Economy - شهية الطبخ المغربي

Economy

Economy
The United States ranks first in the world in the total value of its economic
production. The nation's gross domestic product (GDP)-the value of all the
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goods and services produced within a country in a year-totaled nearly $9
trillion in 1998. This was more than twice as large as the gross domestic
product of Japan, which ranked second.
The United States economy is based largely on a free enterprise system.
In such a system, individuals and companies are free to make their own
economic decisions. Individuals and companies own the raw materials,
equipment, factories, and other items necessary for production, and they
decide how best to use them in order to earn a profit.
Even though the U.S. economy is based on free enterprise, the
government has placed regulations on economic practices through the
years. It has passed antitrust laws, which are designed to keep one
company or a few firms from controlling entire industries. Such control,
called a monopoly, does away with competition and enables controlling
companies to charge high prices and reduce the quality of goods.
Government regulations help protect consumers from unsafe
merchandise. They also help protect workers from unsafe working
conditions and unreasonably low wages. The government has also enacted
regulations designed to reduce environmental pollution.
Some people argue that the government interferes in the economy too
much, while others say it should do more. In spite of involvement by the
government, the United States still has one of the least regulated
economies in the world.
Despite its overall strength, the United States economy faces problems
from time to time. The problems include recessions (mild business
slumps), depressions (severe business slumps), and inflation (rising
prices).
Natural resources. The United States contains a vast array of natural
resources including a moderate climate, fertile soils, and plentiful
minerals, water, forests, and fish. However, the United States uses more
than it has and must import some raw materials to provide for the needs
of its citizens.
Minerals. The United States has large deposits of coal, iron ore, natural
gas, and petroleum, which are vital to the country's industrial strength. Its
many other important mined products include copper, gold, lead,
phosphates, potash, silver, sulfur, and zinc. To meet its needs, however,
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the United States must import additional amounts of iron ore, petroleum,
and other materials.
Soils. The United States has vast expanses of fertile soil that is well
suited to growing crops. The most fertile soils include the dark soils of the
Interior Plains and the alluvial (water-deposited) soils along the lower
Mississippi River Valley and other smaller river valleys. Rich, windblown
soil called loess covers parts of eastern Washington and the southern
Interior Plains.
Water. Lakes, rivers, and underground deposits supply water for
households, farms, and industries in the United States. The nation uses
about 400 billion gallons (1,500 billion liters) of water daily. Households
use only about 10 percent of this total. The vast majority of the rest is
used to irrigate farms and to operate steam power plants.
Forests cover nearly a third of the United States, and they yield many
valuable products. About a third of the nation's lumber comes from the
trees of forests in the Pacific Northwest. Forests in the South supply
lumber, wood pulp-which is used to make paper-and nearly all the
turpentine, pitch, rosin, and wood tar produced in the United States. The
Appalachian Mountains and parts of the Great Lakes area have fine
hardwood forests. Hickory, maple, oak, and other hardwood trees cut
from these forests provide quality woods for the manufacture of furniture.
Fish. Americans who fish for a living catch almost 5 million tons (4.5
million metric tons) of sea products annually. The greatest quantities are
taken from the Pacific Ocean, which supplies Alaska pollock, cod, crabs,
herring, salmon, tuna, and other fish. Leading catches from the Gulf of
Mexico include menhaden, oysters, and shrimp. The Atlantic yields cod,
flounder, herring, menhaden, and other fish; and such shellfish as clams,
lobsters, oysters, and scallops.
Service industries account for the largest portion of the U.S. gross
domestic product and employ a majority of the country's workers. This
industry group includes a wide variety of businesses that provide services
rather than producing goods.
Community, business, and personal services employ more people than
any other U.S. industry. Businesses that operate within this group include
private health care, hotels, law firms, information technology companies,
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restaurants, repair shops, private research laboratories, and engineering
companies.
Finance, insurance, and real estate play an important part in the nation's
economy. Banks finance much of the economic activity in the United
States by making loans to both individuals and businesses. American
banks loan billions of dollars annually. Most of the loans to individuals are
for the purchase of houses, automobiles, or other major items. Bank loans
to businesses provide an important source of money for capital expansionthe
construction of new factories and the purchase of new equipment. As
a business expands, it hires more workers. These workers, in turn,
produce more goods and services. In this way, the nation's level of
employment and its economic output both increase.
