Obama: America Can’t Carry the Global Economy on Its Back

November 13, 2015, 3:28 PM UTC
US President Barack Obama speaks on immigration reform at the Copernicus Community Center on November 25, 2014 in Chicago.
Photograph by Mandel Ngan — AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama is calling on the leaders of the world’s 20 largest countries to take bold action in order to spur faster global economic growth in an editorial published by the Financial Times Friday,

The President lauded his own administration’s performance, touting the fact that U.S. businesses have created 13.5 million jobs and that the U.S. unemployment rate now sits at just 5%. “Since 2009, we have cut our deficit by nearly three-quarters. American households and businesses have reduced their own debt, and resumed spending and investing, helping to power the world economy,” he writes.

Obama argues, however, that America’s trade partners have not done enough to get their economic houses in order and to boost demand: “If the world relies excessively on the American consumer, it will jeopardise the sustainability of the global recovery.”

Though he did not specifically mention Europe, the subtext of the President’s op-ed is the EU’s failure, and Germany’s in particular, to take bold action to resolve its debt crisis and boost domestic demand. He also called out China, arguing that it needs increase efforts to rebalance its economy away from investment-led growth and toward consumption:

China in particular should unleash its emerging middle class by accelerating its transition to a consumption-led economy. As President Xi Jinping has acknowledged, China’s export and construction-driven growth is no longer sustainable. And we should all recognise that taxes that fall too heavily on consumption or on middle-class families would only slow demand at a time the world needs it.

Other policies the President endorsed include ratifying the TPP trade deal, growing the workforce with family-friendly policies, and infrastructure investment in the rich world.