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The U.S. is Not a Special Case, Just an Extreme One

The U.S. is Not a Special Case, Just an Extreme One

In his January 18th article “As Dollar Weakens, Hidden Strengths May Wade Off Crisis,??? Greg Ip gives credence to those who assert that America’s unique status makes it immune from suffering the economic consequences which have historically crippled smaller economies for lesser transgressions. However, the U.S. may soon wake up to the fact that it is not a special case, just an extreme one.

Despite a good recitation of the sobering economic statistics, Ip’s piece toes the standard line that the U.S. is “too big to fail.” This view holds that foreign creditors will NEVER tire of loaning America enormous amounts of money at low interest rates, even as it becomes clear that they can never be repaid with real purchasing power. Although this game has gone on for some time, to paraphrase P.T. Barnum, “you can’t fool all the Asian central bankers all the time.” Once they realize the only thing standing between their citizens and sharply higher standards of living, is their continued subsidy of American consumers, the game will end.

To reference another American icon, the current global economy reminds me of Tom Sawyer and his fence. Not only was Tom able to convince others to do his work for him, but he managed to con them into paying for the privilege. By convincing Asians that work is not a means, but an ends in itself, that fulfillment is derived from the toil of harvest, even as others enjoy its bounty, Americans have managed to out do old Tom. Mark Twain could never have imagined that his character’s charade would one day form the very foundation of the global economy.

However, once reality sets in, Asians will put down their brushes, leaving Americans to paint their own fences. (Actually, in this life is stranger than fiction example, the brushes, paint, and even the fence itself, were likely supplied by Asians.) Once these scarce resources, previously squandered painting American fences, are freed up, Asians might finally realize that in their preoccupation with keeping America’s fences sparkling white, they have neglected to even build fences for themselves.

Due to the abuse of its unique privilege of being the issuer of the world’s reserve currency, American has dug itself into an economic hole far deeper than any other nation in history. When its foreign creditors stop supplying the shovels, Americans will find they have more than a few economic fences of their own to mend

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