An inciting method of testing specialist opinions in the field of international relations and global economic developments, but not only, is applied by the British publication The Financial Times. Some internationally acclaimed specialists in the field are polled by a publication specialist on a topic of major interest and the findings of the survey are published on the FT blog, also open for readers’ comments. The views are presented in a highly condensed way evincing only the essential, but without omitting the moderator’s conclusions on the matter.
This year, FT s focused on the major theme ‘The Future of America’, inviting business leaders, politicians and economists. The latest session of this specialists’ forum took place on October 13, 2011, and its summary is posted on the blog. The interest of opinions expressed, even in such an elliptical form which is meant to awake appetite for going through the entire available material, prompts us to bring before our readers a few of them.
The opening session of the forum was marked by the keynote address by Gene Sperling, assistant on economic politics to President Obama and the debate was chaired by FT commentator Martin Wolf. His question for the audience was ‘where the economy is now and where it is heading’. The moderator’s conclusion after about one hour of debates was that ‘the failure to deal with short term problems is leading to structural problems that are quickly becoming long-term problems.’ The first panel of the day discussed, also moderated by M. Wolf, the future of American economy, how unemployment and US economic competitiveness should be ‘tackled’. Among the panellists there were personalities of the academic world and some reputed practitioners. The next panel was moderated by G. Tett from FT, and addressed the future of American business, with vectors such as: competitiveness of US economy in a global world, research and development, as well as the role played by the American government in the field. The next panel was devoted to China, a country many experts see as a competitor for the US not only in economic terms, but actually in the overall system. How interesting debates on the panel were can be easily understood from the inciting set of matters discussed, summarized as being ‘the controversial point that the renminbi will replace the US dollar as the leading global currency in the early 2020s.’ While M. Wolf disagreed, a Hong Kong expert went so far as to say that economic relations between China and the US are the most important at a global level and China is now in ‘a dollar trap’, having virtually no alternative. The moderator’s conclusion ‘that China is a responsible stakeholder in the world system, but they are not confident that the US is’ obviously calls for further consideration. Of course, there also were some very interesting debates on the US security policy with outstanding participants such as Robert Kaplan or Joseph Nye.
One important conclusion of the day of debates on such an important topic for the current and future international situation came from J. Nye, who pointed out that, when the discussion dwells on American decline ‘you must distinguish between relative and absolute decline in power. The power shift has been from west to east and this crisis has followed that shift … It does not mean that China or anyone else will replace the US.’ Our interpretation of the above is that, at least for another generation, the US will continue to be the number one power in the world.
Obviously, anyone interested in what the world look tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will should definitely read this debate on the future of the US in its entirety.