reserve prices and unit values would help in assessing trends in resource scarcity. Comprehensive mineral accounts would provide the information needed for sound public policies addressing public concerns related to mineral resources.

3.11 Efforts to develop better mineral accounting procedures domestically and with other countries would have substantial economic benefit for the United States.

Other countries and international organizations are continuing to develop accounts that include subsoil assets and other natural and environmental resources. The United States has historically played a leading role in developing sound accounting techniques, exploring different methodologies, and introducing new approaches. A significant investment in this area would help improve such accounts in the broader world economy. Unfortunately, the United States has lagged behind other countries in developing environmental and natural-resource accounts, particularly since the 1994 congressional mandate suspending those efforts.

3.12 To the extent that the United States depends heavily on imports of fuels and minerals from other countries, it would benefit from better mineral accounts abroad because the reliability and cost of imports can be forecast more accurately when data from other countries are accurate and well designed.

International development of sound natural-resource accounts would be particularly useful for those sectors in which international trade is important. Indeed, as has been learned from cataclysmic events in financial markets such as the Mexican peso crisis of 1994-1995 or the financial crises of East Asian countries in 1997-1998, the United States suffers when foreign accounting standards are poor and is a direct beneficiary of better accounting and reporting abroad. Better international mineral accounts would help the nation understand the extent of resources abroad and the likelihood of major increases in prices of oil and other minerals such as those of the 1970s. Improved accounts both at home and abroad would help government and the private sector better predict and cope with the important transitions in energy and materials use that are likely to occur in the decades ahead.



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