffee beans and bananas.


The United States is the world’s largest producer and consumer of forest products. When Europeans first came to the area that is today’s United States, the forest area covered about 400 million hectares. Their colonization meant extensive forest clearing in the east, and especially in the 19th century, forests disappeared when the land was cultivated. In the 1900s, forest harvesting continued, but large forest areas were also planted in the southern United States and elsewhere, for example, on less profitable agricultural land in the Northeast. Overall, the size of the forest land hardly changed during the last century. In recent decades, forest area has decreased and now amounts to approximately 300 million hectares, which corresponds to 1/3 of the land area. Warmer climates with more drought have made the forests more susceptible to diseases and pest infestation.

One third of the forest land is owned by the federal government, and most of it is native coniferous forest in the states farthest west. They are referred to as National Forests and are used both for commercial forestry and for recreation as well as to ensure water supply and rich wildlife. Conflicts of interest are not uncommon, mainly between nature conservation and commercial forestry. Länder and local administrative units also own forests.

More than half of the area covered by commercial forestry is owned by private individuals. These are usually relatively small, deciduous forests, most in the northeastern part of the United States. The small states of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire have a nature reminiscent of Central Sweden, and there are more than 3/4 of the area covered by forests.

A third wooded area is found in the southeastern United States, partly deciduous forests in the southern Appalachians, and coniferous forests near the coasts and in the states of lower Mississippi. Large forest companies own extensive areas that have been planted for commercial use. From there, 1/3 of the annual timber production in the US comes.

The timber industry has a strong emphasis in the state of Washington at the far northwest and is also found in the large forest areas of Oregon and northern California as well as of North Carolina in the southeast. The pulp and paper industry is headquartered in the Southeast and the world’s largest paper and pulp company, International Paper, is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2010, the United States was the world’s second largest producer of paper and paperboard in China.

The large American forest companies have to a large extent globalized. Their commitment and investments are increasing in more equatorial countries such as Australia and Brazil, where trees grow faster than in the United States. More and more timber for the American forest industry is imported from “tree plantations”, ie. monocultures with eucalyptus trees or Douglas fir.


The United States accounts for just over 3 percent of all seafood catches, ranking fourth in the world after China, Peru and Indonesia. Nearly 2/5 of the value comes from catches along the beaches and consists mainly of seafood, close to 3/5 from catches in the country’s economic zone out to 200 nautical miles and only 6 percent from fishing in international waters, ie. deep sea. The economic zone includes various marine ecosystems from arctic waters off Alaska to tropical waters around Hawaii and the Caribbean. This gives a very wide range in the direction and content of the fishery.

Traditionally, the United States’ most important fishing waters have been in the Atlantic off New England, where fishing increased sharply until the 1970s. Thereafter, an increasingly severe overfishing, especially cod and flatfish, was noticed. During the first half of the 1990s, catches were low there. Various measures have succeeded in restoring some threatened species, but not the stock of cod. However, the assets have increased on lobster, mussels and other seafood. Their catches are of great value in terms of value.

On the Atlantic coast, menhaden are fished on a large scale. Menhaden is a group of species in the herring fish family that is mainly used for industrial production of fish oil and fish meal. On the southern Atlantic coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, seafood and mackerel, both with shrinking stocks, are caught, as well as fish coming in from the deep sea, such as tuna, swordfish and various shark species. Several of these species are overfished, and acutely threatened, for example, bluefin tuna. The major fishing ports are located in the Mississippi Delta. A capital-rich recreational fishing is found on Florida’s coasts.

While overfishing has resulted in less catches along the east coast of the United States, fishing has increased along the Pacific coast. The largest fish stocks are outside Alaska, where some species of flatfish can now be caught to a much greater extent than before. Among other things, catches of seaweed have doubled. The cod fish pollock still yields the largest catches, even if halved during the 00s. Salmon is the second most important fish. Dutch Harbor on the Aleutian coast outside Alaska is the port that handles the largest catches in the entire country. Among other things, it is the center for catching king crab. In addition to salmon, south along the Pacific coast, fish are mainly fished for sardines, mackerel and anchovies, and halibut. Some species are there on the verge of overfishing.

