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Re: <nettime> Is the US declining too fast?
Keith Hart on Mon, 15 Sep 2008 16:33:16 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Is the US declining too fast?

Hi Felix,

Thanks for the tip on Leonard's book.

I recall reading about the replacement of the USA by Germany and
Japan in the 80s (Paul Kennedy's blockbuster, remember him?). There
are other perspectives on our moment in history than the one about
America's inevitable and precipitous decline. The first is that the
implosion and restructuring of the financial institutions there is
more radical than could be contemplated anywhere else and that its
impact on the real economy has been less than expected. The prospects
for the latter have been greatly improved by the dollar's devaluation;
and exports, particularly of internet-related products, where the US
is still world leader, are rising strongly. The US took a big hit on
housing and finance earlier than elsewhere and might already have
absorbed the worst of it. In any case, Paulson has on consecutive
Sundays ordered the biggest bail out ever and allowed a major bank to
go bust with unknowable repercussions for the rest. You can read that
is weak or strong. My bet is that the US economy has the best chance
of recovering storngly from this crisis. That was the conclusion of
the OECD only last week when they revised their growth forecast for
the US. And before the latest dip, the dollar improved dramatically
against the euro.

I recommend the Times' economics writer, Anatole Kaletsky, whose
latest effort in the wake of the Lehman Bros crisis today is fairly
typical of his line:


In Europe, Britain, Ireland and Spain have been going the same way as
the US but with a time lag; and the Eurozone in general has not yet
felt the full brunt of the crisis. The euro has not had to survive a
massive downturn before and, when it does, the institutional rigidity
of the single currency and the political paralysis of EU institutions
will constitute severe handicaps.

On the triviality of the coverage of the US election, try this
two-minute video by Michael Tomasky:


Here he argues that the two sides are not just in a war between forces
for change and the forces of reaction, but that their political
methods are similarly placed between the old and the new society: one
trying to manipulate the TV news, the other trying to mobilise from
the ground up. The announcement that Obama raised $66 millions in
August, as opposed to the $84 millions McCain got from the Fed for the
whole campaign shows the stakes of this war between methods and social
visions. The rest of the world knows the consequences of a victory
for either side. Whatever you believe in, Felix, and I think I have a
clue, this US election is its main global battleground. I can't think
of anything going on in Europe that matters remotely as much, nor in
China or Russia, for that matter. Reports of America's demise will
once more be premature.

And yes, my money is on Obama, to win by a landslde of 1964
proportions, because, in whatver light this campaign is being
reported, 80% of Americans want something better than they have had
and they have already lost a lot in the way of houses, jobs, income
equality, education, health and the costs of war. People who think
they would vote in a doddering curmudgeon and an untried icon of the
religious right prefer their Americans to be stupid and bellicose. I
take a more Tocquevillean view.


Prof. Keith Hart
135 rue du Faubourg Poissonniere
75009 Paris, France
Cell: +33684797365

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