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Bob Carr wrote, with his unerring succinctness on the potential decline of America on his blog, Thoughtlines.

I doubt anyone could accurately predict if one superpower is going up and another is going down. I’ll just trot out the tired old line about all the people fearing the rise of Japan and the SE Asian Tiger economies being so verywrong before observing that Bob Carr is probably taking the better view on this one. Many trends indicate that China is going up, and America is coming down.

I would point out a few nuances though. Carr doesn’t state a timeline for his prediction, but I don’t think America’s sudden decline will come any time soon. For one thing, although there is presently an impasse on the Budget crisis, the threat of a debt rating downgrade would frighten any politician into action. It’s good to see bipartisan consensus on that at least!

For another thing, its not immediately apparent that it will be China that takes the Crown. Our fear in China stems from the insecurities that we as democratists feel about ourselves. We see a China which is willing to trample over human rights and democratic rights to achieve economic progress, and we assume that must be a better path to a stable and prosperous future. If the Arab Spring has shown us anything, its that dictatorships have a facade of stability hiding their secret weaknesses. There are many indications that the economic divide between rich and poor, between urban and rural will shatter the piece. The glass which is hardest will shatter first. Whilst economic growth remains strong, there are some signs of underlying weakness that are beginning to give Australian economists heart palpitations.

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One Comment

  1. Have you read Hugh White’s Quarterly Essay on the subject? He takes a similar stance to Carr while going into much more detail.

    You’re welcome to borrow my copy if you like. As you know, my Quarterly Essays can be loaned out for a period of up to eighteen months.


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