The trapped volume of fish and seafood has stagnated during the 1990s, and over the last decade production has decreased by “wild” fish. Control is now meticulous for the United States to achieve ecologically sustainable fishing. Responsibility for preventing overfishing and restoring damaged ecosystems lies with the states in terms of shoreline fishing and shellfish catching, and with federal agencies regarding fishing in the economic zone further out. For endangered species there are restoration plans, and for a number of important species, the measures have resulted in a negative change in increasing fish stocks, such as outside New England and California.

Lake fishing is insignificant and occurs mainly in the Great Lakes and in the Mississippi water system. Fish farming is also of little importance. All in all, fishing can to a lesser extent meet a growing demand for seafood in the United States. Imports are increasing every year and the US is now the world’s third largest fish importer, after EU countries and Japan. Imports come mainly from China, Vietnam and Thailand and from Canada.

Mineral and mining industry

The United States has deposits of many metals and other minerals that have had a major impact on the country’s economic development. Large-scale ore mining has been going on for a long time, and many deposits have fallen. Low mining costs and cheap ship transports have meant that since the 1960s it has been cheaper for the United States to import the raw materials than to continue to break low-cost domestic occurrences at high costs. At the same time, major American mining companies have invested in mining in many other countries.

Extraction of both metals and other raw materials used in, for example, the construction and chemical industries is closely dependent on the business cycle. Operations therefore shrunk during the economic recession of 2008–09 but then showed some upturn. In addition, there has been a large increase in demand in China, which has resulted in sharply rising world market prices for most base metals. This has meant that closed mines have once again become profitable and therefore reopened. At the same time, stricter environmental regulations have affected mining operations in some cases, mainly in the case of open pit mining. Rising energy costs also limit the domestic mining industry.

Of the value of the entire US metal extraction in 2011, 30 percent came from gold, 27 percent from copper, 16 percent from molybdenum and 5 percent from zinc. The largest deposits of various metals are found in the Rocky Mountains. As for the country’s entire mineral production, Nevada accounted for 14 percent of the value, followed by Arizona (11 percent), Minnesota (7 percent), Utah (6 percent) and Alaska (5 percent).

The United States is a net exporter of a few metals. To meet the domestic need, imports of several important metals are required, and it comes mainly from Canada and countries in South America. The United States is completely dependent on imports of both bauxite for aluminum production and important alloys for the steel industry as well as a number of more rare metals required in modern high-tech industry. Dependence on imports has increased significantly over the last 30 years, as it has done in other industrialized countries, and competition for such raw materials from third world countries is intensifying.

In 2011, the United States was the world’s third largest producer of gold, after China and Australia, with 9 percent of world production. At that time, the annual production had been around 230 tonnes for a number of years. Gold is mined in 13 states, but 80% comes from Nevada. Another 10% comes from Alaska, where it is mainly found in sand deposits (“sink gold”) and is extracted on a large scale in several places. The US is a net exporter of gold.

In 2011, the United States accounted for 7% of the world’s copper ore mining. Recovery had then been at about the same level for a five-year period, while increasing in the world as a whole. The producers were then in fourth place, after Chile, Peru and China. Occurrences are found in the Rocky Mountains, mainly in the southern part, and Arizona, Utah and New Mexico account for virtually all production. Large copper smelters are adjacent to this. The domestic quarry covers 2/3 of the country’s need for refined copper. The remainder is imported mainly from Chile, Canada and Peru.

Domestic deposits of iron ore played a major role in US industrialization. Iron was mined to a great extent until the mid-1900s, both in New England and the southern Appalachians as well as the Upper Lake. But the high-quality iron ore was drained and the extraction of low-grade iron ore became increasingly uneconomical. For the United States it was cheaper to import iron ore then. Iron ore is now mainly mined in Minnesota and Michigan. The largest occurrence is in the Mesabi Range in northeastern Minnesota. In 2011, the United States accounted for 2 percent of world iron ore production and ranked seventh among the world’s countries in mining. The US imports a large proportion of the steel to the engineering industry.

