Sunday, February 03, 2008

French Readers, US Economy

The English-Language Le Monde Diplomatique sometimes disappoints, since it rarely covers French news. But reading it is always useful when you're interested in how the French media thinks about the rest of the world -- especially Asia, the rest of Europe, and of course the U.S.

Two articles hitting the web today do this particularly well, both on the current fiscal crisis in the U.S. (or rather, the fiscal crisis that is striking the U.S. first, sending other economies reeling in its wake). The first gives a matter-of-fact account of the origins of the crisis in the artificially-induced housing bubble, but adds a note of Spenglerian alarm by tracing the flow in the global currency and commodity markets:

All the ingredients for a crisis that will last for some time, the greatest crisis since the structure of the world economy has been based on globalisation.

The outcome depends on whether the Asian economies can take over from the US as the driving force. Another sign, perhaps, that the West is in decline and that the centre of the world economy is about to shift from the US to China. The crisis may mark the end of an era.

The second, penned by American Blowback author Chalmers Johnson, paints the American economy as an almost perfect political/monetary disaster. He even includes a phrase I hadn't heard before, "military Keynesianism": "the determination to maintain a permanent war economy and to treat military output as an ordinary economic product, even though it makes no contribution to either production or consumption."

No comments: