McALLEN, RGV – The Obama administration should focus less on Iran and Iraq and instead have a greater presence in Mexico helping defeat the drug cartels, says a top local economist.

Ted C. Jones is senior vice president-chief economist for Stewart Title Guaranty Company and director of investor relations for Stewart Information Services Corporation.

Jones gave the keynote speech at the 12th Annual State of Real Estate Forum, hosted by Edwards Abstract and Title Company and held at the McAllen Convention Center.

“I am embarrassed about our federal government’s actions. I do not know about Iraq or Iran. We should be in Mexico, one of our premier trade partners in the world, helping them with their drug and revolution issues,” Jones said, in answer to a question from realtor Adrian Arriaga on the likely impact of the Peso’s devaluation.

“I am disappointed we are not taking care of our best business partners. We should be doing that. Other places in the world? Sorry, these people, we are them and they are part of us, North America, from Canada all the way to down to Mexico.”

Jones was asked to expand on his thoughts about U.S. intervention in Mexico in an interview after his speech.

“My biggest disappointment with our federal government right now is that we are not taking care of our best partner, our best trading partner in this region, Mexico. If we were in trouble, I think we would ask Mexico to help us out. They have a drug revolution going on. It is a great country. If you look at us, we are the same people. I think our federal government should take more action,” Jones told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“I am not taking about building a wall or anything like that. Let’s help out the Mexican government get the drug cartel fueled corruption under control and taken care of. You do that and our trade, in both countries, will explode. I am an economist. You will get more jobs. People will have a better lifestyle. Let’s take care of business close to home, and that is close to home.”

Asked about United States’ fixation with the Middle East and ignorance of Latin America, Jones said: “Just a couple of years ago we were committed to the Middle East because we were net energy importers. With the change in fracking which George Mitchell created when he perfected hydraulic fracking, Mitchell Energy, he also developed The Woodlands, we no longer have that need to support people we do not necessarily need to support. I am an economist. Jobs are everything. You want to create more jobs, let’s help out Mexico and their issues. Let’s get both these countries ramped up.”

Asked about the impact of the Peso’s devaluation, Jones said: “It hurts your retail a bunch. It also hurts Mexico because everything costs more per day for them. We don’t like inflation. That’s one of the reasons we really do like real inflation control. The federal government has two jobs, to create full employment, which technically they say we are at, and to control inflation, which they have done. But they have raised rates, saying that inflation is coming.

“Mexico, on the other hand, they have heavy debt and when the economy is not producing at full energy then they are not collecting all the taxes they need to. They have a heavy reliance on oil and that is down a bunch, and so as a result, a real easy way out, when you have a lot of debt as a country, we call it monetizing the debt, is you literally print more money. That is why we have seen a significant peso devaluation. Once again, it is their way out. A better way out is through full employment, a dynamic economy, and then you can even cut taxes and get full employment.”

Jones added that he is big supporter of NAFTA. “The North American Free Trade Agreement that Bill Clinton ran through, that is a major backbone that can benefit all three (U.S., Mexico, and Canada) countries.”

This was Jones’ 10th year serving as the forum’s headline speaker. Organizers said his presentation provided “insight and statistics on the national, state and local job markets and specific local market analysis and various other indicators that affect the overall economy.”