Tuesday, April 25, 2006

U.S. Hegemony

Economic columnist Gerard Baker writes in today's Times of London that the United States will likely stay on top of the world economy:
In an era in which China embodies the hopes and fears of much of the developed world, the US, with a growth rate of half that of China’s, is adding roughly twice as much in absolute terms to global output as is the Middle Kingdom, with its GDP (depending on how you measure it) of between $2 trillion and $4 trillion....

The only real threat to American economic hegemony, I suspect, is the willingness of its people to continue to tolerate the pains associated with its success. Income and wealth inequalities have grown rapidly in the past ten years — even as the long-term growth rate has accelerated — and, given the continuing direction associated with globalisation, they may get even worse over the next 20 years.

That could tempt Americans to turn their backs on the very free markets that have been the foundations of their continuing prosperity.