The alloy metal molybdenum is mined in the states of Colorado, Idaho and New Mexico. The United States has the largest extraction (26 percent of global production in 2011) after China, and is the net exporter thereof. Furthermore, the United States ranks fourth in the world in the production of aluminum, despite the fact that the country lacks domestic extraction of the bauxite raw material. The raw material for the aluminum smelters consists partly of bauxite from mainly Jamaica and Guinea, and partly of aluminum scrap.

When it comes to raw materials for the chemical industry, there are the world’s largest deposits of soda (sodium carbonate) in Wyoming. In addition, the United States has large deposits of salt. For the production of artificial fertilizers, the country must import just over 4/5 of the potassium needed and 1/8 of phosphate. Phosphate is mainly extracted in Florida and North Carolina.

The United States produces almost all the cement used in the country. The raw material limestone is found in many of the states, and so is the cement industry. The United States ranks third in the world with 2 percent of world production, after China (54 percent) and India. (For uranium and coal, see Energy).

Energy supply

The United States was the world’s largest energy consumer for many decades, but was passed by China in 2009. However, per capita energy consumption is five times higher in the US than in China and twice as high as in the EU. The United States has significant assets of various energy resources, but imports of oil and natural gas have been cheap for many years. The country therefore became increasingly import-dependent, especially from the late 1990s and mainly in the case of crude oil. In 2011, however, imports of both crude oil and natural gas were lower than 12 years.

Since the mid-00s, there has been an upheaval of energy supply in the United States. Technical breakthroughs in the extraction of natural gas in oil shale have now made it possible to exploit domestic natural gas assets to a completely different extent than before. Natural gas has thus become cheaper in relation to oil and is being used more and more. The use of renewable energy sources such as biomass, wind and hydropower is also slowly increasing. In 2010, these accounted for just over 8 percent of primary energy, while slightly more was nuclear power and just over 83 percent came from fossil fuels.

Coalaccounts for just over 20% of all US energy use. The country has almost 30 percent of the world’s coal reserves, significantly more than the Russian Federation and twice as much as China. They are found especially in Alaska. Both production and consumption have increased steadily since the 1960s, except for 2008–09. The United States was the world’s leading coal producer until 1984. Now China produces three times more than the United States, and these two countries account for more than half of the world’s coal mining. The United States is the world’s sixth largest coal exporter. Coal is mainly mined in large mines in northeastern Wyoming, but also in small, deep mines in the northern Appalachians and south of the Great Lakes as well as in Texas. More than 90 percent of the coal remaining in the country is used for electricity generation (see below), while the remainder is used in the steel, paper and chemical industries.

Oil’s share of US energy consumption was between 39 and 46 percent in 1950–2005, but then declined to 37 percent in 2010. In 2006, approximately 60 percent of crude oil and oil products came from other countries, primarily from Canada but also from Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. Subsequently, domestic oil production has increased. In addition, natural gas has increasingly replaced oil and oil consumption no longer increases at the same rate as before. However, the United States is still by far the world’s largest consumer of crude oil and oil products.

The United States is the world’s third largest crude oil producer. Crude oil is extracted in 31 states and offshore offshore in Alaska, California, Louisiana and Texas. About 1/4 of all crude oil is extracted offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, but after an oil disaster in the spring of 2010, production has decreased there. Leading oil states are Texas and Alaska.

Natural gas’s share of energy consumption has increased and it accounts for 25% of it. The increase in production is a result of the development of new technology to extract the methane gas contained in extensive oil shale stocks. Extraction takes place in deep shafts and requires a lot of water and also chemicals, but the use of natural gas, on the other hand, gives less environmental impact than oil does. Since 2009, the United States is the largest natural gas producer in the world. More than half of the housing in the United States and other buildings are heated by natural gas. Natural gas is extracted in 33 states, a long time ago especially in Texas, Wyoming and New Mexico. Calculations of total gas reserves show higher figures for each year, as new occurrences are found and technology is developed.

