14 October 2008

Perspective on the Hegemon

Today's column by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal provides perspective on the financial crisis' impact on American dominance:

Constantinople fell to the Ottomans after two centuries of retreat and decline. It took two world wars, a global depression and the onset of the Cold War to lay the British Empire low.
So it's a safe bet that the era of American dominance will not be brought to a close by credit default swaps, mark-to-market accounting or (even) Barney Frank.
Not that there's a shortage of invitations to believe otherwise. Almost in unison, Germany's finance minister, Russia's prime minister and Iran's president predict the end of U.S. "hegemony," financial and/or otherwise. The New York Times weighs in with meditations on "A Power That May Not Stay So Super." Der Spiegel gives us "The End of Hubris." Guardian columnist John Gray sees "A Shattering Moment in America's Fall From Power."
Much of this is said, or written, with ill-disguised glee. But when the tide laps at Gulliver's waistline, it usually means the Lilliputians are already 10 feet under. Before yesterday's surge, the Dow had dropped 25% in three months. But that only means it had outperformed nearly every single major foreign stock exchange, including Germany's XETRADAX (down 28%) China's Shanghai exchange (down 30%), Japan's NIKK225 (down 37%), Brazil's BOVESPA (down 41%) and Russia RTSI (down 61%). These contrasts are a useful demonstration that America's financial woes are nobody else's gain.
I am an unabashed believer in American exceptionalism. Americans take for granted the robustness of our political and economic system. Read more to see why we need not give up our place on top.

1 comment:

Sportsattitude said...

Being a sports nut, obviously I know you can spin numbers to your advantage in most cases even when they're the same numbers...all depends on the point you are trying to make. That being said, even with his enthusiastic view for the unpredictable future, his percentages relative to other nations and exchanges is interesting and certainly gives one pause before deciding the end of days" is upon us.