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American-British Influence At Risk

American-British Influence At Risk

Saturday, 23 February, 2019 - 07:30

One predictable thing about empires is that they eventually fall. We may be watching one fall right now.

Since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the world has been intellectually dominated by a US-UK alliance that John Micklethwait calls the core “Anglosphere” (apologies to lesser Anglospherians Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the backing musicians to Britain and America’s Mick and Keith. But after 40 years – a relative eye-blink of history – this hegemony is already showing signs of decline, John writes.

The fatal blows may have landed in 2016, with the shocking results of the Brexit referendum and the election of President Donald Trump. Both were dramatic turns away from a worldview that defined and served the partnership. Both triggered sudden collapses in competence and moral authority. Other countries probably found the Anglosphere cloying and/or destructive and might feel some schadenfreude right now. But John argues the Anglosphere benefited them too, and its troubles are nothing to celebrate. Read the whole thing.

There are signs of hope, however faint. John notes the Anglosphere’s influence runs deeper and wider than London and Washington. And even in those cities some people may be coming to their senses. Eleven British lawmakers have broken with their parties to form a tiny centrist coalition advocating for such common-sense ideas as not driving over a Brexit cliff. This isn’t much, but it’s a source of at least a little hope, Bloomberg’s editorial board writes.

Still, here in the Colonies, the decline is tangible if you, say, drive across a bridge in California or take a train into New York City, writes Noah Smith. He notes economic development moves in two directions. And America’s growing corruption and costs, crumbling infrastructure and worsening outcomes all suggest it’s going the wrong way. We’ve seen this before with Italy, a former economic powerhouse that stumbled backwards under an incompetent, venal, populist leader. It can happen here.

Trump warned his supporters they would get tired of so much winning. Fortunately for them, his presidency has also featured a healthy dose of losing. Most famously he has failed to get Mexico or anybody else to pay for a new border wall. And this week he gave up on his dream of a new Space Force, and we learned FEMA has ignored his idea of taking wildfire-relief money from California.

It took a couple of months, but the Fed seems finally to have talked financial markets out of a frightening tantrum. The minutes of its latest policy meeting, released yesterday, gave the market more of what it wanted: soothing coos of dovishness. The bond market is now boringly, blissfully becalmed, which is just where Jerome Powell & Co. want it, writes Brian Chappatta.

Ah, but the Fed can never rest easy; it still has a bunch of communication landmines ahead, writes Mohamed El-Erian, starting with its policy meeting next month. One big risk is that the market now expects it to be super-dovish forever, and sending any conflicting signal could break the calm again.

Making guns harder to get makes people less likely to be shot to death. “Duh,” you might be thinking, but then you may not be a member of the National Rifle Association. That group has been disputing this idea, in response to new Democratic proposals for universal background checks. But studies keep proving this seemingly obvious point, writes Bloomberg’s editorial board. One of the latest suggests tighter state gun laws lead to fewer gun deaths among children. This is a big deal, because guns are the second-leading cause of deaths of American children; and because, again, it proves fewer guns = fewer deaths.


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