Other important types of financial institutions include commodity and
security exchanges. Commodities are basic goods, such as grains and
precious metals. Securities are certificates of investment, such as stocks
and bonds. The prices of commodities and securities are determined by
the buying and selling that takes place at exchanges. The New York Stock
Exchange is the nation's largest security exchange. The Chicago Board of
Trade is the world's largest commodity exchange.
The United States has the world's largest private insurance industry. The
country has about 2,000 life and health insurance companies and about
3,500 property and liability companies. Real estate is important to the
economy because of the large sums of money involved in the buying and
selling of property.
Wholesale and retail trade play major roles in the American economy.
Wholesale trade, which includes international trade, takes place when a
buyer purchases goods directly from a producer. The goods may then be
sold to other businesses for resale to consumers. Retail trade involves
selling products to the final consumer. Grocery stores, department stores,
and automobile dealerships are examples of retail trade establishments.
International trade provides markets for surplus agricultural goods and
many raw materials and manufactured goods produced in the United
States. The nation imports goods that it lacks entirely or that producers
do not supply in sufficient quantities. It also imports goods produced by
foreign companies that compete with U.S. firms. Traditionally, the value of
U.S. exports has exceeded, or been about the same as, the value of U.S.
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imports. But since the mid-1960's, the value of imports has usually been
much higher than the value of exports.
Important U.S. exports include (1) machinery and transportation
equipment, such as aircraft, computers, electric power equipment,
industrial machinery, and motor vehicles and parts; (2) manufactured
articles, especially scientific measuring equipment; (3) basic
manufactures, such as metals and paper; (4) crude materials, including
textile fibers and metal ores; and (5) chemical elements and compounds,
including plastic materials.
The leading U.S. imports are (1) machinery and transport equipment,
such as automobiles and parts, engines, office machines, and
telecommunications equipment; (2) manufactured articles, such as
clothing, shoes, and toys; (3) fuels and lubricants, especially petroleum;
(4) basic manufactures, such as iron, steel, and other metals, and paper
and newsprint; and (5) crude materials, such as metal ores and wood.
Canada and Japan are the country's chief trading partners. Other major
trading partners include Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, and the
United Kingdom. The North American Free Trade Agreement, which took
effect in 1994, eliminated trade barriers among Mexico, Canada, and the
United States.
Government services play a major role in the economy. Federal, state,
and local governments employ many U.S. workers. Many government
employees are directly involved in making public policies. Others-including
police officers, postal workers, teachers, and trash collectors-provide
public services.
Federal, state, and local governments buy a fifth of all the goods and
services produced in the nation. These purchases range from paper clips
to office buildings. The federal government is the nation's largest single
buyer of goods and services. Its agencies, including the military, buy
billions of dollars worth of equipment from private companies. In addition,
federal grants finance much of the nation's research activity. State
governments spend most of their income on education, health care and
hospitals, highways, and public welfare. Local governments spend over a
third of their income on education, and less for police and fire protection,
hospitals, streets, sanitation and sewerage, and parks.
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In addition to its roles as an employer and purchaser of goods and
services, government influences the economy by providing income to
certain groups of people. For example, the federal government makes
Social Security payments to retired and disabled persons. Federal, state,
and local governments provide welfare assistance to the needy. Such
government programs are the only source of income for some Americans.
Transportation, communication, and utilities are also important to the
economy. Utility companies provide electric, gas, telephone, and water
service. More information on transportation and communication appears
later in this section.
Manufacturing is an important economic activity in the United States both
in terms of employment and the gross domestic product. The value of
American manufactured goods is greater than that of any other country.
Factories in the United States turn out a tremendous variety of producer
goods, such as sheet metal and printing presses; and consumer goods,
such as cars, clothing, and TV sets. The leading categories of U.S.
products are, in order of value, computer and electronic products,
transportation equipment, chemicals, food products, machinery, fabricated
metal products, plastic and rubber products, paper products, primary
metals, printed materials, electrical equipment, nonmetallic mineral
products, petroleum and coal products, and furniture.
