Soon enough, America’s financial crisis will wind down — maybe in a month, maybe in a year. Yet regardless of when, this crisis marks the beginning of a new era for the U.S. For more than six decades, from the end of World War II in 1945 until now, the U.S. was the hub of global capital and capitalism. In the years to come, it will remain a vital center, but not the center.

[American and the New Financial World] Corbis

In 1945, after an exhausting three decades of exertion against Germany, the United Kingdom emerged militarily victorious only to see itself economically exhausted. A year later, it was bankrupt, unable to find capital and on the verge of collapse. It had nowhere to turn but the U.S., which then dictated terms that amounted to a withdrawal of Great Britain from the world stage. The U.S. is not yet in the position of Great Britain, and our creditors in China are not yet as we were then. But absent a more humble and realistic attitude toward capital in Washington, that is the path we’re headed down.

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