In the US, electric power has always been mainly generated in coal-fired power plants. However, since the turn of the century 2000, the role of coal has gradually decreased, but it still accounts for 42 percent of electric power. At the same time, natural gas has increased in importance, and its share is 25 percent. This is a positive shift, as natural gas produces less carbon dioxide emissions than carbon. Only just over 1% of electricity comes from oil-fired power plants. Nuclear power has long accounted for about 20 percent. Renewable energy sources are slowly gaining importance, and their share in electricity generation is 13 percent. The majority of it consists of hydropower.

The United States is the world’s largest producer of commercial nuclear energy, and most of the country’s more than 100 reactors are located in the states along the east coast and south of the Great Lakes. The power plant wreck at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, together with low natural gas prices, led to a further expansion of planned facilities in the future. It was not until the beginning of the 2010 century that a new reactor was being completed and possibly a few additional reactors could be completed during this decade. The existing reactors are now being utilized to almost their entire capacity. An opinion poll following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 showed that the majority of Americans were still positive about maintaining nuclear power plants but negative to nuclear energy expansion.

The United States has large assets of uranium ore, but it is low-grade, and a number of small mines have been closed over the past decade. There are harsh environmental requirements for the extraction and a growing negative opinion highlights the ecological and social conditions of the mining. The uranium is mainly extracted in Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah and Arizona as well as in Texas. Reduced domestic mining has been replaced by increased imports, mainly from Australia, Canada and the Russian Federation.

Among the renewable energy types, it is primarily hydropower that has increased in recent years and accounts for close to 8 percent of the entire US energy supply. The greatest hydropower potential is found in the Sierra Nevada and the Cascade Mountains in the west, and only about one-seventh of the entire country’s assets are expanded. The Grand Coulee in the Colorado River in Washington state is the United States’ largest dam and hydroelectric power plant and the fifth largest in the world in 2011. Wind and solar power and biofuel (ethanol) receive major contributions and guarantees from the state and are slowly increasing in importance.


For more than a hundred years, the United States has been the world’s leading industrialized country. The manufacturing industry is still the largest in the world and the United States accounts for about one fifth of global commodity production. Industry, including construction and mining, accounts for 19 percent of GDP.

With the exception of temporary declines, industrial production increased steadily throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Growth was particularly rapid during the latter part of the 1990s. However, a new decline came in 2000–01 and it was followed by a slowed growth rate up to and including 2007. The recession 2008–09 meant a sharp decline for most industries. The recovery thereafter has been slow; the only industries that have fully recovered are the aerospace and aerospace industries, biotechnology and to some extent the food industry.

Employment has changed radically. In 2000, more than 17 million worked in the manufacturing industry, in 2012 only 12 million. This corresponds to approximately 8.5 percent of total employment in the United States. In particular, the number of industrial jobs for the low-skilled has been significantly reduced, since a large part of the production in large series has been automated or placed in low-wage countries (see also Social conditions, Education). Fewer than 40 percent of those working in the manufacturing industry are engaged in manufacturing goods “on the floor”. The majority work with administration, finance, marketing, transport and also product development within the companies.

In the mid-1900s, the US steel industry was completely dominant in the world, and US Steel was one of the world’s largest companies. Steel production reached its maximum in 1969, but by then strong competitors had already emerged. In Western Europe and Japan, a modern and efficient steel industry had grown up after the war, while many American companies in the Midwest (the “rust belt”) had old facilities and high production costs. From the mid-1970s there was a sharp decline for the US steel companies.

Following a number of bankruptcies during the years around 2000, the US steel industry has been restructured and streamlined. New steel mills have been established in the southern United States, and the South now accounts for as much of the steel production as the Midwest. But in 2011, the United States came in third in the world in terms of the production of crude steel. From there, less than 6 percent came, while China accounted for 46 percent. In the US, special steel is mainly manufactured.