The Midwest and Northeast have long been major U.S. centers of
manufacturing. Since the mid-1900's, the country's fastest-growing
manufacturing areas have been on the West Coast, in the Southwest, and
in the South. Today, California ranks first among the states in the value of
its manufactured goods, followed by Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, New
York, and Pennsylvania. Manufacturers in California produce aircraft,
aerospace equipment, computers and electronic components, food
products, and many other goods.
Midwestern factories turn out much of the nation's iron and steel,
automobiles, and other heavy industrial products. The Northeast has
many clothing factories, food processors, printing plants, and
manufacturers of electronic equipment. Petroleum refineries and
petrochemical industries account for much of the manufacturing activity in
Texas and other states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Atlanta, Dallas-Fort
Worth, Seattle, and Wichita are important centers for the manufacture of
aircraft and related equipment.
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Through the years, Americans have developed manufacturing processes
that have greatly increased productivity. During the early 1900's, United
States automobile firms introduced the moving assembly line and identical
interchangeable parts for cars. This led to mass production, in which large
numbers of goods could be produced in less time and at a lower cost than
ever before. Beginning in the mid-1900's, U.S. industries turned
increasingly to automation-the use of machines that operate with little
human help. American inventors and engineers developed computers to
bring automation to an even higher level. Today, computers operate
machines, handle accounting, and perform many other important
functions in industries.
Construction consists of activities involved in building and maintaining
residences, business offices, storage warehouses, and other structures.
This industry employs such workers as architects, engineers, contractors,
bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, ironworkers, and
plasterers.
Agriculture accounts for only a small part of the U.S. gross domestic
product. Yet, the United States is a world leader in agriculture production.
The country's farms turn out as much food as the nation needs, with
enough left over to export food to other countries. About a third of the
world's food exports come from U.S. farms.
Beef cattle rank as the most valuable product of American farms. Millions
of beef cattle are raised on huge ranches in the western United States.
The South and Midwest also produce large numbers of beef cattle. Other
leading farm products, in order of value, include milk, corn, soybeans,
chickens and eggs, hogs, wheat, and cotton. United States farms also
produce large amounts of hay, tobacco, turkeys, oranges, potatoes,
tomatoes, apples, peanuts, and sorghum.
Farmers throughout the country raise dairy cattle for milk and other
products. Much of the dairy production is concentrated in a belt that
extends from Minnesota through New York. Midwestern states account for
much of the nation's corn, soybean, and hog production. The nation's
chief wheat-growing region stretches across the Great Plains. Most of the
chickens are raised in the South. California, Texas, and a few other states
in the South and Southwest raise almost all the country's cotton. Farms in
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various areas also produce poultry, eggs, and crops of fruits, vegetables,
nuts, and grains.
The United States has played a major role in the modernization of
agriculture. During the 1800's, American inventors developed the first
successful harvesting machine and steel plow. United States scientists
have contributed to the development of improved plant varieties and
livestock breeds, as well as agricultural chemicals for fertilizer and pest
control.
The use of modern farm machinery and agricultural methods has helped
make U.S. farms the most efficient in the world. But it has also
contributed to rapidly rising production costs. Many farmers who have
been unable to meet these rising costs have been forced to quit farming
and sell their land. Since 1925, the number of farms in the United States
has decreased from about 6,500,000 to about 2,200,000. At the same
time, average farm size increased from about 143 acres (58 hectares) to
about 435 acres (175 hectares). Some of the largest farms in the United
States are owned by corporations. But more than 95 percent of all the
farms are owned by individuals or by corporations or partnerships made
up of members of farm families.
Mining. The United States ranks among the leading countries in the value
of its mine production. The chief mined products of the United States are,
in order of value, petroleum, natural gas, and coal. The United States
ranks second, after Saudi Arabia, in the production of petroleum. It is
second to Russia in natural gas production. The United States ranks
second in coal-after China. Most coal deposits lie in the Interior Plains and
the Appalachian Highlands. Major deposits of petroleum and natural gas
occur in Alaska, California, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. Other
important mined products include clays, copper, gold, granite, iron ore,
limestone, phosphate rock, salt, sand and gravel, sodium carbonate,
sulfur, and traprock.
