Six years ago, lawyer-banker-scholar Charles Morris wrote a prophetic book -- "Two-Trillion-Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High-Rollers and the Great Credit Crunch" -- that foresaw the 2008 Great Recession before it clobbered America and the world.
Now Morris has reversed course and sees good times ahead. His forthcoming book, "Comeback," predicts that surging U.S. energy independence will bring a buoyant rise in American manufacturing and jobs.
Although Central Appalachia's coal industry is dwindling sadly, Morris says rapid expansion of shale gas drilling and "fracking" will enable America to out-produce most of the globe.
The PBS Newshour presented a lengthy interview with the analyst, who said:
"The United States is on the brink of a period of solid, long-term growth rivaling that of the 1950s and 1960s. It is not a finance-driven, self-destructive boom like the 2000s housing bubble. No, the new economy will be durably grounded in energy and heavy manufacturing, even though it will take several years to come to full fruition."
Morris predicted that America's gross domestic product will return to more than 3 percent yearly expansion. For example, Dow Chemical is investing $4 billion in Texas plastics production that will be operational by 2017. Such growth requires cheap oil and natural gas -- and "by 2020 or so, the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia in oil output, and Russia in gas." He continued:
"The big attraction is the low price of natural gas, the lowest-carbon fossil fuel, which can be produced profitably at about a third the price per unit of energy as other hydrocarbons. That is particularly attractive to chemical companies .... It is the raw material for plastics, Styrofoam, tires, sealants, adhesives, films, liquid crystal screens, nylons, polyesters -- nearly everything around us."
Gas drilling requires a large array of supplies, from steel pipe to special trucks to fracturing chemicals, he said. "American oil and gas industry investments will total $348 billion in 2013." The industry offers "classic blue-collar jobs to people without college degrees [who] can pull down $100,000 annual incomes before they're 30."
"By 2020, America's energy revolution will support as many as 3.6 million jobs, both in the energy sector itself and including the new manufacturing development it will support," Morris said. He added that each new manufacturing job creates about 1.5 spinoff jobs in the surrounding economy.This expert was correct in the last economic forecast. We sure hope he's right in this latest one.