The heavy machinery industry, which manufactures machines and other equipment for extraction and processing of raw materials and for construction work and construction, has also traditionally had its center in the industrial region of the Midwest. The US comes here in third place in the world, after the EU and Japan, and the industry is prominent in US foreign trade. Much of the manufacturing is based on highly developed technology and the companies have a large proportion of well-trained workers. In recent years, the industry has also grown in other parts of the country, primarily in California and Texas.

Throughout the 20th century, the United States automotive industry was a world leader. In 2003, the largest production was reached, just over 12 million vehicles, but in 2006 the US was passed by Japan and 2008 also by China. Subsequently, the economic crisis led to a sharp decline in both production and demand for cars in the most affected countries. In 2011, the United States was the second largest manufacturer with 8.65 million vehicles. In terms of employment, the automotive industry is one of the most important industries in the United States. In 2010, approximately 675,000 people worked in the assembly plants and another 3 million worked on the manufacture of vehicle components.

General Motors (GM) was for a long time the world’s largest car manufacturer and one of the world’s largest companies, and in addition there were many other former large American car companies. The automotive industry had its dominant focus in eastern Michigan and northern Ohio. Over the past 30 years, the industry has been globalized and the structure has changed. As early as the 1980s and 1990s, Japanese and German companies began producing cars in the southern United States, during the 1990s three Japanese and two South Korean car companies built assembly plants in various southern states and in 2011, German Volkswagen opened a plant in Tennessee. The United States has thus become a second center for the automotive industry with modern factories, and from the South now comes more than a third of the cars manufactured in the United States. In 2012, GM was still one of the three largest car groups in the world and Ford was in fourth place.

The federal government only intervenes in extreme distress and provides support to an industrial sector. The exceptions are the aerospace industry and, to a greater extent, the defense industry, industries that are closely interconnected and show several common features. The United States has always had a clear policy in order to maintain the global superiority of these industries and therefore they receive every conceivable stimulus. There are several of the world’s largest companies of their kind with highly trained workforce and exceptionally high levels of research and development. The Boeing Company is dominant in the production of large civil aircraft and also world leaders. Of the company’s close to 170,000 employees, nearly half work in a assembly plant near Seattle. The company Lockheed Martin Corporation has a similar role in military plan. It is the country’s largest defense industry and primarily produces fighter aircraft, missiles, satellites and strategic defense systems. The company’s largest workplaces are located in California, Texas and states in the southeast as well as in Pennsylvania. The slowing growth of recent years in the US defense budget has led to some cuts in the defense industry, but at the same time production in civil aviation and electronic systems is developing, mainly in terms of information, surveillance and security.

In the electrical and electrotechnical industry, a small number of large companies account for most of the production. The largest is the multinational conglomerate GE (General Electric Company), which has operations in several industrial sectors as well as in energy, transport, finance and entertainment.

The second largest industry in terms of employment is the electronics industry, which has just over 1.1 million employees. It first grew in California, primarily in the Silicon Valley south of San Francisco, close to Stanford University. The United States became a world leader in the development of computers and IT, which has been accentuated since Apple started personal computer manufacturing there in 1976. A multitude of multinational IT companies grew in California and also in other parts of the country, focusing on other electronic communications and also advanced audio, video – and navigation equipment. More and more of the simpler component manufacturing was placed in low-wage countries, another Mexico band. Since the beginning of the 1990s, companies have also put a growing portion of their research and development in these countries, and in the United States employment has decreased significantly in this industry.

The chemical industry, including pharmaceutical manufacturing, accounts for 12 percent of the manufacturing value of the manufacturing industry and is the industry that contributes most to US exports. The largest companies are multinational and operate in a number of countries, but about a quarter of all chemical production in the world takes place in the United States. The most important branch is the petrochemical industry, which is a major consumer of crude oil and natural gas, which is required both as raw material and for energy in the manufacturing processes.

One of the world’s largest chemical companies is the Dow Chemical Company, which mainly produces plastics of various kinds and synthetic rubber, but also detergents and pesticides. The world’s largest privately owned oil company outside the OPEC countries is ExxonMobil, headquartered in Houston, Texas.