Although mining accounts for a small share of the total U.S. economic
output, it has been a key to the growth of other parts of the economy.
Coal and iron ore, for example, are needed to make steel. Steel, in turn, is
used to make automobiles, buildings, bridges, and many other goods.
Coal is also a fuel for electric power plants. Refineries turn petroleum into
gasoline; fuel oil for heating and industrial power; and petrochemicals
used in plastics, paint, drugs, fertilizers, and synthetic fabrics. Limestone,
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granite, and traprock are crushed for use in construction materials. Sand
and gravel are also used in construction. Sulfur and phosphates are used
to make fertilizer.
Energy sources. The farms, factories, households, and motor vehicles of
the United States consume vast amounts of energy annually. Various
sources are used to generate the energy. Petroleum provides about 40
percent. It is the source of most of the energy used to power motor
vehicles, and it heats millions of houses and factories. Natural gas
generates about 25 percent of the energy used. Many industries use gas
for heat and power, and millions of households burn it for heat, cooking,
and drying laundry. Coal is the source of about 20 percent of all the
energy. Its major uses are in the production of electric power and steel.
The electric power lights buildings and powers factory and farm
machinery. Nuclear power plants generate about 10 percent of America's
energy. Hydroelectric plants provide about 5 percent.
Since the mid-1900's, the cost of energy-especially the petroleum portionhas
risen dramatically. The rising cost became a major contributor to
inflation in the United States and other countries.
Transportation. A sprawling transportation network spreads out over the
United States. The country has millions of miles or kilometers of streets,
roads, and highways. The federal interstate highway system provides a
network of more than 45,000 miles (72,000 kilometers) of freeways. The
United States has an average of about 75 cars for every 100 people.
Americans use automobiles for most of their personal travel. Trucks carry
nearly 25 percent of the freight in the United States.
Railroads rank as the leading freight carriers in the United States,
handling more than 35 percent of the freight. But they account for less
than 1 percent of all passenger traffic.
Airlines handle about 18 percent of all U.S. passenger traffic, but less than
one-half of 1 percent of the freight traffic. Four of the five busiest airports
in the world are in the United States.
About 15 percent of the freight traffic in the United States travels on
waterways. The Mississippi River system handles more than half of this
freight. Ships and barges traveling on the Mississippi and its branches,
including the Arkansas, Missouri, and Ohio rivers, can reach deep into the
country's interior. The Great Lakes form the nation's other major inland
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waterway. The St. Lawrence Seaway links the lakes with the Atlantic
Ocean.
There are many major ports in the United States. New Orleans ranks as
the busiest port in the nation, followed by the ports of New York City and
Houston. See PORT.
The nation has a vast network of pipelines that carries crude oil,
petroleum products, and natural gas. Pipelines account for nearly 25
percent of the total freight handled in the United States.
Communication. Private corporations operate the publishing and
broadcasting industries in the United States. The First Amendment of the
Constitution guarantees freedom of the press and speech. These
guarantees allow newspapers and broadcasters to operate without
government censorship. Laws prohibit the publishing or broadcasting of
libelous, obscene, and treasonous materials. But, for the most part, the
government interferes little in the operation of the communication
industry. The free exchange of ideas and information is a vital part of the
democratic heritage of the United States.
Publishers in the United States issue hundreds of daily newspapers, which
have a total circulation of about 60 million copies. The nation also has
thousands of weekly and semiweekly newspapers. The newspapers
provide information on local, national, and international events. Many also
include such special features as opinion columns, articles on health and
fashion, and comic strips and crossword puzzles.
In the United States, most newspapers serve a local region. But The Wall
Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, and The Christian
Science Monitor circulate to most of the country. The Wall Street Journal,
which specializes in business news, has the largest circulation among U.S.
papers. See NEWSPAPER.
There are thousands of radio and television stations and hundreds of cable
TV systems in the United States. Radio and TV provide the public with
entertainment, news, and public interest programs. In the United States,
both national networks and local stations produce and broadcast
programs. Almost every American household has at least one TV set and
one or more radios, and more than half of the households subscribe to
cable television.