When asked early in his presidency if he believed in American exceptionalism, Barack Obama famously, and shockingly, replied:
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism, and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
This reaction, coming from the man Americans had recently selected to lead them, was outrageous and insulting. It certainly must have given pause to the heads of the lengthy list of countries that depend on the U.S. for foreign aid or military support.
In truth, it was more a wish than a reality for Obama, who has made it abundantly clear that he relishes a level global playing field similar to the one he envisions for America, where every person shares not the same opportunity but an equal share of the monetary pie. In his preferred world view there is no exceptionalism, American or otherwise.
Today, a forecast released by the International Monetary Fund suggests that Obama may get his wish, at least as far as American exceptionalism is concerned. The international organization has fixed a date for the moment when the “Age of America” ends and the U.S. economy is overtaken by that of China. And if Barack Obama wins the second term he seeks, he may well still be the occupant of the Oval Office on that sad day when China’s economy surpasses our own.
The Wall Street Journal blog Market Watch notes of the upheaval, which the IMF has predicted will occur in 2016, that
it casts a deepening cloud over both the U.S. dollar and the giant Treasury market, which have been propped up for decades by their privileged status as the liabilities of the world’s hegemonic power.
The IMF analyzes economies in terms of “purchasing power parities” (PPP). This is a metric that goes beyond exchange rates, comparing instead what people earn and spend in real terms in their domestic economies. Under PPP, the Chinese economy will grow from $11.2 trillion this year to $19 trillion in 2016. At the same time, the size of the U.S. economy will increase from $15.2 trillion to only $18.8 trillion. The net effect will be that America’s share of the world output will shrink to 17.7%, the lowest in modern times, while China’s will reach 18%.
When you consider that just 10 years ago, the U.S. economy was three times the size of China’s, you realize how far we’ve fallen.
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