Pharmaceutical manufacturing is the segment in the chemical industry that is growing the most. It is the most profitable industry in the United States and the least affected by the recession in 2008–09. US pharmaceutical companies carry out 80 percent of all research and development in medicine and biotechnology in the world and hold patents on most new drugs. In the US there is also almost half the global market for pharmaceuticals.

The food industry is now the industry that has the largest share of those employed, and the share has also increased, from just over 9 percent in 2001 to just over 12 percent in 2012. It was not affected by any major decline in demand during the recession. The United States has long been a world leader in the production of soft drinks. The Coca-Cola Company, headquartered in Atlanta, and PepsiCo, headquartered in the state of New York, are the world’s largest soft drink manufacturer.

The textile and clothing industry was the first industry to experience emerging competition in the early post-war period. Most of that manufacturing has since disappeared from the United States. During the period 2000–11, textile production decreased by almost a quarter and the clothing industry by almost half. Several large clothing companies manufacture the garments in low-wage countries. Nearly 50 percent of all clothing sold in 2011 in the United States was made in China. The textile industry is now found mainly in North Carolina and South Carolina. The companies that perform best are those who focus on producing technologically advanced materials for health, hygiene and safety, for example for defense, fire protection, healthcare and space travel.

Environmental Situation

More than 150 years of rapid population growth and economic growth have put increasing pressure on the environment in the United States, especially over the past 60 years. Both industrial production and average household consumption are the highest in the world, and continued growth poses increasing problems with both declining assets of finite resources and with ever-increasing waste disposal. The high use of chemicals in agriculture and also in households’ everyday lives leads to harmful discharges into watercourses and groundwater. High-tech production means creating products whose long-term environmental impact is unknown. The most serious environmental problems have their roots in the extensive motoring and in that more than two-fifths of electricity is generated in coal-fired power plants. This results in gigantic emissions of air pollution

The overall environmental laws are established at federal level. The United States does not have an environment ministry, but environmental issues belong to several ministries. The most important unit is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which can be designated as the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It prepares federal environmental laws and monitors state compliance with them. The states enact their own laws that specify and regulate within the framework of federal laws, authorize commodity extraction, monitor compliance with laws and regulations, and prosecute violations. States can enact stricter laws and stricter standards, for example in California in some respects. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for states not to comply with federal guidelines. The state of the environment and environmental policy therefore vary considerably between the states; and general information about the country as a whole hides large variations. A variety of citizen groups are active at various levels to monitor the environment, address maladministration and influence decisions on environmental issues.

Environmental interest and commitment to environmental problems emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, and at federal level, laws regulating emissions into the air (Clean Air Act, 1970), sewage and emissions into water (Clean Water Act, 1972) and waste management (Resource) were established. Conservation and Recovery Act, 1976); these later received a number of additions.

The Clean Air Act focuses on six types of emissions: ozone, solid particles, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, sulfur dioxide and lead. Overall, these have decreased by 63 percent during the period 1980–2011. This is largely due to technological developments in vehicles and fuels, as well as measures to capture sulfur emissions in the smoke from coal-fired power plants and other factories. They also now use more imported coal that has less pollution. It has proven more difficult to limit carbon dioxide emissions. In 2011, the US accounted for 16 percent of its global emissions, the highest proportion after China. The gap between the law’s standards and the actual conditions is large: in 2011, 40 percent of the US population was estimated to live in areas with illegal air quality.

The Clean Water Act is primarily aimed at protecting the groundwater and other fresh water and ensuring access to drinking water. It provides general guidelines for sewage management and water treatment. In 2010, all urban residents had access to clean water, as did 94 percent of rural residents. The EPA monitors the quality of the watercourses according to a list of several thousand chemical substances but, for economic and political reasons, is given too little resources to follow the pace of the chemicalization of agriculture and industry. The levels of most pollutants are higher in the US than in the EU.

