Sunday, January 20, 2008

Is the U.S. on the decline?

Once-mighty Dollar

The U.S.Dollar replaced the British Pound as the most sought-after currency in the world long ago. Perhaps, soon after the second World war. Or latest by the mid-1960s by which time Britain had lost all its colonies and was no more the World Power it once was. So, the U.S.Dollar has remained as the queen currency for over 4 decades. It is only in the last couple of years that the U.S.Dollar is sliding. The slide may yet be only slight, but the slide is unmistakable. The Euro is growing in stature. In 2002, when Euro took the place of major European Currencies such as D-Mark, French Frank , Dutch Guilder and Italian Lira, one Euro fetched less than a Dollar. Now, one Dollar fetches less than 75 Euro Cents. It should not be a surprise if in another 10-15 years, Euro becomes the No.1 International Currency.

Once-invincible Economy

Some experts say that the U.S. economy is already in recession. Some others say not yet. But no one rules out that recession is round the corner. Banks are writing off bad debts. And such write-offs are huge. People are spending less on consumer goods. Houses offered for sale are fetching much less than the loan taken to finance them. Jobs are getting lost. The mood of the people is sullen. America's underbelly stands exposed. The sub-prime crisis may only be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The one consolation(?) that the Americans could have is that if the U.S. economy sinks, the economies of the rest of the world will sink too. The health of the world economy still depends on the American economy doing well.

Once-loved Democracy

Once upon a time, long long ago, people around the world loved America. The country offered hope. If there was one place on earth where any one could nurture an ambition of making it in life irrespective of one's background, colour, religion, gender etc., it was the U.S. No more. America lost respect by supporting dictatorships and fighting unjust wars. Within the country, successive Presidents have encouraged special-interest groups and let themselves be used against the greatest good of the largest number of people. Internationally, the U.S.Administration is no more seen as walking their talk of free enterprise. Free enterprise was good as long as it suited America's interests. When the balance started shifting in favour of the emerging nations, then it was time to bring about trade barriers as a way of protecting America's own producers. This hypocrisy in politics, democracy and economics undermined the credibility the U.S. used to enjoy.


....the U.S. is still the leader. No single nation or a group of nations is as yet in a position to take over the world leadership from the U.S. Europe is too divided. China is seen as too self-absorbed and unreliable. Moreover, China does not respect human rights of an individual and so is unfit to graduate to global leadership. Japan is already a has-been. Any way, it is too small a country to think of leading the world. Russia is still licking its wounds inflicted on it by the demise of its world-power status. It is at best an emerging but cheap carbon copy of the west. So, for the foreseeable future, the U.S. will remain as the leader of the world. But, just a lame-duck leader counting its days before the day of ouster dawns upon it.

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