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Will America’s Research Engine Slow Down?

By: Steve Johnson

12/10/2008 - 32 Comments

As grant money begins to dry up, research into new technologies like robots, cars and space travel will need to be reduced. 

In the age of outsourcing manufacturing, America has become more and more of a research center for new advancements and breakthroughs.  From Nano-technology to Weapons to Medical advancements, the US remains the research engine of the world. 

The billions of dollars poured into the military in the last decade had helped create some of the most advanced weapons in the world.  Such things like laser guided missiles with GPS guidance tracking systems and unmanned spy airplanes and robot patrols are just a few of the many military advancements we have developed.

The Health Care industry also spends billions on new computer aided scanners like MRI technology and Gene mapping year after year. The pharmaceutical industry continues to spend billions on researching and developing new drugs to fight the diseases that plague us like Cancer, Diabetes, Depression.

All industries that run on high investments with long-term results could soon begin to rethink their investments as the recession grows.  These industries produce products for the future, but they depend on the stability of the economy at some future point in time to regain their investments.  If the long term future on the economy starts to look shaky, the investors may start to get cold feet about the likelihood of these companies returning their investments.

This will probably not happen for few more months (perhaps years), therefore most of these jobs may look safe today. The other likely scenario is that these companies would continue inventing new products, but begin marketing them outside the US.  For example, John Deere develops new agricultural equipment, but over the last several years their international sales as increased while their domestic sales has decreased.

An increase in inflation could also have a drastic impact on the expected investment results. High inflation could force these companies to increase their profitability targets, which could force them to rethink the projects that they are funding.  If the recession continues into 2010, the US may have to cut back on its research engine, which will result in a reduction in global innovation.

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