Household waste increased sharply for each year between 1960 and 2005. During the following recession, a slight decline occurred and in 2010 the waste amounted to 2 kg per person per day. Nearly a third of them were recycled, of which just over 70 percent of the newspapers and almost the same proportion of canning jars. However, more than half of solid waste still ends up in landfills. In addition, there is already very old, environmentally hazardous waste. Monitoring of how hazardous waste from industries and healthcare is handled is still neglected. In 2009, only 25 percent of the scrap was recycled; most were sent to other countries, mainly China.

Extraction of minerals and energy raw materials (for example from shale and oil sands) is now taking place with ever more technologically advanced methods, which means increased environmental risks. More remote areas are used, which are allocated for indigenous people or for the protection of nature, and conflicts of interest increase.

It has proved impossible at federal level to create climate legislation. This is reflected in US action at global climate conferences, where the country has been one of the major barriers to global agreements. The US line is that standards should be the same for rich and poor countries, while the EU and most other countries have signed agreements that imply less stringent commitments for developing countries. The United States also claims the freedom of individual countries to choose how and to what extent environmental impact should be addressed. Voluntary commitments are the guideline for the United States, both domestically and internationally.

Service Trades

More than four out of five gainfully employed in the US are employed in the service industries. Already in the 1960s, service accounted for half the employment and people started talking about a post-industrial or service society. In 1990, the proportion was up to about 75 percent and the increase has continued to just over 83 percent in 2012. More than four fifths of those who have service jobs are in the private sector.

Over the past two decades, most of the service industries have undergone major changes. Information technology now permeates every part of society, and new forms of services for individuals, households, companies and organizations have replaced traditional types of service work (secretarial work, work in banking and post offices). Many services have become less distance dependent, such as purchases of various kinds. The world’s largest online bookstore, Amazon, is a notable competitor to booksellers not only in all parts of the United States but worldwide. Many service providers in the southern and western US have their customers in completely different parts of the country. Since the mid-00s, it has also become common for companies in the US to employ services abroad, especially in India.

The range of services has changed as wealth has risen and the lifestyle has changed. The proportion of residents over the age of 65 is increasing every year, and for well-off and moving elderly there are more and more forms of housing, travel, recreation and health care.

The service sectors where employment has increased the most in the last decade are computer services, private healthcare and elderly care. More than 20 million work in private education, health care (see further Education, Social conditions) and just as many are in the wholesale and retail trade. The retail chain Walmart is the world’s third largest private company, in terms of both sales and the number of employees (just over 2 million globally).

Trade of all kinds had major problems during the recession 2008–09. Business was closed down and employment declined, and the industry still has not returned more than halfway to the level it was in 2002. However, the hotel and restaurant industry has enjoyed steady growth for almost the entire ten-year period and the employed 11.7 million. persons 2010. For a number of years, several hamburger chains have been the largest restaurant companies. In 2011, McDonald’s was still the largest, followed closely by the Subway sandwich chain and the Starbucks coffee chain.

Some service sectors show a clear downward trend. New social media has resulted in the traditional activities of book, music and film companies facing stiff competition and many large companies have shrunk their staff. In the financial, insurance and brokerage sectors, there has been a decline that can be directly related to the economic crisis 2008–09.

Foreign trade

Over the past 60 years, US foreign trade has been increasingly liberalized, especially in the case of most industrial goods. However, for agriculture and several strategic industrial sectors, such as steelmaking, liberalization has been slower. Imports have increased more than exports and, above all, the United States has become dependent on imports of oil and oil products and some minerals needed in the modern high-tech industry. Therefore, in US trade policy, it is still important to get other countries to reduce their import restrictions in order to increase exports and achieve a balance in foreign trade. The most important way then is to establish free trade agreements and agreements on preferential treatment with groups of countries.

During the first decades after World War II, the United States was by far the most important trading partner in Western Europe, but quite soon came a large import of cheap industrial goods from Japan. Gradually, trade also increased with the new industrial states in East and Southeast Asia, and in recent years, trade in China in particular has grown substantially. Trade shares for the various countries within the EU have decreased, but the EU as a whole is still the most important trading partner.

