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Where is this economy going?

I caught Wilbur Ross on CNBC a week or so ago and got a kick out of the way the noted investor phrased the matter of what it is, exactly, we’re going to make in this country to grow our economy and climb out of the hole we’re in.

“We can’t just flip hamburgers, sue people and trade stocks,” said Ross, chairman and CEO of W.L. Ross & Co.

True that.

With the big three automakers in the tank and the housing market on hold indefinitely, Ross made a good point.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged a new New Deal program that would pump billions into the building of infrastructure and roads, employing thousands along the way.

But for how long?

How many more iPhones, flat-screens and video games can the world buy and still keep the world economies afloat?

Ross’s response came in defense of his remark that a sagging dollar had recently held promise of lifting U.S. exports

Squawk Box host Carl Quintanilla tried to make the point that we shouldn’t care too much about manufacturing because we don’t have much of it.

Ross suggested we’d better start getting some. Some think green will be the answer.

They maintain that a bustling economy built on dismantling our dirty industries and making energy from sources like wind and solar power will put people back to work and make for a healthier planet. Of course, there’s the alternative solution as laid out in a Wall Street Journal editorial last week: Spend like a madman on defense.

So there you have it. The problem is solved. We can either clean up the planet or blow it up. Either one, it seems, will get this economy rolling again.

Stock watch

I’m about as interested in buying stock at this point as I am banging my head repeatedly into a brick wall.

But I am watching, keeping my eyes open for when the market does pick back up and it seems safe to tread back in.

One of the stocks I’ve been watching is Dryships (DRYS).

I’ve written about it before, back in the good old days when the market, overall, was moving in the opposite direction that it has lately.

Dryships was a high-flyer, and the shipping stock had hit a high of $116 a share back in the spring before breaking out the life rafts and coming to a rest on the sea bottom of $3 a share. Quite a plunge, indeed.

But the stock has shown signs of recovery lately.

Dryships recently edged up into the $11 or $12 range before pulling back to around $9.

But a lot of buying volume came into the stock this month. Shipping stocks were holding steady on belief that countries like China would relying on cargo-haulers to feed their fast-growing economies.

Then came news of a global slowdown and the shippers lost the wind in their sails and got a few holes in their hulls as well.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece titled, “Charting a New Course? Shippers May Rebound.”

The article quoted Ryan Detrick, a technical analyst (stock chart reader) with Schaeffer’s Investment Research, who noted the increasing buying on volume in shipping stocks.

“On a longer-term point of view, that’s a potential capitulation sign which suggests someone could bottom-fish and really be rewarded,” Detrick said.