According to Countryaah, trade with Canada has always been extensive. The United States has imported raw materials from there and exported industrial products such as motor vehicles and heavy machinery, and the two countries have greatly complemented each other. Since the entry into force of the NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, trade has increased significantly between the three members USA, Canada and Mexico.

For many countries, access to the large US market has become significant, perhaps especially for the countries of South America and Central America, and in 2011 the US was the most important export market for close to 60 countries. Since 2004, there is CAFTA-DR, a free trade area that, in addition to the United States, includes the five Central American states of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic of the Caribbean. It is an example of how a free trade agreement means increased collaboration in many areas of society, not just increased trade.

In 2017, US exports went primarily to Canada (18 percent), Mexico (16 percent), China (8 percent) and Japan (4 percent), while imports came mainly from China (22 percent), Mexico (13 percent).), Mexico (13 percent), Japan (6 percent) and Germany (6 percent).

Exports account for almost 50 percent of technically advanced capital goods such as aircraft, computers, motor vehicle components and telecommunications equipment, and that commodity group also accounts for just over 30 percent of imports. Raw materials and semi-finished products to industries account for close to 27 percent of exports and 33 percent of imports. Household consumer goods, ranging from cars to toys and pharmaceuticals, account for 15 percent of exports and 32 percent of imports, while agricultural products accounted for just over 9 percent of exports and close to 5 percent of imports in 2011. A large proportion of imports are crude oil.

The United States is the world’s largest importing country and the third largest exporting country. Despite this, foreign trade still plays a relatively small role in the country’s economy. In 2011, exports represented only 10 percent of GDP and imports 15 percent. The deficit in foreign trade in goods has grown since the early 1970s. A clear decline in foreign trade came during the recession in 2008–09 when demand for consumer goods declined, but it was followed by an upturn the following year. In 2017, exports amounted to just over US $ 1,500 billion, while imports were just under ISK 2,400 billion. Foreign trade in services shows a rising surplus, but it is not enough to get a balance; the balance of payments has been negative for decades and continues to be so.


The United States has in many respects a magnificent nature with great contrasts between different parts of the country, and domestic tourism is extensive. It appears in tourist streams from the cold states of winter in the north to the heat of the south and west, from densely populated areas to the east to national parks and recreation areas in the Rocky Mountains and from the contiguous United States to wildernesses in Alaska and beaches in Hawaii. At least as much domestic tourism is generated by historical monuments in New England and Washington DC and by modern meeting places such as Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida. Long-distance leisure travel has a long tradition in the United States and has grown as car ownership has become exceptionally high. For many years, tourism has also been promoted by relatively cheap and well-developed air services.

About 42 million foreign tourists visited the United States in 2012. International tourism then accounted for 2.7 percent of the country’s GDP and is estimated to provide employment for 7.5 million people. Direct revenues from travel and overnight stays were $ 814 billion, and another $ 555 billion came from other tourism-related businesses. Since 2004, tourism has accounted for about 5 percent of all US goods and services exports, and their revenues have increased each year, with the exception of 2009.

In 2011, just over a third (21.3 million) of tourists came from Canada and nearly a fifth (13.5 million) came from Mexico. Next, the UK followed with Northern Ireland (3.8 million), Japan (3.3 million) and Germany, Brazil, France, South Korea and Australia, all with over 1 million visitors. In 2010-11, the tourist flow increased most strongly from China and Brazil.

The United States was the target of 6.4 percent of all international tourist travel in 2011, and in that regard, the country was ranked second in the world, after France. In terms of tourist income, the United States is a world leader: just over 11 percent of the money tourists spend abroad is paid in the United States.

The US government is investing more in foreign tourism than before. The tourists’ money reduces the current account deficit, and more visitors also mean more jobs in many remote regions where the business sector’s structural transformation has led to high unemployment. For a more detailed description of tourism see Tourism and gastronomy for each state.